The news stories RSS feed is fixed
May 17, 2009

I hadn't checked it until just recently, so I didn't realize for a long time that the site's News Stories RSS feed has been broken. However, that lack of awareness on my part recently changed, since I'm looking into all possible ways to give exposure to our content, so I decided today that it was time to fix things.

The problem was actually easy to rectify... once I figured out what it was. It's that last part that gave me trouble. Basically, a lot of press releases include some unusual symbols, like the trademark symbol. These don't show properly in UTF-encoded XML, which spits out an error message when a feed is parsed and prevents it from updating with a lot of providers (including, for once, the usually not-so-picky Internet Explorer 7 and presumably 8).

Anyway, I figured out the problem by checking the validity of my feed through the W3 validation tool, which gave me more information about what might need some fixing. Then I was able to make a few tweaks--mostly string replacements to turn those awkward characters to code--and now the feed is again displaying as it should. I inserted replacements for more than just the ones that were hanging up the system at present, just to be on the safe side, but more may still prove necessary. If it does, at least now I'll have an idea of how to fix it quickly.

Anyway, in case you hadn't figured it out, efforts to optimize the 'boring' parts of the site continue unabated and I'm confident that we'll see small results in the weeks and months ahead. Maybe even big ones, if we're lucky, but so far luck hasn't been on our side when it comes to exposure. With all of the great content we have, you'd think we'd be much more popular by now... which is why I'm spending so much time tweaking the boring stuff. Now we can all just collectively cross our fingers and hope for the best!

P.S. - I also posted this week's RotW topic, which is kind of important, so check that out if you haven't already (over on the forums).

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