Syndic8 – Reviewer Guide collects data on RSS and Atom news feeds and allows the syndicated content to be categorized and viewed in many formats. Sources of feeds are suggested for categorization, and approval requires that human reviewers pass on the quality of the source, namely regular postings and site availability. Many people have signed up as reviewers, but they often don’t understand the steps necessary to review and approve a feed. This article is an effort to clarify what is asked of them.

The general guidelines for reviewers currently leaves many in doubt as to what exactly should be done, or how to do it anyway. In an effort to answer this delimma, a thread has begun on the Syndic8 Email List. Bill Kearney has provided significant insite, and it is much clearer now than it was before, however that thread has fractured (meaning at least one message thread has spun off with a new subject and thus will not be associated with the original thread).

I thought it might be worthwhile to try to collect the information in that series of messages and consolidate it here. Over time I am sure that the reviewers guideline page will improve, but in the meantime this may act as a gathering point. If you have additional information to make a point clearer, feel free to drop a comment and I will try to pull that information into this main work.

When registering at Syndic8, you may choose to be a reviewer. If you elect to be one, then each time you log into Syndicate, you are presented with a list of random feeds awaiting review. So what does one do? Review of course but for what? Well the main concepts are three as I understand them:

  1. assure that the technical aspects of the site are functional and not broken
  2. determine if real content is regularly being posted (polling)
  3. assure that the site is up and functional for people trying to visit it (statistics)

Quick Visit to the Site – note language
The first thing a review should do is visit the site to be reviewed. Is it up and running, are there regular entries (I usually click on at least one archive month if available) and are they ‘real’ entries and not ‘hello world’ sample type entries. At that time one should also note the language of the site. If this all checks out, then back to Syndic8.

Check-Off on the Language
The language you observed on the site should match the language tag shown in the syndic8 page for the proposed feed. If it isn’t specified or doesn’t match you should leave a note (ther is a note tab at the bottom of the syndicate page) and contact the page author to advise them of the mismatch. By common convention Syndic8 has elected to look the other way for English sites that have no en specification if the feed is RSS 0.92. That is the only time you should pass on a site without a mathing Language tag.

Note: if you want to look at and approve sites for a particular language use this format: for example if you want French feeds. Simply substitute the proper two character abbreviation for the language you wish to review. There are many, many non-English feeds, so by all means if you have that talent, dig in!

Look at the Polling
The polling tab at Syndicate (down at the bottom of a feed awaiting approval) will show the posting history for the site from the date it was submitted for consideration to present. You should see some consistent results to entitle the site to be included. Generally there should be at least a week or two of consistent posting, and also factor in what you found when you visited the site a few minutes ago. Many, many blogs and other sites with syndicated contents are simply momentary lapses by the author(s). I think the intent here is to get sites with vibrant content included and not include the flash in the pan type of site.

Look at the Statistics
This will tell you if the site has generally be available. So long as it has generally be up, check this one off of the list. The statistics also give you a daily numerical count of new headlines for the polled period.

Approve the Feed
If all of this checks off, then approve the feed. There is a green button that appears at the bottom of the syndic8 screen for the site being reviewed. If the feed is not being approved, then leave notes as to why not, contact the site author to point out the problem if you wish, and move on to the next one.

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