In 2006, I was singing the praises of FeedBurner, calling it a powerful too to stopping splogging and scraping. By late 2007 though, that status had become more dubious and, by this year, I had pulled a complete 180 and was begging for Google to kill FeedBurner off after years of neglect.
It’s no coincidence that the downward slide for FeedBurner began not long after Google purchased it in mid-2007. Since then, Google has done almost done nothing with it, outages are becoming more common and the technology has languished and no one seems to be available for support.
However, FeedPress hopes to fill the void that FeedBurner is rapidly leaving behind, providing a new RSS service that can help provide statistics, subscriber counts, newsletter services and more.
But is it really a worthwhile replacement? I took a look to try and find out.
The Basics of FeedPress
At its core, FeedPress is a service very similar to FeedBurner, in fact, you can use it on sites like Tumblr that already support FeedBurner integration.
What FeedPress (and thus FeedBurner) does is serve as a host for your RSS feed content. Basically, you point it to your feed and FeedPress creates a new feed that has a bevy of new features including an attractive interface, tracking tools and social network integration.
The service, which launched publicly just over a month ago, aims to be a direct FeedBurner replacement. It even offers a simple FeedBurner migration tutorial for moving your feed from FeedBurner to FeedPress.
FeedPress also offers a premium version for either $3 per month or $30 per year. With the upgrade, you get additional features such as statistics on link clicks, notifications (coming soon) and improved support.
However, the main version of the service is completely free and both versions come with a WordPress and Mint plugin to help integrate FeedPress into your site. Also, with both versions, you can hide the FeedPress URL, making only your site’s URL visible to readers and ensuring that people are unaware they are even subscribing to a FeedPress feed.
Thoughts on FeedPress
If you like the idea of FeedBurner but are disappointed with the way Google has treated it since it acquired it, then FeedPress may be a good choice for you. It provides all of the key services FeedBurner does, can work with any site that has FeedBurner integration built in, including Tumblr, and it even adds some new features such as the aforementioned whitelabel support, better social network integration and diagnostic tools (not to mention a modern design).
Basically though, FeedPress is a FeedBurner clone that works well, adds a few features and doesn’t look/feel as if it were stuck in a time capsule. If that appeals to you, then give FeedPress a shot.
The one thing that FeedPress will not do that FeedBurner once did, and something very important to this audience, is help track scraping and stop it. Though FeedBurner hasn’t been an effective tool for stopping scraping for many years, I know a lot of readers of this site, myself included, got involved with it for that feature and were disappointed when when it stopped helping block bad bots, even though it still helped, in some cases, spot them.
This is something that FeedPress could do. Others have achieved this by embedding the IP address of the viewing bot into the feed and then let you block IP addresses that are bad actors. Coupled with FeedBurner-like tools to help track atypical uses of a feed, such as FeedBurner’s “Uncommon Uses” tool, it can be a powerful system for stopping scraping. However, at this time, no such features exist.
Instead, FeedPress is purely for understanding how many people are reading your feed and how many are interacting with it. Though it can help you send out a newsletter or display a subscriber counter, it’s the statistics that will most likely make bloggers and other websites the most happy.
Personally, if I could switch to FeedPress, I probably would. Unfortunately, I’m unable to even log in to my FeedBurner account and I can’t deactivate my old feed, making such a switch impossible (at least while having all of my subscribers in one place).
While FeedPress isn’t the most impressive service on the planet, reading the story of how it came about makes me realize why it’s important. The long and short is that it was developed by a company named Beta&Cie, best known for the popular site FMyLife, who decided FeedBurner was an inadequate solution and wrote FeedPress to use internally, which they did starting in October 2012 before making it available to everyone last month.
If FeedBurner has fallen so far that a small tech company would rather develop their own internal solution to fill the void, it speaks volumes about the plight of FeedBurner.
However, the timing of the launch seems odd to me. FeedBurner has been neglected for over five years and, with the recent closure of Google Reader, traditional RSS subscription seems to be on the decline.
Furthermore, nearly all of the features that FeedPress provides, including the subscriber tracking, can now be obtained through plugins that you install on your server, especially if you run you own WordPress installation. There’s no strong need for FeedPress and the need that exists seems to be waning.
Still, it’s a good service and, if you run a blog on a service like Tumblr that doesn’t have access to plugins but can use FeedBurner, it’s likely the better choice. More features, better reliability and more involved creators.
The same holds true if you simply prefer to use a service like FeedBurner of FeedPress. There is something to be said for the convenience and the ease with which everything is set up.
Besides, when you consider that FeedPress is free and you con keep using your original URL, there’s really no risk. There’s no way that you can lose subscribers or money if things don’t work out.