Is Google Feedfetcher the culprit?


A tweet from Marjolein Hoekstra about a sudden 45 percent drop in subscribers to her RSS feed led me to check the subscriber stats for my RSS feed at Feedburner.

Sure enough, it shows a drop of about 35 percent yesterday, as the screenshot above indicates.

You will usually see a fall in RSS subscribers on a weekend – Darren Rowse has a very good explanation on why – but such a large percentage drop is unusual and seems extraordinary.

A further look into the stats shows that, yesterday, there were no subscribers to the feed via Google Feedfetcher, the means by which RSS content is grabbed if you use Google Reader or a personalized Google home page.

Usually, Google Feedfetcher accounts for some 30 percent of my total RSS subscribers.

Is there something happening with Google that’s somehow blocking RSS subscriptions? This wouldn’t be the first time.

There certainly seems to be something going on – look at this separate issue Shel Holtz posted about yesterday concerning feeds via Google at NewsGator Online. Is there a connection?

There are already questions in the Feedburner stats forum about yesterday’s big drop in RSS subscribers.

Hopefully someone will have some answers today.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Geoff Livingston

    I experienced the same issue on both of my blogs. And I am getting an error notice from Google saying they are having a hard time reading my feed. I’m assuming it’s FeedFetcher for now. Bugs happen.

  2. neville

    Google Feedfetcher was definitely the culprit according to a post today by FB’s Dick Costolo:

    If you saw your subscriber count drop precipitously in your Saturday, November 3rd summary from FeedBurner, the reason is that specific subscriber stats from Google Feedfetcher were offline because this service was apparently out late with friends on Friday night, and well, it completely slept through Saturday. It appears to have rallied, however, and amid firm declarations of “I’m never doing that again”, Feedfetcher has started diligently reporting subscriber numbers to us, early this morning Pacific Time. FeedBurner publishers’ subscriber counts should be closer to what you’d normally expect starting with reports that will be available on Monday morning.

  3. neville

    Rick, thanks for your comment here. Only just today (Nov 6) seen it.

    It was in the spam comment trapped pile, a false negative by Akismet, which is why it’s only now appearing here. First such false trapping I’ve seen in quite a while. Sorry about that!

Comments are closed.