[closed] Incoming links error message? (71 posts)

  1. Hmm.

    Yeah, I just installed a fresh copy in a subdomain and immediately received the same error.

    It's definitely not plugin or theme related.

    Again, the host is HostGator.

  2. Okay, so I noticed this similarity among all the feed validator links posted:

    Your feed appears to be encoded as "UTF-8", but your server is reporting "ISO-8859-1"

    Could this be the issue? I also read this trac ticket:

    ... which mentions content type checks.

  3. probablynot
    Posted 4 years ago #

    Apparently this issue is affecting all of WordPress.com

    ... since last year.

  4. esmi
    Forum Moderator
    Posted 4 years ago #

    Nicely spotted! Looks like it's an intermittent problem with the feed produced by Google.

  5. esmi
    Forum Moderator
    Posted 4 years ago #

    Try adding this to your theme's functions.php file:

    add_action('wp_feed_options', 'force_feed', 10, 1);
    function force_feed($feed) {
  6. Thanks for the effort @esmi.

    1. I inserted the code into my child theme functions.php.

    2. There was no change, so I went into the database and deleted all _transient entries in the wp_posts table (trying to reforce a cache of the feed).

    3. I logged out of the dashboard and back in again.

    After the "Incoming Links" widget re-loaded, I received this error:

    RSS Error: This XML document is invalid, likely due to invalid
    characters. XML error: syntax error at line 1, column 62
  7. Okay, I keep coming back to this encoding message. I honestly think this has something to do with this message:

    Your feed appears to be encoded as "UTF-8",
    but your server is reporting "ISO-8859-1"

    I've contacted my server (HostGator), and after putting me on hold for an hour (I think for him to go eat a sandwich), he came back and told me it was most likely a coding error. Thanks?!?!

    I was hoping there was a setting I could adjust which would allow me to alter how my server is interpreting that encoding.

    I also tried editing the core wp-includes/class-simplepie.php file with various mods, such as:


    Nothing works. Although I do receive a different error message (mentioned in my last comment).

    So, what file is used to render this feed? Perhaps I can go in and manually edit the header content encoding and change it from UTF-8 to ISO-8859-1.


  8. esmi
    Forum Moderator
    Posted 4 years ago #

    How about asking for force_feed() to be added to core so that it's used automatically instead? I've been told that this would be a valid enhancement. Do you want to add to it to Trac as a feature request or shall I?

  9. ScottJWalter
    Posted 4 years ago #

    Here's something to consider. I'm seeing the same problem with my "incoming links" feed. The URL validates (and has no links), but when I view it in the browser, there's a line of CSS after the closing </rss> tag. Odd, but it made me look at trying to "proxy" the call, feeding the feed request through another page that would/could clean the crap out of the feed before passing it along. Not the most elegant solution, but it was an interesting test.

    So, I through together a quick CURL page that took the feed off a query parameter, made the call, and just passed the data back (no modifications). What I got back was a CAPTCHA validation request form (coming off Google's servers), with the following text:

    Our systems have detected unusual traffic from your computer network. This page checks to see if it's really you sending the requests, and not a robot. Why did this happen?

    This page appears when Google automatically detects requests coming from your computer network which appear to be in violation of the Terms of Service. The block will expire shortly after those requests stop. In the meantime, solving the above CAPTCHA will let you continue to use our services.

    This traffic may have been sent by malicious software, a browser plug-in, or a script that sends automated requests. If you share your network connection, ask your administrator for help — a different computer using the same IP address may be responsible. Learn more

    Sometimes you may be asked to solve the CAPTCHA if you are using advanced terms that robots are known to use, or sending requests very quickly.

    My working theory is it has nothing to do with WordPress code, or with the URL, but with the IP of the server the call is coming from, and Google's own protection mechanism has some network blocks (like Dreamhost and Hostgator) tagged for "human intervention required" for some requests.

  10. @ Scott,

    Thank you for that. I agree, I do have a lot of trouble with spammers and hackers. I take every defense I know about, however there are still one or two that slip through every once in a while.


    Per Scott's comment above, I'm now not sure it's a wordpress core problem either.

    I'm going to follow Scott's advice first, and see if I can get it working from my end.

  11. esmi
    Forum Moderator
    Posted 4 years ago #

    One of the main core devs has suggested that force_feed() should be enabled automatically in the incoming Links widget and it could be added as an enhancement. And that's not something he often says, so you might want to grab this whilst you can. ;-)

  12. Thanks esmi.


    EDIT: I accidentally added it as a bug, instead of feature request. Any way to change that?

  13. esmi
    Forum Moderator
    Posted 4 years ago #

    Um - not sure. I'll ask around.

  14. devgav
    Posted 4 years ago #

    Esmi - thanks for passing on my comments :)

    Josh - wanted to reply to your specific issue in here rather than the ticket.

    As mentioned, be careful with force_feed, as if a feed is failing it is usually failing for a reason ... as you discovered above. (Sorry but for this reason the patch I submitted in the ticket doesn't enable force_feed here).

    Your theory regarding the server IP and Google's CAPTCHA ring true - previously I've only seen this error intermittently and put it down as temporary Google/network issues.

    Did you happen to notice the HTTP status code returned in the CURL response header? I can't reproduce at the moment - the full send/response including headers would be perfect if at all possible.

    Looking to add some better error checking to the widget as part of this patch.

  15. esmi
    Forum Moderator
    Posted 4 years ago #

    @devgav: some of the feeds I checked were effectively valid.

  16. devgav
    Posted 4 years ago #

    Google IP ban support link for reference. Might be worth filling that in, and hoping they take a look.

