Over the past few days many of us have seen a significant drop in our RSS subscriber count in our FeedBurner account.

The FeedBurner help group – if we can call it that way, as no one ever seems to answer – is filled with messages from users who have “lost” even thousands of subscribers overnight. What’s the answer these users get? The silent treatment. And it’s not the first time users report these drops and get no answer.

OK, we’ve seen a pattern in these drops and it involves the Google Reader subscribers. With Google Reader being probably the most popular feed subscription tool worldwide, there’s no wonder that the drop percentage ranges from 30% to 70% in some cases.

So, just for the sake of remaining optimistic about this situation, let’s presume that Google is working on a way to better integrate these two services (FeedBurner and Reader) to provide better statistics to us users.

Even so, this does not explain the lack of updates on the FeedReader Status blog or the lack on a 2 line message on the help board that would definitely calm down the spirits. And as the case is not singular, and the lack of communication seems to turn into a habit, I cannot help but thinking that ever since Google took over FeedBurner, the relationship between the project team and the users has gone from good, to bad, to worse.

A change of attitude is required in this age of instant communication, otherwise even if Google is running the service, competition will eat it up. “All this has happened before, and will happen again” as they used to say on my favorite TV show, Battlestar Galactica.

Update: After 3 or 4 days of madness on the boards, a Google team member addressed a short message confirming that the issue is related to Google’s Feedfetcher and has been reported to the responsible department. It took a while…

Update 2: An acknowledgement of the issue is finally made official on the FeedBurner blog. 3 to 4 days after users started to ask questions about it.

24 comments on “The FeedBurner Subscriber Count Drop Issue

  • Personally, I gave up complaining about it. I just copy / paste the number whenever the damn thing works and update as it goes up, or down.

    Yeah, I might not have 761 subscribers now, I might have 780 or 743, but who cares! It’s better than showing 284, right?

    I’m sure most of us are doing this this way. Let me know when Google does something about it. 😉

  • Adrian, I gave up using their tool to display the count too. I just hand-update it once a week or so and that’s it. Still a guy who runs a blogs’ top cannot retrieve my count, even if it’s public. Have asked questions. Have sent mails. No answer, so I gave up and wait for the right service to come out and give me what I need and also respect our needs in terms of communication.

  • The lack of interaction on the Feedburner help boards surprises me too. I’ve gone from 2800 to under 1,000 in two days, so that definitely caught me eye. At least with such a large drop, it’s easy to write it off: the odds of 2,000 subscribers bailing in two days are pretty slim.

    For beginning bloggers, though, the glitch drops are harder to distinguish, so just a quick message from Feedburner staff would help them a ton. Fortunately, I’ve really learned to chill about the whole issue. I would be nice if this kind of drop wasn’t such a regular occurrence, though…

  • Sara, we all got used to it since we’ve seen quite a lot of it lately, and yes, the odds of loosing so many subscribers are extremely thin.

    This blog had long time spans with no updates and the count still went up.

    It’s the lack of communication with such a highly though of service and company that I find weird and hard to understand or “forgive”.

  • Here is a thought for those of you not using the MyBrand feature on feedburner…

    What if you ever wanted to leave feedburner for something better in the future?

    How many subscribers would you loose? For real this time. Not just a temporary stats problem. You would loose many. I only know
    of 2 choices to help avoid this problem.

    A.) Host your feed under your own domain using MyBrand feature (not possible if you don’t host your blog under your own domain).

    B.) use FeedPhoenix.com to do basically the same thing with the least effort.

    Maybe there are other options that commenters can share?

  • Finally, Good News! I was worried about losing my 50% subscribers and this post is like a good news for me!

    Lack of interaction is the biggest problem with Google, not only FeedBurner!

    For now, just hope that everything gets OK.

  • FeedBlitz has alternative RSS service that incorporates social media as well as metrics, see here.

    To be fair to Feedburner, the issue today is Google’s FeedFetcher not reporting subscribers properly. I’d argue FeedBurner can do a better job of handling such issues (FeedBlitz takes a differenbtn approach to avoid subscriber count whiplash).

    So there is a choice. It’s available now. http://www.feedblitz.com/rssfaq.asp

  • This happens to us all of the time. We go from 90 subscribers to like 50-60 sometimes, and it makes us look bad.

    I will just take Adrian’s suggestion and copy it manually when I know it’s working.

  • I think the real problem also is the User Experience of an RSS Reader. How many of you are still happy with iGoogle.com? I am not!

    I know my reply to this post is not totally relevant but whenever i come across any debate which is RSS related i have my strong points.

    I would like you to go through some interesting discussion here at linkedin, i will re-open the Q&A so you guys can participate and share any interesting ideas.

    Do you really care about the User Experience of a RSS Reader?


    Hitesh Mehta

    Follow me at: http://www.twitter.com/hiteshmehta

  • Google sucks, their entire “model” of customer support that they have introduced to the online world was once known as “crap” or “poor service” or “neglect.” But now for some reason it is acceptable? And every company they buy changes from adequate customer service to the same GoogleCrap model. I’ve been waiting for them to clear up this latest glitch for days, I might just take the badge off this time. Getting kind of sick of this.

  • My stats are down by 600 and have been for days. I get the sense that many people still think Google is cool, but I don’t see why. They apparently can’t spare even 5 minutes to post a response on their “help” forum, and their status “blog” is a one-way broadcast, no comments allowed. They apparently don’t care how this refusal to interact with users affects their image.

    When a client expresses interest in using Google Reader or some other Google service, I recommend alternatives. Today I switched my home page and searching to http://www.goodsearch.com.

  • @ Marc Seems like I am a bit lucky! I noticed this issue again on big blogs. ProBlogger count down by 25%, Daily Blog Tips down by 50%!

  • This is doing our heads in, we are a start up, and noticed we had 30+ readers, which drops to 1 then back up to 50 then down to 4 then so on and so forth…


    Is there a fix ?
    How about a non decrimental solution ?


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