Thursday, November 05, 2009

Google Reader

Thousands of people now subscribe to my comic via Google Reader, but it strips all the newsposts out of my RSS feed and only displays the comic. This means I can't publicise my appearances, or new things I'm selling, or nuthin'. Essentially, it is as bad as one of those "comic ripper" sites from 2004. Is there any way to get around this? I am extremely eager to know.

EDIT: I am not angry at Google or people who read this way, I'm annoyed at my own failings as a web man.

27 comments:

ACM said...

Is that really true? I admit that I use Google Reader (being sure to click through when I find things of particular interest) and I think I'm getting every post, comic, news, or otherwise. Looking back to the beginning of October I see the same 21 posts that are on the blog itself.

Werewolf said...

I subscribe to Bad Machinery (and many other RSS-feed-havin' things) through Google Reader so that I can know when things have been updated, but I don't read the comic or anything else within the Google Reader interface. I might be the exception, rather than the rule, but I prefer to click through to the web site so I can get the "full experience", which includes the content you described, John.

Roman said...

I subscribe to both the blog and the comic feeds in Google Reader, so I get a little more info that way. But I also visit the main page in order to access the forum, so that is how I usually see the news posts.

darklegently said...

here's an example of another comic feed i read that shows both ads and occasional newsposts.

you'll have to dig though their rss code to figure out which bits you are missing...

http://www.unshelved.com/rss.aspx

David Bonner said...

Ditto on reading both via reader. Google's usually pretty good about explaining why their tools aren't using your stuff the way you'd like...have you tried contacting someone there yet?

David Bonner said...

Taking a quick look at the rss feed itself, I'm guessing there's a couple possible suspects you could pretty easily test out:

* For newsposts, the guid tag is marked as non-permalink. For comics, they're marked as permalink.
* The size of the stuff in the description and content tags for the newsposts is much, much larger

darklegently said...

looking at your rss code - i might suggest first off that you reduce the size of your newsposts. you have some pretty elaborate html in there, and it might be that Reader can't handle a post that large for some reason...

darklegently said...

lol. what he said.

TheMadScribbler said...

I really hope you can get them together! the chocolate of Google Reader will be much more bitter without the sweet peanut butter of Scarygoround inside!

I don't want to scare you or seem threatening, but there are comics I used to read back when I used a comic ripper that I haven't been able to keep up with since switching to reader.

felix said...

Google reader and RSS clients generally are ideal because I get a comic pretty much as soon as you put it up. You can totally control what content you publish in your RSS feed though, whether it's just the first half of your comic or text then comic or any content whatsoever including ads ads ads.

mordicai said...

I have no answers but am a googlereaderreader.

Crystal said...

you could always do what some webcomics do (although i don't myself know how) and use the RSS feed as a way to tell when the site has been updated, but not necessarily HOW. that way, the reader has to click through to the site to see the content no matter what.
i'm not sure if this is what other people do, but i mostly use Google Reader as a way to know when comics have actually updated, rather than checking back on days that there is nothing and getting sorta disappointed. (but i read a lot of comics)

Nick Novitski said...

Hi. I use Reader. I don't want to steal your comics, and neither do they: they just hate tables. I think that if you strip out all the table, tr and td tags, you'd be in business.

Kevin said...

I'm a fan, and maybe this is too much honesty, but other webcomics that put the news and such in the rss feed with the comic annoy the hell out of me. I just want to read the comic.

Mack said...

What you can do is if you update the news and the blog separately, you can set the post and the blog to both update as different posts in the same RSS. so the comic would update as normal and the news when only post when it's updated.

So it would look like:

Comic for November 4th
News for November 4th
Comic for Novbember 5th
News for November 5th
etc

How you actually implement it depends on what you're using to post to RSS.

Piels said...

As a Google Reader reader, I always thought the news posts were just never supposed to be in the feed...

Just now, I added a new subscription (based on Google's tip) to http://www.scarygoround.com/index.xml?foo=bar. The last part doesn't do anything but make Google think it's a new feed. In this sub, I see the posts. Maybe that means it will work from now on? Did you fix something?

Aaron said...

