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 ubersoft.net, one for eviscerati.org, and no less than three on unexploredhorizons.net. 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

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I subscribe to the rss and am

I subscribe to the rss and am a bit of a geek. Maybe you could look at the log of requests to the RSS page, then remove any requests that have the same source IP on a given day (probably the feed reader doing an hourly refresh)

I have been following your

I have been following your RSS feed for ubersoft for about 3 months now. I don't have any suggestions but if you have to put in ads it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

RSS

I'm pretty sure you can embed some webmaster-y hit-tracking tools in your RSS feed. I have the one for ubersoft.net piping into Google Reader, which has some built in semi-social stuff as well as it's own statistics on your feed which you should look at.
No idea how long I've been subscribed for, though. A while.

Subscribed to the RSS feed

Subscribed to the RSS feed through Google Reader about 3 months ago. Before that I sporadically read the comics, but the feed makes it easier to read them when they are posted. I like it as it is and don't need you to make any changes, except maybe to keep up the great work.

RSS feeds

Yes, I subscribe. Have been for years - pretty much as soon as it became available or I figured it out. No requests.

However - if you're going to provide the complete comic by the feed (which I heartily approve of), I see no problem with having an ad - or even a line of them - at the bottom of the feed. Make them text-only if it makes you feel better. I'd prefer that to the often-seen alternative, of providing a link to the comic in the feed.

RSS

I've been following by RSS for a couple years now.

Thanks for providing one of my fave comics.

I have been subscribed for

I have been subscribed for about a year. The feed is great. I agree with Random Blunt Object that it ought to be possible to log requests to the rss feed and gain statistics that way, though I have never done anything like that, so I don't know how hard it would be.

RSS

1) Hello
2) Umm... a couple of years at least, probably more
3) It does what it's supposed to.

Love the comics, please keep on going

Me too

I am an RSS subscriber through Outlook 2010. I know, I know. However as I work from home, it is far easier. It also helps when I'm reading mind numbing emails from people to change to the RSS folder and read some Ubersoft. It's a daily routine for me :-)

I have been an RSS reader of Unersoft for about two years now. I have no idea haow many years I have been reading your web comics online. I do come in through FireFox and post every so often and have bought goods from RaZorware (some mugs and shirts), so it does work financially as well :-)

The RSS feed is fine as it is. It isn't broken so don't fix it :-)

Thanks for the comics BTW. After listening to your podcasts, I decided it would be really cool if you could download the archives and view them on my iPad (say in PDF format). I know, how about a KP update ;-)

RSS Feeds

I've been subscribed to your Help Desk feed for some time years even.

You should be running your RSS feeds through Feedburner - that and Google Analytics will give you all the stats you need. Highly recommended, and fun, too.

RUN ADS. On the feed and on your page. You deserve to get paid, get paid.

If you need advice, feel free to ask.

Reading for more than 5 years

Reading for more than 5 years (stopped counting)
Subscribed to the RSS a year ago ish?
I won't hate you if you have adds in the RSS feed. Like someone else said, you deserve to get paid.

RSS is just more convenient than opening up 10+ tabs of web comics I follow and having to remember which ones are updated when. If something isn't posted on the pre-specified day.... I don't notice! It's like a treat, Oh look! A new post Yay.

I have been following this

I have been following this via RSS on google reader for several years.

I appreciate that you don't make the comic a clickthrough and that I can read it directly in my feed. I wouldn't mind ads in the feeds - can't get something for nothing, and that would certainly be preferable to having to click through to read the comic.

Thank you!

1. If posting a comment will help motivate you to continue writing comics, then I shall do so!

2. Quite some time. Couldn't tell you when. I have a Comics folder in my Safari bookmark bar, and at the moment this and xkcd are the only two I read regularly.

3. The RSS feed should continue linking to the full-size comic as it does now, but could use a different URL than the HTML page, perhaps simply adding ?source=rss to the query string, or perhaps pointing to a CGI script that either outputs the appropriate image or redirects to the real URL of the image (using HTTP status code 302 Found, with a Location header). This should let you count how many times the comic has been accessed via RSS.

Note that many RSS readers will display not just the current comic, but the whole past week's worth (on the off chance that you've actually released more than one per week) or whatever. This may skew your stats a bit, so you should find a way to account for it.

One other comment: it's a little weird to have multiple comic strips sharing a single RSS feed. If you published any of them more frequently, I would suggest splitting them into separate feeds - I'd still subscribe to all of them, but I'd know what I was getting when I clicked my RSS link. You could also offer a combined feed as a default, which would be what you have now, for people who can't be bothered to subscribe to multiple feeds separately. However, at your current rate of publication, it really doesn't matter!

