Breadcrumbs, Courtesy of FeedBurner...
One of the challenges in moving an existing blog to another infrastructure/location is “what happens to the current readers”. For those reading a blog directly, as in going to the blog’s URL in your browser (hey, people still do it), a post on the blog is one method of redirection. Another would be to point the “old” blog at the “new” address by some means, so folks arriving at the “old” location are automatically redirected to the new location. And, I suppose if you had a closed community of users (i.e. where you knew everyone who was reading), you might contact them directly to advise of the change. Or, maybe do all three.
But what about folks that are reading via syndication? If you published your feed URL and its a component of the “old” infrastructure, how do you get the folks on the feed over to the new content/infrastructure. Posting a message on the “old” blog with the location of the “new” one would be one method, but the users/readers then have to take action. Will they?
Enter FeedBurner… FeedBurner is an RSS syndication service that’s separate from your own blog. With FeedBurner, you can create a feed for your blog which news readers can subscribe to (i.e. its a plain old feed), except that FeedBurner is picking up its own updates from the blog and then forming your feed. Why is this interesting – well, besides a whole bunch of cool features they also offer, FeedBurner provides a way to implement abstraction between the blog and the feed.
Here’s the scoop – when I publish a feed on Blogger, Blogger is forming the RSS feed. Users subscribe to it. Everyone’s happy… until I decide to dump Blogger. Unless I publish a note in the Blogger blog indicating where I’m going, existing subscribers don’t know where I’ve gone. When I do post an entry about where I’ve gone and the user picks it up via RSS, they’ll have to either go to the “new” blog and subscribe, or I’d have to include the “new” feed in the post. Either way, this causes work for the user/reader.
With FeedBurner, the location of the blog is an input to feed formation. That is, you tell FeedBurner where you want to create your feed from, they create a feed for you on the fly, and you publish the FeedBurner feed. If you change blog locations, guess what – you tell FeedBurner where you want it to look NOW for your content (i.e. update the blog’s inherent feed location), and POOF, it updates it behind the scenes. Meaning, no work for the readers who subscribed to the Feedb\Burner feed for your site.
This solution probably doesn’t scale well for the entire blogosphere – I’m sure some other abstraction solution will come along at some point, but for now, with FeedBurner being a free service and with blogging infrastructure being nascent as it is, I’d abstract my feed(s) if I were you. Why not?
UPDATE: If you don't already have the FeedBurner ATOM feed for blahgKarma, its http://feeds.feedburner.com/Blahgkarma. Thanks, Sandy!