[podcasters] Feedburner NIGHTMARE!

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Sam Chapnick

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Jun 23, 2006, 11:26:48 PM6/23/06
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Hi There:

Let me tell you, I just about despise feedburner, and I got far more
extraordinary service and attention than you would expect. As my
client is a very large (and i mean over half a million unique
visitors per day) company we decided to give them a chance as they
swore up and down it was both simple and very accurate.

We decided to go with the MyBrand version, where our feeds would be
redirected to them to a masked url. Well, the first guy I spoke to
told me it was a no-brainer and I didn't need to do anything but sing
up. Well, let's just say that from him to the guy who was virtually
the top of the food chain they did not know exactly how to make it
work: for example, when we got to the final step which involved
changing the htaccess file, I was told that it wasn't their
responsibility to help and the problem was with my server.


So, finally we get it all working, at least the redirect part. And
guess what, our stats are completely wrong. I approached their
techinical support and they continually told me our stats were
accurate. Accurate??? How about this: Several of our podcasts are in
the Top 100 in iTunes (ranging from #35 to #99) and they said we had
3 downloads that day and 18 subscribers. Additionally, the podcasts
were in a certain order of popularity in iTunes that completely did
not correspond to what they said our subscriber stats were, in other
words teh most popular said it had 26 subscribers and the least
popular 31.

I think they are really not totally sure what they are doing and as a
small company are loathe to admit it.

I mean, I would have been fine if they said "well, iTunes caches
podcasts (which I know they do) or some other explanation but all
they said was "the stats are accurate"......


Oh please..........

Sam
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Stephen Eley

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Jun 23, 2006, 11:54:01 PM6/23/06
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On 6/23/06, Sam Chapnick <sam...@itoors.com> wrote:
>
> So, finally we get it all working, at least the redirect part. And
> guess what, our stats are completely wrong. I approached their
> techinical support and they continually told me our stats were
> accurate. Accurate??? How about this: Several of our podcasts are in
> the Top 100 in iTunes (ranging from #35 to #99) and they said we had
> 3 downloads that day and 18 subscribers. Additionally, the podcasts
> were in a certain order of popularity in iTunes that completely did
> not correspond to what they said our subscriber stats were, in other
> words teh most popular said it had 26 subscribers and the least
> popular 31.

The question I'd ask in this case would be: are you sure the feeds
iTunes knew about were being redirected through Feedburner? When
things are *that* far off, the only explantion I could think of would
be that none of the current subscribers were actually hitting the
Feedburner feed. They might still have been hitting the original
source feed that Feedburner was also pulling from.

That, or Feedburner really did mess up spectacularly. And even if
their services were working, they could have given you a better
investigation (what I said above would've been easy to verify) and a
proper explanation.

--
Have Fun,
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ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine
http://www.escapepod.org

Rick Klau

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Jun 24, 2006, 10:45:17 PM6/24/06
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Sam -

I'm very sorry you feel this way, and wish you'd brought these
concerns to my attention given the amount of time I and my team have
put into addressing every question you've raised in the past.

To my recollection, we've spent several hours on the phone with you
and your client educating you about RSS, Podcast metrics, and the way
we operate. When you came to us, you asked for our help. While we are
ordinarily a self-service website (and many non-technically-oriented
publishers have repeatedly praised our ease-of-setup), my team
responded to your frustration by creating FeedBurner feeds for every
one of your client's podcasts.

Following that gesture (and unsolicited), I then reached out to you to
offer any help, and subsequently participated in an hour-long phone
call addressing every question you and your client had about our
service and podcasts in general. Following that phone call, I then
sent you a detailed email laying out every single step needed to
implement our service, starting with the CNAME information required to
alias a subdomain to us, including all relevant htaccess code
necessary to redirect existing requests for your clients' feeds to us,
and login information to check your statistics. Furthermore, given the
frustration that you expressed to both my team and myself, I decided
to comp you our premium services as a goodwill gesture. That was well
over a week ago.

When you indicated that the htaccess code wasn't working - I
apologized but told you that it was in fact the very code that
thousands of our publishers use without incident. While I sympathized
with your frustration, we are a feed management company, not an Apache
configuration support team. Since we provided you with industry
standard code that works on all modern variations of Apache, there was
little more I could do. While you were understandably annoyed that you
were not yet operational, the fact that your server was not properly
handling the redirects were outside of our control - and I couldn't
commit to you that we could figure out what was wrong with your
server. I'm thrilled to hear that your servers are now redirecting
requests to us.

