Google Reader – WTF Google?

unquotable sign2Those that know how I produce and get ready for my Podcast are asking me tonight what I am going to do now that Google has announced the Death of Google Reader. My first reaction was laden with swear words. The ability for me to put Geek News Central together, and be organized in 90 minutes was largely the way Google Reader feed the news to me.

A lot of folks are scrambling tonight, and frankly I don’t have the heart to start looking for a new solution yet. It’s like my dog just died :(

Some are saying switch to Flipboard, my reaction to that is pretty simple NOT! Great for casual usage but not for a tech geek needing to organize for a podcast/ I need something for the desktop that is lean and mean. Some are saying Feedly.com, in the initial round they are high on the contention list. They have to get themselves dis-engaged from the Google Reader API though and the time clock is ticking.

I care about RSS a great deal, it is how the podcasting community distributes podcasts. Without RSS we would be no better off than we where in 2004. Google simply hates RSS, they have never embraced it. Hell they have let Feedburner fall into a state of dis-repair, for those that where stupid enough to use it in the first place I would be scared to death. But I hope they all learn their lessons, and start controlling their own feed instead of letting some third-party man-handle it. For goodness sakes run from services like feedblitz, who in my opinion is preying on folks scared Feedburner is gonna get whacked.

So tonight, for the Google brass that killed Google Reader…… Well you know what being given the middle finger stands for don’t yea.

Image: Middle Finger by BigStock

FeedBurner Shutting Down?

It seems the folks over at FeedBlitz are using scare tactics to try and get people to abandon FeedBurner, and switch to their service. Since late 2005 I have questioned why bloggers, podcasters & anyone else on the net would trust a third party with one of their most valuable digital assets their RSS feed.

FeedBurner has done a couple of things to make one raise a eyebrow!

  • FeedBurner.jp domain abandoned and  10’s of thousands left high and dry!
  • FeedBurner Blog Shut down by Google?
  • FeedBurner Twitter Feed abandoned?

Back in 2005 when Feedburner was still held by a private company, I made the following comments on this website.

“Feedburner has a nice service but the question remains why would 100,000 people trust a third party to update and maintain the lifeblood of the one single document that connects most sites to their readership. The trend is quite shocking”.

In August of 2005 Leo Laporte found out the hard way what he was giving up by having Feedburner “duplicate” his feed.

I have cautioned and warned content creators over the years that you do not need to use FeedBurner,  so now have Feedblitz spreading fear that FeedBurner may be shutting down, trying to entice people to use their service.

Personally I do not think that FeedBurner is shutting down, but feel you should always have a contingency plan if they do. Let me be very clear “If you where ignorant enough to use FeedBurner in the first place, don’t be foolish and switch to a service that is crying wolf and suggesting Feedburner is going away!” Some will consider that over the top, but I am serious ask yourself why you need this service. You do realize they are largely just copying your feed don’t you?

Here are some simple facts:

  • Modern browsers handle RSS feeds fine.
  • Blogging platforms have been creating valid RSS feeds way before Feedburner came on the market
  • Podcasters using Smartcast need to read this article on PodcastFaq.com
  • Podcast Statistics are not accurate from FeedBurner
  • Their is no reason to intrust your most valuable asset to any third party every.
  • The only person you should trust you rss feed with is you.

Geek News Central RSS feeds have been the same since this blog launched, and the Podcast feed has been locked in since day 1. Do you realize the value in that?
http://www.geeknewscentral.com/index.xml
http://www.geeknewscentral.com/podcast.xml

I own my brand and control my own feed do you?

Google is Buying FeedBurner this is pure Evil!

I am hearing a lot of people cheering for Feedburner, sure I am happy for the folks that started the company, but this is really bad for people that are now going to be spied upon at a whole new level by the Google machine.

Have people really thought about the ramifications of this? Google will not only know what you search for, what ads you click on but they will also know EXACTLY what you are subscribed to at a very intimate level.

Google has been trying to close the loop for a long time and while this purchase is smart for them, they are now going to know more about some people than their own family members may.

They are going to be able to share that data, cross correlate and target you on so many levels that if you look at what they are collecting already is pretty damn scary.

Imagine now, that you will be tracked across the 100’s of thousands of sites using FeedBurner and they will know if your political orientation is Left, Right they will know what your sexual orientation is, they will be able to tell if you like adult sites the list goes on and on.

