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...


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I cannot get RSS to work at work

I read your comic at work, first thing in the morning when I get in. Unfortunately, the version of Outlook I'm forced to run at work cannot handle your https: RSS feed, so I don't use it at all.


Sorry don't do RSS. But, everyday I automajically email myself a copy of "yesterdays" comic. Every so often I check to see if there's anything I'd like to comment on, like this.

BTW, thanks for your efforts.

If the choice comes down to

If the choice comes down to putting ads in the feed, or turning off the feed, then I'd prefer ads. I read at least 400 individual news postings a day in Google Reader. If your comic doesn't have a feed (or has one that requires me to click through to read the comic), then I won't read it at all. I'd rather have an ad in my feed than have to leave Reader. RSS is about efficiency and convenience to me.

web tracking

i've been reading it via rss for a few yrs now. really prefer having the pic in the comic itself. in other words, no i don't want you to change anything.

but there are ways to find out how many ppl
^^ thats some good tech, i'd figure google web anylytics would help
^^ allows you to view rss subscribers somehow.
^^ inject code into the rss and it'll track it

course there are ways of doing this manually such as

RSS feedback

Been reading via RSS for a few months now. I don't mind an ad in the RSS feed. Even have you white-listed on my AdBlock since you don't run "a lot" of ads on your site. (Everyone's gotta eat, but an overload of ads just goes too far.)

Feeeed me

1. Yep, I'm here...

2. I don't remember... probably when I first heard about aggregators, six or seven years ago.

3, Nothing pops to mind. I like it the way it is.


I've been subscribed for several years. I use google reader, and I open each item in a tab rather than read the comic in the interface (it's just easier to read webcomics that way) so you at least will get the ad rev from my visits.

Not sure if it matters or not, but if it weren't for the RSS feed, I certainly wouldn't still be visiting your site. After several weeks of no updates, I generally give up and move on. So certainly keep the RSS if you can. I think it keeps your fan-base around when you can't post as often.

Keep up the good work!

P.S. More Old Skool Webcomic!


Been a subscriber for a while. Not sure how long. Like it just the way it is.

Hi! I use RSS, and have read

Hi! I use RSS, and have read ubersoft for, hmm, maybe a year?
I don't mind if you are able to work an ad into it - but I don't think that's technically possible, unless you use the rss to redirect to your site, making it not readable in google reader. That works, but slows me down, a lot, because I use cox cable, so a page can take several seconds to load. Theoretically, a page with HTML and a GIF in it shouldn't take any more time to load than the GIF by itself. In practice, that never happens.

RSS reader

I've been an RSS subscriber for a little while now. I find it incredibly convenient. Keep up the good work!

slashdot adds a parameter to

slashdot adds a parameter to their rss feed links 'from-rss'.
Not sure what they do with it.
I suspect you could get a sample of unique ip-addr's of people who
happen to load the page via the rss page link.

1. Post where? 2. Over two

1. Post where?
2. Over two years
3. I use the offline reader BlogBridge, and your RSS feeds come through just fine.


I've been reading via Google reader for ... have you had RSS for 4 years? that's about when memory says...

I'm fine with your feed the way it is, and would also be fine with it if it had ads (as long as they're *below* the actual content) or click-through.

I don't really mind clicking through, I just put those comics in a separate folder and read them from a desktop instead of my droid.

All I ask is that you don't remove the RSS, and make sure it's a permalink to the individual comic if you do a click-through.

If I get behind on my feeds and have 6 unread posts on a comic, but all of them are pointing to the front page, that gets pretty annoying. Even worse is not having a feed at all, I MAYBE remember to check sites that don't have feeds once every couple of months.

I've been reading via RSS

I've been reading via RSS after being introduced to Help Desk (and reading the backlog) for about a year now.

I wouldn't mind ads in the RSS feed, or as someone else pointed out, linking to a new comic from RSS, so you get more ad views.

RSS feedback

*grin* I like that the name field was pre-populated with "Random Blunt Object"! I suppose you were expecting to be struck by a number of those here?

