Using FeedWordPress for Syndication

1.Group Blogging v. Syndication

There are numerous ways of collaborating and communicating online in and for courses. However, when it comes to using WordPress there are two basic methods of pulling together blog posts on a course site: group blogging and syndication. Group blogging is when everyone in the course is a user of the course site and contributes to discussion by posting directly on site. Syndication is when everyone has separate blog sites that get fed into one course site using RSS feeds.  For syndication we recommend using FeedWordPress, a free plugin.

Alternatively, students may create their own corners of the web and visit and comment on each others’ sites.

2.Finding your RSS Feed

This will pull a page that will not really be useful to you, but you can grab the URL at the top and plug it into a RSS reader such as tiny tiny RSS and it will display it in a readable format that will give you the latest updates.

From your homepage or where ever your posts appear, simply add “/rss” or “/feed” to your URL, “http://sampleblog.umwblogs.org/feed/

3.Intro

In order to have your students’ blog posts syndicate to your course site you need three different tools:

  • Links Widget
  • Add Link (widget) Plugin
  • FeedWordPress Plugin

7.FeedWordPress

The easiest way to syndicate WordPress websites, either for your individual blogs or for a course website, is to use the plugin called FeedWordPress. This plugin will allow you pull posts from other blogs and put them into one centralized location. First things first, you need to install the plugin:

Installing FeedWordPress

When installing FeedWordPress, you will want to install the plugin on the site to which you wish to syndicate all your other blogs (i.e. your main site or course site).

  1. After logging into your dashboard of your website, you’ll want to access your plugins to install FeedWordPress. Click Plugins in the menu on the left side of the window.
  2. From here you’ll want to add a new plugin. You can do this two different ways. One, you can select Add New from the menu on the left hand side just under Installed Plugins. Second, you can click Add New above the Active or Inactive menus.A screenshot of the WordPress page. The Plugin menu is selected. The 1st arrow points to "add new" under plugins. the second arrow points to "add new" near the page title.
  1. Next you’ll want to search for FeedWordPress. In the search bar, in the upper right hand corner, type in FeedWordPress. Click install on the first FeedWordPress to begin the installation process. *Note, some browsers may ask if it is okay to install the plugin. Click okay (or whatever the equivalent might be).

A screenshot showing the search results for "FeedWordPress." The "install now" button is highlighted.

Once you have installed the plugin, you will notice a new option on your sidebar menu titled “Syndication”. This is where you will have the option to add sites you want syndicated to your main website. Additionally, you will have the option of changing specific settings to the plugin.

Resolving Broken Syndication Links

There are two very common reasons that FeedWordPress syndication links break:

  1. Domain Expiration / No Posts
  2. Wrong Feed URL

Domain Expiration / No Posts

Students’ posts may not be syndicating because their domain expired or because they have not posted anything. Both of these issues will cause FeedWordPress to throw errors, but both have easy solutions that will automatically fix the FeedWordPress errors.  Students’ domains expire after 2 weeks from their sign up date if they have not confirmed their email address (it is always their UMW email). When they signed up for a domain they were sent a confirmation email (which sometimes ends up in the Junk or Spam folder) and in that email is a confirmation link that they need to click to prevent their domain from expiring. If the student’s domain has expired, they need to find that email and click the link in order for syndication to work again. If they have lost the confirmation email, they can email a member of DTLT, who can resend the confirmation email to them. Likewise, if a student has not made any blog posts then there would be nothing for FeedWordPress to syndicate.

Wrong Feed URL

Sometimes a student will forget to add /feed to the end of their site URL when entering in their feed URL in Add Link. When this happens the student’s posts will not syndicate because FeedWordPress cannot find the feed URL. Here are a few quick steps to solve this issue.

  1. Go to Syndicated Sites under Syndication on your Dashboard.
    A screenshot showing a syndication menu. Syndicated sites is the first option, followed by "feeds and updates"
  2. Find the student’s link that is not syndicating. The FeedWordPress error will look like this:

If you look closer, you can see that the feed URL does not end in /feed. Below is a comparison between this broken feed URL a proper feed URL. A screenshot showing a broken link for a syndicated source. There is an error message in the description explaining that there is a broken URL.

A screenshot showing a working syndication. The URL has the word "feed" at the end

Fixing the feed URL

  1. Switch the feed URL
    A screenshot with an arrow pointing to the "switch feed" option
  2. Check for a  feed
    screenshot of the feed finder. A URL is in the address bar in this menu, and the "check" button to the right of that field is highlighted.
  3. Use the found feed
    A screenshot showing a URL listed next to feed URL

Once you’ve added the correct feed URL to the syndicated link, all you need to do is update the feed and the student’s posts should begin to populate on and in the site!

Suggest Edit