Is it just me, or has Feedster been completely useless for over 6 months now? I have no idea if it's related to the recent departure of Scott Rafer (former CEO) and Scott Johnson (former co-founder), but I'm amazed at how bad it is. And I should know. I've been a Feedster user from the first day it was announced, back when it was called "Roogle."

Ever since then, I've had a few Feedster keyword search subscriptions in my aggregator so I'd know when bloggers wrote about something I'm interested in: my name, my company, my favorite technology, etc. And for quite a while now the results have been abysmal. They've often been broken chunks of HTML from seemingly random blog posts that are months (or years!) old, and more than half are content scraping spam blogs.

About the only thing it's been useful for is finding the latest spam blogs to begin stealing my content. Technorati used to have that distinction but they've done an excellent job of cleaning up the spam.

Over a year ago a friend of mine got a job at Feedster. (I had introduced him to Scott.) Not long after that, we were driving up to San Francisco when I asked him a question. It went something like this:

What do you think Feedster's window of opportunity is? 6 months? 12? 18? They're clearly in a race to establish themselves in the market, carve out their space, and compete with Technorati before the Big Three build blog/rss search.

He hadn't really thought about it. I encouraged him to do so mainly because I think it's easy to get caught up in the fun and excitement of building while things are actually crumbling around you and your company is steadily loosing ground.

He wisely left Feedster in the middle of last year.

A lot of folks have been making predictions for 2006. Here is the first of mine: by the end of 2006, Feedster will be dead and buried. Technorati, on the other hand, will be just fine.

Posted by jzawodn at January 08, 2006 07:15 AM

Reader Comments
# Jie Kang said:

Agree. Search results aside, Technorati has been all over the blogosphere, while Feedster has been dead quite. The only thing came to mind about Feedster is their Top 500 blog listing.

on January 8, 2006 07:39 AM
# R.I.Pienaar said:

yeah, Feedster is dead, I've given up using it ages ago. It used to be that they cared about what I post on my blog about my user experience with their buggy search engine, but they've even stopped that now :)

on January 8, 2006 07:39 AM
# Stephen Pierzchala said:

I third the motion. No vision. No announcements (I am an announcement-whore). No new products. No buzz.

Bye bye.

on January 8, 2006 07:45 AM
# Mary-Ann Horley said:

Yeah, I wa trying to submit a feed to it the other day and I just got in a loop of 404 pages

on January 8, 2006 08:24 AM
# vanderwal said:

The only thing that may keep Feedster alive is the money from the services provided to AOL. I think Technorati has vastly improved their services in the past few months while Feedster has stayed static since Scott Rafer left. With Scott Johnson leaving it really seems to have limited hope.

During the Feedster transition time, Technorati has added Newsweek and Washington Post, among others to its customer base. These are high visibility for Technorati and would seem to drive its brand to a stronger place.

on January 8, 2006 09:16 AM
# Scott Johnson formerly of Feedster said:

Hi Everyone,

Why thank you all for the nice comments about me personally. It made my day after an all too long flight back from PodcasterCon.

Take care and keep watching I've got something interesting brewing.


on January 8, 2006 09:43 AM
# Craig Hughes said:

I think it pretty much says everything about Feedster that they haven't apparently picked up on this posting yet about themselves, and commented.

on January 8, 2006 10:54 AM
# Joe Hunkins said:

Ouch, it's the JZ kiss of death. I guess this means the Feedsters should assume they are not on the Yahoo aquisition screen?

Jeremy I'd be VERY interested in your take on the Diggesque

on January 8, 2006 01:04 PM
# Deepak said:

When I first started reading blogs, feedster was definitely the better option, but Technorati has really done a good job over the past 6 months, while Feedster has just stagnated. It is telling that tagging in the few months in recent months has become synonymous with Technorati (and

on January 8, 2006 01:49 PM
# Chris Redlitz said:

Yes, Jeremy, we have been in transition over the past several months. To those of us working at Feedster every day, it is definitely a transition for the better. Feedster has been in the midst of the explosive growth of RSS and we have outgrown a lot of legacy front-end code.

Feedster’s current front-end was originally built in 2003 by a single engineer without an organized development process. While the RSS discovery, crawling, indexing, and search engine code is iron clad, the front end was structured in such a way as to make new features and other website updates difficult. Feedster grew, but the necessary support and processes to improve the front end did not.

