Do not send your subscribers directly to Feedburner

Daniel

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Feedburner does provide a very useful service, but sending subscribers directly to the Feedburner feed is a mistake that many bloggers (including myself until recently) commit. By sending subscribers directly to the Feedburner feed I mean placing an RSS link on your website that points to “http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourfeed”.

Why is this a mistake? Because on this way the readers will not be subscribing to your feed but rather to the Feedburber burned feed of your blog. This means that a third party is in control of the subscribers. Should Feedburner break down or decide to charge money for the service on the future you will lose the subscribers.

A simple solution for this problem is to make readers subscribe to your feed (i.e. http://www.domain.com/feed/) and redirect them to Feedburner. There are several ways to create the redirect.

If you already have a .htaccess file on your server you can simply add this code (it works with /feed/, if you use /rss/ you will need to edit it):

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} !feedburner [NC]
RewriteRule ^feed/?$ http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourfeed [R=302,L]
RewriteEngine Off

Alternatively you can use the Feedburner Replacement plugin that will redirect all your incoming feed requests from readers to the Feedburner feed.

Finally, if you do not want to redirect your readers but still want to access the Feedburner detailed statistics you can add this code to your feed file (i.e. rss.php or similar):

$feedburnerfeed="http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourfeed";
$ch = curl_init();
$useragent=$_SERVER[’HTTP_USER_AGENT’];
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_USERAGENT, $useragent);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_RETURNTRANSFER, 1);
curl_setopt($ch, CURLOPT_URL, $feedburnerfeed);
$data = curl_exec($ch);
curl_close($ch);

Thanks Leo Paiva for the .htaccess tip and Mark Wielgus for the PHP code.

Update: The two redirect methods work only for people copying your feed address directly into their readers. If they click on the link, they will get redirected to Feedburner and they will end up subscribing to that feed. The PHP code method so far is the only way to retain 100% control of your subscribers.

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64 Responses to “Do not send your subscribers directly to Feedburner”

  • Rishi

    Hey Daniel,

    How about using services like AddThis instead of a feed link??

  • Daniel
  • XmasB

    And just to make a point…
    This is the url firefox ends up with when I press you rss icon: http://feeds.feedburner.com/DailyBlogTips

    Redirected or not. The end ersult is the same. If feedburner stops working now, I don’t get your feed, do I?

  • XmasB

    Argh. Stupid ‘,’…

  • XmasB

    I don’t get this. I have redirected my feed to feedburner for a long time. When someone tries to get my feed from http://xmasb.com/feed, they should get the feed from feedburner. And most people I know uses a webbased feedreader, like google, bloglines og netvibes. They all get the feed the from feedburner, since it has been redirected already.

    When I tried this to test, the feed was from feedburner. If feedburner is down, the feedreader don’t get the feed.

    Nice idea, but it doesn’t work?

  • Matt Wardman

    Rick, if you are picking this up – could I ask you a question:

    What do I do to redirect more than one feed to Feedburner.

    I have a specialised (politics) feed which is driven off one category.

    How do I direct that to a different Feedburner Feed from my main feed? When I find that out I can take this approach.

    Rgds

    Matt

  • Matt Wardman

    Egon:

    If they do that on the feed icon here, they will get the feed address here.

    If they do that once they are in Feedburner – i.e., copy the link from the address bar – they will get the feedburner address.

    You can’t win them all!

    brian:
    “it should be something low like 500 bytes per request, so even a runaway feed reader can’t do damage.”

    Can I clarify that the extra bandwidth on the server at Daily Blog Tips will not be the feed itself – that will come from Feedburner.

    The extra bandwidth here will be for the redirect request itself – which will be something like 500 bytes per time.

    Feeds themselves can be heavy – the current Problogger Feed (at feedburner), for example, is 40k. You can be swamped if you are hosting your own feed and someone sets their reader badly. Caching is one solution in this case. Feedburner redirect is another.

    Having said that, if you have a decent webhost that should not be a problem – my host for http://www.mattwardman.com gives me something like 2700Gb per month. I have used 2Gb in the last 30 days.

    Rgds

    Matt

  • Daniel
  • Ashish Mohta

    @Egon : you have a point there, I think daniel is going to test this thing.I am waiting for his answer too

  • egon

    But what if the person just right-click, “copy link location” then adds to their RSS reader? That’s what I do, so wouldn’t that not be redirecting?

