FeedBurner Got Hacked: How To Inflate Your Feed Count

By Daniel Scocco

Sure we all heard about hacking the feed count before, but only two ways that I knew about involved copying the Feedburner chicklet from another blog or manually creating fake emails account and subscribing to your own feed. The former was very easy to be detected, while the second was painfully time consuming (not that I tried…).

The guys from TheNextWeb though found a simple and efficient way to do the trick. You just need to create an OPML file with thousands of lines containing your blog RSS feed and then import it on NetVibes. For each line that you added your RSS feed URL NetVibes will consider 1 new subscriber, and Feedburner will display those numbers. Check out the video explanation.

Interesting huh? I hope Feedburner will fix this problem soon. Else you will start seeing blogs with a heck lot of NetVibes subscribers out there…



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27 Responses to “FeedBurner Got Hacked: How To Inflate Your Feed Count”

  • Writer Dad

    Wow. And I can’t even get my feed to stop reporting zero for the first six hours of every day.

  • Mathieu

    Interesting, but I’m sure that this hack idea will be spread around, Feedburner will hear about it or see the odd stats and get it fixed soon. Nice hack nonetheless, goes to show that no system is perfect.

  • th13rteen

    Yeah I was reading it on TechCrunch. Well there lots of ways to fake your feed count. I’m hoping that the people at FeedBurner will fix it ASAP.

  • Bill K.

    One way to figure out if someone’s inflating their numbers is to check the number of comments they get per post. A high subscriber count and low number of comments would be suspicious except under certain circumstances, like if you write a blog about chronic shyness.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Bill K, I find that way of checking very rough.

    Some TechCrunch posts get 5-10 comments. They have close to 1 million subscribers. How do you explain that?

  • James

    Correction:

    This is not a hack, it an exploit.

    Hack: modifying the code
    Exploit: Exploiting an error/bug in the system

  • Mehmet

    I am not sure if it is a good idea to spread around that bug

  • Bill K.

    @ Daniel – Well, I wouldn’t be able to explain it. That’s where people like you come in. And maybe those are the kinds of bloggers who can best exploit this: those who blog in niches that traditionally don’t generate a lot of comments.

  • Ultimate Blogging Experiment

    I would really recommend no one try to do this. It will probably be fixed within a day or so. I would just stick with keeping your feedburner subscription count the right way.

  • AK

    Definitely best not to use exploits like these!

  • Nick Stamoulis

    We’ve seen this everwhere..will be interesting to see how long it’ll take for them to fix this.

  • Winning Startups

    Yeah that’s how I got all my 58 subscribers!

  • Kathryn

    I’m with Writer Dad. For the past 5 days, feedburner claims I have 0 subscribers. By lunch, my numbers return.

    We are not alone. I’ve left messages on their forum and seen similar complaints. No solutions other than the problem isn’t at the user’s end.

  • Rajaie AlKorani

    I bet the Feedburner team are working on fixing this exploit right now, so do your business before it’s too late everyone! 😛

  • Luis Gross

    Wow. This is bad. This is going to render subscriber stats meaningless. Feedburner should be fixing this before it gets out of hand, otherwise their service will become useless.

    Hey Daniel, isn’t TechCrunch’ RSS bundled with a lot of Google services and people get subscribed automatically? I think that could explain it. The numbers could be inflated because of this. Correct me if I’m mistaken. 😉

    Thanks for making us aware of this Feedburner bug!

  • Melvin

    goodness I never knew that before.. anyway i think in the near future feedburner would be able to track fakes from not

  • th13rteen

    Hey guys this exploit has been fixed. It was fixed a few hours after all the buzz about it. Here’s my post about this: http://www.webrampage.com/feedburner-opml-exploit-fixed/

  • Andrey Fomenko

    Who would ever be so glad to see a million DEAD readers of his own blog?

  • datter

    “A high subscriber count and low number of comments would be suspicious except under certain circumstances, like if you write a blog about chronic shyness”

    Comedy gold right there folks. 🙂

  • zwanderer

    this hack has alredy been fixed 🙂

  • medyum

    I am not sure if it is a good idea to spread around that bug

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