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when you assume WordPress puts an rss link on your blog…

September 30, 2008

you make an ass out of yourself and make it really hard for people to find you!

So I’m looking at an award-winning blog today, one new to me, and I’m finding it enjoyable, funny, with multiple pictures of some very nice pink muhly grass. I want to put its feed on my iGoogle home page so that I can quit reading at work and see more grass pictures later, but I can’t find an RSS icon, an Atom icon, or anything that says, “subscribe.” I searched. Twice. I was thwarted. I was annoyed.

It happened to be a WordPress blog, like mine, so I went to my blog home page to see where my feed link was located, the one I assumed MUST be there, these types of things being essential to blogs, and found it ABSENT. Missing! Just like the award-winner’s. Neither of us has an easy way for people to add the blog feed to their readers, which makes her award doubly worthy (meaning people really work to keep coming back), and makes me surprised that anyone reads SC2S at all!

I wrongly assumed that the wise creator of this WordPress theme included it. No. You have to add that “Subscribe to Me!!!” button yourself. But I have no desire to write code, make buttons, or interpret bloggy jargon. I want to see if that blog has anything new, and I want people to find my stuff, period. For the award winner and me, these things were not happening.

Here’s the really stupid thing about this. I work in software. I’ve written step-by-step instructions on how to install and configure massive systems, I’ve written software specs and gathered requirements. I’ve researched RSS and I like technology! I am in the so-called “information-literate” crowd, but this was a stumper. And if I can’t do it easily, I bet a lot of other folks can’t or don’t want to, either.

Turns out that adding feeds to a reader and syndicating your content isn’t that hard, after you weed through the atrocious so-called help files and visit several tutorial sites, but it took me getting so fed up today at finding that my OWN site wasn’t easily syndicated to learn how. I managed to get two subscription icon-links on the home page today. Later I’ll do more. Phew! Maybe I have saved someone a little stress, some time, and prevented the tendency to rant. More experienced bloggers even have links to help you out with this. Now I know.

The main annoyances and some proposed resolutions:

1: Maybe blog software makers don’t want to contribute to our audience neediness by including “Subscribe to Me!!!!” features, but really, it’s just simple usability, and if they’re going to go as far as all these themes and widgets, they should take one more step and not make you chase down the code and make you put it in a bunky text widget.
Wordpress and blog software makers: put this in the app you’re hawking.

2: Bloggers: replace “RSS” with a word that means something to any blog visitor and introduce a little bit of clarity into someone’s world. No one cares what “RSS” means, and very few actually know (fewer still know Atom). What we all want to do is subscribe to a blog or syndicate/feed our content (enable subscription). In English, not acronyms. If blogging is about communicating, let’s communicate. Let’s syndicate or subscribe.

There. Happy Feeding.

Update: Gaaaaahhhhhhh! Single posts don’t show my new feed links (or any sidebar)!!! I want the link in the header. WordPress and the theme help files are no help. Forums are just an abyss…

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 30, 2008 2:52 pm

    This is the funny thing. I got some kind of a feed to subscribe to your blog quite a while ago. But it works weird in Bloglines. It shows that you’ve updated your blog, but it can never display the posts. However, when I visit your actual blog there are indeed new posts there.

    I used to use the theme you are using and I know it had an RSS feed. And when I view the source for your blog, there is a feed link in the head section of the html. So it can be auto-discovered, even if it can’t be linked to. But it nonetheless doesn’t work quite right.

  2. September 30, 2008 2:57 pm

    Well that’s funny, Kathy, because I seem to remember having one, too. When I set it all up I was pretty anal about finding every feature. Maybe an issue was introduced when WordPress changed its admin? It’s a frustrating mystery.
    The RSS widget inside the theme isn’t helpful, since it pulls info in (so you could link recent posts, for ex.) but is not a syndicator.

    Issue 2 is I REALLY want to have sidebars in post, because if most people are clicking to articles from a reader, they’ll never see the home page.

  3. October 4, 2008 8:04 pm

    I’ve had your feed on my google homepage since back before the Africa trip. Maybe you did have the feed link on your homepage. Or I know that I’ve figured out feeds for some sites that don’t have subscribe links. You may have been one.

    I don’t understand why you want folks to see your homepage. It’s the same as all your inside pages, ‘cept for the content area. I think folks will find their way to the homepage and most recent posts from anywhere in your site, no?

  4. October 6, 2008 1:15 pm

    Hey Craig, if you get to see all the sidebar info on individual post pages, that would be great. When I look at them though (even logged out), I see only an “Archived Entry” box, but no tags, categories, flickr link, etc. I’d like people to see that stuff, and at the least I’d like them to be able to get the feed from the post pages, and right now, they can’t :(

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