Does Anybody Read This Thing? : My Love-Hate Relationship with RSS

I love RSS(ATOM/XML/etc.). I have 71 blogs, searches, or news sites I read through Google. I have another 91 I read through livejournal. I only read about six pages, but in those six pages I see everything I want to know, from the latest horrors on gofugyourself to local restaurant inspection failures, from techdirt's latest dig at DCMA lawsuits to idiotic design at thisisbroken. It's easy, it's fast, and it's specific to what I want to see.

However, as an author, I HATE RSS.

I absolutely cannot tell how many people read this thing. Sure, I know that I average between a lowly 15 and 30 views per day of this blog. Google Analytics tells me that.

It doesn't tell me how many people READ this though... b/c those hits will never we recorded on this site -- they all go to feed readers. Conversely, since feed readers pull the site on a regular basis, there's no way to tell (if I could get that number from Blogger, which I can't) how many reads that actually results in.

I manage sites for a living. I've analyzed reports recording millions of page views.

I've had my own blog since before blogs had a name. I've literally seen millions of visitors to my person sites over the last decade-plus.

And it drives me absolutely batty to not be able to how many people read this! If a blog falls in the woods, and no one is there to digg it, does it really exist?? (And yes, I saw Seth's exhortation to blog, so don't send me the link for inspiration.)

When you've looked at in depth statistics enough they get to be an addiction. The most detailed questions are in the traffic reports: Where exactly does the traffic from Africa leave this site? How many people using Windows 95 looked at that page? What ISP hosts the most of my visitors from Canada?

If I had full reports I would also know actually important things - like how many people a day read each article, or, better yet, which pieces are more popular.

The essence of the blog, where you always see the full article on the home page, rules out seeing which content is better. If I wanted to zealously track hits, I could, I suppose, be one of those feeds that only gives the headlines, so that users have to click in to read anything. But I delete feeds like that from my readers, I don't want to be one!

So here I sit, another blogger at another computer, shouting alone in the woods. Hating RSS. Loving RSS.

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