    A possible work around in your case might be (other than waiting for Google/changing the server IP):

    1. Sign up here: https://code.google.com/apis/console
    2. Request access to the Google Custom Search API
    3. Get your API key from the API Access Menu
    4. Use the link below in WP, remembering to put in your API key & domain name.
    5. https://www.googleapis.com/customsearch/v1?key=INSERT-YOUR-KEY&cx=017576662512468239146:omuauf_lfve&alt=atom&q=link:http://joshlobe.com/

    Beware: The standard RSS feed from Google uses Google Blog Search to return only blog results. This feed uses standard Google Search, so returns all sites linking to your blog.

    Without diving into the docs don't know if it's possible to filter this further I'm afraid, but do let me know if you find a way! :)

    Interestingly, running this locally on my Windows machine throws an SSL cert errors. Try this advice if you see that: http://code.google.com/p/google-api-php-client/issues/detail?id=22

    Finally - it will be worth running a check of all websites running on your servers IP, to make sure there is no malware/unwanted PHP code lying around hitting Google's servers. Server logs can help a lot with this if setup correctly and your server - otherwise any good host should be willing to help.

  17. devgav
    Posted 4 years ago #

    @esmi: Fair assumption, sorry my apologies for not explaining clearly.

    Although they were valid for us (checking from our own IPs/server IPs), the response Josh's server received was a HTML document containing a warning, (as his server IP was triggering the Google Captcha) rather than a valid RSS feed.

    So in effect, SimplePie was correct in it's warning that the feed was invalid. We just need to handle this better for use-cases where it always fails. :)

  18. esmi
    Forum Moderator
    Posted 4 years ago #

    I really don't think an IP ban is appropriate in this case. For example and from what I can recall, one feed had perhaps 2 invalid characters. Nothing that actually stopped the feed being rendered.

    Part of the problem might be Google's Blog feed itself. There seems to be an ongoing problem with the quality of the feed that it produces rather than the actual items from 3rd party sites. nor is this an issue with malware or anything else on the receiving site. It's to do with the feeds themselves at Google's end or further back.

  19. devgav
    Posted 4 years ago #

    Josh's continuous fail was definitely down to a Google limitation put down on his server IP, the CURL request confirms this.

    As for the general / intermittent issues seen by other users, I agree fully the feed can be temperamental. Spent some time investigating alternative feeds, but have a feeling we're stuck with this (without requiring users to have an API key). Arguably force feed could fix this, but it could also break things further when a feed actually is broken.

    If the feed is invalid, let SimplePie catch it, and inform the user in a nice error message - otherwise, load 'em up.

    Either way, if a feed is invalid it's up to the feed provider to fix, and not an adaptation we should make to core, imho.

  20. Either way, if a feed is invalid it's up to the feed provider to fix, and not an adaptation we should make to core, imho.

    The more I find out about this, the more I believe it's a Google filter on any sites belonging to a network they have "flagged". Which would explain why I have it on all my sites, regardless of themes, widgets, host, etc.


    I will go through the procedure you outlined above. Thank you for taking the initiative to not only explain how this issue "mingles" with wp core, but for also providing resources to address this issue from an end-user perspective.

    EDIT: I filled out the Google support ticket. I will post back with anything I hear from them.

  21. esmi
    Forum Moderator
    Posted 4 years ago #

    the more I believe it's a Google filter

    It does seem to be a Google issue but the force_feed() message that is currently being displayed is not appropriate within a WordPress site. Hopefully, that will be modified and force_feed() will be applied automatically - which is all that WP core can do.

  22. devgav
    Posted 4 years ago #

    @Josh are these network of sites on the same IP range / subnet? That would be my best guess. And you're very welcome, no problem at all.

    @esmi patch in ticket changes force_feed error to something more general as per 21017#comment:3

    As for force_feed() ... still reluctant, it's really meant as a way of accepting feeds with the wrong mime type, and not a way to handle broken, incorrect or incomplete feeds, which should fail by design.


    I think we will have to agree to disagree on this part! ;) Thanks for your help though!

  23. Tina
    Posted 4 years ago #

    Mine seems to have fixed itself. I'm no longer getting that message on the site I originally saw it on. Not sure what that means.

  24. Rev. Voodoo
    Posted 4 years ago #

    Well that's cool @Tina!

    Mine have all been errored out for months now. It doesn't hurt my feelings any, just one of those things it'd be cool to have fixed if a solution wandered by

  25. @Josh are these network of sites on the same IP range / subnet? That would be my best guess.

    That is correct. The link to the Google Page you sent looks promising. I will eagerly be awaiting their response.

    @esmi patch in ticket changes force_feed error to something more general as per 21017#comment:3

    I think a new message will be much more "cleaner" looking... but if this Google submission "fixes" the link problem... perhaps a link could be placed if the error is generated??

    I don't think force_feed should be used as a workaround... I would much rather find the source of the error in the first place. (Hoping on Google)

  26. esmi
    Forum Moderator
    Posted 4 years ago #

    Don't get your hopes up. Google is probably having to deal with some pretty dire incoming content when it collates these link feeds.

  27. ejosborne
    Posted 4 years ago #

    i've had it for a while.. but i don't know what it means. is it serious? what exactly is the effect of it?

  28. starqueen
    Posted 4 years ago #

    I have the same issue going on. I've just noticed it after the latest updgrade, 3.4.1

    So far no fix, eh? How bad of a problem could this be for someone?

  29. Tina
    Posted 4 years ago #

    and....its back. and i'm seeing it on just about all my wordpress sites now. did anyone ever figure out a fix? it seems like the conversation here went round and round (and most of it i couldn't follow), but i don't see a solution. or even whether its a wordpress or a google problem or what.

    what exactly does this error even mean? i mean, is it affecting people subscribed to my feed?

  30. esmi
    Forum Moderator
    Posted 4 years ago #

    is it affecting people subscribed to my feed?

    No. Please post any further questions ion your own topics.

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