How to Leave Feedburner

Feedburner has become pretty unreliable lately with a recent problem with follower statistics and news of their API being shut down in October. Add to that the official Feedburner blog and Twitter account being closed one has to start to wonder if Google is simply going to close down Feedburner for good. I have several clients that use Feedburner and several of my own websites that use the service and given the issues with Feedburner I am looking at transitioning away from them as soon as possible. If you are thinking of moving away from Feedburner here are the steps to take to try to minimize your loss of subscribers.

Step 1: If you are using WordPress and have the FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin installed start by deactivating it. This will stop your WordPress blog from redirecting users to the Feedburner feed URL. Since you won’t need the plugin any more once it is deactivated you can also delete it as well.

Step 2: Login to Feedburner and select the feed that you are moving away from Feedburner. Once you are at your feeds dashboard there are a couple things you might want to do. First if you have been using Feedburner to deliver email updates, you will want to download the list of email subscribers to import them into another email service to deliver your blog updates by email. I personally use AWeber, but it costs some money. You could also look into Mailchimp who is free up to a certian number of subscribers.

Once you have your email subscribers exported and saved on your computer you can click the link near the top titled “Delete Feed”. Once you click that link a box will open up offering you the opportunity to redirect your feed for 30 days. Make sure you select the 30 day redirection. It will help you to not lose RSS subscribers.

That effectively deletes your feed and redirects it back to your website. Anyone subscribed to your feed through the Feedburner URL will be redirected for 30 days. This also means any other services you might have submitted your Feedburner feed to will also be redirected. If you have submitted your Feedburner feed URL to other places you will need to find them and replace them with your regular feed URL before the 30 day redirection runs out or they will stop working.

Step 3: Write a blog post letting all of your regular readers know that you have left Feedburner and remind them to update their subscription to your feed to point at your new feed URL. In most cases if you are using WordPress it would be If you are one of my RSS subscribers your new feed URL is Many of your might not notice the change since I promoted that URL and redirected to Feedburner in the event this day came that I left them. Of course you can also include in your blog post how disappointed you are that Google has basically abandoned a great service like Feedburner and let it waste away, but that is up to you.

That is all there is to leaving Feedburner. You will lose some things like a subscriber count and the nice way that Feedburner presented your feed to new subscribers. If you are using WordPress (and you should be, really your should) I will write about some of the options you have to get some of that information available to you again. It really is unfortunate that Google has let Feedburner deteriorate to this point but I suggest you look at moving your feed before Google does decide to just shut the service down and not offer any kind of redirection. Another reminder to try and keep things in house on your own domain instead of relying on a remote service.

Tweet from Google Reader

Google Reader Mobile
Attribution License by byrion

I hate doing things twice. There are not many things that bug me but doing things twice has always been one of my pet peeves. Like many people I use Google Reader to read RSS feeds and as TechCrunch pointed out Google Readers social features are lacking. I was often reading posts in Google Reader and then tweeting them out to my followers but that meant visiting the original blog post, then tweeting it out. There had to be an easier, faster way for me to tweet the blog posts that I thought were interesting and might interest my followers?

Google Reader does offer a simple method to share posts that you like. Simply click the Share link at the bottom of a post and Google Reader shares the post with your friends on Google. Those shared items are placed on a new web page that you can find by clicking the Shared items under your stuff on the Google Reader menu in the top left. For example here is my shared items page. Google creates an RSS/Atom feed for this page so people can subscribe to it and follow what stories you are sharing.

Since Google Reader creates an RSS feed of your shared posts all it takes is a way to take that RSS feed and have it tweeted out on Twitter. The easiest way to publish an RSS feed to Twitter is to use Twitterfeed. Once you login to Twitterfeed you just need to setup a new feed that uses the RSS feed URL of your Google Reader shared items. Twitterfeed even allows you to prefix each tweet with some text. I simply added “Reading – ” to mine. Now everytime I share an item on Google Reader it is automatically tweeted out to my followers on Twitter.

Now you do not have to do things twice to tweet an interesting post you read in Google Reader. There is also the added benefit that if you read an interesting post on your mobile device, you can share it and have it tweeted out without leaving Google Reader mobile. I imagine you can do with with other web based feed readers. Give it a try with your favourite feed reader and leave a comment about how you share your favourite blog posts from your reader.

Subscriber Bonuses

One of my goals for 2009 was to increase the number of RSS subscribers of my blog. To start to reach that goal for 2009 I have started offering bonuses to RSS subscribers. You can subscribe either by using an RSS reader, such as Google Reader, or by email and have the latest updates from the LGR Internet Solutons blog delivered right to your inbox.

