The BBC need a TARDIS to transport their Doctor Who RSS URLs

 by Martin Belam, 23 April 2008

There was an astonishing message in the official BBC Doctor Who News RSS feed yesterday:

Now that we've switched over to our shiny new site, our news stories are being created in a different way. Therefore you'll no longer see news stories added to this page.

Instead, you'll find them if you follow the link below.

More importantly, if you subscribe to our RSS news feed using the link:

you'll need to update it to:

That way you'll be able to keep up with the latest official news on the show
Doctor Who site announcement

Now, I'm an old hand at trying to cope with legacy systems, but really? The BBC can't simply re-direct requests for to automatically?

As far as I can tell, between Bloglines and Google Reader alone, the Doctor Who feed has over 1,500 subscribers. All of whom the BBC is making edit their subscription, rather than the BBC editing one line in a httpd.conf or .htaccess file or writing their own RSS re-write solution or however they choose to re-direct.

Doctor Who subscriptions in Google Reader

Plus, since the BBC only publishes partial feed content, the message announcing this change wasn't even explicit for RSS users. Subscribers were told:

Time to update, if you want to be updated.

which isn't exactly directly explaining 'You need to change your RSS subscription right this instant'

Doctor Who Bloglines subscriptions

Moan, moan, moan eh? Still, it isn't all bad. I see the site now appears to have potentially stable URLs for each episode, and when viewed in advance they redirect to the most recently transmitted episode. Try today, and you get sent to the S4_03 page for Planet Of The Ood. I'm impressed with that at least.

Who’s Who? The Resurrection of the Doctor charts how the Guardian has covered Doctor Who since it was revived in 2005. If features interviews with Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and the men in charge of the show's fortunes: Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat. It also includes interviews with a host of other Doctor Who actors including Billie Piper, Freema Agyeman, John Barrowman and writers including Neil Gaiman and Mark Gatiss. There are contributions from legendary author Michael Moorcock, Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy, and specially commissioned illustrations from Jamie Lenman.
Who’s Who? The Resurrection of the Doctor” - £2.99 for Kindle & iBooks.


As feed publishing becomes more prevalent the best way to do this is to have feed based domain names, so
becomes which is almost shorter than the original! Then if the feed address changes the user doesn't need to know anything about it. By the way I like your CAPTCHA :-)

I'm sure there are plenty of reasons why they didn't want to re-direct from the old URL, but it just seems a really bad call. These are the most dedicated users of your service that you are messing about.

Keep up to date on my new blog