My RSS Reader (FeedDemon) banned from Slashdot…the beginning of personalised RSS?

“Your RSS reader is abusing the Slashdot server. You are requesting pages more often than our terms of service allow. Please see the FAQ link for more information”

I’m apparently nailing the Slashdot servers with my RSS reader requests to the point that I have been now been officially banned (this is to be known as the Slashdot RSS U Have Been Banned But In a Personlaised Way Effect).

Dissapointing seeing as I only open up FeedDemon once or twice a day (and close app)…the explanation for the ban at Slashdot FAQs mentions proxy servers as being a possible reason for the ban…

“Due largely to the absolutely ridiculous amount of abuse we get on a daily basis from poorly implemented headline readers, we were forced to implement a much more liberal automated banning system on RSS/RDF headline reading applications. Our policy is to allow one request every 30 minutes. We’ll allow a few more before you will get banned, and we are more flexible still with proxy servers. However, in many cases, we have no choice but to ban abuse.

You should still be able to access the rest of the website, just not the .rss, .rdf, and .xml pages.

You have 2 options: First is to stop beating the crap out of our servers, and just wait a few days/hours. Depending on the severity of the abuse, you should be back in a couple of days. If, after 72 hours, you are still banned, please Email and ask for help. Please include the approximate time of the ban, the MD5 that the ban message told you to tell us, and what you think your IP number is.

If you have reason to believe you’re connecting through a proxy server, please mention that too — and you might need to have your proxy server’s admin contact us instead of you.”

Is this the beginning of the end?  How many other sites will start imposing these sorts of policies? 

Hold on.  Is this the beginning of <really simple> personalised RSS?  In order for me to recieve the message within my reader that I have been banned (I’m assuming that I received this while others didn’t), it must know who I am (or my reader, or IP, is), right?  Let me know if I’ve read to much into this…

Comments (19)

  1. It could be as simple as you hitting refresh too many times (and hitting the site twice in 30 minutes), but keep in mind that this banishment occassionally happens when it shouldn’t:

  2. Frans Bouma says:

    I use sharpreader and I check every 15 minutes and it works fine. The reason for that is that the reader should first check if the file is updated. If it gets back a ‘not updated’ HTTP value (302 I think) it shouldn’t fetch the file. Dumb readers just fetch the file, abusing the server by causing a lot of (unnecessary) traffic.

  3. Alex Barnett says:


    I looked this up regarding FeedDeemon. See:



  4. Brian Duff says:

    I had this problem a while back when accessing Slashdot via the Oracle corporate proxy.

    It turned out that the hostname the proxy reported to Slashdot’s servers was the hostname of the proxy, rather than anything that specifically identified me or my machine. It’s not surprising that this caused apparent spam, because there are probably rather a lot of other people across the world sharing the same proxy.

    Anyway, in my case, a quick email to resolved the problem (I assume they have some kind of list of un-bannable proxy servers). I’ve never had a problem accessing the Slashdot RSS feed from inside Oracle since then.


  5. Sean says:

    I had this happen to me too the first time I was setting up newsgator..

    This policy is very odd since you can go over to their website and hit refresh on it, thus re-downloading the full page, complete with graphics and whatnot, a gazillion times without retribution… but asking for a few bits of XML (which only contains summaries and no graphics) gets you banned..


  6. kevin says:

    This story is a little ironic in a subculture where "slashdotted" is now an acceptable verb.

  7. Frans: HTTP 302 indicates "moved resource" (response.redirect uses this). I think that the error code is HTTP 304… but not a major detail.

    Alex: You probably find that you are going through a transparent proxy along the lines. That is the best bet.

  8. Yup, this is related to our firewall proxy at Microsoft. Too many people reading Slashdot RSS feeds via one proxy => Slashdot bans that proxy.

    I use the subaverage copy of the feed instead:

  9. Jonathan Idontknow says:

    >Is this the beginning of the end? How many

    >other sites will start imposing these sorts

    >of policies?

    Umm, dude, what do you smoke?

    It’s the RSS Reader writers that either need to be kicked. Every single crappy writer who knows XML writes up their on RSS readers. EACH of these check for new updates EVERY hour on EVERY site. Some more often than that. Few sites have multiple feeds.

    Can you imagine what a pain in the neck that is? Can you imagine the bandwidth used?

    The end is not the excellent solution Slashdot has in place (I hope this solution happens on every site). The end is the amount of RSS readers being written. I personally know two who’ve written RSS readers, including Bradbury, and I’ll kick em. Soon. 😉

  10. This isn’t FeeDemon’s fault. As Alex points out, FeedDemon is one of the smart RSS readers – see

    Jonathan Hardwick is correct in that the problem is due to the banning relying on the visitor’s IP address. This is obviously a problem if you’re accessing the net through a proxy firewall since multiple users appear to have the same IP.

  11. PS: I have to add that the subject line is misleading – your RSS reader wasn’t banned by Slashdot, your IP was.

  12. I have this problem SO much. My ISP (NTL Cable Modem, UK) uses transparent proxy servers. Basically this means that every HTTP (port 80 and 8080) connection is automatically routed via a proxy server, this is great for ISPs (and for most users actually) as it makes things faster and saves bandwidth out of the ISPs network. However the use of transparent proxy servers means that everyone is using the same IP address for HTTP connections. Now the proxy servers are for each region however I still get problems. Infact the reason I am replying from here is because I have been on holiday for a week so I have not used my computer at all but when i just checked Slashdot my IP address was banned! I can’t remember the last time I was able to access Slashdot RSS actually 🙁

  13. James Geurts says:

    So to add a thought in the mix… I’m guessing that they care more about abuse of rdf/rss more than page refreshes because it doesn’t download pictures. While that might sound ridiculous, think about the majority of their pictures. They’re ads… rss gets around their main banner ad among others… I’m still amazed that people actually click on those things, but apparently enough people do, otherwise they wouldn’t be in place.

  14. Frans Bouma says:

    No, it’s bandwidth, not banner adds.

    Also, /. regenerates its complete contents on a scheduled basis, i.e. once per 5 seconds or so. This means that you can have a manageable site which can deal with a lot of bandwidth: you feed visitors the current static site and you build a new one in the background. When done, swap. The slower the site, teh longer the time it should get to rebuild the site. You never have a slow website and it is semi dynamic as well.

    Websites should also threat their RSS feeds that way. /. does this, among a lot of others, however doesn’t. (.Text doesn’t). This means that each time a person requests an rss feed from it’s build dynamically.

  15. Ilya N. says:

    You can very easily create an RSS feed using a scripting language like PHP or CGI (like which would be able to dynamically generate stuff.