Be counted, be read

There's been some questions posed as to "how do you know who's subscribing to your web site's RSS feed?" Count the number of accesses to your index.xml file? Perhaps unique accesses by IP? Dave offered a solution for this, but Tim doesn't think it's quite what he's looking for (I don't think it is either).

Tim's suggestion was to use the "Referer" [sic] "User-Agent" field of newsreaders to provide some kind of unique value on an individual level. Tim went on to describe how the newsreader would ask the user for their e-mail address and use that as the basis for a 64-bit hashcode (which would translate your email address into something that looks like this: 3a892d0a81224ff4). That hashcode value would be added to the referring URL User-Agent string when requesting the RSS feed.

It's a simple and elegant solution to the problem. I hope all the newsreaders out there hop on it and make it a feature. The only problem with it is that you can't expect it to give you an accurate count. Because some people won't supply their email address for such a thing. Tim's followup post on this topic includes comments from a very privacy-conscious individual (even though the hashcode could not be used to recover the original e-mail address -- he just doesn't want to be tracked/counted in any form or fashion). And there will also be newsreaders out there that may never implement this in the first place.

Please raise your hand

So in lieu of this being available in the newsreaders, let me try an old fashioned approach and just ask frankly: How many of you are reading out there? Please post a reply if you are: your name, e-mail address if you don't mind (it won't be displayed on this site), a web site address if you have one. And include your RSS feed link too -- I figure if you're taking the time to read my site, maybe I should be reading yours.

Update: Whoops. I entirely missed the portion of Tim's updates regarding the improper use of the Referer header. I totally agree and also agree with Brent Simmons that this info is better suited for the User-Agent header.


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pete said:

Well, yeah, I'm subscribed...

Mine is here:

I subscribe to your RSS. I found your site by both MT-hack searches and via Mark Pilgrim.

Also, as per RFC 2616, you aren't supposed to use the referer field for that purpose. NetNewsWire has already stopped doing this.

Been with you since v1 of MT-Textile :) You've earned a perminant place in NetNewsWire Lite

Harald Koch said:

count me...

Todd Larason said:


Ronaldo said:

Reading since I found one of your earlier plugins. Don't remember which, though.

Tim Bray said:

not subscribed, but found it via Technorati backlink

Matt said:

Big fan of the Textile plugin... I've been reading ever since I installed MT.


ColdForged said:

Hi, nice to meet you. Yes, I subscribe.

dwlt said:

I'm here.

If you can't use the Referer header, is there anywhere else it could be done? Would User-Agent suffice, or is that bad as well?

Jason Gilman said:

Like Ronaldo, I've been reading since I first heard about one of your earlier plugins.

Here's my rss feed:

Arve said:

I don't like this idea.

The referer field is there to tell you (the webmaster) when someone came to your site as a result of performing an action on a local or remote site, typically clicking on a link on that site.

Myself, I do actively deny access to certain sites that actively abuse the referer in other ways (when they use it to spam my logs, for instance).

There is also the privacy concern:While I have no problems actively telling you here, in your comments, that I do both read and enjoy your site, I do not neccessarily want people to be able to know _when_ I'm reading, or from where I'm reading.

My RSS files?

Recent bookmarks:

Steven Hatch said:

Hey Brad -- I've been subscribed for a few months via NewsGator. Incidentally, NG stopped sending the Referrer early on. Actually, come to think of it, I'm not even sure NG ever supported the 'Referer' header, but I do remember Greg talking about it.

Anyway, my RSS feed is found here:



Jesse said:

Yep. Been subscribed for a few months. =)

RSS 2.0 Full Feed:

sean said:

been reading awhile as well.

Chuck said:

Another reader here...

Sam said:

Damn, you are a popular man! I've been subscribed for a while now, and enjoy your sparse but intelligent posts. You have a solid place on NetNewsWire.

Here is my feed, though it is probably less interesting, it is geared mostly towards family and friends, though beer brewing, linux, macs and scooters are also regular topics of discussion:

Mark said:

I've been reading you regularly since that version of Movable Type came out that supported plugins, and you were one of the first out of the gate to write some kickass plugins -- which, I might add, you're still doing.

