Webby Types: RPS Needs Your Help

By Alec Meer on September 10th, 2008 at 10:56 am.

If you’ll forgive us something of a technical tangent, we find ourselves with a problem we’re too stupid to solve – and it’s possible one of you wonderful people might be able to help us. This post may be a little tedious if you don’t have any web-fiddling knowledge/interest, so I’ll stick the cut in now to keep its frontpage visibility to a minimum

Edit – By Jove I think we’ve fixed it, via the splendid Betterfeed plugin. Thanks very much to Andy“ for finding it.

The problem is our RSS feed. The site runs on WordPress, but we pass the feed over to Feedburner. Unfortunately, we can only get the feed to either display complete posts – which is bad news a) because some of our posts are ridiculously long and that can be a big inconvenience for readers and b) because it means less people visit the site itself. We earn precious little from RPS as it is (nowhere near enough to pay the bills, though we hope to change that over time. Donations welcome, needless to say), but if we end up even less people seeing our ads because they’re getting everything from the feed we’ll eventually hit the point where running this place isn’t viable anymore. Urk.

Alternatively we can set the feed to display summary posts, which are these ‘orrible curtailed affairs that lead to people angrily accusing us of cheating them of content. What we want is for the feed to pick up on the !–more– tag we stick into our posts when we don’t want the whole lot to appear on the front page. But it doesn’t, even though it’s supposed to. I don’t know if the problem lies with Feedburner or WordPress, but my useless investigative skills haven’t been able to dredge up a fix.

Previously, I managed to botch this into happening by using the Dualfeed plugin, but unfortunately our traffic, which has been building steadily over the last few months, became high enough that we’ve had to add the Supercache plugin to reduce the load on our poor server (hosted by the lovely people at Positive Internet). This conflicts with Dualfeed, so that’s been deactivated. So my question to you, with your giant brain and friendly demeanour, is how can we fix this? If anyone has a bright idea (and one that can be expressed in very simple terms, as my web coding knowledge is incredibly rudimentary), we’ll be enormously grateful. And will find some way to honour you for it. Either comment below or drop me a mail, whichever’s best. Cheers!

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55 Comments »

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  1. Ian says:

    I can’t help with the RSS issue, but I’ll happily sell a less popular family member to slave traders to help fund the site if need be. :)

  2. Kieron Gillen says:

    If anyone wants to sell their family members, I gesture at the donate or subscribe page…

    KG

  3. Bobsy says:

    I thought that boy had written “I will be food”. Sinister!

  4. cullnean says:

    Why not log into the WordPress control panel and use an RSS widget? Then, you can use the rss feed for your blog, configure the feed, and use a php tag in your template to display it in your table cell, or use a plug-in to enable inserting the php tag into your html table.

    Here are some links that might help you:

    http://faq.wordpress.com/2006/12/24/using-the-rss-widget/

    http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Feeds

    http://lorelle.wordpress.com/2006/03/27/customizing-rss-feed-links-for-wordpresscom-and-wordpress-sidebar-widgets/

    There are plugins for this, too:

    http://www.shaolintiger.com/2006/01/19/how-to-use-rss-feeds-on-your-wordpress-site/

    from experts exchange, hope this helps

  5. Heliocentric says:

    fuck the ads let the people send you cash. Not payment, not begging, simply a tithe. If you gits have to close this site down i’ll only have the variable quality of a few guys on 1up to draw on.

    Ps 90% of the time i use the mobile site (add an edit button please) which carries no ads. Let me give you guys a kick back.

  6. Heliocentric says:

    you have a donate page? Last i remember you were refusing to ask for cash. Doh

  7. Kieron Gillen says:

    Look over on the right of the site at the bottom of the section “Read Our Finest Words”. Beneath the search box.

    Been there for months now, but we haven’t made a big deal of it. Mainly because we wanted to see how many people notice it and sign up.

    KG

  8. Ian says:

    This is somewhat off topic, but any plans for subscriber-exclusive stuff yet? Or is there stuff already and I’ve not noticed?

  9. Alec Meer says:

    Not yet, but we do have some plans. Thanks to everyone who’s donated/subscribed already, and apologies that we’re taking so long about it. We honestly haven’t forgotten or told porky-pies – it’s just a time/resource problem we’ll overcome soon.

  10. AbyssUK says:

    OK now I feel guilty.. ads turned on for rockpapershotgun.com..

    It takes much longer to load you know..

  11. Jim Rossignol says:

    The plans for the subs stuff are being made. Getting the time we need to actually pull it off is proving a bit tricky.

