Setting up FeedWordPress to aggregate category, tag feeds

Every WordPress blog on the planet has a standard RSS feed address. Just tack on “feed” to the end of every WordPress blog URL, and there you have it. For example, this site:

http://blogs.baylor.edu/feed

That’s all well and good, but if you want to drill down and only syndicate certain content from a site–not the whole blog–you can actually use a feed URL for a category or tag (all categories and tags in WordPress have their own feed URLs, too). For more information about WordPress feeds, visit http://codex.wordpress.org/WordPress_Feeds.

If you’re setting up a courseblog or “motherblog” as an instructor and need to aggregate multiple feeds from other WordPress sites using the FeedWordPress plugin, the first thing you’ll want to do is have your student bloggers create a category or tag specifically for their class posts. If your students are blogging about things other than their class, you don’t want their other content being fed into the motherblog.

Before you begin, however, it helps to know what the site-naming convention is in Edublogs, and that is: http://blogs.baylor.edu/sitename, where “sitename” is the first and last name of the student as it appears in the student’s email address, minus any underscores or hyphens. So if a student has the email address of john_smith-hines2@baylor.edu, the sitename would be http://blogs.baylor.edu/johnsmithhines2. Also, you will need the feed URLs (web addresses) of that category or tag for each site you’re aggregating.

  1. First, choose a category or tag name, doesn’t matter which. Let’s say you decide to use the category name “history1305″ for your course. Have the students visit the Dashboard, click “Posts” and select “Categories” in the sub menu:

    Type in the name of the appropriate category in the “Name” field and and click “Add New Category” at the b0ttom. Once the category is created, the students will have to remember to assign the relevant posts to that category in order for the aggregation to work properly:

    (Alternatively, choose “Posts > Post Tags” instead of “Categories” if you prefer to use tags instead–the process pretty much works the same).

  2. Now it’s time to get the right feed URLs for your student’s blogs. You will use the feed URL for the particular category or tag you had your students set up in step #1. In a nutshell, you’ll need to know the standard structure of WordPress category or tag feed URLs:Category feed URL structure:
    http://[YOUR_SITE_NAME]/category/categoryname/feed

    Tag feed URL structure:
    http://[YOUR_SITE_NAME]/tag/tagname/feedSo if the category is “history1305″ and you need to know the category feed URL for the “johnsmithhines2″ site above, it would be:

    http://blogs.baylor.edu/johnsmithhines2/category/history1305/feed

    …and if you’re using the tag “history1305″ instead, the feed URL would be:

    http://blogs.baylor.edu/johnsmithhines2/tag/history1305/feed

    NOTE: As they appear in URLs, categories and tags are not case-sensitive; in addition, if the category or tag you’re contains two separate words, it will be hyphenated in the URL. Thus the category “history 1305″ would appear as “history-1305″ in the feed URL.

When you know what a feed URL looks like, you can start adding those to your motherblog using the FeedWordPress plugin for automatic syndication and aggregation. If you haven’t activated the plugin yet, visit the Dashboard and click “Plugins.” Find “FeedWordPress” and click “Activate.” Once the plugin is active, you will see a new link called “Syndication” at the bottom of the left navigation bar in the Dashboard. Click that link, and then on the following screen, you will see a field where you can add all of your feed URLs:

That should be it. If it’s easier to have your students email their feed URLs to you, I would request that. But at the very least, knowing how feed URLs should be constructed will help you troubleshoot feed problems later on.

 

 

 

 

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