“What’s in a feed?
That which we call a feed
By any other name should work the same…but not always. “
While attempting to add a new blog to our network last week, I encountered an interesting issue. As part of LexBlog’s efforts to build and advance the world’s largest community of legal bloggers, publishing team member Chris Grim reached out to a law professor who blogs passionately about the intersection of culture, leadership, and innovation on his blog and is a vocal critic about outdated practices in contemporary education.
The legal community needs critical, imaginative thinkers like this professor who are strategically planning the future of legal education and nurturing aspiring legal professionals. These are the people who LexBlog loves to support, see succeed, and highlight. I was thrilled when he accepted the invitation to syndicate his blog to LexBlog for free.
One problem, though–his feed did not validate.
For the uninitiated, a little background: LexBlog can present on our platform the content of any blog as long as it has a valid RSS feed (LexBlog’s feed, as an example). RSS is simple internet technology that allows people to receive new content automatically and has transformed how people get their news and stay connected. Feedly is one example, and is easily the most recognizable RSS reader used today.
To make sure a feed is ‘valid,’ or that a blog’s content successfully appears and updates to LexBlog.com, we use this feed validator service. A feed might not validate for any number of reasons, including an incompatible CMS.
We ran the URL through the service and it did not validate. Upon further inspection of the feed, we found many URLs that did not belong there–several of them linking to an escort service.
The insidious URLs–likely placed there as a gross scheme to elevate those URLs’ search engine rankings–appeared in not only the blog’s feed, but also hid in all pages of the blog. It was unclear whether the blog was hacked or if the URLs came from a malicious plugin.
As people who understand the hard work and personal investment that goes into creating and maintaining a blog, it was incredibly upsetting for our team to see a fellow blogger’s work attacked in this way. A blog is an integral facet of one’s professional and personal identity and to alter another’s identity without consent is, simply put, disgusting.
We informed this blogger of the issue, he was able to clean up his feed manually, and his blog now has another avenue for discovery on LexBlog. More importantly, the integrity of a legal blogger’s work was saved. Moments when we can help bloggers, give advice, and protect their content fill me with pride. And even more exciting, this blogger has re-invigorated his blog in response to LexBlog’s invitation.
Some takeaways from this story: Change your passwords regularly. Don’t neglect software updates. Make informed choices about which web software and plug-ins to use. LexBlog founder, Kevin O’Keefe made a great argument recently for WordPress as the best content management solution available.
LexBlog is here to support legal bloggers, whether using our platform or not, within our network or not. Even if this, or any other blogger, eventually decides he doesn’t want his feed in our network, we will still be here to help.