Show me your permalinks in feeds

RSS feeds have to be one of the most popular ways of consuming a site’s content for the techies and geeks around. With more and more sites and blogs coming up everyday, and more being discovered by us everyday (thank you, StumbleUpon!), it is only sensible judgement that content should be pushed to the user from the site, rather than other way round (which is conventional).

FeedBurner Feed total With the increasing prominence of RSS feeds (FeedBurner alone serves 1.2 million feeds, see the image on the right), more and more people are being exposed to this technology. Good. Also, since feeds are mostly a combination of text and images(with the exception of some readers that can render JavaScript), more and more functionality of sites is being stripped down. Stripped elements include videos, JavaScript, poll widgets (I was very frustrated with not being able to vote from my reader), tags and categories (some readers include Category names with cryptic hyperlinks) etc.

And, permalinks.

9 out of 10 feeds had redirects by FeedBurner. I really noticed this as being a major irritant when I started my Linkerati series of posts. When I hunted among the feeds I had subscribed, I hit tracking URLs from FeedBurner instead of link to the original URLs. The purpose of such redirects is obvious – to track the number of readers who click through to the page. You can see this statistic under the Analyze tab in FeedBurner account. However, this stat is seemingly useless, unless you are a complete stat nut.

Turning this off is quite easy – go to the Analyze tab and uncheck the “Item Link Clicks” checkbox on your StandardStats service (or TotalStats, the premium paid offering). Then, save the settings by clicking the “Save” at the bottom.

So, please do me a favour – sacrifice the small stat and help save us readers some time by turning off the clickthrough tracking that makes the strange URLs.

Also, have you turned the tracking off, or will you turn it off now that I’ve given you the outlay of how readers feel? If not, what are your justifications for keeping it on?

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