Brought to you by the letters MSRBOT

I must be on a public television kick.  After writing about open offices and Mr. Rogers, I was inspired to provide another PBS reference in the title of this post – anyone recognize the reference?

This post has very little to do with commercial real estate, except insofar as it relates to the Corporate Real Estate blog.  In fact, it actually has to do with blogging and particularly RSS feeds.  This Wednesday afternoon, I was visiting Feedburner to review activity on my “burned” RSS feed.  Essentially, Feedburner – a wholly-owned subsidiary of Google – has some really neat free services for bloggers and other web publishers.  I can track statistics like who is viewing my feeds and how they are accessing them (see Competitors are keeping an eye on me for more details).

As you can imagine, I was not surprised to see intraVnews (the feed reader that I use), My Yahoo, Internet Explorer and Google Feedfetcher as some of the user agents for accessing the feed.  Feedburner maintains a robust catalog that provides detailed info on these engines.  However, one user agent stood out, in black and white, with no additional information.  Even the provided URL was chopped off, leaving “MSRBOT” and “http://research.microsoft.com/r” visible – this image provides a better view of the details as I viewed them:
Is Microsoft spying on me?

I decided to do a little research.  By typing in “MSRBOT” in my search engine of choice, I suspected I would still have to do some digging to find out what was happening.  It turns out that the very first result was exactly what I was seeking, an explanation of MSRBot http://research.microsoft.com/research/sv/msrbot/.  However, the explanation I received on Microsoft’s site still left me with something to be desired – “We are using the MSRBot web crawler to collect data from the web for further study.”  Hrmph, isn’t that rather vague?  I can only hope that my RSS feed provides those Ivory Tower researchers with what they are seeking.

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