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Feed Subscriber counts – Ego badges or Useful?

Posted By Darren Rowse 13th of March 2006 Blogging Tools and Services, RSS 0 Comments

There’s a couple of posts over at cre8d which caught my attention today. Firstly Rachel writes about Subscriber count buttons and ask if they are the ‘new hit counter?’ She writes:

“On the other hand, some may find that displaying subscriber counts may come across as an ego badge, just as hit counters or other stats bothered some people.

Do you find subscriber counts useful in determining the value of blogs, do you like seeing them as a matter or interest or are they unnecessary?”

I’m interested to hear the discussion on this. Head over to Rachel’s post to have your say. I commented:

“I’ve actually found that quite a few of my readers seem to like watching the feed counter on my blog. I can’t quite work out why this is.

Perhaps people like to feel that they belong to something that is bigger than themselves – perhaps it taps into the voyeuristic nature in us – or perhaps people just like statistics….”

Rachel also points out a helpful WordPress Plugin – Auto links which will automatically link to URLs when you mention certain keywords. This is especially handy if you find yourself mentioning site’s regularly. It also has the ability to turn keywords into Amazon searches (with your associate/affiliate ID) which some will find handy.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Yep, I’ve been using Auto Links for about the last 8 months, and it can save you a whole lot of time…not to mention those easy Amazon Affiliate links.

    I wouldn’t blog without it — in fact, I’ve had ProBlogger in my Auto Links database for quite some time :D

  2. I dumped my stats (hit, subscriber) for the quoted reason. It just seems like another ego badge that I don’t necessairly need to display. I don’t think it adds or detracts to the quality of my blog… read a post and decide for yourself if it’s worth subscribing to. ;-)

  3. The only reason I can thnk of it being useful, is to alert new visitors that the site may be popular, and therefore interesting or useful. Other than that, it’s an ego booster; like BlogTopSites (which I have as well – although I don’t know why since the number is so high) ;)


  4. I use the FeedBurner badge, but I always just kind of thought of it as a quick way to see how many subscribers I had — saves me from having to log in to FeedBurner just to see how my stats are looking.

    Most of us don’t have a large number of subscribers, so I disagree that this is an ego thing… if I wanted to keep my ego intact I certainly wouldn’t display my meager statistics where the whole world can see them!


  5. The Feedburner stats are animated so immediately draw the eye. The fact that the number changes, I think will press people to investigate more. Personally I quite enjoy checking out your new ‘score’! Will it be up today; will it be down? I definitely think of the stats more as points rather than people. I guess page rank has a similar fascination, but it doesn’t change so much.

    You almost reached a highscore of over 5000 the other day! But now you’ve lost about 750 subscribers! How exactly is this thing worked out?

  6. It seems to me that subscriber counts provide social proof. If you want more subscribers, then building social proof will influence more visitors to subscribe. It’s text book Cialdini. Plus, when I see that a blog has a large subscriber count, I can assume that it’s worthwhile to at least put the feed into my “probation” folder :)

    Of course, this doesn’t work until you reach a certain level of subscribers. That’s why I don’t have subscriber counts on my blog :) But I’m getting closer every day!

  7. Well, I’m kind of new to blogging as a whole. I’m coming from the world of regular html and javascripts (being a web programmer). But if you ask I’d say that its not for ego although it cannot be ruled out. There maybe excerptions here and there.

  8. My take would be this, if I’m logging onto your site for the first time: If you have thousands of subscribers, like Darren does, it adds credibility to your site; conversely, if you have very few subscribers, it seems to indicate that your site is doing poorly.

  9. Delaney says: 03/14/2006 at 3:49 am

    Graham’s “Social Proof” comment beat me to the same response. Robert Cialdini outlines 6 principles of influence and one of them is the concept that seeing other people do something makes us more likely to do it too. His book (Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion) is one of my favorites.

    I will say though, that I’d be interested in learning how Feedburner determines the subscriber count because mine fluctuates a lot too (albeit on a handful of readers).

    p.s. I have an “Auditions” folder on my feed reader too. :)

  10. I think its essential for a blogging website to keep that stuff public. On a normal blog, it should be private… But a blogging site is really a good source of information for us… You know your readers partly are living vicariously through your success, and every day I enjoy watching this site grow in popularity. One of the ways I do so, is by watching your sitemeter and feedburner stats…

  11. As Graham and Delaney stated, it’s all about SOCIAL PROOF.

    Anyone with a reasonable feed subscriber count and wanting to grow their blog readership would be crazy not to display it.

    Sure it’s an ego boost. Sure I love checking the count on my blogs. What really counts is that it shows other people read my blog, which is so important in an ever expanding blogosphere with more and more bloggers fighting for attention.

    Although if you just started blogging and your count hasn’t reached triple figures yet I would hold off displaying your feedcount because the social proof can have a negative effect too. No one will subscribe because no one else is subscribing.

  12. Just a heads-up: The new version, v1.0rc1, is now available for download. Oh, and the plugin has been renamed to aLinks. :)


    – Sean

  13. Mine says 0, so I’m thinking I should switch the standard badge instead.

  14. […] Here is what Darren wrote about Alinks last year. Rachel also points out a helpful WordPress Plugin – Auto links which will automatically link to URLs when you mention certain keywords. This is especially handy if you find yourself mentioning site’s regularly. It also has the ability to turn keywords into Amazon searches (with your associate/affiliate ID) which some will find handy. […]

  15. […] emails actually look quite professional by default, and new subscribers will count toward your Feedburner stats which is […]

  16. […] FeedBlitz is a paid service that you can tie into FeedBurner (although they are entirely separate companies). Your FeedBlitz subscribers will count toward your Feedburner stats. […]

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