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Let's Talk RSS Feeds

While surfing around the internet today, I paid particular attention to the placement and availability of blog RSS feeds.

What surprised me is that some of my favorite blogs didn't have them. In fact, I'm embarrassed to tell you that some of the Law.com Blog Network blogs didn't have them. Tom Mighell even commented on some other Law.com issues. Qualifier here, MIPTC has RSS feeds, in spades. What surprised me more, though, was how hard it was to find the feeds on the sites that did have them.

So, here's ten ideas (and MIPTC will be instituting a few that we don't presently have):

1. Make your feed easy to find. Like the blog in the last link, put your feed link up high.

2. Offer your readers a choice. Take a cue from the Professor (look on the right under "Subscribe"). Offer different types of RSS feeds: Headlines only, Headlines and a short summary and Full content. People have different tastes.

3. Try it out and make sure it works. I use Amphetadesk as an RSS Aggregator, and several of the blogs I tried to add today, Amphetadesk couldn't negotiate. So, if you offer an RSS feed, download the other news aggregators and test them out to make sure your blog's feed comes through.

4. Post a wide selection. You know the internet is huge. There are a lot of aggregators out there, and they all have different formats. Remember the edict of Heinz 57.

5. List just one. OK, yes, this advice is directly contrary to #4. But if you don't have the time or capability to mimic MIPTC's page-o-rama of aggregators, just list one. Otherwise, your readers have to find you instead of you finding them.

6. Read your own feed. See if you like it. If you don't, it's likely that your readers won't either. One of the feeds I added today changed the size of the font to something around 16 point. The funny thing was that the top post advised against using ALL CAPS to post. That site's big font size wasn't much better.

7. Write for your feed. Try snappy headlines (sometimes that's all your readers look at). If they get past that you're lucky. If they do, remember the mantra of journalism: an interesting lead draws readers into your post.

8. Keep the number of posts in the feed limited. OK, an admission here: not that long ago before I started following the advice listed here, I was a neophyte. MIPTC's feed was only full content, and every single post I had ever written (then, just under 500). Now, our feed is the last ten posts and a short summary. We'll be changing it to follow the advice in #2.

9. Watch where you post photos. Aggregators (at least Amphetadesk) grabs photos and adds them into the feed. If you want the photo there, great, but remember that it doesn't look as good in an aggregator as it does on your blog.

10. Add a podcast or a videocast. Step out there on the cutting edge, and readers, listeners and viewers will follow.

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, December 18, 2004 at 20:33 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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