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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Consolidated Gallery RSS feed

Did you know about this RSS feed? If you go to http://sasun.info and click your browser's RSS button, you can subscribe to something very cool. I have created a single, consolidated RSS feed for all of the galleries on my list that have an appropriate RSS feed available. This feed is available at http://sasun.info/RssHandler.ashx?source=galleries.xml.

What this means is that if you have a blog or an RSS feed about your gallery in SL, and if it has been approved by me as "appropriate" for the consolidated RSS feed, it will be included automatically. Now, everyone interested in art in SL can subscribe to this ONE feed to see all the news about all the participating art galleries in SL. Here is what you need to do:

First, if you don't have one, create a blog for your gallery to talk about what's new, upcoming shows, your thoughts about art, whatever you want to blog about that is closely related to art in SL or your specific gallery. I recommend you go check out blogger.com. It's easy! You REALLY should do this - it's free advertising and this consolidated feed will help get lots more eyeballs on your blog!

Then, add your blog's URL to the "webpage" setting in your Galleries of SL Kiosk .User Settings notecard. That's it! If your blog service has an RSS feed provided for you automatically (which you can see by clicking the "view feeds on this page" icon on your favorite web browser), it will automatically be discovered and added to the consolidated feed. For you advanced web-savvy folks, if you don't have an autodiscoverable RSS feed for the URL you specified in your kiosk "webpage" setting, then specify the actual RSS feed in your "RSS" setting in your .User Settings notecard. This is not necessary if your feed is already available on your home page.

Q: What is an "appropriate" feed?
A: It must be about your gallery or art in SL. It cannot be a flicker stream, ning group, xstreetsl.com page, a RL company/gallery, or anything unrelated to art or galleries in SL. If this is the case, I will flag it as inappropriate and it will not be picked up for the consolidated RSS feed. Note that your website will always be available on the list at http://sl-artgalleries.blogspot.com, regardless of whether it's flagged as OK for the consolidated RSS feed.

Q: What the heck is an RSS feed and how does someone read one?
A: See http://www.whatisrss.com. I recommend Google reader at http://www.google.com/reader. It's easy to use, available anywhere you can get to the web, and works great on mobile devices too.

Q: Why should I care?
A: This is an excellent way to keep people interested in your gallery and to get your blog read more widely. By having ONE place for people to go to keep up to date on what is going on with all the galleries in SL, you will increase your readership and your visitor count, which hopefully may even transfer to sales, if that's something that's important to you :) Once you have a blog set up, keep it updated! Post about changes, events at your gallery, interesting things you've seen related to art in SL, etc. This is a great way to advertise and spread the word to a wider audience and be noticed! Other galleries are, so if you're not, you're missing out on some cheap, easy promotion. It's just plain fun, too!

Q: How do I know if my blog/feed is marked as included in the consolidated RSS feed?
A: Go to http://sasun.info/gallery_public.aspx and search for your gallery. Look in the "RSSok" field.

Q: Why does Google reader sometimes have "untitled" for posts on the consolidated feed?
A: This is a Google bug. It has problems reading perfectly fine XML sometimes. I hope they fix it soon.

Q: Hey there's nothing wrong with my blog/feed! Why is it marked 'N'? It should be included!
A: Let me know. I'll be glad to re-evaluate and let you know what I decide.

Q: How did you do this?!?
A: Lots of hard work. I wrote a custom application that goes out and finds your RSS feeds on your webpages, which I get from my gallery database. If you've specified an RSS feed in your kiosk, it uses that instead (after it checks it for being an actual RSS feed - if not, it tries to discover the actual RSS feed). It then creates an OPML file with all the feeds that actually work that I upload to my website. The website takes that opml file and sucks in all the feed posts from all the feeds in it and caches them. It then builds a big honkin' huge single XML feed and caches THAT too, so that when you ask for it, it delivers it fast. It's all very complicated, trust me :)
I hope this latest project of mine increases awareness of all of your wonderful galleries and what is going on inside them to a wider audience. Enjoy!

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