RSS is one of the most useful communication tools ever invented.
Having a tool that automatically brings you information you’re interested in as soon as that information is published on the web has a terrific productivity benefit.
No hunting and pecking on websites; just relax as everything comes to you.
And if you publish content yourself – from a blog, for instance – that content gets out automatically to people who are interested in what you have to say.
One flipside, though, is when you find out that a feed doesn’t work properly and it’s tricky to find the fix.
A case in point is the feed for comments on this blog.
All my feeds are channelled through FeedBurner. A very useful element of FB’s service is an alert if any problems are encountered with a feed.
I got one such alert this morning. Multiple alerts, in fact, saying this:
I’ve experienced errors like this before with this blog’s main feed, usually relating to text that contains a non-breaking space code:
Such code gets inserted from offline editors like Windows Live Writer, BlogJet and ecto. (Why do they do this? I wonder.)
Fixing that means going back to a post that has the offending bad characters, manually editing the post and republishing.
A bit of a pain but what else can you do?
But this current problem relates to the comments feed, containing content other people have written and not to a feed containing the content only I’ve written.
So I run the comments feed through Feed Validator, and see this:
The problem is clear – the content that results in an invalid feed is in a trackback from another blog.
No problem with that: I get lots of trackbacks. But this one is in another language, not English; in this case, it’s Swedish.
Yet I’ve had trackbacks in Swedish before without this type of feed error. Maybe the cause of the error is the text encoding on the originating blog? I don’t know.
Maybe I need to try and figure out UTF-8 encoding. But do I really need to do that? What would I learn from that to apply to my blog?
Other than going into individual comments to edit them (I really don’t want to do that), there must be a simple way to address problems like this, and before they happen.
Any ideas or suggestions?