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A Word of Caution: Sub-Domains and WordPress RSS Feeds

After having our WordPress RSS feeds mysteriously stop working and spending hours on researching possible causes and solutions, we learned an interesting (and, possibly, obvious) lesson that we thought we’d share with our readers so they can avoid similar issues.

With all the social media sites out there, we were looking for a way to clean up all the extra URLs we’re using to direct people to our various profiles on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, etc.

Instead of having a bunch of different, messy-looking web addresses all over the place (ie: www.twitter.com/designgroupies or www.flickr.com/groups/designgroupies), we decided to set up several sub-domains under our web hosting account control panel and create redirects to the different sites. So, we set up a sub-domain for each social media site, such as: facebook.designgroupies.com or twitter.designgroupies.com

We also created a subdomain for our RSS feeds in the form of: feed.designgroupies.com  Unbeknownst to us, however, setting up a sub-domain named “feed” would create an actual folder on our FTP called “/feed”.  Since WordPress creates its links on the fly and uses the format www.yourdomain.com/feed as one of its default URLs for accessing a site’s RSS feed, having an actual folder called “/feed” on the FTP created a conflict.

When we tried to access our feed after the sub-domain was set up, WordPress was not able to use the folder /feed on the fly to create a valid feed URL. So, instead of seeing our actual feed, we saw the empty “/feed” directory on our FTP. We were baffled.

Our clue came when we were investigating the FTP and saw the folder called “feed” created by the sub-domain redirect. This raised some eyebrows and we decided to remove the feed.designgroupies.com sub-domain and – voila! – all was fixed.

Additionally, it should be noted that WordPress also uses /rss as one of its on-the-fly URLs for feeds, so setting up a sub-domain called rss.yourdomain.com would create a similar conflict and result in feeds not working as well.

Now, we’re going with the WordPress-safe sub-domain feeds.designgroupies.com and all is well!

We hope our adventures in troubleshooting help others avoid similar problems!

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Posted by: Head Groupie
Categories: Blog,WordPress Resources
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