The Idea Dude


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Do you really know what your RSS feed is serving?

Some things in life we set to auto and forget about it. Like our alarm clocks, insurance premiums....and RSS feeds.

Well, maybe you shouldn't forget about your RSS feeds. Today we found a couple of members had entries that looked suspicously old. Upon investigation, we found out that bloggers using the new Blogger beta unknowingly had their RSS feeds changed. i.e. the old system of atom.xml or rss.xml were obsolete and replaced with a new feed url. What this means that it broke all RSS subscribers who had the old url.

The plot thickens because if you had given out a secondary feed like Feedburner, you were not immune because Feedburner like everyone else also relies on the same url (which no longer works for those using the Blogger beta). Two scenarios ensued, the secondary feed crawlers either breaks as well (as it did in one case) or just kept returning the last known copy (in another case). The end result is the same, rather devastating if you didn't know about it, you either lost readers who thought you had closed your blog or removed your blog because it wasn't getting new content. BTW: having blogs that are too large may cause your feed not to be processed as well. The limit on Feedburner the last time I looked was 250k. During our stint at TheGoodBlogs we've also seen host blog sites return bad RSS xml because it messed up or because there was something in the content that confused it.

So the moral of the story, RSS feeds are like your window washer fluid, tire pressure etc. We tend to forget about it but you should really check to see if it's doing what you think it's doing once a week. Better still, subscribe to your own feed (yeah, sounds kooky doesn't it).


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