WordPress RSS Feed Concern

“I’m a strong advocate of WordPress and its my blogging platform of choice”

One thing I’ve never really worked out is why the default WordPress when you get it has this href value to link to the RSS file -

href="feed:http://yourdomain.com/feed/"

Of course this just throws that line straight up into the address bar so the browser is looking for a protocol called feed instead of one called http. So anyway I don’t get it and mostly because I’ve noticed this on version after version of WordPress. Why not just drop the feed part and have the right address?

href="http://yourdomain.com/feed/"

Or you could use the absolute address of the actual RSS file.

href="http://yourdomain.com/wp-rss2.php"

Or I suppose you could use the relative address for the file.

href="../../../wp-rss2.php"

I know I may sound a bit pedantic here but how many WordPress Kubricks do you run across which have a feed link that returns a page not found? I really haven’t ever understood why. And for the life of me I can’t see why that one line has never just been fixed so that every time I install a blog somewhere I don’t have to change it myself. Its just really odd.

Is there a reason for this?

OK its only a simple thing and probably a lot of people can change it but some simple Googling for WordPress Kubrick blogs quickly turns up a number who have just such a problem. Don’t get me wrong though as I’m a strong advocate of WordPress and its my blogging platform of choice for over a year now with nothing but good things to say about the hard work that’s gone into it.

My concern is more along the lines that we already have enough inconsistency and confusion about locating and subscribing to RSS without having page not founds cluttering up the blogosphere. Something I think is kind of self-evident.

Anyway if you’re one of the less technical bloggers who has this issue you really need to look in your source code and amend that line. It’ll be in your footer.php template. Change that line and you’re back in business. I think its probably a bit much to expect a lot of bloggers to be able to operate in the code though when this really should be coming to us with a correct link to the feed in the first place perhaps.

[If anyone knows the reason why this has been so for so long I’d really be interested to know - is it just Kubricks?]

11 Responses to “WordPress RSS Feed Concern”

  1. DJ Says:

    I’ve never noticed the problems it causes because my feed reader (SharpReader) can make use of that feed protocol, I guess if your feed reader doesn’t pick up on those clicks then it would seem kind of pointless. Regardless I remove it anyway because I am so used to copying the url across (no one uses “feed:” other than WP users), and you’re probably right still in that it would be a good idea to remove it from WP.

  2. nortypig Says:

    Hi DJ
    Ahh I understand a little more now about why its there at least. Thanks.

    My real issue with it is that clicking the link returns a page not found though which in turn affects the user expectation of getting something. Nearly all people clicking it - who don’t know otherwise - will first notice a page not found and leave… I’d expect anyway.

    The general confusion around the adoption of syndication can only be enhanced by returning a page not found I’d expect. It could just be handled a bit more elegantly.

    Maybe if it was actually a page that was returned at least stating this is the feed??

    I’ve always just fixed it right out of the box because it seemed not to be right.

    Thanks for dropping by to comment DJ, I learn something every day.

  3. miss p Says:

    feed: is an ugly hack. But whatever’s reporting not found is broken; that is not what’s happening at all. It should say that it doesn’t understand what feed: means, not that there’s nothing there — cause there is.

    Anyway, this was already hashed out nearly two years ago - Blogger blogs do a good job of performing an xml transformation on feeds, and so do others. I’d do it myself except I figure people are perfectly capable of using the orange feed icon their browser supplies.

    (Oh, you use Internet Explorer and don’t have a lovely syndi icon? Tough tits.)

  4. nortypig Says:

    Hi Miss P
    Well yeh that’s kind of what I was suggesting… that it should return a meaningful error. Well it shouldn’t return an error at all, but return the page. The RSS Page is there and works if you link to it in any of those other ways so my question is simply why is the feed: used? Ugly hack or not it represents a definite usability issue in regards to user expectation…

    So I really don’t understand what the issue is as to what you would do. Click my RSS link and you see the page… simply linked to. So I don’t really understand.

    I don’t understand what IE or the syndi icon have to do with tits either miss p?

    Mmm I’m just not sure we’re both talking about the same thing but then I’ve only just got back from lectures, sorry. I think you linked to something about using CSS to style feeds… not my issue. Thanks for commenting miss p and dont’ get me wrong but your comment didn’t make much sense to the context of the post.???

  5. nortypig Says:

    Ah something I did notice was that using

    href=”../../../wp-rss2.php”

    doesn’t work in singles… fixed…

    But let me ask again… for clarity… why the default WordPress installation, on clicking the Entries (RSS) feed at the bottom of the page returns a page that says

    For example … http://theryanking.com/blog/archives/2005/06/10/wordpress-kubrick-hreview-trouble/

    Now I understand you about IE on one level but you missed my point somewhat… user expectation? So for IE they get a page cannot be displayed. Correct? And if you’re in FF then great you have your icon in the bottom right corner to subscribe.. but i’d suggest its still a minor browser in market share and far from the ONLY browser so there’s the issue of being another icon that users don’t necessarily understand intuitively at birth…

    Can you see what I’m driving at? Anyone?