We made a conscious decision last quarter to make the necessary changes. We purged some personnel and systems, recruited new leadership (including a new VP of engineering) and acquired resources to build a much more scalable foundation for a very valuable core asset, We will be re-launching the first iteration of this month and will be adding more functionality through core development and strategic partnerships.

As you know Jeremy, growth can be painful, and we have endured short-term pain for long-term growth. We’re not hiding - on the contrary, we posted a message on our site to alert users about the lapse in availability of features and give them an opportunity to be notified when the new features are available.

As a business, we see our value in not only building our own destination site, but to a much greater degree, building our system to allow online publishers (bloggers and news publications) access to our rapidly growing index of over 20 million feeds and hundreds of millions of archived RSS documents. We have expanded our content syndication business through our relationships with AOL and Mitsui. We will be releasing an automated tool to allow publishers to have access to our index to create unique, customizable content. We remain the preeminent resource for user-generated content, and our goal is to provide the most effective way for people to access the content and also create advertising opportunities around it.

When I was asked to join the company by the founders and Scott Rafer (former CEO) in 2004, Scott Rafer and I viewed Feedster as a media business and as a raw asset in a rapidly evolving space. Our view was to build an index of feeds that could be accessed through, but more importantly to give publishers, large and small, the ability to utilize our index as a content resource or as platform for more effective RSS advertising. is a core asset, but we never intended to compete with other legacy search engines and create a destination search site. In order for us to continue to be a valuable resource it is necessary to build scalable processes and systems that can accommodate the needs of partners like AOL and Mitsui. We have assembled the right team to accomplish this and we are very bullish on our future.

The true core asset of our business has always been our ability to effectively discover index and update many flavors of XML. Our Chief Scientist (and the true genius behind Feedster), François Schiettecatte, is very much engaged in our business. It was François’s vision that allowed us to build a robust scalable back-end, that incorporated support for Asian languages from day one, and that allows us to provide search and RSS advertising services for leading publishers and advertisers. The issue has never been the ability to build our index; it has been how the index is accessed. We are well on our way to make that happen. We have a solid core team and we appreciate the tremendous support we’ve received in the marketplace. We will be operating in 2006 and beyond. Some of the old Feedster may be gone, but the new Feedster is alive and well.


Chris Redlitz
Feedster Inc.

on January 8, 2006 02:15 PM
# Kevin Burton said:

I don't agree. I think they'll be bought. For the data alone. Companies never die.. they just transform.

From an external perspective though they seem really disfunctional so they're going to have to scramble to fix that. They need to blog a LOT more, clean up the UI, and work on quality control and spam.

They need to hire a fresh round of talent and spend $ on doing so because they're going to need to compensate people who don't want to go to work for a Zombie.


on January 8, 2006 05:36 PM
# Robert Oschler said:

Wow! You know you've got clout as a blogger, when one of your comments/criticisms results in a full page and half response from the company you mentioned!

Robert Oschler

on January 8, 2006 07:09 PM
# Scott Rafer said:

The trick with good startups that decide to go the VC route is to accomplish a lot without a ton of money. Management only does the few things necessary for financial success, which often leaves the company open to second-guessing by non-startup people (per the above).

Feedster has reasonable but limited resources and is applying those resources as best it can to make its customers and users happy. Sometimes happiness arrives small, elegant, daily packages. However, as Chris indicates, sometimes the company needs to take a bigger bite. Incremental additions are easy; replacing the old with the new is a lot more challenging and a lot more necessary.

A lot has been accomplished at Feedster since I left, all of it in support of making Feedster an ever-larger and profitable business. That's the mission I took up when I joined in Sept '03. It's also why we three (ScottJ, Francois, and me) signed up Chris in May '04.

Before you make any more predictions for 2006, remember that each and every blog search business needs to figure out a business model, be bought for a multiple of its VC funding, or both -- and probably this year. The business model aspect is clear for Feedster, and it hasn't consumed a lot of VC financing.

That may not be the case for all the other blog search startups.

on January 8, 2006 09:51 PM
# pwb said:

I don't recall Feedster ever being all that useful. But I also don't find Technorati particularly useful. Why can't someone just create a simple search engine for feeds/blogs?

on January 8, 2006 10:03 PM
# Kevin Burton said:

Finally had a time to review the comments here.

Feedster right now is just a zombie. Maybe they'll fix it. Hope I'm wrong...

I blogged about this the other day.

Not a single Feedster person commented. I'm just trying to help them fix their system (maybe they didn't realize it was broken).

