FeedBurner Hosed

In the last few days, since April 1, my RSS feed subscriber count on FeedBurner has plummeted, now just a little over a third of what it has been for a long time. It looks like lots of people are having this problem, as well as email subscribers not getting any email.

Perhaps Google should apply the “beta” designation to FeedBurner, too. I’ve figured that this was some sort of reporting problem, because a 60% change in readership numbers is a huge error, and catastrophic for people who have ad deals, apply for funding and grants based on statistics, etc. In typical Google style there’s just one little mention of this on their blog:

Issue: We are observing reduced subscriber totals reported by Google Feedfetcher for many feeds. This number represents subscribers you may have via Google Reader and iGoogle. These lower totals have occurred over the past two days. We’re working closely with the Feedfetcher team to determine when a resolution might be possible.

Workaround: None. Please bear in mind feeds are available as usual and subscribers (feed and email) are receiving any updates you may be posting. This is a reporting issue only.

It’d be nice if they fixed the problem, and doubly nice if they’d let people know what was going on, with a banner or something on the site itself. Google is terrible with anything approaching soft skills, like customer support, UIs, or even telling people they know that there is a problem and to chill out. If they want to continue making money off of people using their services they need to be more forthcoming about stuff like this. Maybe hire someone who played with stuffed animals more than Legos.

This also means we need a competitor to FeedBurner. Badly. At this point I’d put my blog in both.

4 thoughts on “FeedBurner Hosed”

  1. I have seen my subscriber counts vary by 20-40% some days, it always makes me wonder exactly what they are doing to figure out these counts — and why I care to use Feedburner anyway. I guess I use it because “everyone else does.” And for the stats… which is questionable. Ugh.

  2. I’d agree that the subscriber counts vary each day but I don’t pay much mind to it. I do rely on Google Analytics to provide me insight into my ‘reach’. The Feedburner stats even when they are accurate only show me a partial view of the people hitting my site.


  3. @Matt: they abstract your feed, and in the process are able to estimate the number of readers you have, add things to your feed, etc.

    @Eric, Carlo: variations, day by day, are part of the deal. The stats are interesting — it’s hard to tell from one’s own web server logs what aggregation is happening.

    My complaint isn’t with the day to day fluctuations, just that whenever Google has problems there is no communication with their customers. Which makes it very hard to trust them with anything I depend on.

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