When I tried last month to consolidate my feeds into one, things did not go as planned. I lost about 3000 subscribers, for one thing, mainly due to RSS readers that don’t know how to handle the very standard and ordinary htaccess redirect. I did this through Feedburner, which hosts my feeds. Feedburner also put a human-readable “this feed has moved” message in the feed and gave everyone 30 days to switch before closing the feed altogether.
But even more oddly, once the 30 days were up, Facebook, which was automatically importing my old feed and which did not automatically pick up the htaccess redirect to the new feed, redirected to http://feeds.feedburner.com/index.rdf which is an all-Chinese news feed. My Facebook friends noticed long before I did and I’ve only just gotten around to resolving the issue.
That feed URL is extraordinary and is the purpose of this post (because, really, technical snafus on the Internet? Also ordinary). That feed likely picks up a HUGE amount of extra feed traffic because anyone who has moved their feed over from another server to Feedburner is highly likely to have that “index.rdf” at the end of their URL. If they don’t change their entire feed URL on their pages to the new Feedburner URL they have picked out; that is, if they change only the host name and not the path after it, then, ta-da! a lot of people will accidentally be reading a lot of Chinese news.
(I’m not completely sure about that explanation, but it’s all I have for now.)
What’s most extraordinary to me is that that URL, http://feeds.feedburner.com/index.rdf, should even be made available to ANYONE. There are some other URLs that are also allotted that it seems to me should be reserved because of the high incidence of their use in standard web-site-building and blog-hosting software. (The suffix apparently doesn’t matter: index.rdf, index.xml, index.php, etc., all point to the same place.)
Posted June 17, 2009