Pssst. RSS subscribers. I need a little feedback.

Submitted by C B Wright on

So here's the thing: I really like having RSS feeds. I have one for, one for, and no less than three on There are really only two problems with them: first, since I don't put ads in my feeds, I don't get any money off them. Second, there aren't many tools out there to allow me to determine how many RSS subscribers I have.

The first problem is a non-issue: I don't plan on including ads in my RSS feed because it makes me feel vaguely dirty. The second is of interest to me, though, because I suspect at this point I have more readers who subscribe to my RSS feed than actually visit my site. It makes perfect sense, considering the extreme irregularity of my update schedule of late... and based on some non-specific data I have from my logs, my hunch appears to be supported.

But I don't actually know. So I have a question for all the web/server gurus out there: how can I get reliable statistics on how many people have subscribed to my RSS feeds?

Also, if you are subscribing to my feeds, please feel free to:

  1. Post here (anonymously if you wish).
  2. Tell me how long you've been subscribed.
  3. Request any changes/improvements/new features to the feed itself.

Keep in mind that making the request is not a guarantee that I will actually act on the request. Still, if you don't ask...


Comments are active for 30 days after publication. If you wish to comment after 30 days please use the Forums.

1. Hi there 2. A year or

1. Hi there
2. A year or two?
3. They work fine for me as is.

Thanks for the laughs!

RSS Sub here

1: Fence or Utility?
2: Something over a year
3: I like it as is. But if you do change things please keep the full comic strip in the feed.

I'm subscribed to the RSS

I'm subscribed to the RSS feed, but I only use it as a Live Bookmark - I click through straight to the site itself, so I'm not sure how much that helps you, or not.

One more vote for RSS

Subject says all

How long

I've been watching this strip for more than I care to remember, at least 5 years, possibly more.
I like the RSS feed as I don't have to worry about updates, when you post, I get to read. All good from my POV.

If you wanted to make the RSS have me click through to the page (you get ad revenue) I'd be OK with that as well.

I'm a reader too!

I definitely enjoy the RSS feeds, hardly ever visit the site directly. An unobtrusive ad or too wouldn't necessarily be bad if it helps pay the bills.

rss reader

I follow on RSS, unexploredhorizons and ubersoft. I come to the site every now and then, look at some old comics, but not more than once per month.
Personally, a dont mind a simple banner at the top of the feed (like, but perhaps with less cleavage?)

I've been subscribed... 2-3 yrs i think? i dont really remember. i found you on wikipedia, as a 'longest running tech webcomic' or something, and thought... i'd read that. And to date, i think i make more Ubersoft related jokes in my day-to-day than any other webcomic....

I like the feed the way it is for now (with the possible addition of an ad because hey, i like giving money to people that deserve it without actually spending it...)

And another one...

S'up, another RSS feed reader here...

1. Yup.
2. Maybe two and a half years? How time flies...
3. No major problems, keep up the good work I guess.


> 1. Post here (anonymously if you wish).

Done. (Well, it will be when I click Submit.)

> 2. Tell me how long you've been subscribed.

Er, dunno. Probably a couple years or so. Also subbed to Pay Me, Bug! via iTunes.

> 3. Request any changes/improvements/new features to the feed itself.

Don't change a hair for me, not if you care for me....

as requested

2. Google Reader shows Jul 1, 2007 as earliest date for this so I assume that's my start date
3. Suggested earlier, if you're worried about revenue you can post a link to the comic rather than the comic. Anyone interesting in seeing the comic gets exposed to ads. Otherwise, Adsense text ads are less an eyesore and don't break the flow from reading the comic. Your comic, your choice.

1 Posting! 2 1 day! I just

1 Posting!
2 1 day! I just moved what webcomics i can from the folder of 'open daily' to a RSS feed
3 posting a link to the comic would be fine with me and help with the revenue issue

1 Posting! 2 1 day! I just

1 Posting!
2 1 day! I just moved what webcomics i can from the folder of 'open daily' to a RSS feed
3 posting a link to the comic would be fine with me and help with the revenue issue

1. Hello, dahling. 2. I've

1. Hello, dahling.
2. I've been trying to read you via RSS for a few years now, but the feed has only been stable for the past few months.
3. If you'd like to get more traffic to your site (for ad revenue or better click counting), you could take a page from Jeff Darlington's book. His RSS feed announces each strip and has a short comment but requires a click-through to the actual site to see the comic. He doesn't embed the comic in the RSS feed. (Full disclosure: I am a GPF Premium subscriber.)

I am an RSS user. I've been a

I am an RSS user. I've been a subscriber since ...2006?

My two cents

For what its worth, I use FeedBurner for the RSS on my podcast. It acts as a layer of abstraction. So LibSyn (the hosting service) gives me an RSS feed and the FeedBurner reads that feed and offers up another feed based on it. I can then give our the FeedBurner feed and collect some statistics on the number of people subscribed, how many read items on any given day, etc.

I do NOT have access to a user list, email addresses, etc.

Also, it allows me to make a "Subscribe by email" link that I've put on the site. So for people that don't understand or trust RSS readers, iTunes subscriptions, etc., they can still be notified when a new episode is released.

Sounds like it may work for you.

BTW, I've been subscribed for long enough that I can't remember. Perhaps a couple of years.

