Resolving issues with your feeds

It is not uncommon to encounter problems with your blog or podcast feeds. The best way to diagnose your feed is by using FeedValidator.org. FeedValidator.org will determine if your feed is valid or has errors, and also include suggestions and/or warnings. Some warnings can be ignored, depending on what you are trying to accomplish with your podcast. If you are distributing video and using embeds from video sharing sites such as YouTube or Blip.tv, it should be safe to ignore embed warnings from  FeedValidator.org.

Note: FeedValidator.org has not been updated in some time, and often will give confusing warnings. The only time you need to investigate deeply is when the feed is reported by FeedValidator as no longer valid. This can result in the non-distribution of your podcast.

Feed size limitations

Feeds can become very large in size over time. When a feed approaches 512K (1/2 megabyte) in size some websites and applications begin to have problems processing them. Podcast directories will begin to update your listings less frequent due to the excessive size. For example, the popular feed hosting service FeedBurner will not accept feeds that exceed 512K in size.

The best way to resolve this issue is to limit the number of items in your feed. This limit may vary depending on the amount of blog post / episode show notes that you enter per episode. Many podcasters set this limit somewhere between 20-50 items/posts per feed. For those using the PowerPress Plugin you can reduce the size of your feed by using the Feed Episode Maximizer feature in the podcast channel section.

Feed timeout errors

Many podcast directories, and podcatchers such as iTunes, will display timeout errors when the podcast feed they are trying to update takes too long to download. Many factors could contribute to slow downloading feeds, but in almost all cases, the problem lies with the Web server not being capable of delivering the feed in a timely manner. This is most common with websites that use programming language such as PHP or ASP to generate the feed.

If you are using WordPress, the easiest way to solve this problem is to use a plugin such as Static Feed. The Static Feed plugin will serve static versions of your feeds, which will remove the need for WordPress to load every time your feed is requested from podcatchers and podcast directories.

Another solution is to move your feed subscriptions away from your feed to a feed service such as FeedBurner.com. (We do not recommend using FeedBurner for podcasting, but it is a solution to this problem.)

We had difficulty reading this feed. Bad http result code: 500 / 403

This is a specific problem with iTunes when submitting a feed that is hosted on a web server that is not truly HTTP/1.1 compliant. iTunes requires byte serving be enabled (a feature of HTTP/1.1) on the server so it can pull feeds, images, and media files efficiently. In addition, all HTTP/1.1 request methods must be supported, specifically GET and HEAD requests.

A good start in investigating the issue is to check for the following…

  • Security or Caching WordPress plugin
  • Firewall configured on web server
  • Web server misconfiguration
  • mod_security not supporting all HTTP/1.1 methods (GET/HEAD/POST/etc…)

Please contact your web hosting provider for assistance. You may also hire Blubrry to work on your behalf to diagnose and resolve the problem.