Livejournal/WordPress syndication problem

When I first migrated my LiveJournal to this WordPress installation, I had some trouble getting LJ to syndicate my RSS/Atom feed. Attempts to do so resulted in the following error, which is unhelpful, to say the least:

Error retrieving content There was an error retrieving this URL. The server may be down or the content unavailable at this time. Please verify the URL you have provided and try again.

These feeds all validate and work just fine everywhere but LJ. I could see LiveJournal hitting my site and successfully requesting the feed, but I’d still consistently get the above error message, no matter which feed I requested.

204.9.177.18 - - [13/Dec/2005:13:23:19 -0800] "GET /feed/ HTTP/1.1" 200 2648 "-" "LiveJournal.com (webmaster@livejournal.com; Initial check)"

I opened a Livejournal support ticket and, after three weeks, finally got a response that, while not actually fixing the problem, gave me enough information to work around it.

It seems that the Bad Behavior anti-spam WordPress plugin was blocking the Livejournal feed checker thing. Disabling it temporarily allowed me to syndicate the feed. I enabled it again immediately after successfully syndicating it and see that it’s still pulling updates with no problem.

According to the information posted to my LJ support ticket, the problem was with the user-agent string LJ is using when initially syndicating feeds. Exactly what the problem is, I don’t know. My Bad Behavior log didn’t show a problem, and using wget with the user-agent string in the log snippet above worked just fine for me. While I couldn’t see the problem occurring on my end, disabling BB did allow it to work, so I have to believe this was the problem. Why they don’t just fix it is beyond me though; a user-agent string is exactly that: a simple string of text. It should be absolutely trivial to change.

This has actually been resolved for a while now but I’m posting this explanation for the benefit of anyone else who runs across this problem and needs help getting around it. At the time this problem occurred, I was running WordPress 1.5 and Bad Behavior 1.2.3.

Comments

There’s nothing wrong with that. According to the log entry you posted, LJ was able to retrieve your feed successfully. Bad Behavior did NOT block that request. So I’m mystified as to what’s going on.

I’ve heard this before, but nobody has yet been able to provide me any log entries that show what LJ is actually doing or showing that LJ was actually blocked. Every one that turns up is the same as yours: showing that LJ was permitted to read the feed.

Kenn Christ says:

Yeah, I know that’s not exactly helpful, but I’m afraid it’s all I’ve got. As you no doubt noticed, my attempt to get more information out of the LJ staff was unsuccessful.

I’ll keep you posted if I come up with anything more useful.

Paul says:

I know this is a bit old, but I came up with it on a google search for a very similar problem I’m having (and without the benefit of being able to whitelist my way around it). here’s the text of the error message I get from bad behavior via wordpress:

Paul says:

(Sorry, didn’t get the paste in. Doing it again):

204.9.177.18 2006-07-27 18:38:20 GMT LiveJournal.com (webmaster@livejournal.com; Initial check) Prohibited header ‘Range’ present 403

Kenn Christ says:

I googled for “Prohibited header ‘Range’ present” and found it in Bad Behavoir source, so it’s another BB block. I also came across an IRC log of a conversation about this very thing. It seems it’s a problem with the headers LiveJournal sends when requesting feeds. About the only thing to do is open a ticket/bug report with Livejournal.

Paul says:

I’m trying a workaround with feedburner — feedburner yanks the orig rss feed, then livejournal yanks it from feedburner. I’ll update if it works.