The state of RSS feeds in Podcasting

Over the past 7 days my team of volunteers at Podcast Connect, have been reviewing all of the nominations for the 2006 People’s Choice Podcast Awards. This year we had some automated tools to help us with RSS Validation, and recorded site and show grading process.
I have never been so utterly blown away by the sad state of affairs when it comes to Podcasters RSS feeds, and some of the crap we have been sorting through.
1st of 3281 nominated shows the RSS Invalid rate according to was a shocking 78%
2nd of the remaining 22% that were valid 96% had glaring errors
3rd With website reviews done on nearly 500 shows. 42% did not have an RSS feed button on there home page, 99% had a iTunes link. 26% did not have a link to the file in there show notes, 21% had less than 2 lines of show notes and 3% of the sites the reviewers could not even find the podcast section.
4th We found RSS feeds over 500K in length with the longest feed having 367 entries. I guess people did not realize that iTunes stops importing feeds when the rss file exceeds 250K
5th Good luck contacting podcasters only 49% had contact information available from either a home or contact page. The remaining shows had absolutely no way to contact them besides the comment form on their websites.
Even more amazing we found of the 3200 plus shows 200 shows that were calling themselves a podcast had no RSS feed, was not listed in any directory, and only provided direct link downloads not surprisingly these shows had low double digit nominations.
This was beyond frustrating to the team and we had a conference call today to talk about it, we were all pretty blown away by the stats. It looks like to me we have a lot of podcasters that are going through the motions yet have not a clue on what it takes to build a successful show.
This was not even a issue last year, it just goes to show you that the more people that are doing shows the lower the bar becomes in taking the time to make sure the most basic functions of a site is maintained. Some of these folks need to pick up my book, and read the fundamentals, and promotions sections. It is beyond sad, and I am beyond disappointed on the state of RSS feeds in the space. There was even one podcast that we reviewed that said you have to use iTunes and you have to use a iPod to listen to a podcast.
The question I have is what does your site look like.

11 thoughts on “The state of RSS feeds in Podcasting

  1. i just ran my feeds through
    when i point the validator to the original xml files on my server, they show only one invalidity, an “undefined channel element” (the “itunes:link” tag, which is necessary for itunes though it’s not valid rss)
    when i point the validator to feedburner’s rendering of my rss feeds, additional problems show up
    it’s frightening that a hick like me, in the middle of nowhere, using a text editor to create the original xml gets it pretty much right, while the itunes namespace elements and feedburner “optimization” mucks up the validity like it does

  2. It truly is a sad state that you describe Todd. And I agree that something should be done. The Podcast Guild will go live with the new and improved site soon, and we will start an education campaign for both podcasters and listeners. We could sure use your help in getting the word out.

  3. The is pretty amazing. My show is valid but did have 3 warnings according to FeedValidator. I did check this at the start of my podcast but everything being so new I was not sure if it would be a big problem. Some things I know now I could fix, like changing the case of letters, but others I am not sure I can touch. Anyway this was very interesting to hear.

  4. I review podcasts for people ask me to review their podcast and half the feeds dont work, many only have an itunes feed.
    i wont review unless they have an xml based feed, not everybody subscribes with itunes but this is the asumption for many new podcasters.
    on a side note, since podshow + came to bear many feeds have stopped working, its as if theyve all abandand there old feeds because were all now going to be using podshow+ all of a sudden.
    this needs to be fixed because for new user, if it doesnt work with the first few feeds they try, they will go away.

  5. Todd, If 78% of feeds are invalid and 96% of the remaining 22% have ‘glaring errors’, that makes a total of 99.12% that are in error.
    So who really has the problem? The 99.12% of Podcasters, or you?
    If it were a problem for the 99.12% of podcasters then I am sure they would act upon it. As it is, it seems the only one with an issue is you.
    Perhaps you need to look at a different method of handling the awards review and grading process.

  6. I’m still amazed at how difficult RSS feeds actually are.
    We’re not all geeks you know. I love the ethos of podcasting, I utterly despise, from my very being, the nerdy nonsense that still goes along with all this.
    The sooner we have a real “click this” button to absolutely automate everything, the better. Frankly, the luddite I am (and interestingly lots of other folks too) still looks for a “download Mp3 link”.
    If the RSS feed is beautifully crrect and the show a right load of old pants, I’m not interested.
    Content is still definitely king.

  7. Simply put, however, if the mp3 file isn’t available via RSS feed then technically it isn’t a podcast.
    There are free and shareware applications that create detail feeds very very easily (I use Feeder for the Mac) and a simple Blogger account takes the pain out of RSS creation, so it shouldn’t really be an issue.

  8. I think the most confusing thing was that where the feed link was to go it was labeled “Podcast URL”, that will confuse some of the listeners who have no idea what that means. At least RSS Feed, people could maybe figure it out. It was just too confusing for people, sorry, I have to say that if it isn’t going to be more managed better than this, and explained to people in terms they understand, then something needs to be changed!

  9. I wouldn’t consider myself a coding guru but I’ve tested my page in the past and was 100%. Doesnt FeedValidoator make revivsons to there checker? My biggest issues with my feed was the release days not matching the dates, which in the past FV versions might have overlooked. My issue with the original post is that my podcast is a daily job (that I fully enjoy)and since all my feeds (itunes feedburner) were working fully, I never went back to FV. So the bar may not be lowered, just this “bar” you speak of isnt so important anymore.

  10. Seriously, I only use an RSS feed for the search engine robots to recognize. I was very upset once I read my own blog inside a feed reader–the context is the message for me. You can judge a book by its cover, and I don’t think RSS is it. Personally, I’d rather see an in-browser Flash player or use Winamp for audio content. I agree with Paul in the previous comment. And I’m not a luddite either–I’ve been online since the 80’s.

Comments are closed.