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March 13, 2009

Nobody Can Hear You Scream If Your RSS Feed Is Dead

I didn't make any blog posts on Thursday, after a full Wednesday which included a visit to Google headquarters to meet with the Google Reader team. And even though I made a few posts on Friday, the first day of the SXSW conference, many people still think I'm on a temporary hiatus, thanks to a tag-team failure between FeedBurner and Blogger, who have significantly impacted many users by zeroing out their feeds, stopping their posts from getting out of their domain. It looks like I should have spent more time in Mountain View after chatting up the Reader team, to see just what the heck is going on elsewhere on campus.

As the resurgent Kent Newsome of Newsome.org noted today, in his post, "FeedBurner & Blogger Conspire to Assassinate My Joy", the XML file that Blogger generates to distribute RSS feeds was completely wiped out - and I have been impacted as well. No matter if I had 20 or 2,000 posts historically, the file reports it has zero kilobytes, and no amount of trouble-shooting thus far has been of any help.

In this world of RSS-enabled services, a failure of this level means that my posts aren't getting out to the previously-mentioned Google Reader. They aren't populating social networking sites like FriendFeed, Socialmedian and Facebook. And that will no doubt cripple visits for those affected.

As always, I at first considered the issue was my fault. I noticed FriendFeed this morning wasn't picking up my posts, and tried to delete and add my blog six ways from Sunday, but with no success to speak of. While Kent recounts his searches for real tech support, I was in the air during much of the day, and came back to find I was not the only one hearing the silence from Google, as others assumed silence from me.

Complaints are wide-spread in Blogger's help forums - from RSS Feeds are EMPTY today when publishing via FTP. to atom.xml is empty and simply empty feeds.

I'm concerned on quite a few levels here. FeedBurner and Blogger are among the most mocked Google products because of their presumed neglect. Yet they are two of the major foundations for my blog. Also, I am concerned because we are seeing this issue as a weekend starts and a major tech conference is starting up. There's a huge chance this issue won't be resolved if Google is asleep at the wheel. There's nothing I can do except accelerate my move to Wordpress. This doesn't make me feel all that lovey-dovey with Blogger at the moment.