Google, Can You Please Fix Feedburner?

By Daniel Scocco

As you probably know, Google acquired Feedburner a while ago. I really like the quality of most Google products, so I figured that this acquisition was for the better.

The problem is that, almost two years after the acquisition, we are still seeing some Feedburner glitches around. Two of them are particularly annoying.

The first one is the lack of a dynamic subject line for the emails that our subscribers receive. By default the subject line is the name of your blog. You can change this, but it will always be something static. As a consequence, your subscribers can never know the topic of the article that was just sent to them. I receive almost one email weekly from upset subscribers asking whether I can include the title of the post in the subject line.

I had written about this issue last year already. There are even topics inside the Feedburner support forum, but so far nothing has been done.

The curious thing is that this should be a straight forward tweak, you just need to import the post title from the blogging platform (e.g., WordPress or Blogger) and output it in the email subject line.

The second issue is not as critical, but still annoying. It is about the temporarily glitches that we all get on our feed statistics and feed count widgets. On some occasions half of your subscribers will vanish, only to return a week later. One of the big advantages of Feedburner is exactly the stats that the service provides, so reliability is essential here.

Anyway, let’s hope that the Google engineers will solve this issue soon.



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52 Responses to “Google, Can You Please Fix Feedburner?”

  • Sargeras

    That’s unfortunate. I’m planning on setting up Feedburner for the first time this weekend, and this is the first I’d heard about these issues. How often do the stat glitches happen?

  • Chung Bey Luen

    I think Google need to fix FeedBurner as soon as possible. Today my subscriber count drops more than 30%!

  • John

    It is extremely annoying when your subscriber count changes everyday. Who really knows how many actual subscribers you have!

  • Guillermo

    Oh! Same thing here! All the Google Feedfetcher readers are not being taken into account… and in cases like mine that means dropping the subscribers count from 1040 to 900 people.. which for a small blog is a lot! This has been happening since last week almost every other day or so!

    Google! What’s wrong with you people?! What are you testing now?

  • Cammy

    A great big DITTO to the issues you listed, plus I’ll toss in the recurring problems with feeds taking *hours* to process. But yeah, the most irritating event (so far) was having a subscriber count of 8 last week! That had me scurrying to find out what I could have posted that would have alienated ALL of my subscribers. 🙂

  • Camillo

    Yes, Amen to that. Same glitches here…

  • Nurseb911

    I don’t even have any google reader subscribers right now – the column says ZERO which drops roughly 100 subscribers off my count. It’s been like this for a few days and then will jump back up to 250 spontaneously. Seems very unprofessional to me, at least their IT team could send out a message detailing what upgrades are occurring or if any problems might occur.

  • David Bradley

    Google updated on the stats issue which has affected many of us April 1 through 8…ironically it’s Google Reader and iGoogle that are not reporting properly.

  • Roseli A. Bakar

    Hope Google will fix all these feedburner’s issues asap.

  • John (Human3rror)

    couldn’t agree more.

  • Joel

    I’ve been having the same problems (apparently 65% of my subscribers ‘left’ yesterday), but a more permanent one as well… I’ve never had the ‘reach’ statistics work, even though the options are setup to track them… I have a site via blogger… anyone else with this issue?

  • Calvin Loh

    Makes me glad I only migrated one of my niche blogs to use Feedburner.

    If I recall correctly, there was a news report that Google has cut a lot of staff since last year. If correct, I think you won’t see any bug-fixes anytime soon. Given previous experiences with other companies, once they start cutting their workforce, maintenance always takes a back seat, even if it is safety-related.

    Anyway, it’s a free service, so we have no right to complain when it doesn’t work. But I certainly hope the US regulators take a good hard look at Google’s future acquisitions. I don’t think it is a good idea for something as large as the internet to be controlled by a single entity. Microsoft controlling the desktop was bad enough.

  • VitaminCM

    I thought I was going crazy. My stats do go up and down by 50 – 70% in one day. This just happened this morning.
    Good, at least I know that my followership is not that frenetic.

  • TechZoomIn

    Long back I sent a mail to feedburner team about the Feedburner chicklet fluctuations. I even wrote an article about it….

    I don’t think those guys really bother about this things 🙂

  • Zhu

    I also noticed this annoying feed count problem: it seems to change everyday, dropping by 60% and returning to 100%, and then down and up again.

    Not very reliable!

  • Ankur Jain

    As for your first point, I remember reading Google’s argument that “what will happen if you have posted more than one post in a day?, Which post title should we choose as the subject line?”

