Adding Footers to Your Feed

If, like many, you’ve grown weary of the rampant automated plagiarism going on and want to protect your RSS feed from skimming or scraping, then adding copyright footers to each article is a potential solution to the problem.

However, that can be a very intimidating process, especially for those who’ve never dealt with RSS feeds before. Old HTML hats, like myself, often find hand editing an RSS feed to be a very intimidating thing.

Still, it’s something that can be done easily with most major blogging software and here are just some examples of how it works.

The Free Sites

First off, if you use a free site such a Blogger, MSN Spaces or AOL Journals, you’re most likely out of luck. These services offer very little control over the inner workings of sites they run and the RSS feed is, more or less, an automated process.

Though you can usually change your layout, add images and engage in a variety of tweaks of your blog’s layout, you can’t do anything similar with your RSS feed.

This is why, in my opinion, if you’re serious about blogging you need to spend the extra money and time to create your own domain and use your own software. It allows for unparalleled freedom and control of your site and gives you access to a variety of powerful tools and plugins (including comment spam fighting, which the major sites seem to lack).

WordPress

If you’re using the WordPress software package, adding a copyright footer to your RSS feed is simple. In fact, there’s a very good plugin to do the dirty work for you.

All you have to do is download the plugin to your computer, edit the file with a text editor to change the warning to read what you want to say (Note: Don’t forget that you can use HTML in the warning. Also, remember that the “Copyright 2005 yoursite.com? is handled automatically unless you change the script manually.), upload it to your WordPress “plugins? directory, located in the “wp-content? folder, and then activate the plugin via the plugins screen in your WordPress administration area. It’s that easy.

If you can’t use the plugin or simply want to do it yourself, you’re going to have to get down and dirty and start manually editing WordPress’ files themselves. This is because, unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t offer control of its various feeds using its normal theme system.

Specifically, you’re going to have to edit the wp-rss2.php and wp-atom.php files (Note: The wp-rss.php, which file supports RSS1, doesn’t post the full entry, just a description).

To learn how to edit these feeds, you should visit the WordPress manual, which has a great deal of information about these files and excellent resources on editing them.

Movable Type

Different versions of MT have different defaults when it comes to feeds. Most older versions appear to only post excerpts by default while newer ones, such as 3.2, include the full entry body, often including both the main body and the extended entry.

For an in-depth discussion into MT’s feed system and how to edit MT’s feed templates, you should read this wonderful and informative article on the “Learning Movable Type? blog.

The fundamental, however, is simple. Go into the Templates section of each blog you have and open up your various feed templates. There, look for either the < $MTEntryBody encode_xml="1"$> or < $MTEntryMore encode_xml="1"$> tags and add your footer immediately after it.

The first tag points to the main body of your entry and the second points to the extended entry. If you use extended entries and want your feed to reference your entire article, you should probably use both in your feed’s content area (as described in the article above). Regardless, posting your copyright notice after that, usually with an < /hr > tag to separate the copy from the notice, should do the trick.

Some Final Notes

Please note that RSS feeds are picky things. Though you can use HTML in them, it’s very important that your feed be valid code, more so than with any Web page. After making any changes to your feed, take a moment to validate it and make sure that there aren’t any errors in the feed. Your readers will thank you.

Also, I’m going to do other software packages as I either learn them or get information on them. MT and WordPress, in addition to being two of the most popular packages out there, are also the two I’m most familiar with.

[tags]Plagiarism, RSS, WordPress, Movable Type, MT, Content Theft[/tags]

6 Responses to Adding Footers to Your Feed

  1. JoeChongq says:

    Actually it is really easy to tag your feed with Blogger. I kind of ran across it by accident recently. The method I used is given in the first comment on this post.

  2. [...] Add Footers to Your Feed: Using either available plugins, template modifications or Feedburner options, consider adding a footer to your feed. This footer should contain all pertinent copyright information and make it clear that the site scraping the feed is not the original source. For tips on this, please see my original article on the subject. [...]

  3. [...] Detection: RSS feeds are relatively easy to track. If one simply signs up for a Feedburner account, they’ll get a list of all the "uncommon" uses of their feeds, many of which will turn out to be sploggers. More tech savvy users have taken to adding their own copyright statements at the footer of their feed entries and others have been adding invisible images to track where content is reused. [...]

  4. [...] I am a definite advocate of placing Creative Commons Licenses, or other copyright licenses, into an RSS feed. There are many tools to help you do that, including Feedburner. [...]

  5. [...] One of the best ways to prevent plagiarism of your work is to clearly mark it as yours. Covered previously on this site, the Feed Copyrighter Plugin is a simple plugin does exactly that. [...]

  6. [...] this opens you up to sploggers trying to steal your content so don’t forget to copyright your [...]

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