Thursday, July 15, 2010

Finding the address for a blog's RSS feed - even if the owner has hidden it

This article is about how to find the subscription-address for any blog's RSS feed, whether or not the blogger has provided a subscribe button.

Blogger blogs and RSS feeds

Every blog created in Blogger is originally set up to produce an RSS feed.
Some blogs don't actually produce a feed any longer:
  • Bloggers can choose to turn their feed off (Settings > Site Feeds > Allow Blog Feeds = None), 
  • Blogs that are changed to not public have their feed automagically turned off, because it's not possible to apply Blogger's security rules to control access to a feed.
But if the blog is still producing an RSS feed, it is still possible to find the feed address even if the blogger has not provided an icon for it on his/her site.

Finding the RSS-feed address for a Blog

Option 1: Use the Subscribe to Posts (atom) link

Every Blogger theme produced by Google (or at least every one that I've seen) has a Subscribe to Posts (Atom) link at the bottom of the screen.

The easiest way to get the blog's (atom) RSS feed address is to right-click on this link and copy the link-location.

But some blog-authors have removed the Subscribe to Post link
  • accidentally, or 
  • because they're in the process of replacing it with a "proper" chicklet
  • because they don't want people to read their feed - possibly because they've realised that for each Post, the feed contains the first version of it that they publish, not any updates that they've made since - and don't know about the proper option to disable it.
and in these cases you need to use another option.

Option 2: Use the RSS icon or feedcounter icon that the blogger has provided

If the blogger has added either an RSS icon, or Feedburner's feedcount gadget, then you can right-click on them and copy the link-location.   Or just click on them, and most probably the feed will be opened in your favourite feed-reader software.

Option 3: Work it out from the blog's source-code

Even if the blog-owner hasn't given you any way to subscribe to their feed, you can still work out the feed-address by looking at the instructions that are used to show the blog in your web-browser:

View the blog in your browser.

2  Choose to view the page-source.   The command to do this is different in each browser:  in Firefox it's  View > Page Source, in Chrome it's Ctrl / U

This opens a text-file which shows the code that was used to draw the web-page you were looking at.

Search for "RSS" in the text file.  
Hint:  use the browser's seach command (Edit > Find in Firefox).

Examine the code:  If there is a feed coming form the blog, you will see the URL's of the feed in atom and RSS format, like this:
<link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml"
        title="Blogger-Hints-and-Tips - Atom" 
          href="" />
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" 
        title="Blogger-Hints-and-Tips - RSS" 
          href="" />
<link rel="" type="application/atom+xml" 
        title="Blogger-Hints-and-Tips - Atom" 
          href="" />

The URLs are the text inside the quote-marks after each of the "href=" statements - shown in the example as links.

Note:  I've put in line-breaks so you can read this code, but in the source file there will only be three - long - lines used.

Choose which one you want to use.    (Atom or RSS - I think RSS is more universally accepted, but Atom will be fine for any Google situations.)

You can copy-and-paste one of these, and use it to subscribe to the blog.   Which one to use, and how/where to use it depends on where you want to put the subscription.

For example, I've just done this to subscribe to a blog in Google reader:
  • I chose the URL which is equivalent to the one that's highlighted in the example above
  • In Google-Reader, I choose Add a subscription, and pasted in the URL

Related Articles

Removing the Subscribe to Post (Atom) link.

Putting an RSS feed icon (chicklet) onto your blog

Adding Feedburner's count gadget to your site

Why RSS is important for your blog

Restricting your blog's readership isn't as secure as you thought

Feedburner and the follow-by-email gadget

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  1. thank you! very good information helped me allot.

  2. Wow this task has taken me forever. Thanks to your help it finally worked!