It’s been a while since we’ve read Ben Hammersly’s RSS feed, Content Syndication with XML and RSS. When we accessed it yesterday, we discovered an excellent practice that others should adopt, if possible — maintain a dead feed, with a single item that defines where to get the new feed.
When we accessed his old feed, we got a single post called “This Feed is about to go dark”. The description said, “I’m about to turn this feed off. Please resubscribe at http://www.benhammersley.com/index.rdf"
Too many RSS feed providers merely just turn them off, making you wonder exactly what’s wrong with the feed. Hammersly’s method gives your audience a clear understanding of what is happening, and how to change your subscription without having to go to Hammersly’s site to hunt and peck to find out what’s wrong with the feed.
One complication many bloggers will run into is that their blogware won’t support this approach. pMachine, what we use, won’t allow us to do this. We’d have to write a hack. Blogware needs to support this option as a best practice.
And while we’re on the subject, blogware should also support the concept of multiple feeds based on categorization of posts. Many bloggers write consistently about a few subjects. It would be nice to be able to read a feed about a single subject, rather than the whole blog. Anyone know of blogware that supports this concept?
Also see: Hammersly’s book Content Syndication with RSS. From O’Reilly, (US$29.95).
I’ve added a static article to http://crystalflame.net/index.xml that says “This feed is obsolete; please use index.rdf instead”.
Eventually I’ll put in a 302 Moved Permanently or whatever it is, but I figured that’d be a kind way of notifying people.
Movable Type can do this; I use multiple category-based RS feeds for my site.