It’s been a while since the “sensational soaraway” Sun started publishing RSS feeds of their stories. I’m subscribed to a couple of their feeds (it keeps my blood pressure up) but I noticed a couple of hours ago that the feeds I was subscribed to no longer exist.
It seems that at some point in the last few weeks they have completely revamped all of their feeds. The details of the new feeds are on their site. Unfortunately the new feeds have been designed by someone who apparently knows very little about how RSS is supposed to work. These best example is that the links within the feeds are all relative instead of absolute – by which I mean that they don’t include the server address. For example, one story in the current news feed contains the URL:
where it should be the full URL
Relative links only work for links within the same site. RSS feeds are (almost by definition) supposed to be displayed on other sites and therefore relative links won’t work.
Having discovered this, I decided to check the feed with the online web feed validation tool (something that the developers really should have done for themselves) only to find that they really haven’t done very well at all.
Earlier this week, Martin pointed out that the Daily Star have also started to publish RSS feeds, so I was planning to do some work on my newspaper feeds page this week. Looks like I’ll have to do some work on the Sun section of that site as well.
Update: I was just looking at Martin’s post about the top 100 UK newspaper web feeds and I noticed that the most popular Sun feed (their news feed) had 12,000 subscribers (and that’s just in Google Reader). The figures are for the old feed. As the old Sun feed now just returns a 404 error, the Sun have just potentially lost 12,000 readers. RSS feed addresses are as important as any other URL on you web site. It should be as permanent as you can possibly make it. If you change feed URLs for some reason then you should put redirections in place so that your old readers can still find you.
This change gives every impression of being carried out by a complete amateur. I hope the Sun didn’t pay too much for it.