The Telegraph's scatter-gun approach to related RSS feeds

 by Martin Belam, 26 June 2007

Whilst doing the research for my lengthy series about the "Web 2.0" features on British newspaper websites, I came across quite a few quirks on them that didn't fit into the main set of articles, but that I wanted to point out anyway.

One of these was on The Telegraph's site, which I noticed when I was putting together my table of the different RSS feed implementations by the eight newspapers I was surveying.

Whilst looking at whether sites offered contextual links to their RSS feeds, I was initially impressed by The Telegraph.

With this story - Blackman appeal plan over 'missing evidence' - I noted that in the <head> of the document The Telegraph had included <link rel="alternative"> tags for four different feeds that the story could be relevant for.


My initial interpretation was that they had some kind of faceted classification within their content management system, and that when pages were assembled all of the relevent RSS feeds were included in the document.

My view changed when I checked this story - Catt leads PRA award list - and looked at what I expected to be relevant RSS feeds in the source code of the HTML.


So, with the football, golf and cricket feeds featuring as "relevent" to a bunch of stories strictly about Rugby Union, I had to conclude that rather than a carefully crafted faceted classification, they actually had a scatter-gun approach to including RSS feed links in their section templates.



Our RSS feeds are attached by section to be auto-discoverable by browsers, so in news you'll find breaking news, main, UK and international and in sport you'll find a selection of our top feeds. Our content management system currently limits our page templates to adding feeds by section only rather than by story.
We're working on that, but even as I'd say it's not so much scattergun as targeted by section.

Yes, I perhaps could have phrased that clearer - I meant scattergun within each section. Which is, of course, much better than many of the other newspapers I looked, just not as clever as I at first thought.

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