Bye Bye, PBF RSS Feed

By Andrew Price, 2006-05-26 01:49:25 in General.

Last night I received an e-mail from Cheston Gasik, the person who hosts the PBF comic, asking me to change my RSS feed to stop his site getting so much traffic from it. It started off with something about favicons, which really is nothing to do with my RSS feed but I saw his point - he was having web server bandwidth issues:

On 25/05/06 00:33, Cheston wrote:
> Hi -
> My name's Cheston Gasik.  I'm the web-host of PBF, my friend Nick 
> Gurewitch's comic strip.
> Can you please change your RSS feed for the PBF so that the resource 
> directory is NOT
> I've recently had server trouble involving excessive errors on the 
> favicon.ico file - which your RSS tries to load.
> You're probably not individually causing the problem, but I did stumble 
> across your feed while researching it, and I noticed that your feed does 
> try to read the ICO file from my main directory.
> (As of today, the ISP has stuck a dumb little check-mark image in there, 
> which might stop it from constantly 404ing, but please change your feed 
> anyway)
> It's also not very cool that your feed is directly loading the images 
> off the server (using someone else's bandwidth), instead of hosting them 
> on your own webspace, but that's a separate issue.
> I hope I don't come off sounding like too much of a jerk, but this kind 
> of thing winds up creating a lot of needless stress for me.
> Thank you for your time.
> - Cheston Gasik

(I have his permission to use these e-mails)

So I replied to him explaining my own opinion of the situation but stating that I would change my feed and I tweaked my PBF RSS feed to stop it from containing <img> tags which loaded the strip images from his website. I saw this as the most bandwidth hungry part of my feed. I guessed that he didn't have direct access to the server in order to stop remote image linking like many sites do. I was surprised to receive e-mail from someone who used my feed and seemed a bit unhappy that I removed the images from the feed.

Anyway, I thought that would help things and it would all go back to normal but a few hours ago I received another e-mail from Cheston, which was also sent to some other PBF RSS feed maintainers, asking us to take our feeds offline:

On 25/05/06 21:10, Cheston wrote:
> Hi -
> If you're receiving this e-mail, you either created an RSS feed for the 
> PBF (Perry Bible Fellowship comic strip, by my friend Nicholas 
> Gurewitch) or you host one.
> I am sorry to say this, but I need you to stop.
> My ISP has recently (today) threatened to revoke my hosting, due to 
> overwhelming traffic.  No, RSS is not the entirety of that, but it makes 
> a significant difference due to how often RSS readers load the content 
> (and it's possibly the cause of lots of strange server errors).
> A side note that may not make any difference to you: Hosting the PBF is 
> not a paying job.  In fact, it is one where I spend money on hosting.  
> There is also a man in Australia who runs another part of the hosting, 
> and he puts even more into it than I do.
> So, in the future, please think twice before you develop RSS feeds that 
> run primarily on the bandwidth of others.
> Andrew: I know you just recently changed yours because of our recent 
> conversation
> AJ: I know you just made yours very recently
> So I truly am sorry.
> But I am trying to not lose my own hosting, as well as that of the PBF.
> Thank you for your time and understanding.
> - Cheston Gasik
> [Contact details removed]
> P.S.: If you know of any other PBF RSS feeds, please forward their info 
> to me so I can send them this same message.

Now, I don't know what kind of set up they're running but I get the feeling that whatever hosting solution they opted for to host the PBF site was a bit lacking considering the popularity of the PBF. I replied to this e-mail with a bit of curiosity about what kind of strange errors the server was getting. I was thinking of explaining that such is the Internet that if there is demand for an RSS feed somewhere then an RSS feed will get written, but I decided to not get all idealistic and information-freedom-fighter-ish on him.

So that's about it. My feed is no longer updating. The site has been changed to reflect as much and the PBF website appears to be not working. Let's hope they get it fixed (hopefully with an official RSS feed) soon.

To be fair, the latest couple of strips were substandard anyway ;)


Ryan Russell writes:

So, a well-done RSS feed would only save him bandwidth, wouldn't it? The alternative is for people to hit his site daily to see if there are updates, right?

2007-09-20 18:23:26