As you may be aware, my ISP upgraded the mySQL database hosting my main WordPress blog this past week. This led to a slowdown of blog performance, but things seem to have gotten a bit better. It’s been suggested that a complete reinstall of WordPress would likely be a good idea, and I was ready to do that this evening, but I’ve encountered some mysterious things going on with my podcast feed that may not be related to the mySQL upgrade– so I’m sharing this in case someone has insights that may help. Until I know more, I’m going to hold off on the full WordPress upgrade.

For some reason, my podcast feed has not updated in iTunes since Podcast 179 on August 13th:

iTunes mystery

As far as I know, I have not changed how I post my podcast, the Podpress plugin that I’m using with WordPress, or anything else. Something clearly has changed, however.

Now, when I view my podcast feed (burned with Feedburner) in the Safari web browser, instead of seeing the “normal” single enclosure I see a mystifyingly large number of enclosures:

Multiple Enclosures Mystery

As I scroll down the list of 30 podcasts, the number of enclosures gradually decreases linearly until we get to the last one, podcast 155, which has only one enclosure. Apparently, for some mystifying reason, each subsequent podcast after the first one in the feed has added the NEW podcast episode to the previous episodes. This is why by the 30th, or most recent episode, there are 30 enclosures included for each podcast:

Increasing podcast enclosures

This pattern is not, apparently, being caused by Feedburner or the settings I’ve used for Feedburner. The original RSS category feed for “podcast” which I use in Feedburner to create the feed (wfryer.wpengine.com/category/podcasts/feed) includes the same multiple enclosure problem.

Therefore, this eliminates Feedburner as the source of the problem. The source must lie with WordPress, the PodPress Plug-in, or something with the mySQL configuration of my WordPress blog. I don’t think it is mySQL related, however, because my mySQL database was updated to version 5 on August 20th, and this problem started happening earlier. I published podcast 180 on August 17th, 3 days before the mySQL upgrade.

I started noticing something was amiss when I looked at the number of downloads for my podcasts, which are reported by the PodPress plugin for WordPress. You can see in this automatically generated statistical table that with podcast 179 and previous episodes, the average number of downloads exceeded 3000.

Big drop in podcast downloads

Suddenly, starting with podcast 180, something BIG and BAD happened, because the number of downloads dropped to less than 100 for most shows. I had initially thought that maybe people were just not finding these more recent topics very interesting, but the iTunes screenshot above (first one in this post) shows that iTunes has not updated in two weeks. The feedburner statistics for my podcast channel subscribers show that iTunes only accounts for about 25% of subscriptions:

iTunes has 23% of subscribers

Here is the bottom line: My podcast feed is messed up, and I don’t know what has caused this. Probably the most straightforward thing to do (but this does involve a fair bit of work) is backing up my entire blog database and blog data files, and reinstalling everything from scratch. That is probably in order because of the mySQL 4 to 5 upgrade my ISP did last week. However, I’d love to know more about what has caused this multiple enclosure mystery and problem before I do, so if a configuration issue accounts for it the problem can actually be resolved. Otherwise I may configure things the same way and not resolve the problem.

Any ideas or suggestions? :-) The heart of this mystery is why each successive podcast episode includes the new enclosure plus all the previous enclosures posted since the 30th show from the current one.

Gosh I wish this wasn’t so complicated!

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  • http://borderland.northernattitude.org Doug Noon

    This is way outside my area of expertise, and I am not at all familiar with the plugin you’re using. But that isn’t going to stop me from offering you some possibly worthless advice, with my apologies in advance.

    You might try looking at the Worpress forums or go back to the site where the plugin came from to see if anyone else is having similar issues.

    I can’t subscribe to anyone’s podcast because I don’t have a decent connection for audio files, so I have nothing to report from my end.

    Also, I’ve run into problems with Feedburner in the past dropping my feed when I did an upgrade. They were helpful when I asked them to check on things.

    What you really want is someone who knows what is going on, and that isn’t me. I’m just the guy who stands and looks under the hood and says, Huh? You have my sympathy, for what it’s worth.

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    Thanks for the troubleshooting tips and sympathy, Doug! I’ve trolled around the WP forums a bit but haven’t found anything on this specific issue. We’ll see if anyone else has suggestions… A reinstall may set things right. Dynamic change– such is the nature of technology and our information landscape I guess!

  • http://ideasandthoughts.org Dean Shareski

    Wes,
    I noticed this with your podcast as well….I tried to update the feed but it didn’t matter. Your podcasts usually require a longer drive or walk so listening online isn’t my favourite….Hope you update us on a solution.

  • Devin

    Wes,

    This is not a wordpress issue. Your sql server is not responding or is taking way to slow to respond. There is no need to reinstall wordpress as this is not the issue. Your ISP is having issues. Those issues are getting better.

    Devin

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    I don’t think the slow response time problem is a WordPress issue, I agree that is a problem with mySQL, but since the ISP upgraded mSQL someone suggested the WordPress installation I have now may not be optimized for the new version 5 of mySQL that is installed. This multiple enclosure podcast issue is another thing entirely, though, I think. I finally isolated this to a podpress plug-in issue (I think) and did post a question about it to the podpress forums, hopefully I’ll get some help and insights there:

    http://www.mightyseek.com/forum/showthread.php?t=893

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