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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RSS Feeds

1. Look a post.
2. Um. A while.
3. I actually really like them as they are. Much better than smoe of the other places I've grabbed feeds from.

As for gathering reliable statistics, have you considered using a service like feedburner? I'm not sure it really solves the issue though.

RSS Feed

I've been subscribed to the the RSS feed about (maybe) a year, I think, when I switched about half of my comic reading to RSS (this isn't the only one that has an unpredictable schedule). Before that, I checked the site daily and have been reading since sometime early in the 2000s.

If it helps, you could choose to not post the entire comic to the RSS feed, just a note that there is a new comic. That would be fine with me (other web comic RSS feeds do that; GPF and Joy of Tech come to mind) and you would get a better picture of who was subscribed that way.

Anyways, thanks for the comics!

I subscribe to the RSS feed

I subscribe to the RSS feed via Google Reader. I have been subscribed for a long time... I remember reading PCtown via RSS feed.

I read a lot of comics via RSS feed. Many show the comic in the feed, many force me to click-through to go to the site. "Something Positive" is upfront about requiring a click-through so that readers are exposed to ads and thus support the site. I'm OK with that.

Of course, with AdBlock, I don't tend to see ads in RSS feeds anyway.

If you have a log analyzer

If you have a log analyzer like AWStats, check the unique visitors for the RSS feed's URL. That should give you a fairly decent estimate.

I agree with just having the feed notify when the comic is updated. Works well for many other webcomics.

Though I should mention that if advertising is a major source of income, you might think of other ways to monetize your work.

I've been a RSS subscriber

I've been a RSS subscriber for about a year now.

Another Google Reader user

I've been subscribed for some years. I've stopped reading comics without feeds, with a handful of exceptions.

I don't mind clicking through, nor do I mind ads in my feeds.

I use Feedburner, and the

I use Feedburner, and the statistics I have seem to be pretty accurate. It's easy to setup, you don't need to change much on your site code, and your subscribers don't need to update their subscription feeds.

As for the poll:

1. Done.
2. Probably 3 years ago
3. Now that the comic picture size is fixed since the last time, I wouldn't change anything in particular.

Oh, and ads wouldn't bother me as AdBlock gets rid of them anyway.

At various points throughout

At various points throughout 2010, I moved all my web comic reading (and some miscellaneous sites) into Google Reader. Couldn't say exactly when Ubersoft made it in, but ever since then, I've been a much more regular reader of the comic. Previously, I'd only visit the site when it occurred to me to do so, which was usually at random, with several months in between.

I don't mind a small ad or two in the feed. Would prefer it be below the comic than above, though, or framed in such a way that my scanning brain doesn't mistake "ad for another comic" for the actual comic I'm expecting. :)

RSS reader for a

RSS reader for a while.
According to GReader, 280 people subscribe to this feed (through them). Don't know how accurate that is.


Another Google Reader


I use RSS with my webcomic but only include a thumbnail image. Many of the comics I subscribe to don't include any image at all in their RSS feed.

For a while my RSS was showing the full size image and site traffic (and ad revenue) took a big hit. So I see it as an either/or situation. Either you make it so readers come to your site or embed ads in your RSS, or kiss half your ad traffic goodbye.



I follow the RSS, have for a while tho I'm not sure how long as I have gone through several waves of adding all the webcomics I like to my rss reader. It might have been as recent as about 6 months ago, or as long as 2 years. Probably more towards the 2 years, as most of the comics I added 6 months ago were stuff that I PageToRSSed. I love that the RSS has the full comic, tho it wouldn't bother me if it also had ads. Nothing really I'd like to change about the RSS, it's great as is!

I've subscribed via RSS

I've subscribed via RSS for... guh... I dunno, about a year? two? A while I'm sure. I use it for all my web comics, news, and other various blogs that I follow so if I (heaven forbid) should happen to be away from the internets for a few days I don't fall behind.

The only improvement I'd request is more frequency of updates :D

But to solve the advertising issue, I personally have no issue with the RSS feed just saying "Comic Updated" and providing a permalink to that specific comic. A thumbnail is nice too, but a full-fledged copy of the image isn't necessary and sometimes (such as when I'm at work) can cause problems :D

Mostly RSS

I read most of my periodically-updated content sites via RSS as of several months ago.

RSS reader

I have read your site via RSS for several years.
Some of my other feeds post only a few lines on their feed, and I have to go to their site to view the content. While this is annoying, I would be willing to do that for your feeds if the site visits (with the resulting ad views) increase your revenue.

Some RSS stats.

I subscribe via your rss feed.
Google Reader says you have 619 subscribers.

I tried checking your feed rank:

Unfortunately I got this error...not sure what happened.

Error submitting your feed URL!
Unknown format, or format could not be parsed!
Site down
Feed size is larger than 256 KB
Link should open an XML based feed, supported formats are RSS, RDF, and Atom.
Bad Link


1. I subscribe.
2. Have for a while (about a year, maybe?)
3. Feed is fine. Incidentally, I wouldn't be put off by an ad at the bottom of the feed.

1. Hiiiiiiiiii. 2. Um. A

1. Hiiiiiiiiii.
2. Um. A couple of years, maybe? I forget.
3. Nah.

Long time lrker, first time poster

1) Anonymously? On the internet?
2) roughly a year
3) more frequent comics?

1. Thanks, keep the content

1. Thanks, keep the content coming
2. Over a year
3. You should subscribe to your own comic feeds and then get sad you don't post regularly!


1. Comment 2. About a year -

1. Comment
2. About a year - Google Reader
3. No Requests at this time
4. GOTO 1

Live Bookmark

I use the RSS feed as a Live Bookmark so that I can see when there's something new.
This means when there's a new comic I click and visit the site because the feed contents are not displayed in the drop-down - just Titles, etc.

Thank you for your hard work.



Some thoughts so far...

So based on the comments so far (which came a lot faster than expected!) I have these thoughts:

1. Right now the goal isn't to make more money, just figure out how many people subscribe to the feeds. When I set up the RSS feed in the first place, I knew it would potentially cut into ad revenue... however, I have so many readers who use AdBlock to begin with (the consequence of attracting a certain... ah... segment of the population, heh) that I didn't think it would make a noticeable difference.

2. I wanted to include the whole image of the comic because it made the RSS feed more convenient, and I definitely plan to keep doing that. Besides, every time Drupal does something to screw up the image in the RSS feed (i.e., reducing it to a thumbnail, or removing it entirely) I never hear the end of it. ;-)

3. No plans to include ads in the feed at the moment, though based on the feedback so far the idea doesn't seem to bother people as much as I thought it would.

4. I'd sure like to post regularly. Honest. Things just keep coming up... shiny, shiny things.

Thanks for all the comments so far!

Writer, former musician, occasional cartoonist, and noted authority on his own opinions.


I'm a reader of The Feed, for......a few months now. Can't be sure how much. I've been a sporadic reader beforehand, but as soon as I got my RSS Reader set up, and I remembered this comic next, I went and put it on there!

An idea on how to get money from the readers of the feed without ads is to require clicking in the feed to your site in order to see the comic. I do it for so many of my other webcomic feeds (either due to them not having the image or not being able to scroll to see the rest of it in my window) that it's not really a bother. That way, we get notified, you get your pageviews.