Publishing Full Feed RSS with WordPress

Thursday, January 7, 2010 , Posted by Johnny Fuery at 1:08 AM

Originally Published 2007-06-07 10:42:45

RSS Feed Icon ImageYesterday afternoon a friend of mine pointed out that it's a pain in the neck to read my blog because Google Reader only displayed my post summaries.

As luck would have it, on the very same day, my friend Eric Giguere published an article on his AdSense blog about publishing Full Feed RSS on WordPress 2.0+. He actually dug into the code and hacked it to display the entire feed within the RSS description tags, which some readers apparently [incorrectly] display as the entire content. Up until yesterday, I'd never caught a mistake on Eric's blog, so I just followed his instructions without pondering the problem. Unfortunately, after trying Eric's instructions, FeedBurner claimed that my RSS Feed was no longer valid. So I reverted back to the original code. Sorry, Eric.

I don't know about other RSS readers, because I personally user Google Reader as well (and didn't take the time to test with other readers), but here's what I did to fix the issue for Google Reader:

  • Verified that my installation of WordPress was configured to publish the full feed (in the WordPress administration tool, go to Options > Reading).

  • Logged into my FeedBurner account, accessed the feed for Really Smart Guy, clicked on the "Optimize" tab, and turned on "SmartFeed".

  • Pinged FeedBurner to update my feed [almost] immediately.

  • Unsubscribed to my own RSS Feed in Google Reader, closed all browswer windows, then resubscribed. I'm not sure that the browser shut-down was actually necessary, but I wanted to be certain.

Voila! It should be noted that I'm using the FeedBurner Feed Replacement plugin. I can't see any reason not to use FeedBurner -- their tools allow for all the feed customization I'd ever want (and then some), I get the cool Subscriber Count widget (although I still scratch my head daily as to why it fluctuates so much), and I don't have to worry about handling email subscribers. Plus, seeing as how Google owns FeedBurner now, I imagine there will be ample opportunity to monetize RSS moving forward.

By the way, it did take 12 hours or so for my secondary google account (for testing) to update, so even if you ping FeedBurner, your existing subscribers won't see the change for a day or so.


On 2007-06-07 11:51:27 Eric Giguere said:
Not sure why you had problems with the feed modification. As you can see if you run this, MEMWGA's RSS 2.0 feed is valid. Must be a FeedBurner problem.

On 2007-06-07 13:58:03 Johnny Fuery said:
It very well could have been a feedburner problem. I didn't troubleshoot it thoroughly, I just went through the basics (as in, no code browsing) first and that worked for me.

I agree with you that the PHP code that generates the RSS2 is pretty kludgey. Those nested if statements are difficult to read and appear to be superfluous. Not to mention the plethora of < ?php ?> code blocks -- I've always been a fan (for both readability and parser efficiency) of just doing a quick echo statement for short snippets of html.

Have you had any other replies indicating success or failure?

On 2007-06-07 14:15:46 Eric Giguere said:
The only thing that got reported was that I didn't close the CDATA section properly in my RSS 0.9 feed, which I fixed quite quickly (I missed the closing angle bracket).

I've been wondering about switching my feed to use FeedBurner, too, just don't know what benefits it will give me besides the (iffy) subscriber count as of yet.

On 2007-06-07 14:57:34 Johnny Fuery said:
There are some nifty value-adds, like appending digg/delicious/sphere/stumble links on the end of each post in the feed. It also gives folks who click on the feed links a nice UI that displays several reader options -- not rocket science, but one less thing for me to deal with. Writing content and building links is time consuming enough, as you know.

I also expect that the GoogleBurner product (or whatever it turns into ultimately) will be get much better pretty quickly.

On 2007-06-11 20:51:55 Joe Boutros said:
Thanks for making the change... I unsubbed the old feed and resubbed the new and now I've got the whole enchilada in Reader. I even got some props to boot!

On 2007-09-10 10:05:47 Patrick Burt said:
Isn't it easier for "naughty" websites to scrape your content and push past your Google ranks if they have more PageRank?

On 2007-09-10 12:32:37 Johnny Fuery said:
Sure, but I've never noticed a scraper with a higher rank than me on search engine results pages (SERPs). Remember that search results are based on relevancy as measured by the linking anchor text, the highlighted content on the page (headers and emphasized text), the quality (in terms of both relevance and PR) of incoming and outgoing links, etc.

All the folks that I know of (although I don't check all that regularly) that scrape Smart Guy only take a portion of the content and link back. I don't mind that at all. If they happen to beat me on some long tail search term, well, that's probably a good thing, because chances are I'm not showing up at all on that keyword combo today, and a human reader will click through to read the whole article anyway.

Assuming my content is worth reading in the first place, of course. But then, if it isn't, the whole concept is moot.

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