You can add me to the list of Google Reader users. (" - Technology Is Not Your Friend", as opposed to any of your other RSSs, which is probably why some of the few comments I read before posting this can't agree on how many subscribers GReader reports for the feed.)

I subscribed maybe six months or so ago; before that I was only reading random posts that a friend shared.

I have no suggestions to make, nor any requests. RSS feeds make me happy; they work much better than trying to remember to go check a website periodically!

I've been subscribed for at

I've been subscribed for at least a year or more (I forget when I subscribed).

I wouldn't mind unobtrusive advertisements (text ads). But please no pictures. And thank you for letting me see your webcomic via RSS!

Almost exclusively using my RSS reader

I'm a subscriber since about two years or so, and not using Google reader, but liferea (which is a nice rss reader for the gnome desktop)

for being able to know how many rss subscribers you have, the only way (except for using unique ids) is to grep for the rss feed url in your apache log (say for over a week or so), then filter out just the ip addresses in the resulting lines, sort them, do a uniq and output the line count.
something like
# grep '' apache.log | awk '{ print $1; }' | sort | uniq | wc -l

Been subscribed for a long

Been subscribed for a long time through RSS. I don't really mind if you put ads in the feed.

Re: Misc: Pssst. RSS subscribers. I need a little feedback.

I subscribe via RSS, I have for a long time (a couple of years at least) and I don't actually have any requests for improvements - I am one of those annoying quietly satisfied customers...

I've been subscribed for

I've been subscribed for about half a year. I don't mind if you make us click through, but please make sure the link goes to the actual comic instead of the front page.

RSS feeds

I follow via RSS, and I really appreciate the comic and that you publish on RSS.

RSS &c.

I've been a reader for years. And years. I started with Google Reader around 2006, switched to the Brief plugin in Firefox about two years ago

I like things pretty much the way they are on the feed. But thanx to the first paragraph in your post I've only just discovered ! So, don't know much about it. And what are the different feed URLs, and what are they for?

Oddly, the feed for's "link rel=..." feed points to The link to the feed at the bottom of the page is OK, tho.

The only thing I ask is that you provide full-text feeds (as you already do). The reason I read stuff in my RSS aggregator is so I don't have to keep hopping all over the Internet, which is defeated by those annoying "read more" links.




Reply to post

I've been a reader for about a year now. I really like the RSS feed because I can easily keep track of what I've read and what I haven't. I'm using Google Reader to read my RSS feed. Keep up with the comics, they're great!

Subscribed to RSS comics late

Subscribed to RSS comics late last year ( feed for ages). Still look at the real site every now and then (mostly in breaks at work). The feed works well for me. Very well, in fact.

Subscriber. somwhere between

Subscriber. somwhere between half a year and a year.

I subscribe in Google Reader,

I subscribe in Google Reader, and have for at least several months.

I wouldn't object to non-flash ads in the feed, ideally of the textual variety.

Several of the other comic strips I read do the link-to-comic thing, and, while I understand that as a non-paying reader this carries very little weight, I really prefer having the comic image in the feed. One way to drive traffic to the site might be having a link to the comments section in the feed, optionally with the number of comments.

Personally, I don't mind

Personally, I don't mind embedding ads into the feed, for two reasons: it allows me to read the comic without having to go to the site, yet still gives you ad revenue from my view (I'm ALL for you getting money for this comic...really, I am).

Another option that doesn't really bother me, as lots of others do it, is to not embed the comic in the feed, so we have to come to the site...less convenient, but works, and you can set up the link so that you get statistics about how many subscribers you have too.

Honestly, as long as it 1) lets me know about a new comic, and 2) has a way to get directly to that comic (rather than just a link to the front page...I've seen a couple like this), I'm happy. Oh, and if you embed ads, just make sure your ad stream is trustworthy...though you should be for your main site anyway. Nothing like getting a drive-by virus from a trusted website because of it's ad stream.