What Should Go in a Default RSS Feed?
So after four or five years of not redesigning this site, I’m finally working up the energy to rearrange the furniture a little. Part of the motivation comes from realizing how much more I like the general design of my construction blog and the other part comes from the admission that a lot of the things I want to update my site with regularly are not articles about web design and development, and in some cases, not articles at all.
The first question to answer in this redesign is: what are the discrete types of content I will be posting once the redesign is complete. So far, this is what I’ve come up with —
- Web design and development articles
- Other articles
- Product Recommendations
- Random links of interest, a la what’s in my sidebar right now
- Newsvine seeds linking to interesting news stories I’ve read lately
- Links to latest entries on A House By The Park
- Latest Twitter posts
The items are more or less in order of what I think people would be interested in. The first three would be full text posts and the rest would be in some sort of compact form, either inline with the rest of the posts or more likely in a sidebar.
So far so good. I’m pretty confident I can pull all of that off with not too much work. The problem, however, is how that all manifests in an RSS feed. WordPress has a great feature where you can mix and match categories into different RSS feeds — which I fully plan to do — but what goes in the default feed? That is the $64,000 question. With somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 subscribers, I don’t want to piss anybody off by shoving a lot more updates in there to relatively meaningless things like Twitter entries. As a reader, I prefer to subscribe to RSS feeds that update once or twice a week max and if one of my favorite blogs shoved the whole kitchen sink into their feed suddenly, I might unsubscribe.
On the other hand, however, I’ve had plenty of people say things to me like “I used to always read your blog… back when you updated it!” — clearly implying that 2 or 3 updates a month isn’t cutting it.
So the first question to answer is “what should go in the default feed?” If you’re a current Mike Industries RSS subscriber, please vote in the poll to the right.
The second question is not really something I need votes on, but perhaps should be discussed in the comments below: when offering custom RSS feeds, is the best practice to create them by opting out of categories or opting in? Here are the two ways you can custom feeds in WordPress —
(Returns a feed with items from categories 1, 2, and 3)
(Returns a feed with all items except from categories 4, 5, and 6)
The user interface for creating each style of feed can still be identical (a bunch of checkboxes), but the nature of the subscription is subtly different. Let’s say you’re subscribed to the first feed and I add a 7th category. Say category 7 is links to a third blog that is created at some time in the future. If you’re subscribed to the first feed, you won’t get the new stuff. If you’re subscribed to the second feed, however, you will, because you haven’t specifically excluded category 7. There are advantages and disadvantages to each. If you have any insight into this or any other related issue, I would love to hear your comments below.