Darek Kay's picture
Darek Kay
Solving web mysteries

Estimating the number of your RSS subscribers

Here's a quick tip to estimate the number of your RSS subscribers. All you need is access to the web server logs.

Let's filter the logs for the RSS file name (in my case it's atom.xml):

cat access.log | grep atom.xml

When looking through my logs, I've spotted the following entries:

"GET /atom.xml" 304 0 "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; inoreader.com; 32 subscribers)"
"GET /atom.xml" 304 0 "Feedbin feed-id:1524967 - 48 subscribers"
"GET /atom.xml" 304 0 "Feedly/1.0 (+http://www.feedly.com/fetcher.html; 79 subscribers; like FeedFetcher-Google)"
"GET /atom.xml" 304 0 "NewsBlur Feed Fetcher - 10 subscribers"

As you can see, Inoreader, Feedbin, Feedly and NewsBlur put the number of subscribers right into their HTTP requests, hidden in the "user agent" string. As of June 2023, there are 169 people using those services that have subscribed to my blog. I avoid marketing, so that's way more than I've expected.

Keep in mind that getting the actual number is pretty much impossible, as none of the other feed readers reveal the subscriber count. This method is good enough for a rough estimation, though.

If you find this article interesting, consider subscribing to my RSS feed 😃

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Estimating the number of your RSS subscribers