General Question

richardhenry's avatar

How do you build a web-based RSS reader that doesn’t mess up reader statistics for blog authors?

Asked by richardhenry (12628 points ) February 10th, 2009

Think of user sign-up services like Google Reader.

Technically, once you have a feed URL for a certain blog or website, you would only have to poll it once in order to grab the content and then insert entries into the database for anyone who subscribes to it.

However; if a content producer is using a service like FeedBurner to track reader statistics, 100 readers could be subscribed to a particular blog or website and it would only show up as 1 reader to the actual author.

Polling once for each subscriber would be a huge unnecessary overhead, especially if a thousand users are subscribed to the same feed.

Is the only solution to redundantly poll the same feed hundreds of times in quick succession? What do Google do?

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3 Answers

Vincentt's avatar

I believe FeedBurner places a near-invisible image in the posts to track reader counts. Google doesn’t poll it more than once, and it shouldn’t have to.

richardhenry's avatar

@Vincentt Ah okay, that makes a lot of sense. Yeah; I didn’t assume they did.

richardhenry's avatar

Aha! According to the official Google Reader documentation the User-Agent header of their feed fetcher looks like this:

User-Agent: Feedfetcher-Google; (+http://www.google.com/feedfetcher.html; 4 subscribers; feed-id=1794595805790851116)

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