Syndicating Your Content Through RSS

Syndicating your content

This document will help you optimize your RSS feed to connect to ActOn, and provide high-quality rich content with embedded actions.

In order for your content to be automatically on-boarded into our system, you will need to include the following elements:

  1. The entire body copy of your article, not just headlines and summaries.
  2. At least one image per article, no less than 400px in width.

For your content to be more effective and reach more users, we also recommend the following:

  1. An Action Object with info on what action the user can take.
  2. A high-quality image larger than 600px in width and 150px in height.
  3. META data to categorize and tag your content.
  4. A Short Description field, where you have already summarized the content.
  5. Any URL linking back to your site takes the user directly to a one-stop action page, with a responsive design (with a focus on mobile).

The better you follow our specifications, the higher the quality of your content and the more prominently it will be featured in our system.

There are several standard RSS extensions that we use, to increase compatibility and simplify the process.

Sample RSS Feed:

                        Your Organization Name
                        This is where your channel's description goes
                            Attend this event
                            Sun, 12 Aug 2007 18:00:00 GMT
                            35.2820 -120.6607
                                Full content of the article goes here.

This squirrel bares a strong resemblance to Abraham Lincoln Carl Carlson

Images and videos should be placed within the article copy.

Kent Brockman interviews the squirrel on location Carl Carlson

More content goes here ...


Feed Structure

Each <item> within a feed represents an article. At a minimum, the <item> must include the following elements:

  1. link: The canonical URL for the article.
  2. title: The article's headline.
  3. content:encoded: The full HTML content of the article. See Content section below.

The following elements are not required, but are highly recommended:

  1. tags: META data to help us categorize and filter this item
  2. action: The action object specifying how a user can interact with the item
  3. pubDate: The date of the article's publication, in RFC822 format. If not present, will use the time the element was first seen by our server.
  4. guid: a string that uniquely identifies the item within the feed.
  5. description: A short, plain-text summary or abstract of the article.
  6. dc:creator: Name of the person who wrote the article. Use multiple <dc:creator> elements for multiple authors.

Our system will automatically tag and fill in the blanks that you leave out, but the more items you can specify yourself, the more accurate your content will be and the better the experience for the end user.

Supported Markup

The content:encoded element contains the entire HTML contents of an article. All HTML must be properly escaped; the recommended way to do this is by wrapping the content within a CDATA section.

The class and style attributes (along with all <script> and <style> tags) are stripped from elements, and cannot be relied upon for preserving presentation. For best results, use plain, semantic HTML to provide meaning and structure for the content.

Allowed tags


If you are quoting from an external source, use <blockquote>, if you are pulling out a piece of content from your article, use <aside>.

Unsupported Markup

All markup not listed above will be stripped from the content in <content:encoded>. <div> and some other tags may be intelligently replaced by more relevant tags from the list above.

All attributes, with the exception of href in links, will be removed. This includes style="...", onclick="...", and similar attributes.

Take note of some of the items not allowed, as they may affect the way your content is rendered:

If the removal of any of these elements will adversely affect your content, consider using different markup to include it on the page.

Image, Video, and Audio Assets

Media assets referenced in markup within the <content:encoded> element are automatically downloaded and cached. The following filetypes are supported:

Images: JPEG, GIF, PNG, (BMP, TIFF, and some other formats will be converted within our system)
Video: MP4 (H.264 encoded), YouTube or Vimeo embeds
Audio: MP3


Images are specified via the HTML <img> tag:

<img src="MrHenryVIII.jpg" title="Hitton on the lady hogs" width="800" height="600" />

For better layout results, use the HTML5 figure and figcaption tags to add captions to images (see Figures and Captions section above):

His Grace Mr. Henry Edminton VIII

	<img src="HenryVIII.jpg" width="900" height="900">
	<figcaption>Mr. Henry Edminton VIII</figcaption>

Size & Aspect Ratios

Images must be at least 400px wide and 180px tall; any smaller images are ignored. For best results, provide images in the highest resolution possible. Additionally, make sure your images aren't overly compressed, as poor image quality will also be rejected, even if the correct dimensions are met.

Several aspect ratios are preferred as they result in better layouts.

Aspect Ratio Diagram

Landscape: 4:3, 16:9 Portrait: 3:4, 9:16 Square: 1:1

(Images to not have to conform to these rations, but keep in mind that they may be clipped if they are too tall.)


As with Images, Video assets are included within the article markup of <content:encoded>:

	<video width="900" height="900"> <source src="sillyWalks.mp4" type="video/mp4" /></video>
	<figcaption>Ministry of Silly Walks</figcaption>

YouTube and Vimeo videos can be embedded using the standard embedding code:

	<iframe src="" width="420" height="315"></iframe>
	<figcaption>Ministry of Silly Walks</figcaption>

Aspect Ratio

The following aspect ratios are recommended for video:

Landscape: 4:3, 16:9

Geographic information

GeoRSS can be used to provide geodata for articles. This is done by adding a simple tag within the <item>:

<georss:point>45.256 -71.92</georss:point>

Scheduling Updates (Pubsubhubbub)

PubSubHubbub is used to determine when new or updated content is available in the feed. If your content management system does not support PubSubHubbub, you can use services such as Superfeedr that can PubSubHubbub-enable your feeds.

Non-PubSubHubbub feeds will be polled intermittently, causing delays before content is shown to readers.

When updating the contents of an item, be sure to update the <pubDate> of that item. This is used as a signal indicating that an existing item has changed.

Best Practices



Additional Resources