Tag: FeedBurner

How to get 2500 FeedBurner subscribers overnight

Instant popularity via FeedBurner. I thought my two little hacks for WordPress were useful, but this takes the cake.

Note: there is no FeedBurner chicklet displayed here – it’s too embarrasing. Or is that too inconsequential?

WordPress and FeedBurner FeedSmith: Getting to your category and tag feeds

Last time I touched on WordPress and Feedburner, the topic was how to tweak the Feedsmith plug-in so you could get access to your raw feed with Yahoo! Pipes. This time, I’m making some alterations to the plug-in so you gain access to your raw category and tag related feeds without those requests getting redirected back to your blog’s main Feedburner feed.

For most folks using the Feedburner redirect plug-in, getting access to WordPress’s category and tag feeds seems like a nightmare. I searched and searched myself, and all I found was numerous iterations of .htaccess file solutions. None of them worked for me, so I decided to go back to the Feedburner_FeedSmith_Plugin.php file and tool around. This turned out to be a quick fix, with one caveat – I don’t care to burn additional feeds for each of my categories, and this change won’t work for you if that’s your intention. In my case the blog categories are organized by “origin” of the post, not subject matter – what I really wanted was access to the tag feeds, which do relate to the subject of the post at hand. Here’s how to do it…

First, look to the bottom of the Feedsmith plug-in file (located under /wp-content/plugins/feedburner_feedsmith_plugin_2.2) for this:

if (!preg_match("/feedburner|feedvalidator/i", $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT'])) {
add_action('template_redirect', 'ol_feed_redirect');

That “!preg_match” bit tells WordPress to ignore redirect requests from Feedburner or FeedValidator so those services don’t wind up in an endless loop when trying to grab your raw feed. And it’s this same section of the plug-in code that pushes requests for category and tag feeds back to Feedburner for so many agitated users. We change that block of code to this (changes emphasized):

if (!preg_match("/feedburner|feedvalidator/i", $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT']) && !preg_match("/category|tag/i", $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'])) {
add_action('template_redirect', 'ol_feed_redirect');

That additional “!preg_match” string tells WordPress to ignore redirects to Feedburner when the requested URL contains “category” or “tag”, but there is still one more thing you’ve got to do. In this blog’s case, my category base is “origin” – so in place of “category” I use the word “origin”; I still use “tag” for my tag base, so that stays the same. You set your category and tag bases in the WordPress admin panel under Settings..Permalinks – look for this:


If your optional permalinks are set, change the code snippet above to reflect the same (/’s excluded) and save – otherwise set them as desired first then do the same. Now you should have raw category and tag feeds that work.

Two of the most popular tags on this blog are “Fly Fishing” and “Fannie Mae” – and here are their feeds:

  • Fly Fishing
  • Fannie Mae
  • Try it for yourself!

    “If you don’t like it, leave” is not a good answer

    I’m obviously not fishing this morning, and I’m still blaming a Friday afternoon meeting…

    RSS’s daddy, Dave Winer, voiced some concerns with Google’s FeedBurner acquisition. Fred Wilson responded by noting how easy FeedBurner makes it to leave. What Wilson is talking about is FeedBurner’s redirect service – you can delete a feed and FeedBurner will redirect requests back to the original RSS source. In a perfect world, your subscribers continue to get the crappy content you create, and by the time the FeedBurner feed dies they’ve hopefully changed their subscribed URL back to the base feed. We don’t live in a perfect world, and the “if you don’t like it, leave” argument has some holes…

  • If Google were willing to toy with feeds as Winer suggests, what’s to prevent them from making it more difficult to get out? If you can imagine someone tinkering with feeds to favor a certain reader, why can’t you imagine them “accidentally” redirecting your feed into a black hole (except for Google Reader users, of course)?
  • Switching costs are generally inversely proportional to the number competitors offering a product or service. And when it comes to distribution channels, logistics make those costs inherently high. FeedBurner is a distribution channel – a heavily used distribution channel which some content producers rely heavily upon. And I don’t see a bunch of strong competitors to FeedBurner waiting in the wings.
  • I agree – services that make it easy to leave are often an attraction, but that’s not the main reason I use the service; FeedBurner sold me on their great attitude. Google bought the company, and they can do as they please with it.

    I just hope that pigeon-holing folks into a single point of consumption isn’t one of them.

