Feedburner and FriendFeed: FailBurner

FailburnerFeedburner is probably one of the most-used services available for bloggers. Its RSS analytics, promotion and advertising features have made it a staple of many peoples’ blogging toolkits.

FeedBurner was also a first mover in the market, enabling it to attract a large number of people before viable competitors appeared. Thanks to its purchase by Google, it has been able to take advantage of the powerful Google Analytics system to enhance its statistical reporting.

That’s fortunate, because the team at FeedBurner seems to be doing everything in its power to alienate its users.

Inconsistent Reporting

On one hand you have the random blips in FeedBurner stats, where they tell you that half of your subscribers have disappeared overnight. That alone would be a significant issue for a service providing analytics – for sites publishing those numbers (especially those using those numbers to sell advertising) consistency is critical.

This problem is just that, though – a problem. Frustrating and unacceptable, yes, but still a problem that gets fixed.

Contrast that with the latest silliness.

FriendFeed? Huh?

In the last week, FeedBurner users may have noticed a significant jump in their RSS subscriber numbers. For this site, my total subscribers increased by 25%. On another site of mine, they jumped by 1860%.

This wasn’t caused by a technical problem. The reason for this is that FeedBurner now counts a person’s FriendFeed subscribers in their blog RSS subscription count.

Personally, I completely agree with David Spinks’ take on this. The fact that I subscribe to someone’s FriendFeed doesn’t mean I subscribe to their blog. It means I subscribe to their FriendFeed.

To me, this completely undermines the relevance of FeedBurner’s subscriber numbers. I get essentially zero referrals from FriendFeed, but this site now apparently has another 600 subscribers.

Communications fail

There was no direct communication to users around this change. The only reason I found out was because I noticed the big jump and looked closely at the stats. Where’s the option to turn this off? Where’s the communication with FeedBurber users?

Frankly, this could be the last straw for me. I’ve used Feedburner for several years now, but given that Feedblitz is taking a run at FeedBurner, they finally have a competitor. I may give FeedBlitz a try.

What do you think about this change?

Dave Fleet
Managing Director and Head of Global Digital Crisis at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.