PSA: Subscribe to your own RSS feed

I like RSS. A lot. It allows me to efficiently follow the activity of a lot of blogs that do not necessarily update predictably (I mean, I’m guilty as charged here). So when things break down, in particular in silent or non-obvious ways, it is all the more grating. To avoid causing this for your readers, please follow the RSS feed of your own blog; it does not have to be much, you could do it for free with the built-in feature of Firefox, just do it.

Case in point: at some point Steven Frank was talking about the <canvas> tag (in a post since gone in one of his blog reboots). It showed up fine on the website, but for some reason I cannot fathom the angle brackets did not end up as being escaped in the XML feed, and NetNewsWire dutifully interpreted it as an actual canvas. With no closing tag, which means none of the text after the “tag” showed up in NetNewswire, so as far as I could tell the blog post just straight up ended there (before the tag) in a mysterious fashion. I fortunately thought that that didn’t look like Mr Frank’s usual style and investigated, but I might never have noticed anything wrong.

You might say it was because of a bug at some point in the feed generation, but this is not the point. I mean, this is the web, in permanent beta, of course bugs are going to happen. The point is that apparently the author never noticed it and fixed it, so he couldn’t possibly have been following his own feed; had he been doing so he would have noticed, and would have fixed it in any number of ways.

Another case is when the feed URL for Wil Shipley’s blog changed. He did not announce it anywhere, and I did not notice it until I went to his site at work and saw a post I had not seen before (and which had been posted earlier than that week). Had he been following his own feed, he would have noticed at some point when posting that the post never showed up in his reader, and would have remembered to notify his RSS subscribers in some way.

So kids, don’t be the lame guy: follow your own RSS feed. Otherwise, you’re publishing something you are not testing, and I think we recently talked about how bad that was. The more you know…