RSS feeds seem to be losing popularity. This is due to the social media networks, push notifications, mailing lists, and similar ways to stay updated. Luckily, their value didn’t decrease, and there are still plenty of users who rely on RSS feeds to read news, updates, and podcasts. Now that you know their importance, besides a UX (user experience) loss, an error like this can break the functionality services that rely on it, such as “if this then that” (IFTTT) actions. An added difficulty is that a tiny mistake in formatting can wreak havoc. With that said, let’s get into how to fix WordPress RSS feed errors.
1. Are you using absolute links?
One of the most common causes of WordPress RSS feed errors is using incomplete links. RSS feed link has to include the full domain, such as <a href=”https://www.yourwebsite.com/feed”>, not any shortened form. If you’re guilty of that, you’ll usually see an RSS error such as “URL NOT SUPPORTED – Sorry, but this URL is not supported. Please talk to the app owner.”
2. Fix WordPress RSS feed errors by validating your feed
Although there are WordPress plugins designed for this, that’d be a waste of your website resources. Instead, we suggest doing this:
1. Identify your RSS feeds (Optional)
Websites that are powered by WordPress have their feed at the URL we mentioned above (https://www.yourwebsite.com/feed), but that might not be all. If you’re using additional functions, WordPress plugins, or advanced WordPress themes, they might have separate functionalities with additional RSS feeds. To identify them all, we recommend Google’s FeedBurner tool. Don’t be fooled by its retro appearance, it’s up-to-date and very effective.
2. Use an RSS feed validation service
For this purpose, we recommend W3.org’s Feed Validation. You can input your WordPress website’s URI (Universal Resource Name), or direct feed link(s). Because RSS feeds in WordPress are formatted using an XML markup language, the tool will analyze its syntax. It will also display errors it discovers, and include their source.
No syntax errors. What to do?
If there’s nothing wrong with your WordPress RSS feed syntax, the problem lies with you. If you’re using an RSS feed software, try a different one. Also, modern browsers do not have built-in RSS functionality. So, install a third-party browser extension.
3. Fix RSS feed errors manually
Whether the validator tool suggested it, or you noticed an error by going to the RSS feed link directly, you can likely resolve the issue by hand. This is an example.
1. Analyze the error code
Here are two common ways n RSS feed error looks:
XML Parsing Error: XML or text declaration not at start of entity
Line Number 5, Column 2:
Warning: Cannot modify header information – headers already sent by (output started at
/root/yourwebsite.com/wp-includes/feed.php on line 65
2. Edit the problematic file
The error code above pinpointed the file name, and the line the error is located on. Unfortunately, unless it specified what the syntax error is, such as unexpected ‘?’, you’ll have to find and fix it yourself. In most cases, it is caused by a blank space or line breaks after the code ends. If the specified line is the closing PHP tag (?>), you can also delete it. Since it’s the most common culprit, here are 2 ways to edit the functions.php file:
1. WordPress Admin Section
Access the WordPress Admin Section, and then:
- In the main navigation menu on the left, click on Appearance > Theme Editor.
- Click on the functions.php link on the right side.
Access your WordPress website via FTP, and then:
- Navigate to the root folder. It might also be called public_html or www.
- Go to the /wp-content/themes/active-theme-name folder.
- Right-click on the functions.php file, and select View/Edit.
4. Disable the RSS-related WordPress plugins (or all of them)
If you are using a WordPress plugin to control your feed, disabling it might fix WordPress RSS feed errors. Follow the instructions under the headline Fixing the problem if the plugin caused it in our “Are you sure you want to do this” error fix guide. If it does, you’ll have to contact the plugin developer, look into the matter yourself, or pay someone to do it instead. Alternatively, find a PHP function that does what you want or install another WordPress plugin.
5. Deactivate the active WordPress theme temporarily
If editing XML code or deactivating plugins didn’t help, consider disabling the active WordPress theme. Refer to the article mentioned above, and use the instructions under the headline Fixing the issue if a theme was the problem. This will revert your website to a default WordPress theme unless you disabled them. If so, use an existing one, or install a new WordPress theme as a temporary replacement. If this resolves WordPress RSS feed errors, you can proceed in the same way as if it was a plugin.