We were chatting about tracking more accurate feed subscription stats after work the other night, and I made a mental note to poke around my httpd server access logs (thank you Dreamhost for making that so easy). So I’m paging through yesterdays 20MB access log, when the user-agent string for the Bloglines bot catches my eye:
Bloglines/3.0-rho (http://www.bloglines.com; 7 subscribers)
Whut? That prized information, the number of people Bloglines is redistributing my feed to is right there! Ok so it’s not exactly an API. And when I started looking through the user-agent strings, I discovered that there was a wide variance in how these web based aggregators reported their subscribers. Here’s a sampling:
NewsGatorOnline/2.0 (http://www.newsgator.com; 5 subscribers) Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.2.1; Rojo 1.0; http://www.rojo.com/corporate/help/agg/; Aggregating on behalf of 3 subscriber(s) online at http://www.rojo.com/?feed-id=2392387) Gecko/20021130 kinjabot (http://www.kinja.com; 1 Readers) YahooFeedSeeker/2.0 (compatible; Mozilla 4.0; MSIE 5.5; http://publisher.yahoo.com/rssguide; users 1; views 1) FeedLounge (http://dl0.feedlounge.com:9999/), 1 subscribers, next refresh in approx. 28800 seconds LiveJournal.com (firstname.lastname@example.org; for http://www.livejournal.com/users/jstnsmnia_blog/; 1 readers) AttensaOnline/1.0 (http://www.attensa.com; 1 subscribers)
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a standard? Something like:
The rest (as far as I could tell), were just regular individual requestors. Or web-based aggregators that hadn’t jumped onto the custom user-agent bandwagon yet, *cough* Google *cough*.
With a little bit of moxie (grepped the access logs, regular expression formatting in EditPlus, analysis in Microsoft Access) I can say about 190 people subscribe to my feeds. Which is surprising to me. Here’s how it breaks down visually for my info-porn fans.
Apparently Google Desktop is a force to be reckoned with. I had more of these in my logs (coming from unique IP addresses) than any other aggregator:
Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; Google Desktop)
And I had no idea Google Desktop included a feed reader.