Typical feed issues in detail

There are a number of reasons why RSS feeds and the content they syndicate might have issues from time to time. Usually, the solution is simple, such as turning off a rogue plugin. Other times solutions involve changing super aggressive Web server rules that were disabled by overzealous server administrators. The following page documents the most common of these issues and some typical examples.

Content formatting issues in podcast directories such as iTunes

When content is not formatted correctly in directories such as iTunes, it is usually an indication that your feed has been manipulated in some way. Follow our Diagnose player/feed issues page to diagnose the problem.

iTunes taking longer than normal to update

If your iTunes listing is taking a long time to update (more than 48 hours), this is usually an indication of one of the following:

  • XML in the RSS is formatted incorrectly (test with a feed validator service)
  • Server is blocking iTunes (e.g. blocking HTTP/1.1 HEAD and GET requests must be supported)
  • HTML style comments are found at the bottom of the XML of the feed (this can be an intermittent issue, some weeks it’s not a problem, some weeks it is)

Podcast feed is not accepted because it does not support byte serving, your iTunes image is not 1400×1400 or does not support HEAD requests

When submitting your podcast feed to iTunes and you see the above error, you will need to check the following:

  • RSS feed URL is hosted on a server that supports byte range requests (partial requests) and correctly accepts HTTP HEAD requests
  • iTunes image URL is hosted on a server that supports byte range requests (partial requests) and correctly accepts HTTP HEAD requests
  • Episode media files are hosted on a server that supports byte range requests (partial requests) and correctly accepts HTTP HEAD requests
  • iTunes image is truly 1400×1400 square image in RGB color space saved as a png or jpg

Contact your server administrator or hosting provider to check for byte range request support and HEAD request support. We recommend testing your image with a different graphics viewer other than the one that you used to create the graphics to check for the true size. RGB color space is for images that are viewed on screens, they are not for print. If you can zoom into the image and the picture is grainy, it is more than likely a CYMK formatted image, which is intended for printing and is not valid.

Feed validation issues

First, make sure you are observing a feed error, as opposed to a recommendation. FeedValidator.org hasn’t been updated in many years and is not aware of many of the new tags and attributes for podcasting added by iTunes or RawVoice.

Example manipulated feed content with HTML comments

Manipulated feed with HTML comments at bottom

This example shows the RSS XML source (content) all on one line. New lines are stripped from the values, which would cause all of your text to appear as one line when viewed in podcast directories. It also has HTML style comments at the very bottom of the feed, which is known to cause random issues with the iTunes feed-parsing system.

Example feed with blank first line

PICTURE COMING SOON

XML rules require that the very first line of an XML document (which a podcast feed is an XML document) start with the <?xml … decoration. Though we are unaware of any podcast directories that have a problem with this, feed validation services will treat your podcast feed as invalid if there is a blank line at the very top of the feed source.

This particular issue is typically caused by either a theme or plugin outputting a blank line before WordPress outputs actual website headers. Follow our Diagnose player/feed issues page to diagnose the problem. If you are using a default theme and have no plugins enabled and you still observe a new line at the very top, you could have a new line in your wp-config.php or in one of the other core WordPress files. Check your wp-config.php first, then proceed to install a fresh copy of WordPress to try to solve the problem.

Example of a valid RSS feed

feed-normal feed-normal-2

This is an example of a well formed RSS feed. Note that the very first line includes the <?xml decoration, followed with new lines for content. Values such as the <itunes:summary> pictured above that have multi-lines when viewed in the source guarantee that those lines are displayed by the application or directory that parses the XML.