    On the money thing: we’ve love to be able to rely on the kindness of strangers, but with the sheer volume of people visiting the site now advertising is the best/only way to try and pay for our efforts.

  12. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    So, there will be extravaganzas with subscriptions?

  13. Lars Westergren says:

    Subscribe link doesn’t seem to work for me.
    Edit – I mailed this to them instead.

  14. Mark says:

    We (a large WordPress site) use xCache with WP-Cache (we’re considering Super, I’d be interested in hearing what problems it caused with DualFeeds) combined with modest servers and no load balancing (again, maybe soon).

    Our performance win you don’t already seem to have is xCache http://xcache.lighttpd.net/

    Given that we use WP-Cache is compatible with Dualfeeds, it might be worth switching back to that to solve your problems in the interim.

    Mind if I ask what traffic you’re getting?

  15. Ian says:

    @Diogo: I’d expect a hoopla as the bare minimum.

  16. Heliocentric says:

    i use mobile version mainly. Finest words doesn’t show. Bloody paypal. Oh well. I’ll sort it out once i get on a hardline. As a subscriber i will demand a 10% bigger image on all of my posts. Bow to my e peen

  17. Anon says:

    Why not add ads in the full RSS feed? A lot of people don’t like partial feeds.
    Here’s an interesting article on the eternal debate of partial vs. full RSS feed that may prove useful :
    http://thewrongadvices.com/2007/04/20/full-vs-partial-rss-feeds/

  18. Forceflow says:

    Have you tried the Supercache development version ?

  19. stavrosthewonderchicken says:

    You want to keep a full text feed. With ads inline, if that’s the way you want to roll.

    Trust me. Don’t adopt the same mindset as the RIAA et al. Not good for business.

  20. Andy`` says:

    Random googling threw me to this: http://planetozh.com/blog/my-projects/wordpress-plugin-better-feed-rss/

    No idea what it’s like to use, of course

  21. Schtee says:

    What does the feed that’s being given to feedburner look like? That should identify if WP is at fault, surely?

  22. The_B says:

    @AybssUK – If you’re that bothered about speed, use Google Chrome to look at RPS. It’s very quick.

  23. Andy`` says:

    @Schtee: Apparently WP was intentionally changed to ignore !-more- tags in RSS feeds, instead of a more sensible solution like providing people with options: http://trac.wordpress.org/ticket/6680

    (probably should have linked in previous post, brain is elsewhere, sorry!)

  24. Adam Hepton says:

    @The_B: and full of whacking great security holes at present – be careful where you’re browsing before switching to it wholesale. Chrome being much, much, quicker at rendering Javascript isn’t going to make a large HTML page load any quicker, either.

  25. The_B says:

    Well, I was mainly suggesting to use Google Chrome just to browse RPS for the moment. I’m not willing to let go of my FF plugins just yet…

  26. Schtee says:

    @Andy“: Ahah. Sounds fairly stupid. No plug-ins to-jumpify the feed?

  27. kororas says:

    I hadnt seen the Donate button but now its been mentioned I will sub up next pay day – I dont wanna see RPS go under!

    As for the sub page itself – $2 whats all this about eh guys, you’re from the UK are you not ? ;P

  28. Andy`` says:

    @Schtee: The one I linked in my post before my last should do it (same plugin is also linked in the WP tracker page I linked – Ozh’s Better Feed), but I’ve not used it myself. Only linked it. For your convenience, here it is linked again: http://planetozh.com/blog/my-projects/wordpress-plugin-better-feed-rss/

    I’m going to go to work now in an attempt to avoid writing “linked” any more for the rest of the day ;)

  29. AbyssUK says:

    OK anybody using FF3 with noscript know how I can tell no script to always allow the rps adverts… but only when am on RPS? then disable them from other websites?

  30. Alec Meer says:

    Thanks to everyone for the advice, but most especially to Andy“, cos that plugin seems to have done the trick. Happy!

  31. suchchoices says:

    re: google chrome

    my housemate commented that chrome had tied up two of his cores with 100% usage, and was thrashing the disc by constantly writing to its database. So perhaps chrome is good if you want speed at the expense of doing anything else at the same time on your machine ;)

  32. TheLordHimself says:

    I don’t know why more people don’t try out Opera. The mouse gestures are really great, its like playing black and white! Plus, if you load 10+ tabs that are all rendering, then compare the responsiveness to firefox, it really does cream it. It also matches Chrome at the moment, but doesn’t have Chromes fisher price XP theme.

