(See update at the bottom.)
Researching something I stumbled upon a page on Cyberciti.biz. I noticed the FeedBurner feed icon said 32422 subscribers. That’s quite a lot for a site like that. On a whim I checked the source:
<a href="http://feeds.cyberciti.biz/Nixcraft-LinuxFreebsdSolarisTipsTricks" rel="nofollow"> <img src="http://files.cyberciti.biz/assets/i/feedburner.gif?090920101430" height="26" width="88" style="vertical-align: top; border:0" alt="" /></a>
This is all on subdomains of Cyberciti.biz, let’s see where they really go, first the main site:
% host www.cyberciti.biz www.cyberciti.biz has address 184.108.40.206 www.cyberciti.biz has IPv6 address 2607:f0d0:1002:51::4
They use a subdomain for the image file:
% host files.cyberciti.biz files.cyberciti.biz is an alias for files.cyberciti.biz.edgesuite.net. files.cyberciti.biz.edgesuite.net is an alias for a1582.g.akamai.net. a1582.g.akamai.net has address 220.127.116.11 a1582.g.akamai.net has address 18.104.22.168
Good old Akamai. Good choice.
They also use their own domain for serving the feed, but it’s a specific subdomain that seems to be for feeds only. But I bet it’s really FeedBurner, let’s see:
% host feeds.cyberciti.biz feeds.cyberciti.biz is an alias for ghs.google.com. ghs.google.com is an alias for ghs.l.google.com. ghs.l.google.com has address 22.214.171.124
So they use FeedBurner (which is owned by Google), yet the FeedBurner subscriber counter image is mysteriously served from Akamai. Hmm.
I just realized I could have a lot more subscribers too…
I wonder how widespread this practice is.
UPDATE: Turns out I was wrong in insinuating nixCraft was cheating. On 2011-03-16 I received this email from Vivek Gite from nixCraft:
The count is real one. You can verify this by visiting the following url: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~fc/Nixcraft-LinuxFreebsdSolarisTipsTricks Our blog feed is located at the following url: http://feeds.cyberciti.biz/Nixcraft-LinuxFreebsdSolarisTipsTricks This is done to reduce DNS lookups and load static images from our CDN itself instead of feedburner.com domain. FYI, we have over 4.5k+ email subscribers and over 7.5k+ facebook fans too. We are one of the oldest blog covering Linux and FOSS.
Sorry about that.