A while ago, I decided I wanted to add the trademark symbol (™) to my WordPress site name – HighTechDad – so that all pages and articles would have “HighTechDad™” tagged on to the end of each page title. This process was easy enough to do, but little did I know that by doing it, it would actually break my RSS feed’s validity. While not many people use RSS directly anymore, there are content aggregation sites (like Feedly) that pull in RSS feeds in order to display the content. I’m not a web developer so the fix was not something immediately apparent to me. And I did a bunch of investigation to try to first understand the issue, and then to fix it. Alas, I failed. But I was saved by the coding expertise of Shane Bishop, the brains behind the incredible plugin, EWWW Image Optimizer which can compress the images on your WordPress blog in order to make it serve content faster. (By the way, I highly recommend his plugin!) So, I can’t take ANY credit for the fix that follows! (Just the documentation of it.)
Here’s what the issue was. Since an RSS feed is essentially an XML document, this XML document needs to adhere to some very strict standards in order for it to be valid. But first, a little background. I have my feed “hosted” with Google’s Feedburner service (an RSS service which lets you not only host a feed, but also “clean it up” and add other options to it). While Google hasn’t killed the service, it really has discontinued any development on it. But it still works. Recently, I was adding my site to an Influencer service, and part of the process was to add in my site’s RSS feed. When I did that, the service couldn’t pull my feed. It was broken.
So, I went over to the “Troubleshootize” tab on Feedburner and decided to check the “Original Feed Validity” (which uses FeedValidator.org to do so). The result I got was interesting.