Have you talked to Jeffry Rowland about how he does the RSS feed for Overcompensating? He's managed to bundle the comic, newspost and tee-shirt ads all together into each feed item, and it seems to work pretty well. I don't know how he does it, though.

David said...

The Weiner chap at smbc has it working so that newsposts appear in his feed along with his comics.

Site is here: http://www.smbc-comics.com/

RSS is here: http://www.smbc-comics.com/rss.php

betsumei said...

I'm not trying to steal your comic (although, to be honest, I don't miss much when I don't see notices of stuff you're selling that I can't afford right now, or when you'll be making appearances in far off exotic places like Leeds, where I'm not even sure I could speak the local language, but hey, feel free to drop by Edmonton AB some time, I'd love to hear about that), but I'm pretty sure the problem is more with the RSS, than anything specific to Google Reader, since many, many comics are able to include newsposts and ads in there. I've seen some fairly long posts make it in there, so I don't think it's length. Probably some odd tags or something, assuming the content is even there.

I do appreciate not having to click through to see the comic, but that's not something I've ever stopped reading a comic over, if it comes to it. I have dropped comics from my reading list for not supporting RSS, though. :(

Joe Taylor said...

Penny Arcade also do it in the way that Mack suggests - it works fine for me and I read both the comics and the newsposts thus!

I subscribe to Bad Machinery via Google Reader and NewsRob (for Android) which allow me to get new comics on my phone (and notify me when they come out). That's definitely a useful feature.

Then again, I also use Google Reader to subscribe to this blog!

I think there are advantages to having your readers subscribe via RSS. For a start, it makes it damn near impossible to miss a new post - whereas when I used to just visit the home page I would quite frequently neglect to check the "news" panel.

The trick is just to make sure that everything you want people to read is included in the RSS. For example, I read several blogs that have web ads embedded in the RSS feed - I'm fine with that, everyone has to make a living!

Bill Green said...

Diesel Sweeties and Dinosaur Comics both are able to include informative text along with the comic in their respective feeds. I suggest shooting off e-mails to messers Stevens and North to find out how.

John A said...

The original post sounds cross, I wasn't cross at readers or Google Reader, I was annoyed at my inability to do anything right these days.

John A said...

Using Piels' tip from upthread, I managed to get the news to appear... oh dear oh no! A sort of catastrophe! What a mess! Maybe it's better no one can see it right now. I know how to fix it though, I think. Thank you for all the replies.

Paul said...

Looking at the source of your XML feed, your comic image URL appears in the content tag for the daily entry, but nothing else:

<content xml:base="http://www.scarygoround.com/" type="html"><img src="http://www.scarygoround.com/strips/20091105.png" width="880" height="623" hspace="0" vspace="0" border="0" alt="strip for November 5, 2009"></content>

If you could get whatever generates your RSS feed to insert more HTML before and/or after the cartoon image, you may be able to include more in your feed - eg:

<content xml:base="http://www.scarygoround.com/" type="html"><img src="http://www.scarygoround.com/strips/20091105.png" width="880" height="623" hspace="0" vspace="0" border="0" alt="strip for November 5, 2009"><p>Come and see me teach Stan Lee how to draw.</>&lt/content<

You’ll probably need to do some rummaging through the documentation. Without knowing what puts this together, I can’t really comment about whether it’s possible - but would seem odd if you can’t do this.

Possible Piper said...

You definitely can do it, because other comics do it. I see bits of news underneath comics from Questionable Content, and from Dinosaur Comics also.

I don't know how though.

piku9000 said...

With the ?foo=bar on the xml works fine... i see both the strips and the news... but i think that depends on how the people add the rss to their reader.
In any case, you can always add some sort of propaganda at the end of your comic entry

Piels said...

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it looks like my suggestion above only got the first after I subscribed. Updates since then have not shown up as new items. However, if I look at old items in Google Reader, I see that the old news item published on 5 November now contains news for 12 November.

Theory: Google is looking at the <guid> tag for the news, seeing "http://www.scarygoround.com/", and saying "I've already shown a post with this ID", so it doesn't bother showing it as a new post. Since you're not using the <guid> as a permalink, maybe you'd be better off filling that in with "Scary Go Round News - 12 Nov 2009" or similar unique string.