|Feed me, CarePages, feed me! You can do it!|
Last week I learned that a friend’s serious illness has flared up, and she’ll need surgery and a few weeks’ recuperation. I’m very bummed about this, but I thought it was neat that she’d set up a page at CarePages.com.
I’d never heard of this service, but it seems like a great idea — people who are ill can set up their own private “page” that’s a combination forum and blog where they can post updates, keep in touch with friends, receive emotional support, etc. Man, I wish I’d known about this when my brother was getting leukemia treatments a couple of years ago. (Yes, he’s still in remission!)
I signed up for the CarePages and left a note for my friend. Of course, I’m going to want to keep up with other posts to her page. Normally I follow these sorts of things through my feed reader — so I searched for the feed option for her page. No luck. Although CarePages offers e-mail alerts, they don’t do feeds.
…And apparently, they have no specific plans at this point to add them. I asked their support whether they plan to add feeds, and here’s how they answered me today…
“We will pass your suggestion along to our development team, who will look into implementing your idea about RSS and Atom in the future.”
Doesn’t sound promising. Bummer. Well, I’ll take their e-mail alert in a pinch like this — but e-mail is less reliable and not really the best way to share updates.
It never ceases to baffle me when sites that involve any sort of community or publishing aspects fail to offer feeds. Judging by the Internet Archive, Carepages.com started in 2004 — well after feeds started becoming popular. I find it hard to believe that in the years since then, they haven’t bothered to add feeds. I mean, c’mon! It’s a script that automatically generates and updates an XML file for each page. I don’t assume that’s entirely trivial for this kind of service, but it’s not rocket science either.
For anyone developing any kind of site that includes community or publishing: THINK FEEDS FIRST!
Don’t treat feeds as an afterthought. They’re now a primary distribution method — not just to individual subscribers, but also for search engine indexing, mashups, aggregators and other uses. We’ve gotten past the point where this is cutting edge. Feeds are mainstream, and if you don’t offer them, you’re falling behind.