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Are Feedburner Stats Inflated?

I know I am about to commit heresy. Please forgive me, Oh Lord of the Web. But I doubt the Feedburner subscriber numbers are accurate. Everyone who is anyone has a nice little Feedburner icon on their site trumpeting that they have x,000 readers of their blog. How is that enormous number even possible? Feedburner wouldn’t be inflating the numbers, would they? Feedburner is thought to be a definitive source to find out how many subscribers you have, and so it is in their best interest to make web publishers feel good and show them with a little bit of extra subscribers.

So yesterday I signed up three of my sites with Feedburner. After looking at today’s stats report, I think the Feedburner counts are inflated.

I burned the feeds, then subscribed to each feed in: Vienna,, and Google Reader. Today when I checked each site has six subscribers! It looks like some of those services are using different agent strings, which leads to an inflated count.

So, let’s test this out: Subscribe to my site’s Feedburner feed: and then let me know that you’ve done so, either by leaving a comment here or by email. Make sure you say which reader you used to subscribe.


  1. Tim King says:

    Hi, Mike. I’ve subscribed using Vienna (a Mac OS/X feed reader client).


  2. I’ve wondered the same thing before. But I think one of the key determinants in how many readers you have is how regularly you post. And of course what you write about and your writing style.

    I just subscribed to your RSS feed – it’ll show up as NetNewsWire in FeedBurner.

    Also I wonder if this might be a temporary glitch – it might even out over time. I remember when I first signed up for FeedBurner it had weird stats the first few days and then became more normal.