Tale of the FeedWordPress Tape

Aggregation 451
Image courtesy of Looking for Fish tacos at ELI 2006, aka CogDog.

Well, I have finally gotten a free minute to get this all down, and get it down I will in hopes that I can drum up some help and support in working through a couple of the issues we’re having with FeedWordPress. So, here goes my state of the union address for FeedWordPress syndicating student work to class blogs on UMW Blogs….

First, FeedWordPress is the real deal, it is a solid interface, not too complicated, works out-of-the-box without cron plugins, and makes syndication a breeze. (D’Arcy overviews it beautifully here). Combine this simple syndication with all the tag and category feeds made available by Donncha’s Sitewide Tags plugin and you got the goods, EDUGLU-o-rama! As the great Mara Scanlon said after we demonstrated the power of FeedWordPress for her Ethics and Literature course today, “This is getting so much easier!” And that it is, she suffered through the days of BDP RSS and the untold issues with WP-Autoblog last year with character and fortitude, and her recognizing this afternoon that the syndication angle is coming together was a morale boost, for she doesn’t compliment ed tech stuff often or lightly.

So, I’m really excited. I can see some real potential and power here, we have over 15 classes using some version of FeedWordPress syndication, and for the most part it works seamlessly, enter one feed for a class tag, and the course blog populates itself, aggregating the student blog posts tagged accordingly. All is good….well, almost good.

Here are some of the issues we have run up against in the last week, in order of gravity:

1) For a few classes we are actually feeding the posts in with comments turned off and the permalink sending the reader back to the original blog. This works well when the feed is first syndicated in FeedWordPress. However, after that the subsequent posts that are pulled in link within the course blog, the permalink no longer send the reader back to the original post on the student’s blog. This sucks! This was a way to allow posts to aggregate in one place, but lead the rest of the class back to the student’s space, particularly useful if the class is subscribing to the course blog feed, for all the feeds will immediately take the reader to the student’s blog, a way to aggregate feeds from a variety of sites off one feed (a kind of tag specific OPML feed for class sites). So, this one is major, and it ain’t working as of now 🙁

2) This may be related to number one, but for several feeds that I click on that have been aggregated via FeedWordPress I get the following error:

Fatal error: Call to undefined function wp_insert_category() in /home/umwblogs/public_html/wp-content/mu-plugins/sitewide-tags.php on line 120

Making me think there may be a correlation between the FeedWordpress issues and the Sitewide Tags plugin. Anyone experience anything similar to this?

3) After FeedWordPress is activated and up and running, if you try and create a Link (just a plain old link in the Write–>Link tab) it actually creates a new, malformed feed in FeedWordPress. Bizarre. This doesn’t necessarily hurt anything that I know of, and I stress that I know of.

4) FeedWordPress doesn’t pull in tags from syndicated posts. Not a huge deal for us right now, but it would be useful.

5) The creation of categories from syndicated posts doesn’t work out-of-the-box. You have to actually update the rss-functions.php and rss.php files using the two they provide in the MagpieRSS Upgrade folder that comes with the FeedWordPres plugin (thanks for pointing this out, D’Arcy).

Ok, that’s it. I’m gonna post a modified version of this on the WPMu forums as well to see if anyone knows anything. The plugin author, Charles Johnson, seems to have been busy with other things and hasn’t upgraded his plugin for WP/Mu 2.6+, and frankly the guys built it out and supported it brilliantly. And once your plugin becomes popular, it must seem like as much as a burden as a service to constantly update and maintain it, I’ve seen it happen with a number of good syndication plugins which makes me nervous. We need to support these folks, and help them develop it out, or contribute accordingly.

So, there it is. FeedWordPress is about as close as we’ve come to realizing the syndication bus in major way, mad props to Andre Malan for turning me onto it again at Norther Voice this past February, and if anyone has any ideas for making it work a bit more consistently don’t be shy.

Oh yeah, one more thing.

The BDP RSS widget Andre Malan created for allowing people to add their feeds to a site via BDP RSS would make even more sense these days for FeedWordPress.

