Solely In Black and White: A Public Service Announcement and Warning to all Bloggers on a Feed

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Public Service Announcement and Warning to all Bloggers on a Feed

Dear Fellow Bloggers:

I hope this message finds you all in good spirits and hopefully you’re not too high from the toxic fumes emanating from your Peasach cleaning products. In case you don’t already know, feeds are slightly dangerous. Sort of like chum for sharks… maybe. It can’t be that SIS and I are the only bloggers who are wary of rss, so here goes my little tirade.

I was first informed of the rss problem by SIS. At first I was skeptical and thought she was slightly paranoid; why would a feed be more vulnerable than an actual blog? Both can be ripped, crawled, and indexed with relative ease. But that is hardly the issue and clearly I was wrong, she isn't paranoid at all, she is 90% right. The problem with rss feeds is that certain readers, such as Google Reader, archive all posts forever. Now at first glance this may not seem to be a problem, since who cares how Google stores and delivers my rss feed. The one caveat with this method is that a blogger can never delete a post from the feed. Due to the fact that deletion is subsequent to archiving, when you hit that delete button in your blogging interface, you are only deleting the post from your blog but you are not affecting the permanent cache in Google Reader. Now you would think that Google in its infinite wisdom would simply check for deletions, but alas they do not. Why? I have no idea!

The only reason I mentioned this is because after some digging I was able to find some interesting posts, including all the test posts that I thought I had deleted.Go ahead and try it out, see if you can find your deleted posts in your feed. Anyways, if any of you have (had) any plans on hiding or deleting your posts, you might want to be aware of this problem. This seems to be a known issue, (why didn’t anyone tell me this earlier…?) and yes, there is workaround, but it’s not exactly intuitive. Oh right, I forgot, because Google reader is indexed it also full searchable too, making all those posts even easier to find. Yay!

So next time you hit post, you might want to double or triple check your work first. Remember; use this info for good, not evil. Send this post to 10 other bloggers and something cool will happen. Okay probably not, but you might want to inform them of this, especially if you know they have a deleted post or two.


  1. When I wanted to delete a post, but I was worried about the content staying on the feed, I edited the post to take out the content. Edits do show upon reader, so that worked.

  2. That is one of the available fixes. I am toying with “no index” and “no archive” meta tags and cache deletion requests. Those would be so much simpler but I don’t know if Google Reader checks those. Why can’t they just make a setting in blogger’s feed options to prevent this?

    By the way, Something Different, do you remember the post “Brutally Honest?” I am just saying…

  3. Thanks, make me feel worse about my mess-up...

    Btw, for some reason in my google reader there's a feed called google feed for my blog, but when I click on Manage Subscriptions to see its details and which feed it is and how it got added, it's not in my list! Only my feedity feed is there, which is also in reader. The google feed displays the first sentence or two of the post. You have any idea what that is?

  4. Read this. Google Reader can create a feed for any site requested. This I never knew. I think most people use Google Reader, but according to my Feedburner stats a few of my readers do not, so a rss link is needed. So it would appear (at least on my side) that Google Reader overwrote all your old cache. Does this mean your problem is solved?

    Don’t worry; even if you did “mess-up” royally, you would be in good company. It seems most bloggers have the same problem.

  5. I do remember that post, but the feed completely didnt concern me because she absolutely wouldn't know what a feed is. And, had she known what google reader is I would have edited the post too. I don't see the big deal...

  6. I agree. Personally, I still use a full feed because editing is an option, although I wish there were a better solution. However, I do understand that in the past other bloggers have deleted a few posts that they thought would be entirely erased. Furthermore, I can empathize with SIS’s concern about losing control of one’s content in the syndication process.

    Something Different, do you know if there is any way to edit a post once it has been deleted?

  7. If SD answered your question, can you please post the answer here? thank you!

  8. She didn’t, but the only known fix is overwriting the GUID, which is impossible to do in Blogger, so sadly there is no simple fix. There are some other makeshift options that might help depending on the situation, but that is a whole different discussion and completely dependent on what your actually trying to do. If you’d like you can email me.

  9. SD is on her way back from Israel so hopefully she'll see your question soon enough.


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