June 19, 2007

Bloggers Panic as Google Stops Reporting RSS Stats

Overnight, from Sunday to Monday, the number of reported RSS subscribers to my blog dropped by more than a third. Yet this isn't a true gauge of a reader exodus. Instead, it appears that Google has suddenly, without warning, turned off the company's reporting statistics to individual bloggers. As Google Reader is among the most popular RSS readers out there, this simple on-off switch is having dramatic impact on the statistics of popular bloggers everywhere, some of whom report losing thousands of readers.

My RSS Feed Subscriber Stats Take a Dive

Feedburner's user forums, where customers share experience's with the Web's most popular RSS syndication engine, shows the ensuing calamity, with headlines like the dramatic "Lost over 50 subscribers in one day???????????" and "My subscriber count dropped by more than 5,500 today!" to the more analytical "Google FeedFetcher not reporting subscribers". For bloggers to whom the number of RSS feed readers indicates a certain level of self-worth, or may even drive advertising rates, the reduced transparency by Google is possibly seen as a severe ego blow.

The Feedburner team is working to determine the source of the problem, but all signs point to Google. Earlier this year, Google made headlines by starting to report user statistics, adding to RSS populations across the board, but this now two-day outage is causing the reverse effect, as what goes up, must come down.

The problem is hardly isolated, as you can see from Google, Where Are My Readers? and Problème Feedburner - Google confirmé, surely the tip of the iceberg.

As Google continues to own more and more of my data, and John Battele and others are getting Google fatigue, and outages like the recent blip with Google Reader stay in my memory, my warm and fuzzy feelings toward the world's best search engine are certainly fading.