NOT Twitter Bombing, but Feed Bombing. This tactic could be used to pump a podcaster’s numbers as high as they want, very quickly. (Spoiler Alert: I don’t have proof, nor am I accusing anyone in this article.)
How It Came To My Attention
I noticed two days ago that my numbers had spiked way higher than normal, but no one specific episode had a spike. I went and looked at the domains and referrers. What I found was a new domain called “CastFeedValidator.com” (CFV) and it had downloaded 280+ times in just that day alone. I was confused about it so I decided to email my stats company’s tech support. The email I got back was basically saying that it is a Feed Validator, like “FeedValidator.org”. But what CFV does differently is it hits every episode on your feed as a download.
What Is a Feed Validator? – It is a website that checks your Podcast RSS feed for errors in it.
What Happened Next
Last night I received an email last night while I was watching a movie with my wife. (Birdman – great movie, you definitely need to see it.)
I do not believe this person knows that (at least with my stats company) every time someone puts a feed into CastFeedValidator.com, you are screwing with the download numbers. I doubt that it was the intention to mess with my numbers and then email me.
What Did I Find?
After the movie, I went to check my download numbers for the day. I seen that it had another spike, so I checked the referrers and domains. What I found is that it had downloaded my entire catalog of episodes again.
You can see below that castfeedvalidator.com has 564 downloads to date because it has hit my feed 4 times. 2 times before I found out about it, once from my emailer (presumably), and once by me to check to see if it what I thought was correct. (To date I have 145 episodes available for download on my feed. The numbers are off by a couple when divided out and I’m not sure why. I can see a few episodes only have CFV hits that are less than 4.) Also, I am curious as to why google.com is as a referrer, I don’t recall it being there before. I can’t seem to find any episodes with with it listed as a referrer, specifically.
As you can see below, a recent episode has 4 downloads from CFV.
So What Now?
I’m not saying that anyone is using this practice to pump their numbers, because I have zero proof (unlike proof that can be found with Twitter Bombing).
I am annoyed with stats companies in general, not blocking internet bots from counting as downloads. I’m annoyed that something as simple as a website to validate your own feed, such as CFV (or sites similar), is not being blocked from being counted as downloads. Stats companies need to eliminate bogus downloads for the integrity of the data and podcasting as a whole.
Obviously, by putting this out there it makes it that much easier for someone to pump up their numbers. FeedBombing has many of the same issues that I outlined in my Twitter Bombing. The power to do the right thing is within each of us. Honesty, integrity and transparency of information have always been important to me.
We hold the future of podcasting in our hands, and to not allow it to be ripped away by big media corporations like CBS (Play.it).
Thank you, for reading.