  • Adam Pieniazek

    The stats issue should be fixed now, according to the feedburner blog.

    As for the more important and seemingly easier issue to solve, the blog titles as e-mail subjects, no word from google…yet.

  • Frog

    Google are really failing with Feedburner ATM. Myself, and a few connections seem to have had a 50% reduction in the count. Let’s hope it gets fixed soon.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Ankur, it is simple, use the title of the first or last post in the email.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Adam, I am still seeing my widgets behave weirdly.

  • suresh

    True in my case also.
    The feed count is changing to an extend that i am taking it light and in the mind

    “It is another day of Google Feed burner team”.

  • Mike

    According to the Feedburner post Adam mentioned, they fixed the subscriber count issue last night, it might take a day or two for the system to flush the bad data out and start actually reporting good counts.

  • Keith Dsouza

    I have been facing similar problems with them from the start of this month, the reporting is always off the mark.

    They are passing the buck along to Google Feedfetcher, but for how long must we publishers be at the receiving end of something we cannot control.

    Along with the fact that there is no really good alternatives available, this is becoming a real pain in the A for publishers.

  • The Blogger Source

    Yea losing half your subscribers number on the counter is really annoying. It happens once a week. I actually never had that problem before the switch over. I’m so over Google.

  • Kathy | Virtual Impax

    On the one hand – Feedburner is a free service… so when put in the context of “something for nothing” it’s quite nice. (The transition was a nightmare – but that was to be expected.)

    However, on the other hand, this is a Google property now and Google is usually MUCH more “customer centric” on issues such as this. I guess the fact that we’re complaining goes to show we expect more from the big G.

  • Netflix 14 Day Free Trial

    I agree. Feedburner is a nice service and I added their widget to a number of my sites but the bugs are bothersome.

  • Ankur Jain

    @Daniel: Yes, going a step further, I would say better give the choice in the hand of blogger whether he wants to go for a post title (most recent one) or the generic blog title(as it is now).

  • James Chartrand – Men with Pens

    Hear, hear.

    The past week has been a nightmare for fluctuating numbers. I’m thankful I don’t pay much attention to it, but many people use these numbers for reference.

  • Justin Palmer

    The email subject line issue is very frustrating. I finally resorted to logging into feedburner after I publish a post and change the subject to the blog post’s title. It’s tedious, but keeps my subscribers happy.

  • Serve The Song

    I have a fairly young blog, with traffic and subscriber counts just starting to gain significant traction…

    I’m waiting until my subscriber count reaches a decent number before making the count public… the feed count problems are delaying this and it’s extremely annoying.

    I love you Google, but WTF?

  • Sheila Atwood

    As dynamic as the Google team has been it surprising they have dropped the ball with Feedburner.

    I would like to see the title of my posts on the emails/

    Sheila

  • redwall_hp

    Feedburner: The original Twitter.

  • Arun Basil Lal

    Ah, I am using Feedblitz for email delivery, its a dedicated email delivery service, and it had dynamic titles.. Good to highlight your email in the junk of emails.. 🙂

    ~ Arun

  • hack

    I love google products , but sometimes feedburner can be really annoying, for example, yesterday my subscriber count drops from 150 to 15

  • Julie Roads

    I agree on all counts – but you didn’t mention the screw up that I find most annoying. My email alerts are sent out about 24 hours after I post. And, it’s not just mine – as I subscribe to several blogs that use Feedburner and the same thing happens.

    I just started a new blog and we decided to pay and go with Feedblitz. Very, very impressed so far. I wrote about it here: http://writingroads.com/blog/blitz-or-burn-branding-selling-and-being-human/1659

    I hope Google fixes this soon…thanks for writing the post!

  • Kikolani

    I finally took the counter off of my website, because I hated when visitors came over to see I had some really low number of subscribers. The content should matter more than the number, but at the same time, I think people feel differently when they hit a blog with thousands of subscribers vs. a blog with under 100.

    ~ Kristi

  • Bilingual Blogger

    Feedburner’s service has gone down the tubes since the Google transition earlier this year. They used to provide minute-by-minute stats of who/what was accessing your feed as well as aggregate item use historical stats, which were particularly useful for those of us who have podcasts. That used to be an excellent way to identify which podcast episodes were most popular (i.e. being downloaded most frequently). This kind of info is needed since many people download podcasts via iTunes and hardly ever (or practically never) visit the blog associated with the podcast. So Feedburner was giving me stats about my podcast that I couldn’t get via Google Analytics. Now that feature of Feedburner is gone.