Many bloggers create ebooks as a bonus, and I do have plans on creating an ebook for download at some point during the year. Until it is ready though I wanted to start offering subscribers bonuses that they can use right away. I am planning to have one new bonus a month for all of 2009 and they could be almost anything.

To kick things off here in January, I have two special offers to help you backup your computer. If you have been reading here for a little while you know I am a huge Mozy fan so it seems fitting that the first subscriber bonus is for Mozy. There is an exclusive Mozy online backup bonus and a chance for one lucky subscriber to win one free unlimited MozyHome account for a year.

Already a subscriber? The subscriber bonus URL and password is located at the bottom of the RSS feed or email. Just click through, enter the password and you will have access.

Not a subscriber? Click here to subscribe using an RSS reader or subscribe by email. Subscribe now to gain access to all of the subscriber bonuses through all of 2009!

RSS – What, Where, Why and How

RSS Icon. Found at: have been working on the Internet far too long. I remember when the only way to get the latest information from a website was to actually go and visit the website. What a waste of time that was! Face it, browsing the Internet looking at websites is a huge time waster. There is a reason many companies block huge portions of the Internet during work hours. They want people to work not watch YouTube videos and update their Facebook profile.

Not long after I started creating websites for a living there was a lot of talk about Push technology. The idea was pretty simple really, you would install a piece of software on your computer and the information would be sent right to you. No need to go and get it, just open the software and you could read the latest news. I remember it did not work very well and it had so many advertisements that it was often faster to go and visit the websites to begin with.

Really Simple Syndication (RSS) changed all of that. No longer did you have to go to a website to read the latest news and information that the website had available. You could simply open your RSS reader and have it delivered right to you. You can save time by collecting your favorite RSS feeds in your preferred RSS reader and read through all of them in less time that it ever took to visit the sites.

What is RSS?
An RSS feed is essentially just an Extensible Markup Language (XML) file. To be very simplistic about what RSS is, RSS is a way of sharing information in a standardized format. This allows easy access to using that information in other ways. If you want to read about some of the history of RSS check out the Wikipedia article on RSS.

Where do you use RSS?
RSS is used in many different ways everyday. For most people the most common use of RSS is to syndicate information. They use RSS to subscribe to their favorite blogs and news sources in an RSS reader so they can get quick updates about new information. This saves them time while delivering the most up to date information. Another use of RSS is to make data easy to transport to another location. If you have ever used the WordPress export utility to move your blog from one server to another you have used RSS.

RSS has a darkside for blogs called feed scrapers. Feed scrapers take a RSS feed and republish the contents of the feed on another website without the original website owners permission. This is usually done to profit from the information. This is often a reason given by blog owners to only offer partial RSS feeds, to limit feed scrapers from stealing their content. I will have an upcoming post on how feed scrapers and what bloggers can do to stop them.

Why use RSS on a blog?
You might ask yourself what is the point of offering RSS on your blog if people are just going to steal it and read your content away from your blog. You want people to visit your blog because that is how you make money. Using RSS on your blog offers several benefits. First it is good for you because you have an idea of how many people enjoy your writing and topic. Essentially they are your fan club, and we all need a fan club (especially Rhett).

Second it helps you make money. Having RSS subscribers gives you a way of measuring how popular your blog is. This can help you determine how much to charge for advertisements on your blog, there is the opportunity to place advertising in the feed itself, and it is another form of permission marketing. Do you think a review on John Chow would cost $500 if he did not have 20,000+ willing subscribers? People don’t pay that much for a review for his writing, they are paying to get in front of his 20,000+ subscribers.

Third, RSS is good for community. It lets your readers save time by reading your blog posts in a feed reader, on their mobile and in any number of different ways. This gives them an easy way to come back to your website and take part in the conversation or to take the conversation and make it a part of their blog. RSS gives your blog wings to reach more people.

How do you use RSS?
All of the modern blogging software offers RSS feeds as a standard feature. If you are using a blogging platform that does not offer RSS feeds, then I highly suggest you switch to a different platform.

