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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Protecting a web page or RSS feed for paid subscribers only

    Hey everyone, I've been brainstorming some ideas on the best way to create a subscription based RSS feed or blog/podcast in php. I was thinking of creating a unique code when a user signs up for the feed then giving the link to the user with the specific code passed as a url variable to the actual RSS feed/podcast page. Then whenever the feed is accessed, the code is checked to make sure it is valid (from a list in a database or something).

    The only problem with that is one person could take the code and distribute it to whoever. I also thought maybe the server could generate a random code on each log in and store that code in a session on the user's computer. Then when the session expires it deletes the code and creates a new one the next time they log in. Any thoughts on this? I've been developing PHP stuff for quite some time now, but surprisingly with how how popular RSS feeds are now I'm quite a newbie when it comes to them. I was gone for two years from any kind of web developing and I think they really got more popular while I was gone.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard
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    If they use an external RSS reader, then that is not feasible. Many clients support entering a username/password combination, so you could protect the feed that way. However, not all do, especially web-based clients, so a permanent web-based code is the most accessible option.

  3. #3
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Don’t bother trying to secure RSS feeds for paid members only, a lot of media groups tried that a few years back (especially newspapers) and people just didn’t bother visiting their websites... they went where the same quality service would be free. Charging people for something intended to be free is an endeavour that has never worked out the way the person trying it wanted. And it isn’t a realistic business model.

  4. #4
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    There are more sophisticated ways to do it, but I have thought of creating a subscription service using the password-accessible pages at http://oWou.com . When you activate a page there, you can to set any password (access code) you like, in the page, as well as insert your CB affiliate code (so that if an offer sells with your code in it, you get the commission).

    I think page 761 at http://oWou.com/logo77/pv12.php?action=view&Page=761 has an access code, while Pages 1029 and 1052 and 1069 do not). For Page 761 use password "HotPizza" (without the quotes, & case sensitive). And if you want to see a new link to differentiate one pizza shop from another in the online ads, put Page=738 in the link (case sensitive) .

    You can email a new daily or weekly code to all subscribers any time. That way, while you might suffer some sharing of the code, it would only be for a limited time (assuming you change it however often you like, and email it to all subscribers accordingly).

    That way, any code-sharing that occurs would serve as a sort of "no effort free trial" for whatever amount of time the code will work. Not too many people know hundreds and hundreds of people they could share the code with - but I do hear there are code-sharing websites - so maybe you want to change it every 1, 2, or 3 days? Most autoresponders would let you send an email to everyone on a list at any scheduled time.

    I hope that helps.

    Rich
    Last edited by siterich7; Apr 30, 2009 at 03:01.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard
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    But do subscribers want to change their RSS feed URL every day or week? That's a bit crazy, and I know I would never sign up to a service where I have to do that everyday or every week.

  6. #6
    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    That method is counter-productive, the point of syndication is to be able to gather information in a single location WITHOUT requiring navigation anywhere. What you are describing is exact same equilivent to a business changing domain names every day or week. If you really feel that punishing your loyal users in this way where they have to go through email and the web to read rss feeds, you will be out of business within a month.


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