An apology to my feed readers

This post is an apology to my feed readers. Due to a misconfiguration of my server, for a few hours, images in my feed were replaced with a message that suggested to “stop stealing content and bandwidth”. That message was intended to be seen on sites that steal my content/bandwidth, not in your feed reader. It was a honest mistake on my part, and for this I’m truly sorry. My feed readers are my regulars and I care about them. In fact, all the content I write gets syndicated to my feed in its entirety so that my readers don’t have to leave their feed reader.

The other day I noticed that a lot of bandwidth consumption was due to external sites who had republished some of our content without permission. It turns out that many of these spammers were “hotlinking”. In other words they didn’t copy the images on their own servers, they simply linked to the original on my servers, to be displayed on their sites. The end result is that they consumed my bandwidth, in an attempt to make money off my content.

It is possible to configure your server to replace each image if the URL serving them is not in your approved list. So I did just that. I authorized *.math-blog.com, a couple of my other sites, including my programming blog, and search engines. For those of you who are into computer programming: I simply wrote some rewrite rules and conditions in my .htaccess file for the Apache web server.

What went wrong? My feeds are served by FeedBurner, a service that Google acquired some time ago. I regretfully forgot to add Google’s service to the list of accepted domains.

I’ve remedied this and everything should be back to normal now. Please accept my apologies for the inconvenience.

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