So Long Twitter, Hello Again Feedly

Not too long ago, I would be asked how I keep up with all the things that happen in the WordPress ecosystem. My answer used to be Twitter. Generally, anything that was news worthy or sharable would find its way onto my timeline.

This isn’t the case anymore. My timeline is now filled with Tweets and Retweets bashing President Trump and anything to do with him. I thought things would get better after the election but it’s only gotten worse.

I get it, Trump sucks, but the constant barrage of negativity is unbearable. I don’t need any more of this shit in my life. My Facebook feed is not as bad but it’s also a more personal network for me. I was thinking about hiding Trump tweets on Twitter to see if it would make the service useful again but I can’t hide them all.

Then I remembered how it felt when I deactivated my account for two weeks. I felt relieved and so it’s something I’m going to do again only this time it will be permanent. I’m not going to tell people what they can and can’t say or how to use a social network so quitting Twitter seems like the best solution for me. I can always get in touch with people via Facebook or Slack.

I opened my RSS reader for the first time in a long time and saw links to stories that would have been buried in Tweets about Trump if they were Tweeted at all. While browsing through feeds, I couldn’t help but notice how peaceful it was inside the app. Thank goodness Twitter and other social networks didn’t kill RSS readers.

Well, I was going to permanently deactivate my account but I don’t want to reactivate it once every thirty days so I don’t lose the data. So instead, I’ll simply log out, not use it, and remove the account from the app on my phone.

Un Authorized Syndication

A post over at ProBlogger.net is asking the following question: “Is syndicating content kosher or not…ie running someone elses content through rss into ones own blog?” And the answer to that varies depending on the circumstances. For starters, I feel that no website should be able to syndicate my full RSS feed while at the same time, displaying some sort of advertising on the page/site. This makes me think the webmaster of the site in question is trying to profit from my work. There is an exception to the rule however.

So you may ask then, what about blog scrapers who simply use an excerpt of the post but usually have the name of the post author switched around. Well, they actually link back to the original post most of the time and I’m not hard pressed to go after those that use an excerpt. Using excerpts is fine, using the full feed is not. I don’t syndicate anyone’s content without permission and it’s very unlikely I’d do so anyways.  However, I am completely fine with sites who syndicate my content, only after they have received my permission to do so. An excellent example of this would be Planet WordPress managed my Ozh. Before syndicating my WordPress related content, Ozh got in touch with me and asked if he could syndicate the WordPress category on my blog in which I gave him permission to do so.

So how do you feel about those who syndicate your full RSS feed without permission? Do you syndicate content from other people on your own site?

My Apologies Feed Readers

For those of you that are subscribed to the Jeffro2pt0.com RSS Feed, you may have noticed that I created 400 new posts the other day. Now, although I wish I could produce content at that rate, the fact of the matter is that, you received all of those new post messages due to me re-importing my WordPress content through the built in WordPress migration tools. Because I performed a redesign of the blog, I decided to reformat WordPress. If you don’t know what I am talking about, please read this article “Reformatting WordPress“.

At any rate, just wanted to extend an apology for making your feed reader go crazy, that shouldn’t happen again for quite some time.

Turning Categories Into Feeds

Out of the box, WordPress generates a number of RSS feeds for you automatically. These include feeds for comments, posts, and believe it or not, categories. I had previously thought that a plugin was required in order to turn categories into RSS feeds but that is not the case. Check this out.

WordPress supports a number of different syndication specifications, those of which are listed below along side their respected WordPress generated URL.

RSS Spec / WordPress URL

RSS 0.92 / http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-rss.php or http://www.yourdomain.com/?feed-rss

RDF RSS 1.0 / http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-rss2.php or http://www.yourdomain.com?feed=rdf

RSS 2.0 / http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-rss2.php or http://www.yourdomain.com/?feed=rss2

Atom Feed / http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-atom.php or http://www.yourdomain.com/?feed=atom

Comments RSS Feed / http://yourdomain.com/?feed=rss&p=50 where p stands for post and 50 is the post id.

Now here is the feed link which I found interesting.

Category RSS Feed / http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-rss2.php?cat=50 where cat stands for category and 50 is the category ID.

Finding the ID number for a category is easy if the blog your browsing is not using pretty permalinks. However, if the blog IS using permalinks, you can type in the following URLs to access their RSS Subscription Links.

http://www.domain.com/feedMain RSS Feed

http://www.domain.com/comments/feedComments RSS Feed

http://www.domain.com/category/category-name/feedRSS Feed For That Category

Why would you want to know this information? Now, if you come across a site that publishes articles within only a category or two of interest, you can subscribe directly to those categories instead of the entire blog making your RSS reader that much more efficient. For instance, I occasionally publish jokes or perhaps something out of my personal life when all you really care about, are reviews or news.

Google Takes Feeds Out Of Search Results

Not sure how long this has been going on, but a post on the Google Webmaster Blog talks about the removal of feeds showing up in search results with the exception of podcast XML feeds. I for one am really happy that Google took this measure because it was becoming increasingly annoying, to browse search results, only to click on one XML feed after another without ever actually coming across the content.

As a webmaster, you may have been concerned about your RSS/Atom feeds crowding out their associated HTML pages in Google’s search results. By serving feeds, we could cause a poor user experience:

  1. Feeds increase the likelihood that users see duplicate search results.
  2. Users clicking on a feed may miss valuable content available only in the HTML page.

