Google’s Feedburner is a fantastic service for managing RSS feeds and delivering useful statistics on those feeds, and they have a great API (application programming interface) for pulling those statistics and displaying them on your site. But lately, I’ve run into occasional problems getting at the information that Feedburner collects. Here’s the solution that I’ve developed for dealing with Feedburner’s flops.
I’m using Francesco Mapelli’s Feed Count WordPress plugin to display the number of feed subscribers I’ve accrued. It’s a great little plugin that allows you to generate a custom message associated with your feed stats. For example, in the subscribe section of my sidebar, there’s a little message that, as I write this, reads, “Join 2449 other happy readers!” That’s the Feed Count plugin at work. I find it preferable to those little Feedburner “chicklets” that are scattered around the web these days.
But here’s the problem: when Feed Count makes a call to Feedburner to grab my latest subscriber stats, sometimes Feedburner drops the ball when it returns the number. Instead of returning the number of subscribers, it will sometimes return a “N/A” instead, suggesting Feedburner couldn’t find my stats, and resulting in a sentence that reads “Join N/A other happy readers!” Not quite the message I intended. And worse, sometimes Feedburner will return a big fat zero if it can’t find my stats — and “Join 0 happy readers!” is definitely not the impression I’m hoping to make on first-time visitors.