First, you might be wondering, “What is RSS”. A good place to look for the real answer is at whatisrss.com. Long story short, if you’re a blogoholic (not an official term, yet) you might type in endless web addresses and surf past a dazzling array of advertisements, click-here’s and other things design to distract you on your way to the stuff you are there for – the words; if you only read a blog a day that might be ok, but if you’re reading several blogs a day, this process can be time consuming.
Enter stage right RSS – Rich Site Summary – it’s the good stuff, minus the distracting stuff. It’s like receiving posts by emails, only they don’t come down via email, they come down via an RSS reader, which, if you ask me, is very similar, only there’s nobody that sends it to you, your RSS reader goes and asks for it. So, if on your favourite site there’s a new entry, it will arrive in your RSS reader for you to read when you please.
Now, from my point of view, and frankly, my jury is still out on this one gathering all the facts, there are pros and cons to having Feedburner handle your RSS (or in this case, my RSS) for you. Here’s my uneducated opinion:
The Pros of having Feedburner handle your RSS for you
- It has a higher probability of being discovered by some random surfer;
- Feedburner will make sure your feed is nicely presented and correctly formatted;
- Feedburner can give you all sorts of interesting statistics;
- Most notably, Feedburner can tell you how many people subscribes to your feed;
- It comes with cool gadgets that you can install on your site;
- Feedburner is hot and by association makes you a little hot too;
- Feedburner was recently acquired by Google and thus their great and I will trust them blindly with my girlfriend, bank account numbers and iPhone (if I had any of those, which I don’t, so don’t take this last point – or the second last point – too seriously).
On the other hand, the first thing that I see on Feedburner when I open my account, or link to the page where my feed supposedly hides out, is “Embed this content on your site with Springwidgets”. Immediately it gives me cold shivers and I can hear the water rushing down from the cistern as all the benefits embodied by the Pros flush down the loo. What prevents anyone from taking my content and feed(burning) it onto their site and flogging it off as their own. (I just activited the CC license in Feedburner, nifty trick I picked up from one of the sites below) As far as I’m concerned, in every post from now on there will be at least one link back to my own site.
The Cons of having Feedburner handle your RSS for you
- Your entries are displayed in RSS readers without Google Adsence, customised search, PPP and all those other money making stuff you’ve littered (nay, strategically placed) around your site;
- Some lazy ass feed monger can pump your (my!) content into their own site and draw lots of people to their site and make money of your hard typed words;
- All your links go through Feedburner and gives Feedburner loads of traffic and what do you get?
I’ve blogged for almost 3 years and only now have I realised I can quit my job if I go about it right. Obviously I woke up way after the bell has gone and I’m actually still learning and I don’t know that much (is it that obvious) and what little I do know makes me paranoid. What do you do? What every other dimwit who doesn’t know anything, but knows where to look for what he doesn’t know does: he turns to the net. I turn to my tutor, mentor and guru of all things; Google.
First thing I pull out of Google is andybeard.com’s take on why people do or don’t use feed counters. Insightful, especially the comments, with other tips about subscriptions and readership, but not 100% what I was looking for, but I’m keeping my feed counter (current count: ZERO!).
Back in Google answer number two to my question is from Marshall Kirkpatrick’s How and why to use Feedburner. His article covers the good of Feedburner and I guess that puts that into perspective. It also reveals a tip or two to a novice such as myself about other things they can add to your feed (say Creative Commons, deli.cio.us, digg – will go and do that right now).
In a final effort to get an answer I drop to result number six, which happens to be Francois Planque from B2Evolution fame’s website. Turns out I’ve read that article before and it doesn’t give me any new insight into my qualm with how RSS feeds can be detrimental to my blog’s prosperity.
But it’s late, and my head hurts, so my quest for knowledge is quelled only by my quest for sleep, so I will save for another day the search, as I’m sure I”m not the first person to ponder this question.