February 18, 2008

FeedBurner Quietly Kills All-Time RSS Feed Stats

FeedBurner, the RSS syndication engine behind the vast majority of leading blogs, now part of Google, quietly turned off the ability to view all-time statistics for individual feeds at the end of last week, erasing years of accumulated data, without any explanation. Now, instead of seeing options for "One Day", "Last 7 Days", "Last 30 Days" and "All-Time", feed owners can only see statistics over the last 30 days at maximum, and it doesn't look like there is an "Pro" version that lets us get them back.

When FeedBurner was acquired by Google last year, the company made a lot of noise about how what had previously been premium services would now be free, with Google footing the bill. (See: FeedBurner: From Fee to Free: Should We Flee?) I was then worried that the company, not seeing inherent revenue-associated value, might slow the innovation. But to remove features outright, possibly in an effort to reduce data storage or bandwidth demands? I never expected that.

Google is great! So... where are my all-time stats?

So, what's the big deal? The big deal is bloggers that have relied on FeedBurner for any good length of time just lost all access to historical data. We can no longer see how our RSS subscriber growth rates are changing over time. We can no longer see accumulative statistics for click-throughs to popular articles, and and we can no longer show when our feeds reached specific milestones.

For a great example, just look at my December 28th post, "Feedburner Milestone Reached: 200 Subscribers". In that post, I noted when we hit 50 subscribers, 100, and then, 200. Well, the big news would be that last night, for the first time ever, we reached more than 500 total subscribers to louisgray.com, but now, I can't show you that all-time graph. It's gone.

And FeedBurner remains silent. Their official blog hasn't been updated since November of 2007, and as customers beg for an explanation in the site's support forums, there hasn't been any response.

We already know the blogosphere loves their RSS. We know they love their stats too. So, I'm a little surprised more folks haven't caught on to the fact this data's been erased. What's the deal, FeedBurner?


  1. I hadn't even noticed until I read your article, thats crazy!! I hope they haven't permanently deleted all the data!

  2. This kind of behavior from a company after a Google acquisition should not be a surprise. What ever happened to the wiki company they acquired ?

    Maybe this will stop some of the glowing google pr.

    If FeedBurner were open source this would not be an issue. You would quickly find a version that supported the previous functionality; and if you did not you could build it yourself.

    If Google is so "Good" then why dont they Open Source the project ?
    This would be a sure way for them to push innovation; as they would know that if they did not someone else would.

  3. This has been gone as a feature for some weeks but it wasn't until you wrote this that I realised it's been killed completely.

  4. Louis, are you sure this is not just a UI tweak? I still seem to be able to retrieve historic data for my feed through Feedburner API's.

  5. For what it's worth, the actual data is still there behind the scenes -- I just pulled my full history (back to 2004) as a test. You can pull it via the Feedburner "awareness" API (and when you've got a third party service holding data it's never a bad idea to back it up yourself).

    The lack of communication from Feedburner is bad and a little surprising, but the fact that the data is still there makes me think that this may be a temporary state of affairs.

  6. Hello there - this was not intentional...it will be restored with our next code push.

    Steve Olechowski
    Product Manager
    FeedBurner / Google

  7. That sucks. I liked to see how my feed has grown since I started. Must be Google effect on the company.

  8. Steve, thanks for the update. Sounds like the community really appreciates your team's work, and we'll be looking forward to having this data restored!

    Appreciate your dropping by.

  9. And again, without any research at all, people started yelling about how EVIL Google must be, killing services all around... And yet again, it turns out they were wrong.

    Really, I started out rather sceptic about the Google phenomenon. But over the years I've learned to (cautiously) appreciate what they're doing... Apparently there are only VERY few Google fans like me.

  10. "...the missing all-time statistics was not a nefarious move by their new Google overlords, but instead, simply a bug."


    "...who got a note from FeedBurner's CEO saying it was just a bug."

    It would have been preferable for a senior member of the engineering team, such as the responsible lead, to respond.

    Having the Product Manager and CEO respond is appreciated. And there is no reason to believe anything is being hide. At the same such people can tend to be a bit fluid with the term "bug".

    Whether it is a "bug" in the classic sense really does not matter - much.

    Fortunately the functionality will be restored with the next code push.

  11. "But to remove features outright, possibly in an effort to reduce data storage or bandwidth demands? I never expected that."

    That made me laugh :) Thanks for the giggle!