Last week I had simultaneous pings on Twitter from Jason and Simon letting me know my RSS feeds were borked and returning a 404. Given this site has been running now since 2003 and has had several systems making the RSS on slightly different URL's, I had a bit of an issue.
Luckily for me, Netlify makes it easy to do redirects. I put all my URLs into a _redirects file and deployed. Nothing happened. No redirects. Weird. I reached out on Twitter and Paul pointed me to his netlify.toml file where you can also declare some redirects as an alternative to the _redirects file, so I gave it a go there.
After much head scratching, swearing, cups of tea the whole reason this wasn't working was a typo. Netlify requires
[redirect]. Urgh. Of course, it then worked immediately. All legacy URLs for my feed are now pointing to the correct, current URL.
Over the past few days, though, this has had a pretty dramatic effect on the bandwidth for this site as you can see from this graph from Netlify's analytics.
Quite a jump!
Now, technical aspects aside, this really highlights how important a couple of things are:
- RSS is still the preferred way for over 20,000 people to read this blog. I'd fallen out of the habit of reading them, but clearly others haven't.
- Don't forget your legacy URLs. Keep an eye on those 404s.
- If you write content that people enjoy and link to you have a responsibility to keep that content available. As well as my RSS feeds, I had a bunch of old Five Simple Steps series – which are the most linked pieces of content on this blog – that were also 404ing and unavailable. That's pretty unacceptable.
Anyway, my RSS feeds are now fixed. Happy reading!