Although I use RSS to let me know when other webcomics have posted, I usually have my reader go directly to the site rather than pull the article down itself. As a result, I’ve found many sites are not all-client friendly (i.e., they don’t work well with all clients, mine in particular) or they are outright broken. A lot come up with invalid date (usually due to date format problems).

There’s an easy way to check your RSS feed, though; run it through an RSS feed checker. The one I recommend is RSS validator. Just enter the URL of your RSS feed and see what it comes up with. It could be a pass, a pass with recommendations or it will list bad entries.

Typical problems I’ve seen are bad or problematic date entries. Examples:

  • Has a lastBuildDate in the top header, but no pubDate in the entries. This causes all entries to show up on the same date and same time. Unfortunately, this still qualifies as “valid.”
  • Has lastBuildDate and pubDate entries, but in the wrong format; e.g., 2014-01-04T00:13:48+00:00. The dates should be in RFC-822 (mail header spec) format like Sat, 04 Jan 2014 13:44:51. Two sites that have this problem are from big, “professional” groups (go figure). I’ve also seen sites where the date is just the date and no time; e.g., Sat, Sept 14 2013.
  • Has pubDate, but in not-quite-RFC-822 format, e.g., Sat, 04 Jan 14 13:44:51 where the year is only two digits.
  • The RSS link is a web (html) page and not an rss xml page (this got the site deleted from my RSS feed).
  • The site is using feedburner. While “valid”, it breaks a lot of readers. (Mine keeps getting duplicate entries for posts.)
  • The link entry goes someplace strange. It is supposed to go to the top page for the entity being listed. I’ve seen one go to the archives page, which uses extra bandwidth and machine load. Another one goes to Yahoo Pipes, which I find even worse. I’ve also seen the link going to the rss page or .

Fortunately, the RSS code in WordPress generates valid RSS (usually); so, you should be safe if you’re using it with ComicPress, comic-easel or any other plug-in.

It takes less than a minute to check and it may avoid you using some readers; so, give it a try.