Site Tips

Reminder: Round 7 starts 8/6/08 and a site tip

Round 7 begins Wednesday August 6th. I thought I’d answer some common questions that arise and give one last site tip before the round begins. First, the answers to some common questions:

  1. The round starts on Wednesday August 6th at midnight EST and ends at 11:59pm EST.
  2. You do not have to be the owner of the site to submit it (the owner can have someone submit their site for them).
  3. We only accept sites that have at least six months of consistent writing. Usually after six months a new blogger has a feel for their writing style, how often they want to update their site and have more surety in the topic they wish to write about. It is not uncommon for someone to start a blog and in two months move on to something else or stop writing completely.
  4. The next round will be November 5th, 2008.
  5. What do we look for? There are a bunch of site tips that help explain what we look for.
  6. If your site was not accepted in a previous round you can submit your site for this round (particularly if your site was not accepted last round if you emailed me, I responded as to why the site was not accepted).

If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask. You can send me an email at [email protected] if you’d like.

Ok, on to the tip….

It is not unusual for site owners to change domains, content management systems or make changes to the site that cause the RSS feed for the site to change. In order to insure that no readers are lost the site owner needs to set up a redirect from the old URL to the new URL. I’m going to give you a live example (until the site fixes it of course lol).

A Socialite’s Life feed is in my feed reader. I have quite a few RSS feeds in the feed reader and although I noticed the feed reader was unable to access their feed, I forgot about it. It was weeks later that I decided to check out why the error was still there after so much time. Their site changed (I have no idea about all the changes that happened) but the feed URL changed from this to this. They redirected their old URL to the new one and redirected old URLs of articles to the new URLs but didn’t touch the feed URL I used. The last update I received in my RSS reader was June 12, 2008.

Now here’s the problem to the site owner and why to avoid this as much as possible: I still feel “informed” even without their content in my feed reader. I have nothing against the site and they do have original content but for weeks I did fine without them, why should I edit the URL in my feed reader? The odds are that most readers in my position would remove the RSS over checking to see why it no longer works and taking the extra step to edit it. A reader will if they “missed” the updates or felt uninformed on the topic. Keep in mind with “news” it is all about who covers it first sometimes (unless there is unique commentary). I remember there were times when Socialite’s Life covered it first and I clicked to their site and browsed around or someone else covered it – the news balanced out. Perhaps I am getting the same news an hour or two later (or whatever) but I’m not feeling unformed. I still haven’t edited the feed’s URL and that is the key for a site owner: updating the bad URLs before the reader removes them.

As many times as I’ve changed domains and flip-flopped between content management systems I know exactly what this is like. I care more about interaction than traffic (stats) but I do check the error logs periodically and that is how you can find if people are attempting to access something and receiving and error.

Check your error logs people! You might be shocked to see what you find. 🙂

I look forward to reviewing your site Round 7. If you have any questions, let me know.