FeedBurner Rorts: Nice numbers if you can get them


Joop Dorresteijn at The Next Web has a post up today explaining how you can boost your FeedBurner subscriber stats by uploading an OPML file with your own blog in it 2500 times into Netvibes (video above).

Whether Google actually pays attention and does something about this is yet to be seen. Since they’ve given little to no attention to Feedburner since acquiring it, the likelihood is slim. Perhaps the solution lies with the way Netvibes relays subscriber numbers to Feedburner, and that’s one area where the rort may be headed off.

I haven’t tried rorting the subscriber numbers here at The Inquisitr at the time of writing, but I’m not going to judge others who feel the need to do so, because the biggest rort of all remains unreported: the standard allocation of a number of large tech blogs as default subscriptions on a wide variety of services.

This is how it works. You sign up with a service that pulls RSS feeds. Depending on the service they will automatically assign feeds into your account irrespective of you wanting them or not. You can often delete the feeds, but if you decide you’re never going to use the service again, the feeds remain in place because they are allocated to your individual account. Churn rates for services can be as high as 90% or more, so the feeds that are placed in each account, irrespective of whether they were wanted or the feed is read, count. If you allow for millions of users in and out of services that pull RSS feeds, even if a decent portion delete the suggested feed, many subscriptions will always remain.

The biggest beneficiary of standard subscription pushes is TechCrunch. Erick Schonfeld had the temerity to go moral on others in covering the Feedburner rorts story while championing TechCrunch’s subscriber count, without once mentioning the known fact that the count is inflated, grossly perhaps, by TechCrunch being offered as a standard initial feed on a range of services. I have no issue with their feed being offered in this way, it’s nice if you’re on the receiving end, but to hold others to account without recognizing the flaw in your own subscriber count really brings new meaning to arrogance. People in glass houses, or something like that.

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