What RSS Xplosion offers is a service that charges you $1 to produce an actual RSS subscriber to your blog. How they actually do this is, I would guess, a trade secret. I would also hazard the educated guess that they provide the service by paying a group of "subscribe bots", real or virtual, to generate the subscriptions. Sounds useful, but … is this even ethical? I’m of two minds on this:
Take one: If you are using a service like this to simply artificially build up the number of subscribers to a blog to try and sell it at an artificially inflated price then I have no problem in categorizing RSS Xolosion as unethical, underhanded and downright wrong. People do perform tricks with website and blog numbers to try to get them sold at artificially high prices and I have no patience with these kinds of people. But I also have no patience with folks who neglect their due diligence and by a web property without making sure the numbers are real … it’s not just RSS numbers that can be manipulated … so RSS Xplosion could be used in an unethical fashion … but there is nothing unethical about the actual service performed.
Take Two: Everyone, the ethical and the less ethical among us wants subscribers. The number of subscribers builds slowly … slower even that regular traffic and readership statistics. There are many reasons for this lag and one of them is that on-line people tend to follow the "herd". If a blog attains a couple hundred subscribers, the subscriber list grows faster and faster … but if a blog has virtually no subscribers readers seem very reluctant to sign up. So exactly as a person might quite ethically buy Google AdWord ads to route people to their site, or pay for visits from StumbleUpon or order paid reviews of their site, buying RSS subscribers to get the subscription ball rolling sounds like a totally viable and ethical practice to me. Any moral questions reside with the user, not with the service itself.
The clever thing that made me write this post is that I notice RSS plosion is doing the viral advertising thing … which I think is smart as the dickens. I’m writing this post to express my views on the service and make the service known to you … like the idea or hate it … and in return they will provide me some free subscribers. Fair trade in my book … I’ll let you know how it works out.
Update: Interesting comments and advice have been received re: this service. I will be posting again soon with some thoughts and perhaps even some facts … or not. The Internet is a place where the term caveat emptor applies almost as much as at your friendly car dealer or cell phone store. I wrote what I believe to be a balanced review of this service. I do not recommend it or dis-recommend it, I furnish these words as information and readers must act upon their own good judgement … not mine.