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The state of RSS feeds in Podcasting

Posted by geeknews at 2:23 AM on July 24, 2006

Over the past 7 days my team of volunteers at Podcast Connect, have been reviewing all of the nominations for the 2006 People’s Choice Podcast Awards. This year we had some automated tools to help us with RSS Validation, and recorded site and show grading process.

I have never been so utterly blown away by the sad state of affairs when it comes to Podcasters RSS feeds, and some of the crap we have been sorting through.

1st of 3281 nominated shows the RSS Invalid rate according to FeedValidator.org was a shocking 78%

2nd of the remaining 22% that were valid 96% had glaring errors

3rd With website reviews done on nearly 500 shows. 42% did not have an RSS feed button on there home page, 99% had a iTunes link. 26% did not have a link to the file in there show notes, 21% had less than 2 lines of show notes and 3% of the sites the reviewers could not even find the podcast section.

4th We found RSS feeds over 500K in length with the longest feed having 367 entries. I guess people did not realize that iTunes stops importing feeds when the rss file exceeds 250K

5th Good luck contacting podcasters only 49% had contact information available from either a home or contact page. The remaining shows had absolutely no way to contact them besides the comment form on their websites.

Even more amazing we found of the 3200 plus shows 200 shows that were calling themselves a podcast had no RSS feed, was not listed in any directory, and only provided direct link downloads not surprisingly these shows had low double digit nominations.

This was beyond frustrating to the team and we had a conference call today to talk about it, we were all pretty blown away by the stats. It looks like to me we have a lot of podcasters that are going through the motions yet have not a clue on what it takes to build a successful show.

This was not even a issue last year, it just goes to show you that the more people that are doing shows the lower the bar becomes in taking the time to make sure the most basic functions of a site is maintained. Some of these folks need to pick up my book, and read the fundamentals, and promotions sections. It is beyond sad, and I am beyond disappointed on the state of RSS feeds in the space. There was even one podcast that we reviewed that said you have to use iTunes and you have to use a iPod to listen to a podcast.

The question I have is what does your site look like.

2 Comments

  1. From sam_abuelsamid at 7:32 am on July 24, 2006

    My son Max has a podcast at http://mewzikcast.com. I maintain the site and I ran it through feedvalidator and it came up as valid but did have a couple of warnings that would possibly cause issues for some users. I’m assuming that people with IE might have an issue. I also have a big orange RSS button prominently in the sidebar as well as the itunes link. There is also a note above the subscription buttons indicating that ipods and itunes are not needed. The show notes have links to where all the songs are available for purchase as well as the band web sites.

    I use podpress to handle the enclosures and this includes a direct download link as well as a flash player for each post. The sidebar also has an odeo voice message recorder and e-mail address. As an active podcast listener for well over a year and a half now I have tried to make sure that his site has had all the necessary features and every time I post a new show for him I do a download to verify that the feed works.

  2. From philgreg at 4:44 pm on July 26, 2006

    Hi Todd,

    I think you make some valid points there, I didnt’t realise what a mess our feed was in till I tried to get it uploaded into blubrry. However, as someone working in Education it highlights a problem that I have raised with you before. The fact is the really good tutorials on RSS feed creation are nearly always made by very tech savvy males, who approach the teaching/tutoring with the “I can can do it -so can you ” approach.

    There need s to be a real collection of “start to finnish tutorials put together in a podcasting bible -online. Maybe there is one and I’m missing it.

    One thing for sure getting your RSS feed to output the data from a database is one of the most ellusive things I have ever come across..

    There are a handful of tutorials out there and they are poor!

    I found one at Tiffany Brown’s site, boy , whilst I accept that she wasn’t obliged to help me…if she didnt want to help, why make tutorials?

    I found errors in her code twice, she then took umbridge and said she wasn’t inclined to help me”

    Hey with helpers like that who need hinderence?

    So, to sum up get a series of good tutes out there in one place. What’s out there is very hit and miss and ..you’ve seen the results.