Menu

Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Feedburner on, Feedburner off

December 2, 2008

On Sunday I thought it’d be a good idea to turn on Feedburner, the service that helps you track the number people subscribed to your feed ((Among other things like; what they subscribe with, what they click on in those feeds, etc.)), since I had turned it off a few years ago.

Turns out, my reasons for turning it back off one day later were no different than my reasons for turning it off a few years ago. Redirects and downtime.

What Feedburner does, in a nutshell, is redirects your feed URL (in my case, this one) to a URL at Feedburner. This way they are able to track the number of times the feed is requested, what requests the feed, etc. They also do this for individual posts to help track statistics by post.

The service is, or rather was, very good at one point. It was one of the only services that truly did a fair job at calculating the number of subscribers to a feed accurately. Among other things.  But that was years ago. Then they were having trouble keeping the service up likely due to popularity.

You see, when a service like Feedburner goes down – it effects everyone that uses it. Not in the same way that if Twitter goes down it effects everyone that uses it though. If Feedburner goes down, my feed is “down” (even when it really isn’t). People are unable to retrieve my content through feeds.

You may have seen services like Bit.ly or TinyURL. They are convenient in that they shorten a URL for use on services that only allow a finite number of characters. But, if they go down, all of those URLs also go down.

Feedburner was acquired by Google somewhere around May of 2007. After raising only $10M in capital over two separate rounds of funding – they managed to exit to Google for a reported $100M.  Not a bad turn around. The upshot for the users was that the service would, or should, become much more stable. Combine that with the talents of all of those Google engineers drumming away on their keyboards in Mountain View, California – and you’ve got yourself something of great value.

To top it off – Google decided to lift the veil on Pro accounts and give them away for free.

On Sunday, after years of having the service off, I wanted to find out how many people were subscribed to my blog’s feed. The obvious choice was Feedburner. Surely by now they’ve figured out their stability issues, they’ve improved the system 10-fold or more, and they’ve probably got some features that would “wow” me. That simply wasn’t so. Hours after installing the needed plugins Feedburner went down. So did my feed. When the service came back up I logged in to see if there was anything new at Feedburner. Generally speaking, there wasn’t. In fact, some of the tools that I used to rely on didn’t seem to perform as well as I had remembered.

So, in my opinion, Feedburner is dead.

To top if off – Feedburner put my number of subscribers at a relatively low number. This could have been due to the downtime which made the count be a little off. Who knows? Who cares.  I am not going to try to count them anymore.  If you are reading this post from a feed, consider stopping by the site now and then. Thanks.

Side note: Please check the URL of the feed you are subscribed to for this site.  It should be http://cdevroe.com/feed/ and not anything with “feedburner” in it.