Feedburner RSS stats strangeness
April 25, 2010 3:40 AM   Subscribe

The Feedburner RSS feed for my blog has suddenly increased its "reach" to ten times the number of subscribers. Is this a bug?

The "reach" metric has been happily ticking away for months, peaking at about half the subscribers whenever there's a new post. Yesterday, however, it suddenly shot up to five figures for no apparent reason and it seems to be maintaining that level today.

I'm guessing that it's not possible to have ten times more reads or clickthroughs than I have subscribers, but if this is a bug, Feedburner doesn't seem to be correcting itself as usual. Is there anything that could have caused the sudden jump? Google Reader Play? Aliens?
posted by him to Computers & Internet (2 answers total)
Best answer: Yeah - this statistic is, in my experience, not reliable. Indeed, I once had this email exchange (several years ago) with someone I know who worked at FeedBurner at the time:
ME: 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?
HIM: 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 #.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:46 AM on April 25, 2010

Response by poster: Damn. I was kind of hoping for aliens. Thanks Conrad.
posted by him at 4:48 AM on April 26, 2010

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