Now that Friendfeed has decided to report the number of people who follow you on their service as “subscribers” when it polls an RSS feed, how over-inflated are your subscriber numbers?
A couple of folks in the comments there have already pointed out the obvious, being subscribed to someone on Friendfeed, and maybe seeing just the headline of a blog post included in my feed, does not an RSS subscriber make. In fact, as I’ve pointed out many times, while I’m happy to pull all my various stuff on to Friendfeed and make it available in one place as a convenience to you, I really don’t like the fact that my full text RSS feed gets reduced to a lousy headline there. I think that makes Friendfeed a crappy way to interact with RSS feeds. Given the fact that traffic from Friendfeed to my blogs is basically non-existent, I assume that the folks on Friendfeed who want to read my blog are subscribed to it elsehwere for the full feed, and now being counted again as subscribers, for no good reason. On top of that, since Friendfeed is lumping everyone together, both of my blogs, and I assume the blog I occasionally write technology posts for, are getting the same subscriber counts, when it’s obvious to anyone who looks through my subscribers that very few of them would have any interest in reading both blogs.
In fact the subscriber numbers for my Child Abuse Survivor blog, which draws very few tech-savvy readers likely to use RSS, went up close to 300% today. I highly doubt any of the 153 Friendfeed-reported subscribers even know it’s included there, let alone read it!
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always taken subscriber counts with a grain of salt. Just because Bloglines reports a number doesn’t mean all of those people even still use Bloglines, or log in and read anything, for example, but I could at least figure the actual number of folks reading was some percentage of what was reported, and be pretty accurate. Now, that percentage got a lot lower, and I’m not sure subscriber counts mean anything at all.
I can either ignore the increase in subscriber counts, or pull my blog feeds out of Friendfeed so they don’t get polled any more. Given the paucity of traffic or comments from my Friendfeed stream, I’m tempted to do the latter. However, that would go against my theory of pulling the blog posts to any number of different services (Twitter, Facebook, RSS, etc.) so that you, the reader, can follow along wherever you already hang out. So, I’ll just ignore the increased subscriber counts. They are truly meaningless.