During a round of service adding last night, I figured out a way to differentiate between no results and an error. That’s good because now users will know when they’ll have to visit the source itself to see the results. The worst error offender by far is Technorati. Probably the majority of the tags will come up with an error message. You can then run their feed through the feed validator and witness for yourself the problem.
You’ll probably see some red question marks in a see of asian characters. Many, many people submit blog entries in a foreign language. Really, they are a large part of the problem. Probably what bugs me most is that these entries are in that foreign language, but tag them in English. How does that make any sense?? I’ll let that go, but that means the responsibility then lands squarely on the feed publisher’s head to ensure that when they publish a feed encoded with UTF-8, it is UTF-8. If they don’t, it will break many RSS parsers (including MagpieRSS, which I use). It makes me look incompetent even though it’s their mistake.
I may have to amend the error message to reflect this. Something along the lines of Sorry, a request or processing error occurred. Most likely the source has invalid characters in their feed. Please contact them if this bothers you.