Inflating Feedburner Readers to Game Advertisers
It appears someone out there is testing weaknesses in Feedburner’s subscriber “chicklet” to see if they can artificially inflate a blog’s RSS subscriber count.
Boing Boing and Mashable are both involved in this mini scandal – although there is no evidence either were behind the scam – and Nik Cubrilovic explains how subscriber counts jumped by millions in some cases.
It seems that somebody has created a bot that would create many profiles on Pageflakes (which is a web-based RSS reader) and then subscribe to BoingBoing in each of these profiles multiple times. The net effect was that BoingBoing reported over 2 million subscribers from Pageflakes, a very very dramatic increase over the numbers that were being reported only days earlier.
As Nik explains, it’s likely the scammer used Boing Boing as a testing ground or smoke screen for their own blog’s inflated counts. Why someone would do this is puzzling, with the most likely reason being to attract more advertising dollars by touting an inflated reader base.
In the meantime, Feedburner appears to have fixed the issue.