Chuck Carroll

Full Content RSS Feeds

Published: 2023-04-13

Transitioning away from Wordpress to a static self-built HTML/CSS website last year has been a learning experience. Creating the RSS feed and manually editing the XML has also been a learning curve, sometimes tedious, and can occasionally be prone to (human) errors. It's been only recently that I figured out how to include full posts in my RSS feed and not just excerpts, thanks to some feedback from Manuel Moreale.

Manuel recently shared a post/rant about RSS excerpts, where some websites and bloggers only share excerpts of content in their RSS feed rather than the content itself, treating it like a notification system and not what it was actually meant for. This is usually an attempt to drive users to the website to attempt to sell something. I can echo this sentiment 100%, despite the fact that I'm guilty of only including excerpts in my own RSS feed for this site. The reason being, however, was not to generate revenue from advertisements or to sell a book, but simply due to ignorance regarding RSS XML. Whenever I dropped the full blog post in the XML, it would show up in an RSS reader as one giant unseparated block of text with the HTML elements being completely ignored.

It turns out the reason why I couldn't get an entire post in an RSS entry and have the HTML respected was because I didn't open with "<![CDATA[" and close with " ]]>" in the content (the detail that Manuel suggested I try). Additionally, I have a post about Creating an RSS Feed from Scratch that I've updated to include this info.

Now that I've got a solution, I've gone back and added the full post to my RSS feed going back to the beginning of this year. This may or may not look funky depending on how your RSS reader handles it. The entries themselves may be updated with the full content, or there will be duplicate entries in your reader.

As this post demonstrates, problems arise when you manage a website completely by hand. I've had more than one person reach out to me letting me know my feed is broken because I left a typo in the XML. At some point in the future, I may start automating this site and start using a static site generator like Hugo.

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