Greg said:

Yep, I'm subscribed

gwen said:

I've read for about a year or so, subscribed recently because your latest layout doesn't display properly in my default browser (mac osx.2, ie5.2) -- the blogbody's squished into the first 100 or so horizontal pixels so each line of your entries have maybe two words top, and it hurts my eyes *sniff*

old MT default feeds which I've never bothered to find out how to change or update, but will one day:

tamaracks said:

I've been reading your site since I used Movable Type. Your plugins were a great asset.

RSS Feed:

Clint Ecker said:

I've been reading for a few months now

Mark Nichols said:

I typically read webblogs the old fashioned way, via a browser. But I do use NetNewsWire Lite from time to time. My feed is here:

Ricardo said:

another one

Ricardo said:

and here is my feed ... I thought it was going to appear in the post :)

*lifts hand*


Brad- I've been subscribed to your RSS feed since last December, using AmphetaDesk. I think it was the MT plugins that first led me to your site, but don't recall exactly.

My RSS feed:


James Buckley said:



Scott Hanson said:


Jon Luker said:

I have you on my Newz Crawler list. Always looking for good tips using MT.


Stan said:

I read my blogroll with Syndirella about half the time. I've been reading you ever since I began using MT several months ago. My feed is .

I am reading you, not on a regular basis, but I do catch up. I enjoy (and admire) all your MT plugins, which is how I bumped into you. My feed is here:

Watts Martin said:

I'm reading quasi-randomly at this point, having bounced onto your site most recently from the "Newly Digital" threads elsewhere but having encountered your name--and read the site--several times in the past. Mostly that's from MT-Textile, I suspect.

dwlt said:

Forgot to post my RSS feed:

Jesper said:


Normal [ ] or Supersized [ ]?

Richie said:

Hi! I use NNW to get the latest entries from your site. Thank you for making those MT plugins available. :)

Andy said:

'ello. Count me in.

john said:

Regular reader since December or so, both through various aggregators and random trips through the browser.

Main feed:
Stripped down feeds available on main page...

Hi Brad, I regularly check in to your site, and I think I linked to it once or twice in my blog when I was talking about good website design. Loved you matrix theme too.
All the best,

jeff said:

hey brad, third time poster, long time reader...

RSS feed:

Ryan said:

Hey Brad... been reading your RSS feed for a short while now, though I'd visited your site the "old-fashioned way" a number of times before...

Ingve said:

More than once I ended up here following links from other places, and I've been subscribed since some time last year when you wondered about how to get Google to ignore portions of pages. (Did you ever get any kind of reply to the mail you sent them?)

If RSS auto-discovery works, I shouldn't have to pollute your page with yet another ugly url... :-)

Jonathan said:

Came for the plugins...

Sage Wilson said:

I read your site with SharpReader, and use several of your plug-ins on my newly-retooled site. (Credits page still to come...)

Your plug-ins & tips are a great resource. Thanks!

Anthony said:

Reading regularly for a couple of months.


Fil said:

Brad, I'm reading you too!

RSS 2.0 -">Index.xml

I went cold turkey on RSS (reading all my subscriptions was eating my life) a while ago, but I do read your site regularly. My own feed is at

Jakob S said:

I used to visit here, but forgot to add your RSS feed when I switched from using the browser to read blogs, doh. That has been remedied now, though.

My own feed is at

Aaron Schaap said:

I have your site in my "Daily Reads" bookmark - keep up the good work.

Hand carved -

magenta said:

It amazes me how few people seem to know about, even though basically every MT blog out there (including this one) is preconfigured to ping it. I like the model; you have one centralized thing which tracks the sites which ping it, and has a nice variety of interfaces for people to read the sites they're tracking (including a per-user RDF, so you can still use a weblog aggregator if you're into that sort of thing).

I hate how something like 90% of the hits to my site are to my weblog's RDF from all of the people who have subscribed to it on their client-side RSS aggregators. It means I get no meaningful readership statistics at all anymore.

Also, with the model, you could conceivably get simple information like how many people are watching your weblog, and there's already useful stuff like "what other weblogs might I like?" and so on. It's also not restricted to things with an RDF; like, whenever I get around to the sporadic updates of my webcomic, my publish script pings and so people who have subscribed to it there can see when it was last updated (without me having to put out an RDF or even figure out how to make an RDF applicable to something which would be fairly nonsensical for an RDF).

