I use Feedburner to manage my blog RSS feed like many other bloggers. Recently Feedburner has made two changes to their service that are worth talking about. One that many have been waiting for years to have and one change that has many of us shaking our heads.
First the change that many of us have been waiting for, Feedburner has finally made it possible for the subject lines of RSS to email to be customized. Feedburner has been providing an RSS to email service since before they were bought by Google. The emails were all sent out with the same subject line though, so email subscribers really had no clue what the latest post was about before they opened the email. This is a good move by Feedburner will make many bloggers happy.
Feedburner makes one good move with email subject lines, but not long ago they made a change that still dumbfounds me, they started counting Friendfeed subscribers as RSS subscribers. This move just makes me shake my head. It literally makes the Feedburner subscriber count useless. The idea is that the people who follow you on Friendfeed are subscribed to your blog, but the truth is that the majority of people that might follow you on Friendfeed might never actually notice your blog posts on their stream. For example, the majority of people that are subscribed to my Friendfeed account are my Twitter followers. The majority of those people do not follow my blog but my Twitter feed. Given the amount of noise that is on Twitter and Friendfeed they are not subscribed to my blog, they might not even notice my blog posts on those services. My ego might like seeing the inflated subscriber numbers but that is all they are, inflated and inaccurate. This move has made the subscriber numbers from Feedburner totally useless.
On the one hand it is nice to see Feedburner doing something. Many of us were starting to think that they might just be forgotten about by Google and left to die a slow death. Unfortunately with bad moves like adding Friendfeed subscribers to the numbers perhaps Google would rather force us all to abandon Feedburner so they can kill it.