April 7, 2008

Three feed plugins for WordPress

Author: Tina Gasperson

These days, you can grab RSS feeds off just about any site and aggregate them into reading lists, pop them into a widget, or post them on your blog. Here's a look at three very different feed-related plugins for your WordPress blog: FeedSnap, RSS Stream, and FeedEntryHeader.

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All of these plugins install using the standard WordPress method: unzip and upload the files to your WordPress plugins directory, then activate the new plugin from the Plugin Management page.

FeedSnap makes it a "snap" to post a feed on your blog by using special tags. Just surround any feed URL with [feedsnap]feedurl[/feedsnap], publish the post, and feed entries show up on the post with "read more" links that point to the site of origin. I would have liked to see links built into the feed entry titles, however, and some kind of extra formatting that makes it clear I have an outside feed posted and not just a bunch of short paragraphs with outbound links.

RSS Stream capitalizes on the recent "lifestreaming" popularity. With the proliferation of social networking sites, it seems just about everyone has multiple memberships at places that generate feeds for others to follow, such as Twitter, Last.fm, and Facebook. RSS Stream lets you collect all your social networking "streams" in one place and publish them as a widget. You can configure its settings in your WordPress administrative back end.

RSS Stream is a good concept if you're into social networking, but RSS Stream needed some work to play nice with my sidebar. It took up too much space and was poorly formatted, as though it would have preferred to have its own page, with no options to change the formatting (unless you want to noodle with the PHP code). Indeed, some users of RSS Stream publish it on a separate page, which looks better but seems less useful to me.

WordPress generates by default an outgoing feed that other Internet users can pick up. FeedEntryHeader is a simple plugin that places a configurable copyright notice at the top of each post in your outgoing feed. The default notice reads "Copyright (c) 2008 blogauthor. Visit the original article at ..." But you can change the defaults under the Settings tab in your WordPress back end.

Putting the copyright at the top puts content scrapers or would-be plagiarists on notice right away about who the work belongs to. This won't deter everyone, but at least an automated scraper will republish the copyright notice along with the lifted content.

The ability to work with RSS feeds is increasingly important because more people are using feed readers to keep up with their favorite sites all at once instead of having to browse each one separately. With these three feed-related plugins and Wordpress, you're covered, whether you're working with feeds from other sites, your own, or a combination of the two.

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