A while ago, I set up Planet Westminster – a pretty simple site that simply aggregates all of the MPs’ blogs that I could find. It was largely created to scratch a personal itch. I wanted a simple way to subscribe to all MPs’ blogs in my feed reader. And that’s really how I use it most of the time. I just read it in Bloglines rarely bother to look at the site (which explains why I haven’t fixed the character-encoding problems that are obvious to anyone visiting the site).
But I had a look at it today. And I tweaked a couple of presentation problems. As part of the process, I ran the software which aggregates the feeds by hand a couple of times. And that showed me one interesting issue that I had previously missed. The program displays an error when it can’t find the feed that it’s looking for. It’s currently generating eleven “missing feed” errors. That’s out of thirty-six feeds that I currently monitor. Perhaps a couple of those could be put down to temporary network glitches, but that’s potentially over a quarter of the (small number of) blogging MPs who have either given up on blogging or have moved their feeds without putting redirection in place (that’s starting to become quite a regular topic round these parts).
At one point it looked like MPs might start blogging in reasonable numbers. We’d broken the 5% barrier. It would be a shame if they decided if it was a waste of their time and started to abandon it.
The errors I’m getting are as follows (with links to the missing web feeds) . If any of these are your MP, then perhaps you’d investigate what’s going on and report back. One of them is my MP, Martin Linton, so I’ll start by investigating him.
- Stephen Crabb
- Jon Cruddas
- Mark Lazarowicz
- Martin Linton
- Kerry McCarthy
- Maria Miller
- Austin Mitchell
- David Miliband
- Bob Spink
- Shaun Woodward
- Derek Wyatt
Update: Having looked into it a bit further, I see that many of the problems are down to people moving their web feeds without putting redirection in place. Obviously I don’t blame the MPs for this, but it indicates how little their “tech support” people know about how this stuff works.
A few of the blogs have closed down though. And it’s interesting to note that in a couple of places a blog feed has been replaced by a news feed.
I need to put aside some time to do some more research into this in order to ensure that the date I have is up to date. And this is exactly the kind of information that PoliticalWeb is supposed to provide.