Arcterex said:

I'm here..... I don't read often, but I do read enough to count myself as a reader. Just a matter of finding the time to separate the "I'll put this in my blogroll so I remember to come back to it" and the "notable" pages :)

evano said:

You are on my daily reads list. And thanks for all your work. My feed is at

Mike said:


Wouldn't miss a single episode. ;-)

I read your site and use your plugins;)

Marie said:

Hi Brad. I've been reading your site off and on for some time and am using several of your plugins. Thanks for everything I've learned from you. Just tonight I loaded your indexfull.xml into Newz Crawler after locating the url.

I doubt my blog would suit your reading style, but here's my .rdf file, and, yes, I know it needs work.

Brad Grier said:

Yep, reading - occasionally - and learning MT. Thanks for the plugins!

...another Brad

YowKee said:

I am sure a latecomer to your site. Getting to it through all your great MT-plugins work, and then find your words definitely worth noting.


Glenn said:

First came across your site while looking for plug-ins. Got re-referred by one of your trackbacks...

Jake said:

I am here and reading away. :)

Jon Gales said:

**sticks hand up**

I'm a reader. Also would love a way to track who's reading... That and being able to post comments right in Net News Wire :).

In Spanish:

In English:

Been reading you for about a year now!

hlb said:

I love ur KeyValues, Texile, and SQL plugins =)
Brad, how about making a deeper survey, just like a online form or somewhat?

It's my weblog, but is written in Chinese:

Brad, I also read your RSS feed. Looks like your going to spend some time reading EVERYONE elses :)

Mark Paschal said:

Another reader ( ). Thanks!

Found you through mark pilgrimm's site.

When I first saw the link from the Newly Digital page I swore I thought it said ""

This is more of a journal than blog:

Victor said:

me too. You can find my feed at

Brad Persons said:

Found your site when doing searches on MT resources...Enjoying it. As soon as I get a little more comfortable with MT I'm going to give your plugins a try.

Here's my rss feed:

subscribed almost since the first day.


I've been reading your site ever since I discovered Movable Type. Most of your plugins are indispensable to me (Textile), or they'll soon be (MT-SQL, Regex), once I get around to implementing the parts of my site that will use them.

I'm not actually reading your site (or any other) via RSS feed, because I have yet to find an aggregator I like using. My own feed, if you're interested, is at

Eric Stewart said:

I first found your site several months ago while working on a web accessibility volunteer project and had some hits here for related information. It has been good reading! I also need to try some of your plugins out one of these days.

My rss feed:

Eddie said:

i'm here, i'm here!!!

no RSS, i am not that interesting...

zak said:

im here too. and a loyal user of your plugins.

my feeds:

Nate said:

Subscribed since you were listed as a valuable resouce for MT plugins on the MT site.


Been reading you for a few weeks since getting up our multi-author tech&biz blog. You have alot of really quality things to say and contribute, especially to MT. Cheers!

RDF ->


alex_tea said:

I've only just subscribed to your feed realising that it wasn't on my NewsNetWire list, coming here to add it and finding this post. Then I had to dig around and find the link to the RSS feed, finally got it in the 'about' section. The links for the Sideblog and Ask Brad feeds are obvious and jump right out at you, however the link for your main feed is hidden somewhere at the back, in a dusty corner.

Maybe you could add a nice orange XML badge?

My feed is here.

This is actually the first time that I've been here, which is surprising given how often your name has put itself on my radar screen since I started using MT. Now that I have found it, it's obvious that your site is the kind of thing I would both link to on my blog and subscribe to in my RSS reader. I'm about to go do both right now.

Van der Leun said:

Me too. I find your work very interesting. And the blog too.

Taylor said:


Chad Everett said:

Hi Dave -

Saw your site a few times on Blogrolls, really started delving in after finding your supplemental category plugin for MT, to see what other sort of goodies I could dig up.

Here's my feed if you'd like it:

caiuschen said:

Hey, I read too. It's a very good blog. I, too, discovered you after exploring MovableType plugins. I added your site to after this entry, but I'm in the process of reading older entries now.

Using Feedreader.


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