I almost feel guilty about positioning this as a problem. With earthquakes devasting an entire nation, with the U.S. economy sending the world economic markets into the crapper, this one isn’t on a level to legitimately describe it as a nightmare.
But it sure felt like one.
Like so many other bloggers who are foolish enough to obsess over their Feedburner number, I woke up two days ago to a worst-case scenario from blogging hell: my feedburner total had been cut in half. Overnight.
After laboring for seven months to build a loyal readership and subscriber base, half of them suddenly decided to bail. All on one day.
Or so it seemed.
I quickly emailed my mentor, who keeps me safe and sane from all things technical in this realm, to sound the alarm. She’d been urging me all along to not pay too much attention to this statistic, but her rationale for that advice always escaped me.
With typical reassuring calm, she explained that this happens once or twice a year, and it would be fine the next day.
Didn’t happen. That 50% of my readership that no longer loves me still didn’t love me.
But as she always does, she served up some calming thoughts, which I’d like to share with you here. Because upon checking the Feedburner tally elsewhere, I see that pretty much everybody is experiencing the same depressing thing.
Here’s what she tells us all:
“Feedburner is a neglected child. It’s very very important to understand that for your own peace of mind, otherwise watching the numbers can cause panic attacks. Google periodically does a major screwup on collecting information and they’re not great about updating it the same day. If it doesn’t go up in a couple days, then it might be an actual problem. Normally your feed numbers are based on how many readers accessed their feed readers that day + the most recent number of e-mail subscribers. This is why the numbers will go up or down 30-50/day, sometimes more. And it’s why for some blogs they dip on weekends. I think there’s also some alchemy involved.
My feed is also down 50% today. If I look at my long term stats, I can see that this happens every 5-6 months. No biggie and no reflection of reality or of who actually received my post.
There is a 95% likelihood that this has no bearing on actual subscribers. Google just doesn’t love Feedburner enough to make any real improvements or, it seems, deal with these occasional data screwups. Normally Feedburner is still handy because it allows us to monitor average users and allows a blog to move from domain to domain without losing all its readers. But on days like this, it’s just worth ignoring. I only check my subscribers every week or so and look at the last week’s data.”
I don’t know about you, but I will re-read this tomorrow if my number doesn’t return to its previous levels.
She also forwarded me this link, which is directly from the Feedburner’s mouth, as a somewhat vague explanation: https://feedburnerstatus.blogspot.com/2010/01/issue-subscriber-numbers-reported-by.html.
If anybody wants to shed further light on this nightmare — hey, you think Time Magazine wouldn’t call a quick meeting if they learned their readership was slashed by half overnight? — please chime in.