Why does my Feedburner Subscriber Count Fluctuate?

Posted on Nov 12, 2008 in Blogging
From 1000 subscriber to 400 and so on? How does that happen, and why?
  • Why does my Feedburner subscriber count fluctuate so much?
  • Are people unsubscribing and subscribing as much as my Feedburner counter says?
  • I notice your Feedburner counter goes up and down each day – why?
  • My RSS Subscriber Counter Goes Down Every Weekend – Why?
This week, Hendrik from California Blog and DonkeyBlogger (now part of duoblogger) asked me how, and why his feedburner count goes up and down. Since I didn’t knew the exact answer to this question, I went and did some research on this matter.

Here’s how I found the answer to this question:

I found the answer quite simple via google: (check the link in the last paragraph)“When we report a subscriber number, that represents the total number of individuals who had the feed requested on their behalf on that day.” Most of these subscribers fall into one of two groups:
  1. those using a stand-alone feed reader
  2. those using a web-based feed reader
In the case of stand-alone feed readers, that user has an application running on their computer which activates the feed repeatedly throughout the day. We look at characteristics of those requests, and differentiate between repeated requests from the same person (as indicated by regular polling intervals, consistent IP addresses, and common user agents) and different requests (where one or more of the previous data points vary). In the case of web-based feed readers (My Yahoo, Google Reader, Bloglines, Pageflakes, etc.), those services retrieve the feed repeatedly throughout the day, but do so on behalf of multiple people. Almost all of these services report to us how many of their users are subscribed to the feed. At the end of the day, we tally up how many stand-alone feed readers are subscribed, and add them to the web-based users. The end result is the total subscriber number we report. (I’m leaving a few details out; check the link below for a more complete answer.) The fluctuations are almost always due to people using stand-alone computers who don’t turn their computer on, or don’t load their feed reader on a given day. If their feed reader doesn’t ask for the feed that day, we don’t see them, and consequently don’t include them as a subscriber. Finally, for a more comprehensive look at the various components of a subscriber report, there is a post on this found on Labnol. I have to say; it’s from 2006 but you can’t say it aint informative. It also makes some important comments on “Reach”.