    Also, there appears to be zero customer support in their forums. Tons of frustrated bloggers and podcasters asking for help or info on what’s going on with their feeds and maybe once in a blue moon somebody from Google responds but it’s a rarity.

    I think if Google wasn’t willing to enhance the service or maintain the aspects of it that made it popular and at least have a couple of forum moderators drop by once a day to respond to queries, they shouldn’t have bothered to buy Feedburner because they have totally ruined it.

  • Sandra Sims

    Agree – Esp with the last comment. If Google wasn’t going to commit to Feedburner they should not have bought it. Maybe they are spreading themselves too thin.

    Also wish with the email subscriptions it would give subscribers a daily or weekly option. I think daily is too often for some people.

  • heartburn solutions

    good news……google more bigger…..

  • Referrals Cash

    I don’t bother with Feedburner’s glitches anymore. In fact, it has become a lovely trademark. Sometimes, your subscribers balloon into the stratosphere and then it comes crashing down again. Really fun…

  • Fatin Pauzi

    I believe everyone sick of with feedburner problem. Moreover, we can do nothing about it and that’s why feedburner didn’t care much on any effort to fix it. It such a public facilities where government didn’t care much about it.

  • Nikhil

    Ya, i have experienced the second issue. Before some day I saw the feedburner subscriber and it was just half. But the next day it was as usual.
    Something should be done about this problem quickly because it is shocking for the bloggers to see their subscriber no. totally half…..

  • Jodi

    I have a question for you about feedburner. I use it – and at this point I have about 2,000 subscribers. But on google reader when I check it says I have 250 or so. I know since I get 1500-2000 hits a day that they 2000 is more accurate. But, why are these numbers so off if google owns feedburner? It is as if people subscribe through FB that they are not counted on the google reader home page as a subscriber.

    Any thoughts or did I mess something up when I set this up?

    Thanks !

    Jodi

    * In case you want to email me a response versus comment – jodi@mcpactions.com.

  • Dave Crain

    Daniel – completely agree, and I’m keeping my eyes out for a suitable replacement. For the time being, I’m a fairly basic feedburner user so it fills the bill, but it’s obvious it’s not an important service for them.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Jodi, Google Reader is only one of the clients that people can use to subscribe to your feed.

  • Jodi

    @Daniel – But in my analytic stats it shows most come through google reader. Oh and yesterday it said only 90 people were subscribers on google. Again 2k on feedburner.

  • eldris @ neow

    I’m in the process of setting up a blog, so thanks for the heads up on this issue, especially with the static email subject. I’ll have to make sure I chose the subject line even more carefully.

    It does surprise me though that google aren’t on top of these issues. They’re usually a very reliable company, but I suppose perhaps as feedburner isn’t their baby they care less about fixing it right away.

  • Michael Orta

    Have you tried using a plug-in (assuming you are using wordpress) titled Subscribe2? You can edit the settings to send per post, daily digest, or weekly digest.

    I found this to be much more flexible plus I get to retain the email addresses of those that subscribe.

  • Nihar

    You are right. The first issue is very easy to fix and if not fixed, it will continue to annoy email subscribers as they will just keep seeing the Blog name instead of the title of the post.

  • Wonkie CartOOns

    I’m running a cartoon blog and have over 3000 feedburner email subscriptions at the moment. I found a pattern of when feed stats go beserk and drop to 100 or something silly like that – it pretty much always occurs when you change the time of your feed delivery emails (for some reason – read bug – it calculates the feed subscriber numbers differently for 1 time period – it is usually fixed a couple hours after your feed delivery time)

    Regarding the dynamic subject line – definitely agree with you on this point. At the moment I change the email subject in the email branding part of the Publicize page manually each time. An irritation with this is that this variable is the same one used by feedburner to name your subscription (so any new subscribers will get whatever the email subject line is as the name of the blog they’re subscribing too) – pretty daft design and it’s sad that there isn’t anything even vaguely competing – not for free anyway.

  • medyum

    I don’t even have any google reader subscribers right now – the column says ZERO which drops roughly 100 subscribers off my count. It’s been like this for a few days and then will jump back up to 250 spontaneously. Seems very unprofessional to me, at least their IT team could send out a message detailing what upgrades are occurring or if any problems might occur.

  • Doug C.

    I love it when Feedburner sends out old blog posts. Like this morning I got an email update from FB of a blog post I wrote three months ago. You have to wonder if anyone is even at the wheel over there.

Comments are closed.