Lately, I’ve been trying to get caught up and remain caught up with daily content: empty email inbox, no unread Slack messages, and now, all RSS feeds read. It’s the last of these that led me to a fascinating discovery.
(BTW, this doesn’t mean I have to actually read all the articles in all those sources, but it does mean that I’ve scanned everything and have made a conscious choice to read, to skip, or to defer. Similarly, when it comes to action items, I’ve acted on each one, decided not to act, or scheduled it for further processing.)
I’ve been subscribed to CommitStrip via RSS for years—how many, I don’t remember. While going through my RSS feeds, I noticed that they had not posted a new comic for over a year. I wondered if the publication had gone belly-up.
Going to the website, I saw that, no, they’re still active, and the latest strip was from a couple of weeks ago. Some investigation revealed, however, that the RSS feed is no longer being updated with the latest. The site still has a big RSS button, but the linked feed only goes up to June 2021.
I’m assuming that they are not aware of the issue.
This led me to wonder what kinds of testing could we do on our sites to alert us when this sort of error occurs. Most of us don’t even have a basic ping set up to monitor our websites. Few of us have thought through more elaborate failure modes. And for a personal blog, it’s probably not that big of a deal. But for a small business whose website is their primary online presence, they may never know if something goes wrong, unless one of their customers makes the effort to contact them about it.