RSS autodiscoveryModern web browsers can automatically detect feeds and will allow people to subscribe to them simply by clicking on the icon in their web browser. This is done by adding a line to the head portion of the document. For example Epibloggers looks like this:
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="Epiblogger RSS Feed" href="" />

Most blogging software will do this automatically for you, since it is already creating the RSS feed for you. Visit any blog on Blogspot or and the RSS autodiscovery code has been created for the authors as long as they have not turned RSS feeds off. You can read more about RSS autodiscovery at the RSS Advisory Board

Feed Links
To make it more obvious that you provide an RSS feed to your readers it is suggested that you provide other more obvious links that allows them to subscribe. This can be done by placing links on your sidebar that are easy to see for new readers to subscribe. Epiblogger places them at the top of our sidebar. Many people use the standard feed icon 48px-feed-icon.png to make it easy to find the link to subscribe.

Depending on your blogging software you can also use other methods such as a plugin like What Would Seth Godin Do? on WordPress to encourage new readers to subscribe.

Measuring Subscribers
While blogging software will create your RSS feed for you many will not let you manage it or even tell you how many subscribers you have. Because of this many bloggers will use a service such as Feedburner to track subscribers, offer RSS to email services and be able to display a feed subscriber image to show off how many RSS subscribers you have. I personally like Feedburner, and use it on the majority of blogs that I run or manage for clients. It

I hope this post has been helpful for the bloggers out there that are wondering about what RSS is and why you should offer an RSS feed. I know it can be confusing to many people that are just starting out blogging. The best way to understand some of the benefits of RSS is to strt using it. I personally use Google Reader to subscribe to RSS feeds. There are many other RSS feed readers that you can use, but I prefer the Google Reader because I can use it over the web no matter where I am. Once you start using RSS to read your favorite blogs and news you will wonder how you ever got along without it. It will save you a great deal of time and allow you to manage information that you are interested in better.

If you are a visual learner check out this great video by Common Craft that describes the benefits of RSS.

Now that you know more about RSS be sure to subscribe to the Epiblogger RSS feed to get regular updates about how to become better blogger.

RSS Feed Scraper – Update

There are some things that make me happy. This is one of them. I don’t know if it was me banning the IP address from this site, or the 403 error image I started to serve to the website that was scraping my feed but the posts are all taken down. I never did hear back from the web host, and I suspect I never will. I did notice that the WordPress bot is gone from the FeedBurner list of bots, so perhaps they were scraping the FeedBurner feed. It really would be nice for FeedBurner to implement a basic banning system where users can ban specific IP addresses from accessing feeds. That would be at the top of my wish list to make FeedBurner better.

Nice to have won that small battle.

RSS Feed Scraper

It appears that I have a fan, ok maybe not a fan. I have a website scraper that is just not smart enough to actually read the content they are scraping so they are getting my nice RSS feed additional content and posting it in the site. They have many of my posts and the majority of them have this at the bottom of them:

Copyright © LGR Webmaster Blog. This feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement.

Visit the LGR Webmaster Blog for more great content.

You would think that would make it pretty obvious that they stole the content from somewhere. I have sent an email to both the email address on the whois record for the domain and the email address I could find for the web host for their IP address in hopes of having the content removed from the site. Considering the email I sent to the address on the whois record bounced for the domain, I don’t know if I will have much luck.

After the email to the address on the whois bounced I thought I would have a little fun with this scrapper site. If I can’t get the content removed I can at least make sure people know that the content is stolen, just in case they don’t read the copyright notice at the bottom of the post. I post the odd image into my posts, but from now on I will make sure there is always an image in the post, even if it is just a blank image that you can’t see in the post itself. This image is important. It is placed in the WordPress uploads folder, but I suppose it could be placed anywhere on your website. Inside of the WordPress uploads folder I have added another .htaccess file with the following:

ErrorDocument 403 /images/403.gif

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} websiteIwantBlocked\.com
RewriteRule .* - [F]

I changed the website name obviously, but you should get the idea. This stops sending all the images from the WordPress uploads folder to any request coming with the referrer of and returns the 403 error document. Because these are all images that should be sent out from this folder I have created a custom error document that is an image for this folder and placed it in another folder (images). Now when an image is requested from the instead of the server sending out the image I have in the post it returns a 403 error and my custom error image, which by the way looks like this:


Now when someone visits the website that scraped my feed that I have listed they get a nice warning that the site has stolen bandwidth, content or both. It only does this for the sites I have listed so feed readers should not be affected.

There are other things I have done as well. I have added the website IP address into the blogs root .htaccess file and denied access, in case the website was scraping the feed directly. It looks like this if you are wondering:


I use FeedBurner for my feeds, and usually they list uncommon uses of feeds, but there has been no mention of this one. I did notice that one of the bots is WordPress so it is possible that the site is scraping the FeedBurner feed and not directly from the site. One of the features I wish FeedBurner had was the ability to block individual IP addresses from accessing a feed. That would make it so much easier since every website has an IP address.

