RSS Problems, Now Fixed

September 9th, 2009

Ah, sweet technology — a few weeks ago, the RSS feed for e.politics started acting a little weird. I use Google/Feedburner to distribute and track RSS subscriptions, and back in mid-August, the stats suddenly quit updating, making it impossible to see which articles were being read via RSS. Feedburner’s been clunky off and on since I started using it, so at first I assumed it was a bug that would stick around for a day or two and then magically fix itself. No such luck, and after a little while it became clear that Feedburner’s daily email update (which reaches 120 people, or about 10% of those following the site via RSS) wasn’t arriving.

After a certain amount of banging-of-head-on-desk, yesterday I finally found a mention in the Feedburner instructions that invalid feeds could be rejected by the system. Bing! I ran the sucker through FeedValidator and found that the contents of one e.politics post seemed to have a problem. Of course, since the site’s RSS feed is automatically generated by the Content Management System (Worpress), I couldn’t actually fix the bug without changing the wording of the post itself. And even THAT didn’t work, since it was just straightforward text with nothing obviously wrong in the content.

The solution? It was an older post, about 12 articles back in the queue, so I just changed a setting in WordPress so that the RSS feed only includes the most recent 11, dropping the problem text out of the feed. Success! This morning I got a Feedburner email that included every article published SINCE the offender, and RSS stats finally started updating. Annoying, but now fixed, and let’s hope it doesn’t replicate itself. So if you subscribe via email and haven’t seen updates for a while until today, now you know why.


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