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Feedburner Subscription Dropoff?

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I was wondering if any other bloggers out there noticed a dropoff in their RSS subscription statistics (I track mine using Feedburner) these past few days… the chiclet says readership has dropped approximately 20%. Monday is normally a heavy traffic day too, especially with the Carnival of Personal Finance. I wonder if it has to do with the loss of power in Florida because of Hurricane Wilma (6M without power!). Please don’t construe this as me complaining about website hit statistics or anything like that (especially when people are without power or their homes), I’m just a vocal inquiring mind.

I looked at Darren at Problogger.net’s chiclet and his usual 1200 subscribers have lowered to 900. I posed the question to him, in a comment here, and await a his professional response. I didn’t even mess up his name this time too.

Darren responded in his comments that he thought his dropoff had to do with his lack of posting. I thought this wasn’t interesting so I removed the post (because it’s not interesting) but apparently it has a little interest so I reinstated it.

As it turns out, due to a bug Yahoo is no longer reporting subscriptions to Feedburner. (from Joe Kottke himself, IT Director of Feedburner)

10/28 – Yahoo subscriptions are back!

{ 19 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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19 Responses to “Feedburner Subscription Dropoff?”

  1. Anonymous Coward says:

    Wow, so you deleted a post in which you were wondering why your Feedburner subscription base had decreased 20%? That’s why. ;) And because you publish only a summary RSS, not a full-content feed.

    After noticing the deletion, I am wondering whether I should unsubscribe myself.

  2. jim says:

    I deleted it because Darren said his drop had to do with his lack of posting and not something more significant so I didn’t think it was interesting.

    Why is the deletion significant?

  3. Mine has tailed off a bit over the past two days, as well. However, I never read much into short term fluctuations like that. I hardly think that publishing a summary feed is going to cause a sudden dropoff, as you’ve used a summary feed all along — you didn’t just change to it.

  4. Anonymous Coward says:

    Some people think that deleting a post violates the Netiquette. They prefer authors to strikethrough the part they want to retract.

    I still unsubscribed, because I can get similar info from blogs that have full content feeds (meaning less time wasted and easier on my eyes – same stylesheet for all blogs). I cannot understand why somebody would not publish a Feedburner full content feed (less bandwidth use than with the self-hosted solution), except the case s/he cares more about the ad revenue than about the readers. And that, in the long term, can backfire. I am not saying this is the case here. Just some food for thought.

    Sure, when you read only a few blogs/day it’s no big deal. However, when you have a couple hundred feeds to keep up with, our time is money, too, and one tends to choose the path of least resistence. :)

  5. Anonymous Coward says:

    “Strikethrough” my last phrase. Due to editing, it lost its original meaning. What I meant is:

    Sure, when one reads only a few blogs/day it’s no big deal. However, when one has a couple hundred feeds to keep up with, one’s time is money, too, and one tends to choose the path of least resistence.

  6. jim says:

    The reason I only post excerpts isn’t because of the ad revenue (the RSS readers aren’t the ones click the most on ads, it’s the readers who visit by way of search engines) but because I saw, from time to time, my full content being republished elsewhere using only the feed. At least this one if someone wants to rip me off they have to physically do it instead of tell a bot to regurgitate the feed.

    I’m sorry to see you go but I feel I give enough of a taste (I’m still struggling to get Feedburner to write the first 500 characters, it doesn’t seem to want to) of the article in the excerpts but I’ll try harder.

  7. Anonymous Coward says:

    jim,

    Thank you for your answer. I know some people who would have deleted my comments, instead of offering a civilized explanation.

    I am really sorry to hear about the theft. Maybe one solution would be to add a signature to each post, marking your copyright.

    I did not want to sound ungrateful, because I do appreciate your articles. However, I prefer to read blogs in “newspaper view”, while I am multitasking, and the fewer clicks the better. You don’t publish the full content even on your own home page (as many blogs do – but maybe you don’t consider this site a blog?). After a while, clicking back and forth just to read a few extra paragraphs can get annoying. (And I don’t enjoy your font style, but that’s less important.)

    I am just a spoiled reader, who has subscriptions to a number of good financial magazines and blogs, and that probably makes me picky. ;)

    Your site, your sweat, your rules.

  8. jim says:

    The one thing I won’t do is delete comments unless they’re value-less insults (none so far) or spam (too many so far).

    The reason for not publishing the full content on the homepage is because I thought it would clutter things up, I was thinking about publishing the first (or first three) post(s) in their entirety and then just excerpting the rest but hadn’t gotten around to figuring out the WordPress mechanics of it.

    While it is my site, my sweat, and my rules I do want to make it as good a site as possible. What do you dislike about the font? Is it because it’s a sans serif font? I thought about making it serif’d for easier reading. I found that applying ClearType, if you have Windows XP, makes it (and other websites) look gorgeous.

