Internet technology hosted by Berkman Center

RSS Redirection

When you move your weblog from one host to another, the address of your RSS feed changes. How can you redirect subscribers from the old feed to the new one? Typically bloggers rely on messages posted to the old feed that ask subscribers to switch to the new feed. Not many folks have run into this situation yet, but those who have will tell you that it's hard to get subscribers to make the switch.

There are two ways to redirect your RSS feed:

  • the HTTP 301 redirect If you can configure your blog's server to issue an HTTP 301 ("Moved Permanently") response to requests for your old RSS feed, or if your server's administrator can do this for you, then RSS readers should redirect to the new location.

  • the XML redirect You can also, or instead, post a special XML message to the address of your old RSS feed, advising RSS readers to redirect to a new location. Here's an example:

    Table 1: the XML redirect
    address of old RSS URIcontent of old RSS URI <redirect>
    redirecting from an old RSS address to a new one

RSS readers should be prepared to honor either method. In case of conflict, we recommend that the XML redirect take precedence, since it's the most accessible strategy.

Blog authors should use one or another of these strategies when their blogs move. It doesn't hurt to use both, so long as the new address in each case is the same. That's probably advisable given current uncertainty about which RSS readers support which strategy, and in light of the high cost to authors of losing subscribers when moving to a new location.

We'd like to know which RSS readers support one or the other (or both) of these strategies, so we can document that support here.

Finally, we recommend that weblog hosting services offer and document redirection features, so that users need not contemplate the details of either of these strategies.