Blogger Comment Feeds
by Christian Y. Cardall
A ‘newsreader’ is an application or website that allows users to ‘subscribe’ to any website with a ‘feed.’ This allows them to keep abreast of many websites—blogs, for instance—without having to check them individually, by providing a single location at which they are automatically notified of new content at any and all of the websites to which they subscribe. Blogger provides feeds for posts, but not for comments to posts, which means that users may be automatically notified of posts in their newsreaders, but must manually check at each individual site for new comments. I have a trick for generating a comment feed with Blogger, but it has a couple of important limitations.
The trick is to set up an auxiliary blog in your Blogger account—whose feed will become your comment feed—and use Blogger’s capabilities for interactions via email to automatically route comments from your ‘real’ blog to your new auxiliary ‘comment’ blog. For example, if your main blog is ‘myblog.blogspot.com,’ you can create an auxiliary blog called ‘myblogcomments.blogspot.com.’ You will also need to create a dedicated email account, for example ‘firstname.lastname@example.org,’ at an email host capable of automatic forwarding.
Here’s how to tie it all together. At myblog.blogspot.com, under the Settings tab and Comments subtab, at the bottom of the page put email@example.com in the blank labeled “Comment Notification Address.” At myblogcomments.blogspot.com, under the Settings tab and Email subtab, in “Mail-to-Blogger Address” fill in something of your choice, such as “myblogcomments,” to make an address ’[Blogger username].firstname.lastname@example.org’—and be sure to check the ‘Publish’ box next to this address. Finally, set up the email account email@example.com to automatically forward to [Blogger username].firstname.lastname@example.org, and voila, ‘http://myblogcomments.blogspot.com/atom.xml’ is your new comment feed! (The intermediate email account is necessary because Blogger will not allow a Mail-to-Blogger Address to be used as a Comment Notification Address.) As a final touch, you can add a line of HTML to the template of myblogcomments.blogspot.com—to which users may arrive from their newsreaders—that will automatically redirect them to your main blog.
I was initially quite pleased to have come up with this trick, but there are two serious limitations that are among the reasons I will be moving to WordPress in the near future. First, it does not seem to be completely robust: after 483 comments it crapped out for some mysterious reason, with all subsequent comments arriving as posts with ‘Draft’ status at myblogcomments.blogspot.com, instead of being automatically published. (So my comments feed is currently broken!) I don’t know why this happened—perhaps space or frequency limitations of some kind were exceeded—but I haven’t bothered to go to the effort to figure out the problem. The second serious limitation is that the form of the comment feed is not one that Mormon Archipelago and LDSelect can automatically use in their comment aggregations, unless the proprietors of these sites could be prevailed upon to write a special parser for these ad hoc Blogger comment feeds. I haven’t tried to persuade them; perhaps if enough people used this approach they might be willing to look into it. (Unfortunately Blogger comment email notifications only contain a link to the main post and not the individual comment, so even with special parsing the aggregators could not provide a direct link to the comment.)