RSS hats in China

Many people choose to discover the most interesting content on the Internet through social sources like Twitter, Facebook and Digg. If you have a few favorite websites that you like to frequent, RSS is still the easiest way to keep up to date and that’s why I continue to offer an RSS feed for Beyond the Rhetoric. However, I have made a few notable changes to how the RSS feed is handled for this blog.

Fighting the Scrapers

By far the biggest motivation for these changes is that I am getting fed up with all the scrapers. These people seem to assume that because I offer a full feed RSS for Beyond the Rhetoric that they can freely re-publish entire blog posts without my permission. This violates my copyright and it can be a real nuisance.

More often than not, these site owners are impossible to contact (largely because the sites run on auto-pilot and these people usually have hundreds or even thousands of sites that illegally scrape content from the around the web). And even when I issue DMCA violation notices to their web hosting companies, the required action can be painfully slow at best.

The content scraping is most often accomplished by taking the RSS feed and republishing the content that way. By adjusting my RSS feed, I can deter this kind of activity.

Changing to Summary Feeds Only

Beyond the Rhetoric RSS (Feedly)

The most noticeable change that you’ll find to the RSS feed is that it is no longer “full feed.” What this means that the entire blog post will no longer be offered through the RSS feed itself. Instead, I will now be offering what is called a “summary” feed and this will take an excerpt from each article for the RSS feed. I’m still debating about how long this excerpt should be. By switching to a summary feed, the scrapers will be less motivated to republish only partial articles.

Saying Goodbye to Google Feedburner

It’s funny how the Internet works. Despite much fearmongering to the contrary, Feedburner hasn’t died yet. Rumors of its eventual demise popped up a couple of years ago and yet Google has still kept this free service alive. There are some advantages to it, to be sure, but I figured now was as good a time as ever to make the full migration back to managing my own RSS feed. This will reduce redundancy and grant me more control overall.

Adding the WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin

Yoast SEO - RSS Settings

We’ve been using this free WordPress plugin on a few of my client sites for quite some time. As its name indicates, it offers a number of SEO benefits. It also provides a great little feature for your RSS feed where you can easily insert a text snippet before or after each post in the feed. This supports HTML, as well as some variable shortcodes.

I’m still finalizing the actual wording that I’ll use, but the goal is to provide a link back to the full blog post and a link back to Beyond the Rhetoric itself. I’ve also thought about putting in something about content ownership and how if the message is seen somewhere other than my official channels, it’s likely being re-published without my permission. It can get awfully wordy.

Let Me Know If You Notice Any Hiccups

After switching to summary feeds, I noticed that the RSS feed no longer contained the image that I usually include at the top of each post. This seems to be the default WordPress setting for summary feeds. To counteract this, I installed the suitably named RSS Image Feed plugin and I believe it is working.

Beyond the Rhetoric always has been and always will be an ongoing work in progress. Now, these changes will only affect those of you who are subscribed to the RSS feed. If you’ve been reading my posts on the site itself, it’ll be business as usual. If you are using something like Digg Reader or Feedly to keep up, do let me know if you spot anything strange.