Another suggestion: I've seen some comics that use RSS just to make a link back to the specific day's comic. Its a little annoying, but functional enough that I stay subscribed. This could allow you to (1) get some money from ads, (2) get some statistics from your web server or CMS logs, (3) drive traffic to other items than the most current comic. Personally, I'd prefer that you not do this. But I'd rather you do this and earn enough money to stay in business than to go out of business.

Hope this helps. Please feel free to contact me if I can help.

1. Hey ;) 2. At least a

1. Hey ;)

2. At least a couple of years... I long ago moved every comic that I could to RSS (All 49 of them, ought to add another just to make an even 50). Google Reader is too awesome not to use.

3. The feed works fine the way it is, changing it to a click through model would fine if you want to but... AdBlock kinda defeats the purpose of that, now doesn't it?

One thing of note, Since the move to https I've been having to click through to one comic before the images would load for any others in the reader. Not really a problem just kinda odd. I use Chrome dev builds.

rss feeds

1. Post here (anonymously if you wish). - Not so anonymously...
2. Tell me how long you've been subscribed. - I've been using Google Reader since December of 2007, Your feed was one of the first that I added. About half of the time I use the feed updates to go to the comic on the site, and about a quarter of those I share with friends and co-workers.
3. Request any changes/improvements/new features to the feed itself. - No significant changes to recommend or request. I would be OK if the only thing in the feed was a 'This page has been updated' or 'A new [Ubersoft|PCtown|OldSchool|KernelPanic] has been released.' but the current format works also.

4. Thank you, As a support tech for a rather large company, I very much enjoy reading each of these as they are released.

I moved most of my webcomics

I moved most of my webcomics from a gigantic "open-all-in-tabs"-list to RSS specifically because most of them update irregularly (excluding, of course, Irregular Webcomic). This happened a few months ago. Your feed is perfect for my needs.

Love the RSS Feed

1. Yes I subscribe
2. Couple Years
3. Great the way it is.

Das RSS thingimibob.

1. Do I have to? :P

2. Close to however long you've had RSS. During that time I've gone through about 5 different types of reader software.

3. Nothing specific I'd like to see changed.

Stats: The comic itself isn't in the feed, it's just 'html' with an image tag to the link.Perhaps you can just give the RSS feed images their own URL somehow? Same file, different name or directory. Then all you need to do is see stats for that image (or images in that dir), and you've got RSS stats. This will give you any initial hits, and depending on the reader, any subsequent views (non-cached) that get pulled up.

I don't know if site-based readers like Google Reader actually cache/re-host all the content for the user or not. Easy to find out though (Right click on the image in Google Reader and hit Properties after all).
Not sure how you could easily implement this in Drupal or it's RSS feed, since that just chucks up the same info as a post (usually). You'd probably have to modify the RSS feed module source to do it, which is...... painful. :(
A simple way to keep the same image directory would be to add an 'rss' dir link that points to the current directory. This way, /files/comics/hd20110131.png could also be found at /files/comics/rss/hd20110131.png (for stats reasons), yet you'd still have the same amount of files on disk, so you're not doubling up on your disk space.

Been reading since about 2000

Been reading since about 2000 / 2001. Don't know when I switched over to RSS, but don't read any regularly updating site via bookmarks anymore.

I even use on unexploredhorizons for some reason. Not sure why now. Either I couldn't find the RSS feed on the day it launched, or it didn't pull in what I wanted.

I subscribe to a feed, have

I subscribe to a feed, have done for about a year. Love it.

A little impudence

I've been subscribed for 2-3 years.
And if you ask what could be changed ... it's all okay. For some webcomics I'd ask for a comics-only-and-no-news-feed, but you post few unrelated news articles, unlike others who sometimes post comics between many prosaic need-to-tell-you-are-you-listening-explosions.

I'd guess I've probably been

I'd guess I've probably been subscribed since about 2009. That's just a kind of random guess, though. Basically the only improvement I could suggest would be to have a favicon.

RSS Subscriber

I'm an RSS subscriber, reading through Google Reader. And according to Google Reader, there are 619 other subscribers to this feed. Although how regularly they check, I cannot say.

RSS is great for irregular comics

I use to follow all my comics with browser bookmarks. I still use that for comics that publish on a regular, predictable schedule. When yours became very irregular, and had long gaps, I switched to RSS. That was back in November, when you chose to write a novel instead of comics. I'm still a loyal reader, but RSS just works better for this comic. There are several others I switched for, some because they became irregular, and others just because I prefer to stay current on them.

1. Hi there ! 2. Years, I

1. Hi there !

2. Years, I think

3. The feed is good.

I have all my comics on RSS when available and I just look at what's new twice a day.

it's an RSS subscriber commenting

1. hi
2. a couple months maybe?
3. Your feeds are ideal. The kind of feeds that I actually like to have. I can see the content without having to hit other page.

I wouldn't mind an ad. I mean... you're providing a service, the least I can do is take the extra microsecond to scroll past the ad I won't click on. (right now i'm seeing an ad for Naruto on DVD -- nope. don't want that.)

It's not particularly relevant, but the most irritating feed in all the world is, which sends an ad with the feed, along with a link to the comic (which is just a date). No info AND I have to look at your irrelevant ad? Yeah, how are you still in business?
(note, Ryan Smith has the second most irritating.. I only read ONE of his comics series and the feed sends me a title, but not which series, so I have to guess. But at least it doesn't have ads. Still, unsubscribe!)

As long as I continue to see content in the rss feed, I'm more than happy.

I've been reading on the RSS

I've been reading on the RSS for years.