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Troubleshooting FeedBurner For WordPress.COM

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Troubleshooting Feed Burner for WordPress

The purpose of this article is to acquaint users with the history of FeedBurner and provide some troubleshooting suggestions for WordPress.COM users.

Table of Contents

FeedBurner Recent History Setting up FeedBurner for WordPress.COM Leaving FeedBurner FeedBurner Features
Podcasting Problems with FeedBurner Itunes Submitted Problems with FeedBurner RSS Feed issues RSS Image Issues
Support: Where to go to get more help

FeedBurner Recent History

Feed Burner has been discontinued by Google yet it remains a very popular RSS feeder. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is an easy way to subscribe to many blog services. Rather than visit each site to see new content, new content can be pushed to an RSS Feeder or Reader and users can quickly scan for new content.

FeedBurner was Google’s foray into the RSS business. It was acquired by Google in 2007 and Google soon rolled out a some popular features. In essence:

Google…turbocharges it [FeedBurner] and provides four essential features. It caches the feed on Google’s servers and delivers it quickly thanks to PubSubHubbub. Subscribing to a feed is easier thanks to an HTML page that replaces the XML file in your browser. You can choose to embed ads in your feed in order to monetize it. Finally, FeedBurner provides stats to content creators, such as the number of subscribers.
TechCrunch 9/24/2012

With the rise of microblogging services such as Twitter and the ease of email newsletters some would argue that RSS feeds are obsolete. Though some applications such as Flipboard still rely on RSS. More importantly is that RSS appears to be the digital version of Vinyl Records serving a very niche audience of podcasters and digital hipsters.  Indeed, now that YouTube has been professionalized, podcasting using RSS feeds will continue to provide another avenue to deliver content in an already crowded field. Also, RSS feeds provide an option for users who seek Inbox Zero and do not want additional email newsletters cluttering up their inbox.

With RSS existing in the nether-regions of content delivery systems it certainly explains the quasi-existence of FeedBurner as a service that is neither active nor inactive. Since 2007, Google has discontinued AdSense (2012), the FeedBurner API (2012), and has even dropped support service. However, it still remains active!


Setting up FeedBurner for WordPress.COM

I am not providing step-by-step instructions on how to set-up a WordPress.COM Feedburner as numerous articles exist that already do an excellent job of setting-up and configuring it for WordPress.

Please consult this outstanding step-by-step article here: http://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/step-by-step-guide-to-setup-feedburner-for-wordpress/

Suffice to say, you can add FeedBurner to WordPress.COM. Below is an example of the Configuration Screen and Site Display on one of my WordPress Test Blogs:

FeedBurner Config
FeedBurner Config Screen
FeedBurner Site Display
FeedBurner Site Display: I’ve included an animated headline of recent posts as part of the display.

  Leaving FeedBurner

Numerous articles exist on how to leave FeedBurner such as: http://create.blubrry.com/manual/syndicating-your-podcast-rss-feeds/leaving-feedburner/

FeedBurner Features

An analysis of 5 FeedBurner Features: http://code.tutsplus.com/articles/5-benefits-of-using-feedburner-with-wordpress–wp-29609

FeedBurner can turn any https:// feed into an http:// feed. For example, users with WordPress.com accounts may run into errors when they seek to add their feed somewhere else. If this is the case FeedBurner can turn a secure feed into an unsecure feed. This may allow the feed to be added. See here for an excellent discussion on using FeedBurner with WordPress.com:
https://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/rss-feed-problems-6?replies=5


Podcasting Problems with FeedBurner

When you have created a podcast and uploaded it to WordPress and configured SmartCast on FeedBurner. Itunes requires two additional steps before it connects.

  1. Test it out while in Itunes and going to File—>Subscribe to PodCast—>Enter in your FeedBurner feed.
FeedBurner
Manually Subscribing to Itunes
Itunes Self-Subscribe PodCast from FeedBurner
Itunes Self-Subscribe PodCast from FeedBurner
Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 11.30.38 AM
FeedBurner PodCast Feed
  1. Submitting it to Itunes: https://www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts/specs.html

This is where the vast majority of problems come from:

Difficulty Downloading Episodes from your Feed Error:

Difficulty Downloading Episodes
Itunes Difficulty Downloading Episodes from your Feed

To troubleshoot this error take the following steps:

A. Make sure your podcast is in the correct format. Itunes Podcasts can be in the M4A, MP3, MOV, MP4, M4V, PDF, and EPUB file formats.

