Saturday, October 16, 2021

For Once, Procrastinating Pays Off

If you’re already a subscriber to The Rap Sheet, thank you very much for your interest. If you’re not, but would like to receive notices whenever a new post goes up on this page, simply enter your e-mail address into the box found in the right-hand column under the helpful heading “Subscribe to The Rap Sheet.”

For most of the 15 years this blog has existed (that is, ever since I discovered such technology existed), subscriptions were handled by a Web feed management service called FeedBurner, which was founded in 2004 and acquired by Google three years later. It automatically e-mailed subscribers with the complete text of fresh posts, either daily or per item, whatever each recipient preferred. I heard no complaints about FeedBurner; it went about its business quietly and efficiently, and I never had to do a darn thing to keep things running.

However, this last spring FeedBurner began sending out a regular succession of messages alerting bloggers and other Web site operators to some upcoming service changes. Foremost among those was the warning that “Starting in July … we will be turning down most non-core feed management features, including e-mail subscriptions.” The company recommended that its users download their lists of e-mail subscribers and move those subscriptions to another online service.” Confusingly, it added: “For many users, no action is required. All existing feeds will continue to serve uninterrupted …”

Not being any sort of computer expert, and fearful that these procedures might be nowhere near as straightforward as they were made to sound, I procrastinated about trying to migrate my subscription list elsewhere. By late July, though, I was feeling pressured to act. So, taking a cue from Rob Kitchin at the blog The View from the Blue House, I asked another e-mail subscription service,, what I need do to designate it as my provider, instead.

The technical folks at were very polite and clear in their instructions; nonetheless, the actions they recommended I take didn’t work. Perhaps because my FeedBurner interface was ancient, or maybe because I had not set it up correctly in the first place, I couldn’t locate and then export the hundreds of subscribers I’d acquired over the years to I was informed that the best thing I could do was to tell all said followers they’d have to resubscribe to The Rap Sheet via a new subscription box. Then, I should delete my FeedBurner feed, so there would be no duplication of subscriber notices.

Despairing as I too frequently do when my worst fears are realized, I decided to ignore those instructions—at least for the nonce. I figured I’d see what would happen if I didn’t screw with my FeedBurner account at all. And you know what? Nothing changed. Yes, I uninstalled the FeedBurner subscription box I had for so long provided on this page, and replaced it with the present box. But my previous subscribers are reportedly still receiving e-mail notes whenever a new post goes up here. And readers who have more recently subscribed through are sent their own, headlines-only notices.

It seems FeedBurner’s statement that “For many users, no action is required” applied to The Rap Sheet!

If only it had let me know as much from the outset …

Now, I can’t promise that nothing will go wrong with these technical arrangements in the near future, but if it does, we will have the alternative to fall back on.

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