Mea culpa: I messed up on the feeds for this site during my move over to ExpressionEngine. It’s embarrassing, really, how badly I underestimated how important the RSS feed for this site had become in the many intervening years since I first set it up. It’s funny, too: countless hours were spent on tidying up all of the many, many Web pages that make up this site, and yet it’s really the nearly invisible — and in many respects, design-free — RSS feed that is the most critical lifeline for readers.
The fact is, I just don’t have enough expertise to competently manage and edit my feeds beyond very basic editing of existing templates. For the most part, I’ve always stumbled my way into some kind of acceptable solution, and that was my approach when I re-launched this site on Monday evening. It’s true that there were many things throughout that needed further attention and that I thought that was perfectly fine — there was no way I’d ever launch if I waited until they were all done — but a defective feed should not have been one of them.
Unringing the Bell
As soon as I started publishing, the poorly-formed XML started delivering broken content to readers everywhere. Combine that with the tendency for major aggregators like Google Reader and My Yahoo to cache posts, and even my attempts at quickly remedying the situation left it in a mess for most of the day yesterday. Over the past thirty-six hours, I’ve seen thousands of subscribers unsubscribe, which is a major disappointment to me. I’m not disappointed at users who simply want to turn off the noise of a malfunctioning feed (one can hardly blame them); I’m disappointed at myself for not realizing this was a make-or-break detail.
By now, I hope, the feed for this site is more or less in good shape. It works okay for me in Apple Mail and NetNewsWire, anyway, and I’ve checked it various online RSS readers successfully.
Rolled into One
Most everyone will notice, though, that this is not exactly the same feed as I was publishing before the switch to ExpressionEngine. This new feed pulls together both the ‘main’ entries as well as the more frequently posted, blogroll-style Elsewhere links. The reasoning for this goes back to something I wrote a few months ago:
Put more simply, I just want to roll everything into a single blog. Whether they’re longer posts or annotated links or even just visuals, I just don’t think there’s a good argument for segregating them. And, to put a finer point on it, for the vast majority of users who come upon my site by chance, or who don’t spend hours and hours poring over the structure, trying to understand the formal distinction between the various kinds of content that I’m producing, it just doesn’t matter. For all intents and purposes, there’s no useful difference between what I write in one blog or in another. There’s only the stuff I write, period.
I realize that the increased frequency of the postings may turn some people off — while I never felt like I was blogging enough before, this may cause people to start feeling like I’m blogging too much — but I’m willing to gamble that more people will like it than dislike it. Plus, I should add, I’m trying to add as much value as I can to the Elsewhere links by writing more descriptive commentary, rather than just posting simple links with a word or two of explanation. Hopefully, each time I ask for your attention, I’m justifying it with something original. However, the feed is really a tool for readers — if you object to the changes, or want to see a second kind of feed made available, let me know.