    You have a text link that puts up a user expectation of linking to “somewhere”… it doesn’t. Its quite irrelevant of the implementation in firefox too because that just assumes someone knows that the “link” is not a real link?

    So I guess my question still stands? Why is it so? Why not just link directly to the page without overthinking everything. Is it then to utilise that little firefox orange icon?

  6. miss p Says:

    a) No, it *does* return the page. Or it tries. or it should, assuming your browser doesn’t do something crazy (the proper use, I think, was meant to be feed://example.org anyway). If your browser isn’t set up to do something with the feed: protocol THAT’s the error you see, not a 404.

    By removing feed: from the Kubrick footer, clicking the XML file still quite often gets something hideous, which brought me into…

    b) Discussing transforming and styling of XML, which was also related to your (perfectly valid) bitch that subscribing to a syndication feed is unnecessarily hard and dumb.

    c) IE and tits thing: trickiness with feeds and the million different ways they get presented, including the stupid feed: protocol and its several ‘correct’ variants, is more an IE problem anyway. It is not as much of a problem for proper browsers like Firefox or Safari as they present a nice syndication icon right there in the native GUI when a RSS feed is detected on the page. I never look for a page’s feed links anymore because hell, why bother?

    IE does not yet have this function, and until it does, presenting a friendlier message with your feed is still necessary. I would, but I have no intention to cater to IE users on my blog. It’s thems with the tough tits.

  7. miss p Says:

    Huh, we overlapped…

    You have a text link that puts up a user expectation of linking to “somewhere”… it doesn’t.

    OK, but when it does, you get this (apologies if this doesn’t paste nicely)…

    <!-- generator="wordpress/1.5.2" --&rt;
    -
    <rss version="2.0"&rt;
    -
    <channel&rt;
    <title&rt;Pig Work</title&rt;
    <link&rt;http://pigwork.info</link&rt;
    <description&rt;Temporarily Celebrating Kubrick</description&rt;
    <pubDate&rt;Tue, 17 Jan 2006 00:00:24 +0000</pubDate&rt;
    <generator&rt;http://wordpress.org/?v=1.5.2</generator&rt;
    <language&rt;en</language&rt;
    -
    <item&rt;
    <title&rt;JavaScript Enhancement Is Key</title&rt;
    -
    <link&rt;
    http://pigwork.info/2006/01/17/javascript-enhancement-is-key/
    </link&rt;
    -
    <comments&rt;
    http://pigwork.info/2006/01/17/javascript-enhancement-is-key/#comments
    </comments&rt;
    <pubDate&rt;Mon, 16 Jan 2006 21:37:02 +0000</pubDate&rt;

    …and so on. Why? Why would you want to link plainly to something like that? USER EXPECTATION, that’s right. They do not expect to see something that looks like Apache just spewed all over a page.

    That’s why styling RSS feeds is an important thing, and YES IE is still the majority.

    But on my own blog? Bugger IE.

  8. miss p Says:

    oh siht, I typode up teh search adn replace. ;)

    You get the idea though, right? Viewing naked XML is horrible.

  9. nortypig Says:

    Hi Miss P
    Ha ha… yeh I get ya… :)

    Sorry I’m a bit skull (insert expletive)’d from summer school lectures today…

    Actually I’ve got feedburner but aren’t pointing to it at the moment and am not sure which way I’m going with that one… its under consideration with the upcoming redesign I expect in about Winter break… I’m just too flat out to get much done here except study and the small projects coming over my desk. But yeh I remember linking to a tutorial on style feeds a while back on Pig Pen.

    As an industry I think RSS caught us with our pants down a bit and because of that we’re still struggling with how to treat it. I’m not really sure which way I’ll go with mine just now… have used feedburner and have gone back nowdays to just delivering the feed itself. I guess I think it should just say “Hey cut and paste this URL into your reader” :)

    Ha ha. I’m about a 50 / 50 Firefox user nowdays. I don’t know why I haven’t ditched IE’s sorry butt completely - irrational. Envy for Bill Gates?

    Yeh I do agree that viewing XML is bloody horrible and I’ve seen it scare people who’ve thought they broke something lol… too true.

    Yeh I think we’re actually pretty much on the same wavelength really :) I just wish WP would give it a second thought about how to treat that one. Cheers miss p haven’t heard hide nor hair of you since richard’s pizza shop conversation over on the rant a few weeks ago.

    K gotta run… thanks for commenting by the way, don’t let my gruff exterior drive you away :) I deserve a good dressing down as much as the next guy for this blog as it stands.

  10. miss p Says:

    Haha, you want to see gruff exteriors. ;)

  11. nortypig Says:

    :)

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