And when we tell you that things are working fine on our end, here's
what we mean: the statistics we tell you reflect all activity on your
feed that we see. That you are a top 100 travel feed in iTunes doesn't
in and of itself reflect anything regarding current subscribers:
iTunes rankings are based solely on how many people click the
'subscribe' button for all time; after that first action, iTunes
doesn't track any further activity. It's quite possible (even likely)
that some of those initial subscribers have unsubscribed (iTunes will
auto-unsubscribe any users who don't listen to a Podcast after a
period of time), and it's equally possible that the top travel
podcasts in iTunes just don't have a ton of listeners. But we're
reporting on the requests we see.

As for our confidence in our abilities, we serve well over 100 million
feed requests per day, on behalf of some of the largest media
companies in the world, and tens of thousands of the smallest. While
we're always refining our understanding of feed activity, we are very
confident that we understand this information as well as anyone.

One last note: re: iTunes caching, I am in regular touch with the
iTunes team at Apple. In our last conversation (not related to your
feeds, just a general call about how things were going), they
indicated that they were caching fewer than ten podcasts in all, most
a hold-over from the initial iTunes launch in July of 2006. So I doubt
that there's any caching of your feeds going on.

I'm very sorry your experience with FeedBurner has not been a positive
one. We pride ourselves in going the extra mile for our users -
whether they use our free service or our premium services. With
podcasters in particular, we've committed to providing a number of
value-added services, many of which are (and always will be) free. If
you remain unhappy with our service or our representation of your
statistics, then we make it very easy to leave: just turn off your
redirects and your subscribers will never know the difference. While
we'd hate to lose you and your client, I can't imagine you'd continue
to want to see information you didn't believe.

I remain available should you have any other questions about our service.

Regards,

Rick

----
Rick Klau
VP, Business Development
FeedBurner - http://www.feedburner.com
email: ri...@feedburner.com
cell: 630.362.8911
phone: 312.756.0022 x2012
AIM/Y!/Skype: RickKlau

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Nicole Simon

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Jun 25, 2006, 7:29:58 AM6/25/06
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Sam Chapnick <sam...@itoors.com> wrote:
>accurate. Accurate??? How about this: Several of our podcasts are in
>the Top 100 in iTunes (ranging from #35 to #99) and they said we had
>3 downloads that day and 18 subscribers.

Set aside, that itunes is not about current subscribers but about new
ones (which country store btw?), in a case of such a massive
difference you should have started using your brain and notice, that
clearly you are not routing the feed itunes uses through feedburner.


>work: for example, when we got to the final step which involved
>changing the htaccess file, I was told that it wasn't their
>responsibility to help and the problem was with my server.


The fact that you argue this as being their fault shows me, that you
are highly likely not have understood how htaccess is working and
increases the chances that you have done the wrong routing.

And no, it is not feedburners responsibility to touch and work on your
server dns configurations and htaccess files which would be highly
likely the most sensitive things on a server.

The thing you let nobody access besides somebody who knows what he is
doing. [And for what it is worth - that kind of work is not done cheap
by paying some mybrand fees. this can screw up your whole server]

Another reason why I am sure you have set up the wrong things: Every
normal person with knowledge in this business would never compare
itunes positions towards this service but take up with normal log file
analysis and take them against feedburner. You should clearly be able
to determine numbers in unique requests on your redirected feeds which
reflect your normal status - even if they come through itunes, they do
a normal access of requesting your feed.

Btw it would be new to me that feedburner is able to track downloads
other than played in feed. And with the itunes caching I only heard
about the mp3 files but not about the feeds being cached.

Nicole

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Nicole Simon

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Jun 25, 2006, 7:30:58 AM6/25/06
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"Rick Klau" <ri...@feedburner.com> wrote:

>One last note: re: iTunes caching, I am in regular touch with the
>iTunes team at Apple. In our last conversation (not related to your
>feeds, just a general call about how things were going), they
>indicated that they were caching fewer than ten podcasts in all, most
>a hold-over from the initial iTunes launch in July of 2006. So I doubt
>that there's any caching of your feeds going on.

Well as Apple is not talking to most of us normal people it is great
to hear that information. I assume they will be offering hosting to
some of the companies promenently displayed on their services, but
that is about it.

Nicole

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