It is suggested that the proper MP3 format be:

64 Kbps bit rate
44.1 khz  Sample rate
Mono or Joint Stereo
A file name without spaces

B. If your WordPress.COM account is set-up with https, it needs to be turned off or else Itunes cannot access it your FeedBurner Feed.

C. With FeedBurner Enabled make sure your feed is valid using a feed validator such as:
http://validator.w3.org/feed/

Feed Validator for FeedBurner
Feed Validator for FeedBurner

D. Make sure you fill out all parts of the SmartCast feature. Itunes requires certain informational tags to be filled out prior to submission. SmartCast will automattically do that.

SmartCast Form
FeedBurner SmartCast Form
XML File created by SmartCast feature in FeedBurner
XML File created by SmartCast feature in FeedBurner

For a sample XML File that SmartCast fills out with Itunes informational tags as part of a podcast feed see here: http://www.wilmut.webspace.virginmedia.com/notes/podcast.html

E. The podcast file must also not download upon clicking. It must be viewable in the browser. Failure to account for that will result in the same error.

File playing in Browser
File playing in Browser

F. For the first submission, Itunes will check the first post only. The first (and most recent post) needs to have an acceptable file with it for Itunes to draw from. If not, you will continue to get the error. After several hours wasted this was the case for me.

G. Use FeedBurner’s Ping Feature to ping your feed for updates and the Resync Feature to disconnect and reconnect blog. (See Troubleshootize)

Notes:
1. Using Google Drive to host the files and expecting the files to be accepted for submission by Itunes will not work as Google Drive uses https.
2. WordPress.ORG automattically uses tags as part of uploading mp3s. http://codex.wordpress.org/Podcasting
However, users with WordPress.COM require an upgrayedd:  WordPress Audio Upgrade
3. Using FeedBurner for podcasting only works with posts and pages that are not sticky or static.
4. For help in creating an Itunes Podcast I suggest this website: http://www.wilmut.webspace.virginmedia.com/notes/podcast.html

PodCast Cover Art Error:

“Podcast cover art must be at least 1400 X 1400 pixel JPG or PNG, in RGB color space, and hosted on a server that allows HTTP head requests.”

PodCast Cover Art 1400 x 1400
PodCast Cover Art 1400 x 1400 Error

This error is a result of your PodCast cover art not being formatted correctly or being hosted on a server that does not allow head requests. Note also, that Itunes PodCast Cover Art should be below 500kb or else you will still get the error.

You can check your head requests here: http://web-sniffer.net/

Itunes Submitted Problems with FeedBurner

A. SmartCast Bug: Duplicating podcast-level descriptions http://theaudacitytopodcast.com/dont-let-feedburner-mess-up-your-podcast-episode-descriptions-in-itunes/

RSS Feed issues

  1. One of the most common errors is an Internal Error. This is likely a result of your server. WordPress.COM users will not this error but WordPress.ORG might. The internal error stems from:
  1. Incorrect File/Folder Permissions
  2. Bad Code, or Incorrect Syntax in the .htaccess File
  3. Incorrect php.ini Configuration

However, for WordPress.ORG users the error may be a plugin conflict. To resolve it you may need to uninstall all plugins and reinstall them one at a time to isolate the problem plugin.

 

RSS Image Issues

WordPress.COM users cannot provide video or pictures as part of their FeedBurner RSS feed. WordPress.ORG users have reported that removing “Summery Burner” under the optimize section will get pictures and videos to display in feed. The trade off is that your feed becomes longer.

 

Support: Where to go to get more help

Apple PodCast Troubleshooting Screen:
http://www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts/specs.html#troubleshooting

Apple Support Forms. Access will require a login.:
https://discussions.apple.com/welcome

Google Group FeedBurner Forum. Access will require a Google Account.
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/feedburner

If applicable: http://patcosta.com/2014/10/basic-wordpress-troubleshooting/

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