This article has been made obsolete with the new ELCA RSS Widget Builder. Check it out.
I run a couple of ELCA church web sites that use the ELCA news webfeed. It’s a nice way for a Lutheran church to add some dynamic content to its web site. Here’s what it looks like:
The problem is that at some point, the display became corrupt with certain characters appearing as a diamond with a question mark in the middle. That’s an indication that the character being displayed isn’t in the character set used to display it.
There used to be good resources at the ELCA for webmasters (webstewards as we call them), including a special forum for folks who run ELCA web sites. I don’t know what happened, but the forum’s not where it used to be, and the few documents on the ELCA site link to non-existent pages–particularly the one about web feeds is gone. I finally gave up searching the Internet and decided to fix it on my own.
The sites I run use WordPress, and I implemented the feed with some custom script in a Text widget in the sidebar. Here’s the old code:
That snippet doesn’t specify a character set, so the web page’s set is used, and in my case it’s UTF-8. To fix the problem, I just had to specify the character set like this:
You might ask where “ISO-8859-1” came from: it was a lucky guess of a common alternate encoding.