Of course they can't because Feedster has been broken for more than a week now:

Do Feedster people read what people are saying about their product? Probably not since they can't even eat their own dogfood anymore (since it's broken). Not only that but they're probably not using Technorati out of pride.

The REALLY sad thing about the whole thing is that Feedster's link cosmos search has been broken for more than a week and they haven't done *anything* to fix it.

Don't they have reporting tools that will pick up on this?

It's just a simple mod_rewrite rule.

Here.. this is it:

RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} q=http://.*
RewriteRule .* /links.php [R=302,L]

This way you'll degrade gracefully instead of breaking on the user.

Something is rotten in state of Denmark.

Of course IceRocket isn't doing much better.

Oh. And did I know that TailRank has really killer full-text search? :)


on January 9, 2006 12:19 AM
# David Utter said:

Jason Lee Miller posted an exclusive interview with Scott Johnson back on 12.16.2005. For anyone interested in Scott's side of his Feedster departure, here's the URL:

on January 9, 2006 03:00 AM
# Nicole Simon said:

Feedster is part of the tool set I do have in my watchlist.

In the last months, I can't remember usable results from there but I do remember full post advertisements and old data. Because of that, I have started to unsubscribe from those feedster feeds in the last weeks as they pop up again with useless content.

It does not add value to my experience as a blogger, it does steal my time. Am I happy with technorati or pubsub all the time? Nope. But I am defenetly less annoyed by them.

on January 9, 2006 03:09 AM
# Tinus said:

When is Feedster going to make any real money? Never? All these changes and no word on how to make money?


on January 9, 2006 03:16 AM
# Nik Cubrilovic said:

"We will be releasing an automated tool to allow publishers to have access to our index to create unique, customizable content."

spam blogs.. automated, thanks!

Kevin companies do die (is feedster a company, product or feature?), but usually by the time they do nobody is even watching anymore

on January 9, 2006 06:03 AM
# Nik Cubrilovic said:

Joe, Wink is so much like digg that half the links on it's frontpage are actually from digg

it's just another "me too"..

on January 9, 2006 06:05 AM
# Jake said:

And there's also Miller's follow-up after an interview with Redlitz:

on January 9, 2006 06:10 AM
# /pd said:

ant feedster part of the Feedmesh initative also ??

on January 9, 2006 06:56 AM
# Dennis Howlett said:

I'm not sure I agree. Personally I find Technorati about as much use as a chocolate teapot. Inaccurate, out of date, random updates...Bloglines looks more promising.

on January 9, 2006 07:35 AM
# Dave Winer said:

Fascinating thread, and it's great to see the old and new management of Feedster express an opinion.

To the new management, don't underestimate the amount of goodwill for Scott Johnson. No need to subtract that from your future. He hasn't said anything (caveat: that I've seen) to indicate that Feedster isn't a viable company. Why do you have to minimize his contribution to your success? Talk about inviting people to dislike you. I think it matters to have people on your side.

And Jeremy words like "die" esp in ref to a much smaller competitor, are really in poor taste. Even small companies have a right to try to succeed. Big companies tend to breed this kind of arrogance, so far Yahoo has done well by *not* throwing its weight around like this. Be careful about the words you choose, karma has a way of sending the energy you send out back your way.

I had some more to say about this on my weblog.


on January 9, 2006 09:20 AM
# Kevin Burton said:

Another point.

Feedster's blog doesn't have any comments. Thus no conversation can take place over there. Insert mandatory Clue Train Manifesto reference here.

Also... Feedster missed out on the best blog subject ever: "The feed of our death has been greatly exaggerated" ... instead they went with "Very Much Alive" which is sooooooo Twain 1.0.


on January 9, 2006 02:24 PM
# Angsuman Chakraborty said:

Hmm. Why is Jeremy going after Feedster ?
Does it have anything to do with Yahoo revamping RSS based offerings?

Personally I would give them some time.

Ah so many delightful questions...

on January 11, 2006 09:39 AM
# Pino Calzo said:

Funny thread - some people said we're dead, too and we're very much alive (right now making the aggregator AJAX-based - which is quite a challenge coming from a 1999-website ;) and we've finally got a fine search engine). Why did it take so long for us? We're European and access to VC Capital is not so easy as in the states - but hey - we're our own bosses ;)

Good luck Feedster!

on January 17, 2006 08:01 AM
# Kirill M said:

I'm surprised how no-one noticed the spam posted above and it wasn't removed on such an active (and relatively high-powered) blog entry :)

on January 19, 2006 02:04 PM
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