This entry was posted in rss, UMW Blogs, Uncategorized, widgets, wordpress multi-user, wpmu and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Tale of the FeedWordPress Tape

  1. Andre Malan says:

    The link thing puzzled us at UBC for a bit, but I think we have found a great way to use it. As you know, I struggled to find a way to add feeds from the front end to FeedWordPress (prompting the BDPRSS workaround). However, Vince noticed that adding links adds feeds to FeedWordPress. From there he had the idea to make a “add link” widget, which in turn adds a feed to FeedWordPress. Although it might look “malformed” there is in fact a syndicate this button that is added in FeedWordPress that allows you to quickly verify the feeds. This is how the process would work:

    Student adds link in widget ->link goes through to FeedWordPress ->Professor or administrator approves link.

    That’s all you need for class syndication. Because it goes through the links it also makes a nice automagic class list. The code isn’t in a public place yet, but I will work hard to make sure that it happens withing the next week.

  2. Lloyd Budd says:

    Thanks for opening my eyes to this plugin. Your and D’Arcy’s articles build nicely on each other.

    I’ve also learned that tale of the tape is one of your favorite expressions 😉

  3. Reverend says:


    How smart is that! Making a good out of a perceived bug, now that’s ingenuity at work. Looking forward to the plugin, as with everything you guys do.

    Let me ask you, have you had the FeedWordPress error with the permalink not redirecting to the original blog at UBC? I find this one bizarre and would love to know if others using WPMu 2.6 are having similar issues or its just me.

  4. Reverend says:


    Yeah, you are right about that, I love the boxing expressions. Now, if you beautiful, wonderful folk at WordPress could build this plugin into 2.7 without the bugs I would buy you a copy of the DVD When We Were Kings. 🙂

  5. Andre Malan says:

    We haven’t had that problem at all. Our latest FeedWordPress blog is http://blogs.ubc.ca/blogsquad . As you can see, all the links are directing back to the original blog. Does it do it on both the UMW blogs and your personal WPMU installation?

  6. Greetings, Reverend,

    FWIW, in Drupal, the FeedAPI and the Feed Element Mapper works incredibly cleanly out of the box. Tags are imported and mapped to the right place, and everybody is happy. More importantly, this is code that has been rock solid for about a year.

  7. Andy says:

    Quick unrelated post to say that whilst trolling through a DVD shop here tonight I picked up a few gems ..and I’m about to watch my very first Mario Bava movie: Kidnapped AKA rabid dogs

  8. Reverend says:

    Are you using the Sitewide tags plugin? Moreover are you using the sitewide tags 3-in-1 panel widget? I tested it on my space apart from UMW Blogs, and it worked fine until I installed Donncha’s sitewide tags.
    Hmmm, I think the error I outlined in point number 2 is the issues, and it seems related to this plugin. Must dig deeper. An idea of what you are using would be awesome.


    Drupal, is that a Content Mangement System or something like that? Sounds neat, I’ll have to take a look 🙂

    Rapid is awesome, a tough film to watch and a wild ending. It is one of Bava’s best in my opinion, and Straw Dogs as either a pre-game show or post-game show would make for an ideal movie evening. Let me know what you think.

  9. Matt says:

    Argh! Love your post, Jim, but I’m having problems with FeedWP myself. Unfortunately, after the install (and after doing the Magpie file upgrades), I’m getting errors every time I add a feed (it keeps telling me that there is “no feed found,” even though I know that these feeds are verifiable feeds).

    I’m not working in WPMU, but rather in plain WP. have you run into this issue at all?

  10. Reverend says:

    Hey Matt,

    Just catching up on redbaiters email Sorry I didn’t respond to you sooner, my bad.

    Ok, so feedWordPress is running into some strange issues that may be related to Donncha’s sitewide tags page plugin, but I think there is a work around. As for the single WP, what is the error? Post it here or send it to my gmail and we’ll take a look. We can;t have CUNY’s finest, and the fine purveyor of a new NEH grant on Whitman (you are sick and rule) going without some badass aggregation and syndication.

  11. Vikram says:

    Hi there,

    Stumbled upon this post when searching for a resolution to the same issue. Have you found a solution yet? (links not pointing to the original post)

    • Reverend says:


      I would try copying the rss.php and rss-functions.php files from the magpie directory within the FeedWordPress plugin into the wp-includes directory of your WP (or WPMu) installation. You’ll have to over write the orgiinals, but this worked for me. Let me know.

  12. Vikram says:

    Thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, that didn’t solve the issue. 🙁 Is it possible for you to send me your rss.php and rss-functions.php so that I can do a diff and see if anything is different?


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