To address these concerns, we prevent feeds from being returned in Google’s search results, with the exception of podcasts (feeds with multimedia enclosures).

You can check out the entire blog post here.

The Best FeedReader Money Can Buy

Feed Demon Logo

Often times, I’m asked the question, “Which RSS FeedReader Do You Use“? I reply with “FeedDemon” which is then followed up with a response of “Feed What?”. I suppose no one knows of any other feed reader outside of Google Reader. I have Dave Gray, host of TheGlobalGeekPodcast to thank for pointing me towards FeedDemon. My first RSS reader was called SAGE which was an RSS Reader FireFox extension which allowed me to view my RSS feeds from within FireFox. Then, after I talked with Dave for quite awhile concerning RSS and how he manages to get all of the stories for his podcast, he told me about FeedDemon.

FeedDemon is commonly known as “The most popular Windows RSS Reader“. I’ll up the ante and call it the best reader money can buy. FeedDemon is a desktop based RSS aggregator that is currently only supported on Windows machines. So why is it the best?

FeedDemon has a wide assortment of features. One of those features is an online account with NewsGator.com. NewsGator.com is an online based FeedReader. Anything that you do within the desktop client can by synchronized to your online NewsGator account. This means that, whatever feeds you are subscribed to in FeedDemon, will be the same feeds you are subscribed to in your NewsGator online account. Each time you start or close FeedDemon, you’ll be giving the option to synchronize your account. This is awesome because, when you don’t have access to a machine with a copy of FeedDemon installed, you can use your online NewsGator account and never miss a beat.

accountsynching

FeedDemon begins to really shine once you end up subscribed to a bunch of feeds. If you are subscribed to a particular website, chances are you’re interested in that content. But FeedDemon has something called WATCHES. Watches provide a way to look for keywords in news items as they’re downloaded. For example, if you create a watch that looks for the word “election,” then every news item containing the word “election” will be stored in the watch. A watch searches only in feeds you’re subscribed to. I am subscribed to a number of feeds and have set up particular watches for the keywords, ICONS and Web Based Comics. Each time a post is published from a site that I am subscribed to with any of those particular keywords in the title or the content, they will show up in my watches folder. Now you know my secret as to how I find out about all of those icon packs being released on the web.

Watches

Another feature of FeedDemon that I really enjoy is called NewsBins. News Bins enable you to store news items in a central location, providing a handy way to collect items from different feeds. If you find an interesting item that you might want to read again, you can store it in a news bin for future reference. In my case, I have three particular news bins setup. One for my link blog, one for something I call WordPress weekly, and the last one is for stuff to write about. What’s neat about these newsbins is that you can share them as an RSS feed. That’s how I’ve been able to establish and update my link blog. I share my Link Blog newsbin as an RSS feed and have plugged that into the Simple Pie RSS plugin for WordPress. Check out ( How To Create A Link Blog ) if you want to do the same thing.

Newsbins

As for a built in browser, FeedDemon uses what looks like an edited version of Internet Explorer. The browser supports tabbed browsing, auto discovery of RSS feeds, Favorites, and a few other nifty features. This is all related to the actual web browser built in.

The actual RSS feed browser is a little different. You can browse by Full posts, Summaries or Headlines that can be grouped by Feed, Date or Title. The layout and presentation of the feedreader resembles a newspaper. The buttons from left to right are as follows: The envelope is the icon to trigger an item Read or Unread, the flag gives you a chance to flag an item. Flagged items stay around forever (or until you unflag them). The X icon deletes the specific item. The trash bin is actually the news bin icon that when clicked on, provides you a list of newsbins to copy the item to. The arrow icon is the SEND TO function. You can email the news item, copy it to your clipboard, publish it to your blog, or send the item to Delicious or Digg. The last icon will show you who is linking to that particular news story.

Newspaper Layout

Organization is handled via a folder structure. It is up to you to determine how you will organize your feeds via folders. I love organized feeds as it makes browsing through them much easier. Here is an example of how I’ve decided to organize mine. Each one of those blue numbers represents the amount of new posts for those feeds.

organizedfeeds

What I’ve given you in this review is actually just a small sampling of what this program is truly capable of. They call it the best FeedReader for Windows for a reason and it truly lives up to that claim. FeedDemon costs $29.95 which is insanely cheap if you ask me. This program has so many features and the built in online account synchronization stuff should make this thing worth $100.00 or more. If you really are interested in checking out this program, they do offer a Free trial which lasts for 30 days.

This is the feed reader I use. Which one do you use and why?

Copyright Your RSS Feed With FeedEntryHeader

FeedEntryHeader is a WordPress plugin written by Stephen Cronin. Like so many other bloggers, Stephen has been battling the scraping issue. FeedEntryHeader provides WordPress bloggers with a way of adding a copyright statement and a link to the original article which will show up at the top of your feed entries.

Why the top and not the bottom? According to Stephen, the copyright that appears at the bottom of your feed entries has little impact because of it’s location. Also, if a splogger is scraping an excerpt of your content, chances are, the copyright statement won’t be added into the entry.

FeedEntryHeader screenshot

You can customize the text that is shown in the copyright area by changing the HTML and associated tags. However, the default message should be fine for most people.

As Stephen and the commenter’s on his blog note, this will not stop scrapers, but this is a step in the right direction. All WordPress bloggers should install this plugin as it provides another opportunity for us to fight back against these jerks.