The Feedburner Dilemma: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Feedburner, Google’s web feed management service, hasn’t been developed or supported in years. FeedBurner APIs and Adsense for Feeds shut down in 2012. Google has already shown itself willing to shut down popular services like Reader. While Feedburner is still functional now, all signs point to the service getting shut down sooner or later. What is the best way to handle this situation?

Should I Still Be Using Feedburner?

Most articles on the subject recommend jumping ship now and finding an alternative like Feedblitz or Feedpress. But here’s my concern: How can I be confident in any feed service at all? If I can’t trust a hugely successful company like Google to keep its feed service running, how can I trust a smaller company that could very easily shut down their service too?

A feed service shutdown means I risk losing subscribers. At the very least, Feedburner claims to permanently redirect back to the source feed if I decide to quit their service. As long as a redirect stays in place, I wouldn’t have to worry about losing my current subscribers. Would Feedburner still redirect if they shut down? I don’t know, but I’d think they’d be more capable of redirecting as a backup plan than a feed service with less financial backing.

Self-Hosted Feedburner Alternatives?

Maybe I’m better off not using a third party feed service at all. If I host the feed myself I’ll have full control over it, but how do I generate my own statistics?

WordPress, my CMS of choice, has a couple feed analytics plugins available. I tried out Simple Feed Stats and Feed Analytics. Both seem to interfere with other plugins that I’m using though. I keep getting a “headers already sent” error. Anyway, in order to get post view tracking, I’d have to change my feed settings from Summary to Full Text. That’s a change I’d rather not make.

However, on a positive note, WordPress’ Jetpack plugin does provide a free email subscription service. So if you were using Feedburner to email your content to readers, Jetpack provides a decent free alternative.

Can Google Analytics Track RSS Stats?

Another possible alternative feed stats solution is Google Analytics. Sue Feng posted a clever method for tracking RSS feeds with Google Analytics on her blog. By adding some code to your RSS page, this method let’s you track how many times your feed is viewed per IP address. The stats are understandably limited compared to Feedburner, but it’s worth a look.

Final Thoughts

So for now, if I’m not confident in other feed services that may eventually shut down, and I can’t find any other alternatives that I’m satisfied with, where does that leave me? I either stick with Feedburner and hope that, if they do shut down, they will continue to redirect my feed, or I serve my feeds directly sans full statistics or caching.

In my opinion, the best solution would be an open source self-hosted Feedburner clone. You would have full control and never have to worry about it shutting down. Plus, people could develop extensions to integrated different features. I’ll just have to keep my fingers crossed that somebody develops that some day.

What do you guys think? How are you handling this situation? Can anybody suggest a good self-hosted Feedburner alternative? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!