I guess we will see if I get an email back from the web host. I am not holding my breath. I think I might have to make due with this, or move the feed away from FeedBurner so I can block individual IP addresses.

How do other people handle very persistent RSS feed scrapers?

Will the Spam Engulf BlogRush?

BlogRush came out with a frenzy, and it did not take long to be realized that it is a huge target for spammers and people who want to game the system. From all forms of cheating like hiding the widget on pages, creating custom RSS feeds just to display on the widget, and generally just filling the system with spam blogs. I can’t say that I am surprised. When I signed up there was no check at all as to the content of my sites.

In a recent email there are two important things:

1. We’re moving to a MANUAL REVIEW process. No more automation. We will be reviewing ALL blogs submitted to BlogRush. If the quality of the blog is poor, they will not be allowed to participate. We’re going to start reviewing ALL the blogs that are currently in our network and will be disabling the accounts for poor quality blogs.

2. We’re continuing to add security measures to our system and we will be mass-removing any and all cheaters that we discover. We will not rest until the cheaters are WIPED OUT and kept from abusing our network. The manual review process will help eliminate most of them as legitimate bloggers that have put in the time to create a decent blog aren’t the types that are going to be abusing the system.

Will these changes come soon and fast enough to stop the spam from growing in the system, and will they be able to remove all of the spam that is already present?

That email came out on September 20th and as of the writing of this post the blog widgets that I have seen today have all contained some spammy headlines. Only time will tell if BlogRush is able to clean up things before bloggers start to abandon them.

RSS Feeds – Partial or Full Feed?

Problogger was running a poll last week to see if people preferred full or partial RSS feeds. The results are in with 75% of the respondents liking full feeds better than partial feeds.

I personally have to agree with the poll results. I prefer full RSS feeds, especially now that I have switched to a better reader where I can actually read the entire post without visiting the website. That is the biggest reason I prefer full feeds and one of the reasons why I offer a full feed here. I am more interested in having people read my blog posts than I am in having people come and actually visit the website. Of course it would be great if you decided to come and leave a comment or two but that is optional.

I can understand the reasons why many people use partial RSS feeds. They want to encourage people to visit their website for various reasons, but I have not read of any hard evidence that says partial feeds encourage people to actually visit more.

Scrapers are another big pain the a** reason to have partial feeds, although I have found that website scrapers are just as likely to scrap a partial feed as they are a full feed. One of the best defences against scrapers is adding comment into the RSS feed similar to this:

Copyright © LGR Webmaster Blog. This feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement.

This way the copywrite notice is included in the RSS feed and published on their blog/website. I have used this for approach for close to a year on Video Rambler, and started doing it here for a few months now, ever since my feed was scraped. I have changed the text to be more like the one from Blogging Tips.

If you are new to RSS check out this video “RSS in Plain English”:

Move to Google Reader

I have been resistant to using another program for reading RSS feeds, but I have been collecting a large number of subscriptions using Firefox’s Live bookmarking feature. Not a great way to keep up with all of the feeds, so I wanted to make the jump to using Google Reader. I use Google for so many other things during my day that it seems right that I would use Google Reader as well, plus this way I don’t have to open yet another application to read my feeds, I can simply read them in my browser, which I have open anyways.

The only problem, how do I get the list of Live bookmarks from Firefox into Google Reader? Google Reader supports importing, but only the OPML format. Firefox does not export Live bookmarks in that format natively. Following Google Readers FAQ I found OPML Support for Firefox. I installed the add on, restarted Firefox, opened the bookmarks manager, exported my Live bookmarks as a OPML file, imported it into Google Reader, and was browsing all of my Live bookmark feeds in Google Reader in less time than it took me to write this. I uninstalled the add on from Firefox since I doubt I will need it again.

I can now read all of my feeds in Google Reader, and have one Live bookmark in Firefox that loads the RSS feed from Google Reader to give me all of the latest headlines. The switch will easily save me half an hour every day since I will not be browsing through dozens of Live bookmarks all the time. My next task is to integrate Google Reader into my Gmail so I don’t even have to browse to two places.


I don’t know how practical this is but I thought it was fun. Newzbubble can take your RSS feed and create this fun flash bubble animation that people can use to find out about the latest news/posts on your website or blog.

Here is my RSS feed as bubbles.