The question you need to ask is how comfortable are you subscribing to a RSS feed that is tracked and targeted by Google? TechCrunch

My RSS feed is SACRED and I will NEVER share the SUBSCRIBER data with ANYONE, those that are using FeedBurner will never be able to claim that!

The question is do you care and will you un subscribe from feeds that use FeedBurner?

China blocking FeedBurner RSS feeds?

In recent months I had started to warm to the FeedBurner.com model, reading today on Steve Rubels weblog, I see that China was blocking feedburner feeds this troubles me greatly. It brings home the point that I’ve been making for a very long time that bloggers and podcasters must protect their RSS feeds to not do so is foolish.

When I say protecting their RSS feed, I mean, their RSS feed should reside on and reflect from the domain from which their blog is hosted on. At the very least, make sure that your RSS feed on FeedBurner is mapped to your domain through one of the feedburner advance services.

Although there is some indication that the blocking may have only been temporary, it brings up the point. What would have happen if the feeds would have been blocked permanently. this would have resulted in tens of thousands of blogs and podcasts not being accessible from China. For many people, it probably would not have been a big deal, but for others I am sure it would have caused some concerns and raise some eyebrows.

Today 99% of all blogging applications are capable of creating a valid RSS feed but at the same time, 99% of those applications are not capable of giving good statistics to the blogger. It is understandable why some would want to continue to use feedburner. But in the long run, I think it is safer for people’s brands, listenership, and readership to make sure that we do everything possible to protect ones RSS feed.

So the thing you must consider as a content producer, can you afford to have all of the Chinese population blocked from being able to access your RSS feed that resides on feedburner when in fact, your domain and home site master RSS feed is still accessible?

I wish everyone good luck and hope that hundreds of thousands of FeedBurner RSS feeds remain accessible to the Chinese people. [www.micropersuasion.com]

FeedBurner Podcast Download Tracking Service Denying Some Downloads!

While at Gnomedex I had a good conversation with one of the folks at FeedBurner, and he informed me that they were now able to measure actual downloads. I thought this was pretty cool. They are using a pretty common re-direct technique.

Re-Directs are not a bad thing so long as you have a very robust network. FeedBurner has a very robust network with redundancy across a a couple of data centers. I have been very conservative in using re-directs as everything has to be perfect all the time. My reasoning for this is as follows.

Lets say you have your RSS feed pointed at FeedBurner instead of using your own, and you are using their new download tracker. Let’s say at the same time you are also tracking your shows downloads through Podtrac’s re-direct service for advertising tracking purposes, next lets add the hosting companies into the mix. We know Libsyn and others are using a re-direct to send your file request to the correct server in their server farm.

This could equate to a minimum of 2-4 re-redirects happening on a request for a file. Lot’s of people and multiple services are now collecting data and forwarding on the actual file download request which is a recipe for disaster. The Internet Spec allows for a maximum of 5 re-directs, plus everything has to be absolutely perfect on all of those services all the time, if any one of them have a network slowdown or bottle neck your file may not get delivered.

So in my opinion you are now 50% to 75% more at risk in actual media delivery. Since July 13th, FeedBurner has indicated that they are seeing 404 errors on some file deliveries (aka your file is not getting delivered and everything is not perfect) it appears that Juice, and maybe one other podcast download software tool are unable to access the media.

My opinion on FeedBurner, and their services was starting to soften somewhat, that may come as a surprise to some. I know they are working hard over their but if I would had been on FeedBurner since the 13t,h at least 25% of my podcasting audience would not be getting new show downloads.

I think I am going to have to get back on my soapbox. “Trust no one with Your RSS Feed” at least if there is a failure someplace you can blame yourself or the audio hosting company.

Their are plenty of ways to get podcast download metrics. I have been getting reportable, verifiable metrics on podcast download for over a year. We have not had to use a third party to measure those downloads, and advertisers have had no problems digesting those numbers as well.

According to Jessie Chavez a FeedBurner employee “Some podcast publishers have temporarily disabled their download tracking service while to issue is resolved in order to make sure to avoid these issues. This is only a temporary measure as we’re hoping to have the fix ASAP.”

The question I have whats the value of your RSS feed if your audience cannot get your embedded data from it?
[FeedBurner]

Incorrect Spelling in some RSS Feeds!

This article was updated due to inaccurate information that I want to make sure was corrected!

During testing of Blubrry, we found a very surprising spelling error in some RSS feeds on some Feedburner feeds but it does not appear to be there fault.

