Bryan at Arguing with signposts wants everyone to put their syndication feed links near the top of their sidebars so he won’t have to look so hard for them. Gee whiz. It’s bad enough he’s too lazy to click the link to the blog but now he can’t even look around for a link? Sheesh. Reminds me of the old Eddie Murphy joke about the one push car power windows, for those who found holding the button down five seconds too tiring. . . .

At any rate, I’ve moved mine to the top of the left sidebar. A couple questions, though, since I’ve never actually used an aggregator:

1. How do I know how many people are reading the site that way?

2. As a corollary, what does this do to my site traffic? Do people reading via an aggregator count as visits every time they update their feed?

3. What’s the advantage of this process, anyway? Most of the time, the headlines are next to useless–or does the aggregator pull in the posts, too?

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. 1. If you have access to the raw access logs, the hits on your RSS feed will be counted. But SiteMeter won’t record them, since it uses a “web bug” to count hits.

    2. Not if you’re using SiteMeter (see #1).

    3. The aggregator takes the content of the posts from your RSS feed. Most people don’t have theirs configured to include the full content, though, since I don’t think that’s the default in Movable Type. (Without the full content I don’t think the feed is that useful, personally.)

    Of course, Bryan’s aggregator should use feed autodiscovery, so he shouldn’t need to search for anything 😉

  2. Mark says:

    Doesn’t some magical code have to be added to the page for Auto Discovery to work?

    For #2, wouldn’t they count when they read an article since that’s getting the actual page, not the RSS feed? At least that’s what happens when I click on an article.

  3. Buck Hicks says:

    This page suffers from a little neglect but it provides an example of how feeds can be used on a website for the benefit of both the content provider as well as the syndicator.

    The RSS feeds give my site fresh content while providing traffic back to you the author. Basically I show the title of the post along with a teaser of what it contains. When the reader clicks on any link it takes them to your site.

    Although as I said I have neglected this site for a while now and your particular site is not listed yet. Gonna fix that soon though.

  4. bryan says:

    Geez, first you complain that I’m lazy, then you go ahead and move the feed anyway. 🙂

    FWIW, I’m not “too lazy to click the link to the blog,” but I’m too BUSY to spend all the time surfing to every site that I visit and keep up with people. The aggregator gives me a way to keep up with people and see what they’re posting without having to run through the blogroll.

    The aggregator pulls up the headline plus a certain number of words in the post. If I’m interested in either the hed or the “lede,” I click the link and it takes me to the post. It should only affect your site stats if you have boring stories. 😛

    BTW, the aggregator I’m using, netnewswire ( has a built-in blog editor which is pretty snazzy as well.

  5. James Joyner says:

    Heh. Or boring headlines. From now on, all my headlines are going to mention nude photos or something.

  6. Kathy K says:

    Yeah. I gotta work on my headlines too.
    I think I’ll start mentioning kinky practices. Nude photos are so 90’s.

  7. Emma says:

    Thankyou gentleman for bringing up a subject that has mystified me since I’ve started lurking at blogs and I had yet to find a good example of what feeds do or a layman’s explaination! Now I at least have an idea of what they can do.

    Now…all I need to do is figure out how set them up for myself? Buck, how did you set that up? In layman’s term please. I am not IT, I’m just a normal Joesephine.

  8. By the way, if you want to play with an aggregator but can’t be bothered to install the software, there’s a free service called Bloglines that seems to work (I get hits from them on my RSS feeds, so someone must be reading my blog that way).

  9. Buck Hicks says:

    Emma the RSS syndicator on my site is one that I built for myself using ASP.Net code. I would be happy to give the code to anyone who would like to use it on their own site. All you have to do is ask. You are free to modify it in any way you want. The only catch is that it requires a domain that supports Microsoft’s .Net. Which unfortunately (I think) rules out 90% of most of the Bloggers out there.

    Anyway there are PHP version available that work just like mind does but without the limit of using a MS server. If you would like some help finding one feel free to ask and I will point you in the right direction.

    There are many desktop aggregators that can be downloaded free from the Internet. I like this one but it does require the .Net redistributable (20 mb) be loaded on your computer

  10. Emma says:

    Thanks Buck and Chris for replying.

    I’m playing around with migrating over to MT much like Wizband promotes. So I don’t know how much more I want to do with the site I set up to *test drive* a blog.

    So if I do decide to take the plunge, I will probably be asking for some help. I can draw 3d models and use fancy engineering software with my eyes closed. But I am like a babe in the woods with any programing that isn’t cut and paste.