Mark Boulton

The day I fixed my RSS feeds

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.

No joy.

What!?

After much head scratching, swearing, cups of tea the whole reason this wasn't working was a typo. Netlify requires [[redirect]] not [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.

Post it note showing a diamond discussion diagram

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!

Elsewhere