Some sites we have pulled in has this error “Unexpected lenght attribute on enclosure element” There appears to be a number of sites with this error were gonna do some investigation and see if we can help the podcasters on those sits as some developer must have been typing fast and mis-spelled LENGTH

Update: We did some more checking and it appears that this is coming from a subset of sites I am going to pass the info to feedburner as it appears that not all feeds are affected! Apologies to the Feedburner crew for thinking it was them.

How to compete with FeedBurner

I don’t normally point twice to the same website in one day but Dave has some great points about how to create a FeedBurner competitor. I personally would be happy if it was either built into my blog application or was a plugin. What they are doing over their is not rocket science.

To this day I do not understand why people out-source the delivery of their RSS feed to FeedBurner when nearly all blog applications have a built in RSS feed. If people want to read my content they can visit this website if they want to subscribe to the RSS feed they do so like everyone else with a aggreator. In fact I would discourage people from reading my RSS feed online through there browser that defeats the purpose of site branding. [Scripting News]

We don’t need no stinking Feedburner Feed Stats!

I have always said that a persons RSS feed is a very valuable resource and it is so important to me that I would never trust a third party with that info. Recently I was complaining about how piss poor the pro stats are over at Feedburner.com. This was in response to the results I was seeing while using their service with techpodcasts.com

This resulted in a long discussion on the podcaster mailing list. A listener and reader of this website sat down and pounded out a program that will allow people to collect podcast statistics on their RSS feed locally and in a way that has not been possible before.

I am not a programmer and I am sure Chris will want to get some feedback on this and hopefully the community will help him improve this tool. I have not seen the resulting database log but their will have to be some database manipulation as many rss readers hit a rss feed on a hourly basis.

I am sure their will be a flood of comments on this and be nice to Chris he built this because I wanted an alternative for those of us that want to keep complete control of our RSS feeds. [cblackburn.blogspot.com]

FeedBurner TotalStats Pro

Over at TechPodcasts.com we have been using FeedBurner for our RSS service via a re-direct from the techpodcasts.com website. Recently I subscribed to their pro stats reporting package to get a better indication of the stats on the RSS feed for the TPN site. I have to say that it is a total waste of money.

Let me clarify why, I have used a lot of statistics programs over the years to track site statistics, I use Sitemeter.com and Google Analytics with this site. Between those two services I have a very good handle on the type of traffic were that traffic is coming from etc. I have used other high end commercial solutions as well but those services are typically out of the reach of people with a website. Sitemeter has a free option and a inexpensive yearly fee and Google Analytics is free.

For the Podcast we use the excellent weblog analyzing tool by Kevin Devin and Chuck Tomasi, along with the reports that the good folks at Libsyn.com provide.

The stats package that I pay for over at FeedBurner is a joke, I plan on canceling their so called pro-service at the end of the month. Give me the same type of clarity you get with SiteMeter and then you will get my business.

I tell you what I would do! I will pay good money for someone to come up with a solution that I can run here on my website that I pay for once that the thousands of blog creators and podcasters can use. This allows me to maintain complete control of my rss feeds, and yes I know the FeedBurner folks have made it easy for you to move your rss feed if you leave their service, but no mater what when you do you will loose subscribers.

I have asked for this before and considering the millions of RSS feeds out their someone should be able to make a boat load of money if they come up with a better mousetrap. But I want to run it on my box I don’t want to pass that info to a third party.

Why would 100,000 people trust their RSS feed to FeedBurner

Feedburner has a nice service but the question remains why would 100,000 people trust a third party to update and maintain the lifeblood of the one single document that connects most sites to their readership. The trend is quite shocking.

The second question I raise and I will admit Feedburner has some cool tools the question I as is why haven’t companies like SixApart or any other weblog developer team built the same information into their applications.

But yet when I see websites that are supposedly leading edge hosting their rss feeds at FeedBurner I have to ask myself why would they trust their complete lifeline and economic model on a third party. It is well known that an update on a site does not necessarily mean that feedburner is going to know about it immediately. Sure you feed may get updated in a hour if your lucky additionally you have no idea if they go offline and they don’t graph any outages.

The instant a developer builds the same tool feedburner has that I can run on my own server is the day I get my check book out. Otherwise I will continue to serve up my RSS feed on my box and collect my own stats which are a hell of a lot more accurate than anything feedburner will ever give me.