How does FeedBurner calculate total item use?
May 6, 2009 9:34 AM   Subscribe

How does FeedBurner calculate total item use?

Here are my FeedBurner stats for yesterday:
  • Subscribers: 4242
  • Reach: 1984
  • Total item use: 8579
Why is my total item use more than four times my reach? If reach is people who have viewed or clicked, then 6595 people "used" my content yesterday without viewing or clicking. What did they do?

(I asked this question at FeedBurner but got no response.)
posted by futility closet to Computers & Internet (1 answer total)
Not so helpful, I know, but in Sept. 2006, I had the following exchange with someone who worked at FeedBurner at the time. My question:
I've noticed that FeedBurner stats can shift dramatically from day to day. On Thursday, I had 1,508 readers - on Friday, just 610. Also on Thursday, over a thousand of those readers were allegedly on My Yahoo - on Friday, only 11. Any sense of what causes these changes?
His response:
Yeah, Yahoo’s been fubared on reporting their #s for the last month or two. As of Monday when I last spoke to them about this, they tell me it’ll be 2-3 weeks and things will go back to normal. I’m not holding my breath, but that’s the most likely explanation.

Less dramatic fluctuations are normal too – if I don’t fire up my computer for a day and I’m using a stand-alone app instead of a web-based service like Bloglines or My Yahoo, then my computer won’t poll the feed, and FeedBurner won’t count me on that day. Since RSS is completely anonymous, there’s no way for us to cookie or otherwise uniquely ID subscribers – so instead we analyze all feed traffic on a given day, then break it down to known consumption patterns for various apps and give you a #.
In other words, FeedBurner has difficulties counting stuff. Obviously this exchange is quite old, but clearly the main problem is organic (ie, the anonymous nature of RSS), so it may be that not much has changed since then.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 9:37 PM on May 6, 2009

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