  • Daniel

    matwilko, as Engtech explained we are not talking about huge bandwidth here, RSS feeds are usually very light (they carry the text, not the format or design).

  • matwilko

    This is a great solution to a not-so great problem, but wouldn’t the second solution using curl use your servers bandwidth instead of Feedburners, which is usually the idea in the first place?

  • Patrix

    Oops…the site mentioned in my comment above is http://www.desipundit.com

  • Patrix

    I have one problem with Feedburner. I administer a blog where we publish [different] content in six languages.

    The overall site feed contains content from all six languages although individual language content can be obtained from /category//feed but somehow I am unable to remove non-English content from the main feed.

    If I use Feedburner Replacement Plugin, I can’t even use the individual language feeds. But either way does anyone know how to remove certain categories from the main feed yet retain their individual category feeds?

  • engtech

    @brian: it should be something low like 500 bytes per request, so even a runaway feed reader can’t do damage.

  • Brian

    How much additional bandwidth do you think this causes? (I’m assuming the redirect doesn’t cause much.) That was my main reason for using feedburner, I didn’t want to have to deal with constant downloads of a RSS feed by a runaway feed reader.

  • Ashish Mohta

    If somebody can program to check if burner service is alive or not and then redirect ..it will be cool. Because if its a redirect When service is down…people will landup on 404 page if we dont disable the plugin or change the htaccess file

  • Ashish Mohta

    Matt: I got the idea now. I was discussin g this with him lol…Thanks for the explanation

  • Matt

    Ashish

    No it isn’t – if you look at the DBT subscribe icon it links to here:

    http://www.dailyblogtips.com/feed/

    This goes in the RSS reader. When someone tries to access it, they come the Daniel’s server first then get pushed to feedburner.

    If Daniel needs to use someone else to burn his feed (or in fact to point it somewhere else in the site) all he has to do is change the Rewrite rule above.

    Hope that helps.

  • Ashish Mohta

    Ah ok…lol got it..Agreed to your point

  • Ashish Mohta

    Daniel, But the source of feed which the subscribers have subscribed to is still feedburner. IF feedburner stops the source will not change…Its a redirect which means readers never got the feed from the blog but from feedburner….

  • Daniel

    Amanda, if you use your own feed and place the redirects I mentioned or the PHP code you will still get access to the Feedburner stats and the feed count.

  • Daniel

    Ashish, think about those 2 scenarios.

    1. you place a link directly to feedburner

    2. you place a link to your own Rss feed and redirect it

    While Feedburner is working both methods will present the same results. If one day Feedburner closes down, however, the first method will make you lose all your subscribers (their feed will just stop working).

    If you were using the second method, however, all you need to do is to remove the redirect and your subscribers will automatically start receiving your own feed instead of the feedburner one, so you retain them.

  • Ashish Mohta

    Daneil what difference does it make if i offer direct link or do a redirect ? They ultimately landup to feed which is burnt by feedburner…..

  • Amanda

    I like feedburner because of the count is has. is there a way to track for your own feed does anyone know *shakes you*

  • Matt

    Cheers Daniel.

    I’m planning to do the same, but I need to dig into feedburner a bit first to understand just what they can do – so I’m currently serving my own feeds.

    I’ve been doing a bunch of changes after the conversation on here the other day.

    I currently grappling with the code to move dates and categories below the body of a post – do you take reader questions 😕

    David – yes your stats would probably change somewhat, but web stats are quite crude anyway, especially for RSS. RSS stats are mainly only good for trends anyway.

    e.g., I am subscribed to the DBT feed at home, at work, on Bloglines and on Newsgator – which lets Feeddemon sync the different computers.

  • Daniel

    David, you are asking about how feedburner affects your site statistics like page views and visitors right?

    I am not sure but I think they cache your feed and serve it to the readers, so those hits should not be counted on your statistics.

  • David Andrew Taylor

    Just curious… Would putting that “in-between” link take away from your stats as well? Meaning, if subscribers were visiting via Feedburner, do they show up in your statistics?

  • Daniel

    Matt, thanks. I had been thinking about this problem for some time already and remembered to fix it for good yesterday when you posted the comment.

    It is crazy how even popular blogs are doing this. If I am not wrong Techcrunch’s 350k subscribers are all subscribed via Feedburber. If Feedburner decided to ask money from those big players I wonder what would happen.

  • Matt

    Hey Daniel – nice quick response. And an excellent concise post.

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