I logged in today to see that the subscriber count for BloggingTips had increased from 4,697 yesterday to 5,617 today, a huge jump in subscribers. I was obviously surprised to see this as normally the BloggingTips count grows slowly but steadily. Perhaps Feedburner was previously counting subscibers incorrectly and had now resolved the problem or maybe I just had a huge traffic increase over the last few days.
I visited Feedburner and quickly realised that something was up. A jump in subscribers at BloggingTips is plausible however TimeToTweet had jumped from 26 subscribers to 373, System0 from 33 to 390 and my personal blog from 15 to 365.
So what’s causing these figures to rise? Well, a look at the breakdown quickly shows whats wrong :
As you can see, Feedburner now adds the subscribers from your friendfeed account into your feedburner subscribers count.
In my opinion this is an incredibly bad move from FeedBurner. It is incredibly easy to get people to subscribe to an RSS feed through FriendFeed. Just like Twitter, many people follow anyone who follows them. This means that the feedburner count can be very easily manipulated to show a higher count than it actually has.
This is not good for any of us in my opinion. It’s not good for advertisers and it’s not good for bloggers either. You only have to look at how my blog with 15 subscribers shot up to 365 subscribers in one day to see this.
Some of you might be pleased about this addition and happy to see your feedcount grow but it really isn’t good for any of us. If Feedburner can be easily gamed then it ceases to be a useful and relevent RSS benchmark. Which means that the feedburner count itself becomes completely irrelevant to blog readers and advertisers, which would be a real shame as it’s probably the most reliable way to determine the popularity of a blog.
I haven’t see any announcement about this from Feedburner or FriendFeed so I am crossing my fingers that Feedburner are merely testing something out.
If Feedburner continue to count FriendFeed RSS stats in a blogs feedcount then I’m afraid that today sees the death of Feedburner.
If you know anything about this please leave a comment with a link to any relevant articles. Also, a retweet or digg would be appreciated as I think this is something we need to make people aware of.