I subscribe using Google

I subscribe using Google Reader. If you care about people seeing the ads on the site, you can just include a link in the RSS feed rather than the image - it's just a minor inconvenience. I don't care if you include ads unless they're terrible - I don't adblock them but I do ignore them.

RSS Feed

I have been subsribed for over 2 years. I am totally dependent on RSS feeds for all my information. I like your feed just as it is.

RSS

I subscribe, and have for a while, but I don't like reading comics in the RSS reader, so whenever there is a new one I click to go to the webpage. I just like it because then I'm not checking all the time to see if sites have updated, and if I'm gone for a while, I can go back to the first I missed and go from there, instead of having to click backward from where it is now to where I left off.
: )

So, feedback then.

I subscribed yesterday or the day before after someone linked to the commercial vs. traditional post. Following my usual rules, I poked around the site to see if anything interested me, then put you in my RSS feeds on a trail basis to see if you if you would turn out to be a long term site for me.

Having to click through to read is fine. So are ads inside the feed. On article/blog posts, I prefer at least a prefer at least a lead paragraph in the feed to catch my attention. At least a thumbnail of comic in the feed is more likely to grab my attention for the same reason.

You have 620 subscribers on

You have 620 subscribers on Google Reader fwiw.
I've been subscribed for over a year ish.
The feed is great I haven't had any problems with it.

um...

I've been subscribed for... a while. Couple years at least, I think. I just use the RSS as a 'live' bookmark or whatever it's called in Firefox, which lets me know when the page is updated, but I still load the site from there, rather than just loading the feed in Firefox or something. I do however have adblock enabled, which I guess is screwing you out of some money? Will it help if I disable that, even if I never click on an ad?

Ads in RSS Feeds

I subscribe to various of your feeds, and have for a while. I just wanted to say that I encourage ads in RSS feeds - you're providing a very valuable service to me by having an easy-to-use RSS feed, and it's a good way IMO to make sure my paid-for eyeball time goes to people I want to support. I AdBlock all website ads, but I feel good about ads in RSS feeds, as those are sort of ads I've asked for (or at least ads going towards funding something I've asked for).

Your request for comments

I've subscribed to the feed for a little over two years now. Enjoy the comics immensely (mainly Ubersoft).

Why don't you consider putting adds in the feeds? I don't think your readers would mind, you get paid and everyone wins. Even Howard Tayler over at Schlock Mercenary does it. What's wrong in doing it?

Keep it up. We're there for you.

I've read the comic via

I've read the comic via Google Reader for a few years.

I also don't mind ads in the feed or a click through to the site.

I've been subscribed to the

I've been subscribed to the RSS feed for two years now, but as any good comic geek, I read all the strip. I really wouldn't mind if you add ads to the feed, specially if that means you get more money for your work. To be honest, I have a blind eye for ads, so they really don't bother me.

Actually I prefer a feed with

Actually I prefer a feed with the comic and some ads, than a feed that just have the ads and a link to the comic. I have this problem with some comic strips from GoComics.com, like Garfield.

I have subscribed about a

I have subscribed about a year ago using Google Reader, which lists 620 subscribers for the Ubersoft.net RSS.
I don't have any requests for new features. As others have said, you can post only a link in the RSS if you want the site to have more visitors.
Thank you very much for your work, I really appreciate it.

Been here a while

I've been subscribed for at least 2 years, maybe a little longer. I personally wouldn't mind if you put ads in the RSS feed - I enjoy your comic and I'd like to support you. I think the RSS feed is fine as it is, but if it could make me a cup of tea that'd be awesome. There's a python script that can do that, right?

Rss

1. DOEN AND DOEN

2. I've been subscribed for (thinks, can remember back when Kernel Panic was regular (ish ) ) bloody years then.

3. I can cheerfully say the feed's great. Normal hiccups when you're site updating, but that's a failing in the way the RSS system's designed rather than your fault. I've no issues if you want to put ads in the feed; If you can monetize my passive absorbtion of your output, you should.

Errata

Oops! Sorry, it was Scott Adams at Dilbert, not Howard Tayler. In any case, strong enough precedent for you to consider ads. :)

RSS feeds FTW

I've been subscribed to your RSS for sometime now, maybe a year or two.
I nolonger surf sites - I rely completely on RSS (google reader for the web convenience). If a site doesn't have an RSS feed, I just won't bother going back to it to see what's going on.

I like having the comic inline, but wouldn't mind an ad too much. Clickthrough is passable, but far from ideal.

1- Joel 2- Maybe two months?

1- Joel
2- Maybe two months? I just discovered your site, and actually through some other link to old skool webcomic.
3- i don't visit your site enough to tell you what you should improve on; fairly all viewing is through rss

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