// Internet Duct Tape

I display my FeedBurner subscribers count because I don’t have a choice…

Posted in Building a Community, FeedBurner, RSS Syndication, Technology by engtech on March 16, 2007

Maki tagged me with his Feed Count meme exploring the reasons why bloggers display their FeedBurner feed count statistics (this is my last post in a row talking about RSS, I promise).

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Why FeedBurner?

Maki left out this question, but I think it’s a valid one. I choose to use FeedBurner for my RSS feeds because of the following things it gives me (for free):

  • Recognized metric that is sometimes used to evaluate “blog worth” (like Technorati).
  • Browser friendly page when someone clicks on the RSS link (instead of an XML file).
  • In depth stats package that tells me who is reading my feed, where they are from and which RSS application and web browser they are using.
  • Click tracking to know which links people click on in my feed.
  • FeedFlares that let me put a footer on each RSS post with the number of commenters, Technorati links, and Digg/del.icio.us/Stumbles.
  • Ability to change the title and description of my feed.
  • Ability to offer email subscriptions.
  • Subscriber count chicklet.
  • Animated image of recent posts.
  • Switching to FeedBurner can reduce your server load by as much as 50% (not an issue for me).
  • I can change the source FeedBurner is using — this let me do hacks like display asides only on my blog and not in my feed (that I’ve since stopped doing).

All the options that could ever appeal to a geek like me.

Why Display FeedBurner Subscriber Count?

The short answer is because I don’t have a choice if I want people to subscribe to it. I’m a special case because I choose to be hosted on the WordPress.com multi-user platform. Unlike regular WordPress this means I don’t have the ability to add/modify themes or plug-ins — that includes changing my default feed to my FeedBurner feed [1]. Clicking on that chicklet is the only way people subscribe to my FeedBurner feed, everyone who uses auto-discover gets the WordPress.com feed instead.

I’d love to have the ability to switch to my FeedBurner feed as a wp.com feature.

The FeedBurner subscriber count is also a badge of reliability. I agree with Andy Beard that displaying is a form of social proof — it shows that you have an audience and that may increase your credibility the same way as displaying your Technorati rank.

For some people blogging can be a numbers game [2] (*whistles innocently*), and the number of readers is the only metric that makes any sense. The FeedBurner subscriber count is one of the few trustworthy metrics bloggers have available. Other ones like Technorati rank, Alexa traffic and MyBlogLog community members are all either hopelessly flawed or continually gamed [3].

FeedBurner is one of the few modern web companies that has a truly great product for content producers, and I’m proud to use them.

Footnotes

[1] And yes, I know I can switch hosting providers if it is that much of an issue for me. :)

[2] I am a number junkie and I spend a ridiculous amount of time tracking stats.

[3] Yes, FeedBurner has been gamed before but that has been quickly resolved.

10 Responses

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  1. [...] answers. Daniel responded and pointed out that a low count might discourage people to subscribe. Engtech puts a different perspective on things because he is hosting on WordPress.com – His feeds are split [...]

  2. Doug Karr said, on March 16, 2007 at 5:31 pm

    I agree. For me it provides 2 goals:
    1. For me to gauge readership and keep me on topic and on goal to build my readership.
    2. Provide my visitors with recognition that a few hundred other people think my blog is worth while.

    I didn’t post my stats until I was up over 100 readers because I didn’t want it to have a negative effect.

    I post my Technorati rank for the same reason.

  3. [...] engtech – A nerd and his blog // engtech The FeedBurner subscriber count is also a badge of reliability. I agree with Andy Beard that displaying is a form of social proof — it shows that you have an audience and that may increase your credibility the same way as displaying your Technorati rank. [...]

  4. Maki said, on March 16, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    Thanks for participating in the meme, engtech.

    Any reason why you’re not moving to your own hosted WordPress domain? You could probably do some serious monetization if you did.. unless you’re not interesting in making money from your blog … :)

  5. engtech said, on March 16, 2007 at 11:29 pm

    I’m a little too lazy to move. I also know that Technorati doesn’t handle moving domains so I’d lose my rank of 2000 (not that it matters…)

    And there’s the entire “if I look at this as work then it won’t be fun anymore” thing.

    To be honest though, I have spent far more time dealing with the quirks of not being able to use templates/plugins/javascript/analytics/etc than I have had benefit from being hosted here.

  6. jhay said, on March 17, 2007 at 5:11 am

    Why Feedburner? Is there a better solution? ;)

  7. Daniel said, on March 17, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    Engtech, sooner or later I think you will need to move :)

    Your blog is very popular, and I guess it would be even more on engtech.com, by the way do you own that domain? (too lazy to do a whois…)

  8. engtech said, on March 17, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    @jhay: Man, I’d love to see a better solution than FeedBurner, because FeedBurner is already so good.

    @daniel: engtech.ca is a tech company and engtech.com is parked (and showing keywords related to my blog, funny).

  9. Digest for March 2007 « //engtech said, on April 05, 2007 at 10:27 pm

    [...] I display my FeedBurner subscribers count because I don’t have a choice… Part of Maki’s FeedBurner meme. The reasons why I use the FeedBurner RSS service. [...]

  10. [...] at Feedburner as opposed to using the default feed of your wordpress.com blog has other advantages, Engtech has created an eloquent [...]


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