  9. I’m with Jim on this one. I actually don’t like summary feeds myself, but my content was being scraped and replublished, so I ended up switching. As far as what ‘some people’ believe when it comes to netiquette, that argument doesn’t hold water with me. It’s Jim’s site, so he’s welcome to do with it what he pleases (as anonymous coward notes at the end of his last comment). There’s not an official rule book for web sites, blogs, or whatever. Like Jim,

    And, like Jim, I also use the ‘more’ tag to split long entries on the front page to keep it clean and not too long. But if you get to one of my articles via my feed, it loads up the whole article (just like on this site).

  10. Anonymous Coward says:

    Jim, what I dislike is the font size. In Internet Explorer, with Text Size on Medium, the articles look like an 8 point-Arial, while the comments like a 6. I have ClearType on, and a 20/20 sight (I guess), but I still would prefer a larger font (like nickel’s, for example). Your Google ads might also be annoying for some because they have larger fonts than the useful content.

    fivecentnickel.com, I should drop your summary feed, too. Like a bad habbit. :) Actually, I have just resubscribed to Jim’s. (I guess I have no spine…) ;) I have never thought about theft of content being such a problem. That still doesn’t change the fact that a feed like Free Money Finance’s is more pleasant to read (some would probably argue over the use of long quotations).

    Regarding deletions or editing, I cannot be on the same side with the bloggers. Once is out there, if you take it back it’s gonna look bad. One can always strike through and/or add further explanations. But, again, this depends on the point of view: if you see the site as a blog or as a collection of articles. Obviously, you don’t want to see strikethrough in a NY Times article, but neither do you want to go back later to the online archive and find something edited out.

  11. Joe Kottke says:

    Jim-

    You’re seeing a drop in subscribers because Yahoo is no longer reporting subscriber numbers to us. Yahoo is aware of this issue, and they have told us that it will be a few weeks before they can fix the bug. Until then, you will see a lower subscribership in your feed stats.

    Feel free to shoot us an email at feedback at feedburner dot com if you have any other issues or concerns.

    Regards,
    Joe Kottke
    IT Director
    FeedBurner

  12. jim says:

    Anon Coward,
    I adjusted the fonts to be a little larger but only recently did Google Ads start adjusting their sizes which is why sometimes ads are enormous. As for FMF’s site, I think FMF does a good job but I’m not a fan of the posts which are 80% quoted material, 10% links to other articles, and a brief commentary. Outside of those posts, I think he has quality material.

    Joe,
    Thanks for letting a little guy like me know! I just figured the subscription number dropoff was my own problem or something else, not a Yahoo issue.

  13. Caitlin says:

    jim, thanks for raising the question. and joe thanks for posting an answer here :) I did notice that Feedburner has a “tip’ on the stats page about the problem. Too bad it will take yahoo so long to fix it…

  14. One thing that I have tried to do with my feed has been to lengthen the summaries somewhat as compared to the default setting. I believe I’m currently at around 500 characters, but can’t recall exactly. As I said above, I’m not crazy about summaries in the first place (even though I publish one), and I like *really* short summaries even less. I at least like to be able to get a sense for where an article is going before clicking through to read the full text.

    Anonymous Coward: Modifying the rss template to insert a copyright statement, or some such, is a good idea. I’ll have to check into when I get a chance.

  15. jim says:

    In Feedburner I set the character limit to 500 and I publish full feeds from WordPress to Feedburner, I have no idea why my RSS feed articles are cut off at 300 characters. Any ideas?

  16. I believe that [...] is the symbol that WordPress uses to truncate an entry in a summary feed, whereas FeedBurner uses a plain old ellipsis (with no brackets). Based on that, I’d guess that you’re having a problem on the WordPress end of things, but I have no idea why.

  17. jim says:

    I think FeedBurner was reading the tag in the feed as the post, I had to kludge the feed to show what I wanted but it’s a pretty healthy RSS feed now. (you get the first thousand characters in the intro paragraph, matching the main page)

    Anon, is that a fair compromise?

  18. Anonymous Coward says:

    Yes, Jim. Thank you.

  19. Jim,

    I’m sorry to post a comment so late on this thread.

    I use summary feeds because I don’t like people ripping my stuff off either. I put a lot of time and effort into what I put up on my blog. To have someone come along and put that same content directly onto their website (especially with little or no attribution) is insulting.

    Those people who don’t want to subscribe to my feed because of the summary feeds are simply ungrateful and spoiled.

    Regarding Feedburner:

    Ever since I moved my blog, Feedburner has not been reporting my Bloglines subscribers, which are a significant part of my subscribers. My Feedburner stats are teeny tiny compared to what they used to be. I have emailed both Feedburner and Bloglines but neither seems to understand what my problem is. I’m tired of messing with it.


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