RSS in Firefox

Firefox (and, I assume, most other modern browsers) does some clever magic when viewing RSS feeds. It doesn’t show the raw XML, but instead shows a neatly formatted version of the page along with a button allowing you to subscribe to the feed in your favourite feed reader.

That, at least, is how it’s supposed to work. It doesn’t always work quite like that.

I’ve received an email about my newsfeeds page which points out that the feeds for The Times don’t seem to work correctly. If you go to a Times RSS feed (here’s their top stories feed as an example) you get the raw RSS XML instead of the standard Firefox RSS viewer.

So there’s something about the Times RSS feeds that means that Firefox doesn’t recognise it as an RSS feed. I’ve had a quick look, comparing the HTTP header that is returned to the header returned by a Guardian feed but I can’t see anything obvious. But there must be something that is controlling this behaviour.

Does anyone know how Firefox recognises an RSS feed? Or is there anyone from The Times reading who would like to investigate why their feeds aren’t working as expected?

Update: As pointed out in the comments, the problem is (rather obviously) that the Times feeds are being served with the incorrect Content-Type. There’s a whole can of worms about what the correct Content-Type should be, but changing it to text/xml should tell Firefox to do the right thing. I’ve emailed the Times pointing out the issue. Let’s hope they’re more on the ball than the Sun’s web team.

Update: Here we go again. The Times top stories RSS feed contains the following information:


But the mail I sent to that address bounced back as undeliverable.

<>: does not like recipient.
Remote host said: 550 Mailbox unavailable or access denied – <>
Giving up on

What’s the point of advertising an undeliverable address?


  1. The content types for the two are different. The Times is reporting ‘text/html’ while the Guardian is giving ‘text/xml’. I’d guess (and I haven’t checked this) that that’s the reason.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.