    A side note: There are probably some neat things that could be done with FeedBurner and Google Reader…things that might entice me to OPML-up my subscriptions and move there. In particular, I rarely bother looking at stats, tinkering with FeedFlares, etc., but if I could do this all within Google Reader I might pay more attention. Claim my feeds within and do the manipulation from there – I’d be combining my feed management and feed consumption – one less stop. Allowing me to compile a list of FeedFlares that would be available for all Google Reader users to play with, without me having to embed them in the feeds themselves, would also be nice. And last but not least…I have no intention of putting any ads in my feeds because I believe feed ads are aggravating and discourage both consumption and re-distribution. But I’d consider putting ads (linked to a proprietary Adsense or FeedBurner account) in feeds if they were only available to Google Reader users (since Google users in generally are so used to seeing ads on just about everything Google anyway).

    UPDATE: Day 2 – “The most common rebuttal was the user’s ability to opt out. If you don’t like it you don’t have to use Feedburner. But that’s not any kind of a rebuttal.”

    UPDATE 2: “One of the things I’ve heard over and over from non-technical users who have the same concerns now that Feedburner is owned by Google, is where do we go if we want to switch? Ahh. There is no place to go.” Where have I heard that before?

    What Google should really do with FeedBurner

    Several years ago, Google developed a simple concept called AdSense. You sign up, a robot approves your site, and pretty soon you are making millions from the ads you display next to the outstanding content you create. What Google didn’t consider at the time (IMHO) was the customer service mess they were creating. Tons of ads on a myriad of platforms, placed there by a multitude of folks that may be less than technology savvy. I can’t remember having any deadly problems with AdSense or most any other Google service, but I’ve heard the horror stories. You inquire about an issue and receive an automated response. Generally, it is dumbed down below solution level. You reply to that response, and receive another inadequate recommendation obviously pulled from an unknowledgeable knowledge base. You ask a more difficult question, and the discussion magically (and abruptly) ends. It is a testament to the unimportance of the “little guy,” but it is something a now ubiquitous publicly traded organization full of geniuses should have thought about anyway.

    Enter FeedBurner.

    The service is, for the most part, seamless and simple. Any joker can sign up and enter the URL of their feed, hence creating a new feed which they can then load with clickable goodies and view readership statistics on. Kind of like AdSense, but that’s about where the similarities end.

    FeedBurner’s customer service approach, summarized in a single word, rocks! The site itself is inundated with humor and a touch of kindness. They maintain ultimate transparency through searchable forums full of knowledgeable company moderators. And their response to inquiries, however automated they may be, are comprehensive and targeted in such a way to make the client feel comfortable, and wanted. I’ll admit that FeedBurner is a technologically proficient service, but even if it tripped and fell in that regard it wouldn’t matter. Someone in the marketing department got together with someone in the customer service department and created many dimes of the $100 million Google just paid for the company.

    Instead of spending their time building the next online spreadsheet that no business in their right mind should ever use, Google should go through the customer relationship portion of the FeedBurner subsidiary with a fine toothed comb. The view should be adopting as much of the “attitude” that FeedBurner exudes as possible. There is incredible value there.

    As a side note, I believe people should watch the results of this acquisition closely. Should Google choose to assimilate FeedBurner into their organization in such a way that dry, ineffective, dead end customer communication becomes the norm, there will be opportunities for others to step in. Also, I’ve attached the context of an email I received from FeedBurner regarding the (now free) MyBrand feed service. The offering is definitely not for the layman, but FeedBurner clearly and effectively points this out while giving the technical set everything they need to know to implement. It is a classic example of getting the right information into the right hands, while simultaneously detering the simply curious from getting themselves (and their network) into a world of chaos. Bravo.


    NewsGator talks RSS’s future, and a reaction ensues

    Newsgator posted a company roadmap a few days back. Techcrunch picked up on it.

    I reviewed both offerings, and concluded the following: first, Bloglines is fine for me, and considering the fact that I have been using it since nearly day one, I’m going to need some hell of a compelling reason to switch readers (which I wish NewsGator would provide, since they are a local outfit – but then again, I suspect they are doing pretty well targeting the commercial enterprise); second, I am now enthralled with FeedBurner.

    Henceforth, tweaked feeds, now playing at Thought Market and Spamroll.

    Ode to RSS (and independent reviews).