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TypePad feeds are back

It’s time for some chat about RSS/Atom feeds, and let’s start with some good news.

A few months ago, when we were fetching the feeds of any TypePad blogs, they were returning a “403 Forbidden” error because they were protected by Cloudflare’s anti-bot captcha mechanism. Cloudflare have a list of approved bots but to get on their list you must satisfy various conditions, including sending at least 1000 requests per day. isn’t that big or aggressive, so it wasn’t a surprise that we never heard anything back from our application.

It was only recently that we finally thought of… just asking TypePad about the problem. Thankfully we already had an old TypePad account so could contact their support folk who, a quick exchange later, kindly whitelisted the feed-fetching bot. It’s been a few days and all those TypePad blogs we list are up-to-date and working fine. Thanks TypePad!

This does leave a handful of blogs with feeds returning “403 Forbidden” errors, usually also due to Cloudflare. We’ve recently tried using curl_cffi, a tool that tries to appear as much like a conventional browser as possible, so as to sidestep these anti-bot mechanisms. This worked for a couple of those feeds, but it leaves half-a-dozen or so still refusing access. This might be as far as we go in this effort.

In related feed chat, we offer a bonus service to all blogs in the directory: if we spot that a blog’s feed has disappeared, or is showing an unusual error, we’ll try to get in touch with the owner to let them know. Often it’s the result of a site redesign, the owner forgetting to implement or correctly set-up the feed, and they fix it. We’re small enough that this is personal touch is feasible, but we liked seeing Feedbin’s more automated effort to fix broken feeds recently. It resurrected a handful of blogs in our reader that we had thought were dead.

Unfortunately we sometimes find that when a feed goes missing, it’s on purpose.

In the past few weeks two blogs (coincidentally focusing on the same specific topic) told us that they removed their feed because they discovered that no sooner had they posted something new, it was appearing, in full, on other sites. They hope that removing their feeds will prevent, or at least hamper, this automated theft. It’s understandable, but a great shame, and the blogs are then removed from the directory – having a feed is a rule of entry here.

Another blog whose feed disappeared said that when they redesigned their site they didn’t bother including a feed because they “weren’t aware of any demand for it”. Another understandable shame. If you don’t use a feed reader yourself, feeds are probably a pointless thing that you assume no one else uses: there’s little evidence to you that people are enjoying your writing while denying you pageviews and maybe ad impressions. A reason why it’s important for those of us who use and enjoy using feeds to raise awareness of them.

This concludes our feed chat. Welcome back to the TypePad blogs, most of which can be found with this search.