Ensure your RSS crawler is identifiable
It is important to indicate to a server where its traffic is coming from. It helps podcast hosting companies understand who is consuming their RSS feeds, and can also help podcasters know where their podcast is being consumed.
You can see your current scraper’s user agent by looking at the episode notes in Season 1, Episode 1 of the PodClock podcast, which is a podcast testing feed. Here’s the RSS feed, though it’s in all the normal directories.
- If you run a central RSS crawler, please ensure this is identified with a user-agent. This is normally one line of code, and a minor change, but makes all the difference to podcasters.
A best-practice user-agent for your RSS scraper would be something like:
There’s no evidence that any podcast host is banning any podcast app based on their useragent: and there is no need to include
Mozilla/5.0 or any similar obfuscation.
Use etag for caching
When you retrieve an RSS feed, store the etag header value in your database. The etag header value changes when the content changes.
When polling it, send the etag value back as an
- If there’s new content in the RSS feed, you’ll get the full RSS feed back for you to parse and ingest (along with a new etag).
- If there is NO new content in the RSS feed, you’ll just get a
304: Not Modifiedback. No need to parse or ingest anything.
- Consider reporting back subscriber counts, like this example from Overcast:
Overcast/1.0 Podcast Sync (123 subscribers; feed-id=456789; +http://overcast.fm/
Consider saving your bandwidth, and that of podcast hosts, by using the accept-encoding header to request that RSS feeds are GZIPped. RSS feeds are highly compressible.
Consider using PodPing or WebSub to be alerted when a new episode of a podcast is published. This will help your server infrastructure avoid unnecessary feed polling, and ensure that podcasts are promptly updated with new episodes. Using either PodPing or WebSub, you can cut your bandwidth and server load by 99% - by parsing new RSS feeds on request, when new episodes are published.
Page authors: jamescridland