  33. Jay says:

    @AbyssUK

    Set noScript to block all scripts and only allow the pages you want to.

  34. scott says:

    I’m a bit disappointed by this… I only recently discovered RPS a few weeks ago but it’s quickly become my favourite PC gaming blog, perhaps even better than Firingsquad even back in its glory days before it got convoluded by console gaming news. I think you all have a noble pursuit, especially when you give coverage about indie games as well as mainstream releases. So I’m sad to see the disappearance of full RSS feeds. I think ad supported full feeds are the way to go.

    You haven’t lost a reader, but you’ve frustrated one. I’ll skim the content I guess and click through on the articles that interest me… :- Instead of reading almost every article that comes through

  35. Alec Meer says:

    Once we’ve sorted out a decent ads system for the full feed I dare say we’ll reinstate it. Additional problems though are that the length of some our posts annoys some people in feed-format, and that a few sites have been stealing all our content via the feeds.

  36. James says:

    Time to throw some spare change to the funny dancing e-bears, I think.

  37. Cigol says:

    Subscribed.

  38. MeestaNob! says:

    RPS, I say put MORE ads along the right of screen if it means keeping this place ticking along. Fantastic PC gaming site.

  39. itsallcrap says:

    RPS, I say put MORE ads along the right of screen if it means keeping this place ticking along. Fantastic PC gaming site.

    Yeah, that really wouldn’t bother me at all, so long as they’re not the intrusive kind that load *instead* of your page and then begrudgingly offer you a link to what you actually wanted to read.

    On the right hand side of the main page, there’s just nothing after “As featured on NewsNow.” If you’re going to be ad-powered, why not just stack ‘em all the way down to the bottom…?

  40. Kieron Gillen says:

    Advertisers don’t normally like that kind of real-estate, basically.

    Less basically… well, that’s an essay, y’know?

    KG

  41. James G says:

    I must say, RPS has had some of the strangest ads I’ve seen. I think this is the only website outside of the scientific journals that I’ve seen advertise centrifuges. (Not a brand I recognised, and they looked fairly dated) I’ve clicked on a few RPS ads just to work out what on earth the people are selling.

  42. terry says:

    Andy ™*

    * Andy is a wholly owned subsidiary of Electronic Arts limited**.

    **By noticing these asterisks you owe us $60.

  43. NateN says:

    Ever consider popping a “RSS sponsored by” in the feed? Tom’s, Slashdot, and a ton of other folks do it and it’s never bothered me personally. If it was on the bottom of every single RSS post it might, but a daily “Sponsored by” or putting it at the bottom of every 3rd RSS post or so isn’t a big deal IMHO.

  44. Parasite says:

    took a quick look at the donate link on the front page, and was forwarded to page id 1557, which is quite identical too the usual front page. same with the faq (id 9), advertise with us (id 120) and the developer thingy (id 121) a bit puzzling really, is it an aftereffect of the serverproblems you guys had a few days ago?

  45. Kirrus says:

    @Parasite: Nope. Before this site was switched to fancy-style links posts and pages were all linked to with an id number.
    (e.g. http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/?p=1997 is the same as http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/06/26/war-wars/)

    Supercache needs fancy-style links, as part of the way it works :)

  46. Mo says:

    Maybe make the full RSS feed available only to subscribers? I’m not sure how possible that is though.

    Thing is, I end up reading a good deal of RPS on my iPod touch. But that means when I’m out of wifi range I can’t keep reading. The plan is to get an RSS reader for it that would cache the feeds on disk, so I could read it wherever. The lack of ads would screw you guys, but I reckon a subscriber fee would make up for it.

  47. Alec Meer says:

    Ahah – thanks Parasite and Kirrus, I’ve been able to iron out that little problem by updating the links to the newer format. Previously they seemed to work fine if you clicked on the from the site front page but not when from a single post. Should all be functioning proper-like now.

  48. Kieron Gillen says:

    Mo: We actually previously had 2 rss feeds. The standard one was the up-to-MORE one. The alternative one which was full feed we kept to point at people who asked for it (It was also listed in the FAQ if people looked). Probably being for the moment is the new array of plug-ins we can only have one feed.

    KG

  49. liquidindian says:

    Hmm. I remember the last time I subscribed to something involving Mr Gillen.

    (It was ace, mind you, it just didn’t last)

  50. RodeoClown says:

    So now I can’t read the whole articles on the way to work?:(…

    Can we get the full-text feed back?

    Pretty please?