Subscription Statistics

I recently discovered the “Discover >>” link in Google Reader. I guess it has been there for a while now, but I found it only recently. I have got lots of new subscriptions already. :-)

I noticed that Google was displaying the subscription count for all the top feeds. The subscription count is the number of Google Reader users who have subscribed to the feed. It’s not an ultimate measure of popularity of a feed, but it is does give you a fair idea.

Now, I click on a subscription (I usually don’t use Google Reader for viewing my Google subscriptions, I use Liferea. Yaay SoC!), and search around: There’s a “Show details” on the top right that shows you the subscription count of that particular feed.

The next obvious question is: can you find the subscription count of any arbitrary feed? I mean, before you subscribe to a feed you might want an idea of its popularity. Also you might not be using (like me) Google Reader as your primary reader. The fairly straightforward way would be to open the stream without subscribing to it, (You can do this by opening a subscribed feed, and then replacing the feed URL with the URL of the feed that you’re interested in) and then clicking the “Show details”.

Since I have enough experience over the summer with wiresharking Google Reader, the next step is obvious. It’s not too hard to figure out the API that Google Reader is using. For our purposes, the following will do:
http://www.google.com/reader/api/0/stream/details?s=feed%2Fhttp%3A%2F%2Farniealmighty.wordpress.com%2Ffeed%2F
. (You might need to be logged in to your Google Account.)

So all you got to do is replace the region after the ...feed%2F with the URL encoded feed-url.

Since URL encoding is hard to do manually, you can go a step further and make this a Firefox search-bookmark. Keep the search URL as “http://www.google.com/reader/api/0/stream/details?s=feed%2F%s“. I used “gstats” as the keyword. So now I can see the statistics by just doing a “gstats https://arniealmighty.wordpress.com/feed/” in the location bar.

A few notes:

  • gstats https://arniealmighty.wordpress.com/feed (without the trailing “/”) does not work. It will return -1 as the number of subscriptions, although it is still a valid feed (it should atleast show “0”).
  • It does not do feed auto-discovery. So you have to give the feed URL instead of the web-page or blog address itself.
  • Some sites have multiple feeds (RSS, Atom…). You’ll need to do this separately for each feed. Perhaps a script to automate auto-discovery and summing up of subscription counts is in order?
  • It’ll be ultra cool to have some sort of an external Liferea plugin to get these counts!
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2 Responses to Subscription Statistics

  1. I noticed that this is not the first time at all that you write about the topic. Why have you chosen it again?

  2. I have read the post first time. Informative one. good job!!

    Packers movers.

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