Tuesday, 1 January 2008

When RSS feeds disappear (Chinesepod)

I am now completely reliant on RSS feeds to keep up with changing content from all over the Internet, they allow me to monitor changes and new posts on far more sites than would be possible if I just used my browser and web addresses. Also I can often read content without visiting the sites themselves. I prefer to monitor feeds online
using a combination of Netvibes and Google Reader.

Where the system really breaks down is when the RSS feeds vanish and a small part of your information update system fails to update. Unfortunately Chinesepod have done this to me twice now. RSS feeds either disappearing or being re-assigned to new urls, they even managed to destroy most of the feeds on their Netvibes universe so I just deleted the tab (a bit unfortunate after they went to the trouble to set it up).

For example, I like to read Ken Carroll's blog but the feed has shifted on me at least a couple of times now (if you include the move from Chinesepod to Praxis), at least now he has his own domain (ken-carroll.com) I should be safe :).

I guess I am saying that you should aim to keep your RSS as permanent as humanly possible, even if you change the url structure of your site then url-rewrites or re-directs should be employed to safegaurd your subscriber base.

It seems we all need to remember that your website is not your product data and content that you produce may be being used and consumed by people that never or hardly every visit your website. I was delighted to discover recently that one of the many online presences where I work is now almost exclusively accessed via RSS requests rather than the website itself.

Generally of course I feel that Chinesepod do a very good and innovative job, and the fact that I bother to re-find Ken's output is an indicator that along with people like Stephen Downes (who Ken also mentions) I am often interested in what he has to say, many other sources of information would just be lost.

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