in /etc

toothpaste for dinner RSS workaround

Those of you who know me know that I am a huge fan of the online comic Toothpaste for Dinner. Drew’s brand of humour matches mine very closely, only he has far funnier jokes. Often they hit pretty close to home, if you’ve worked in IT for any length of time. For example, I often read Infoworld‘s "Off The Record" for horror stories — there was one in February about a boss telling an employee to "take it to the next level" (which usually means some kind of a death march). Now check out this cartoon — spot on!

Unfortunately TPFD’s RSS feed has been broken for some time, and even though I emailed Drew about it, I don’t really expect him to fix it. After all, his FAQ says the following:

24. You should make a search engine. You should make an RSS feed.

I already did, you just didn’t even bother to look around to find them. WHY DIDN’T YOU SPEND ONE MINUTE CLICKING ON MY WEBSITE BEFORE WRITING ME?! If you know what RSS is (don’t worry if you don’t, it is actually pretty useless, but nerds get mad if you don’t have an RSS thing on your site) then you know how to find if a site has an RSS feed.

Not that I care — I’d rather that he make funny cartoons rather than worry about broken RSS feeds. Edit: I had taken it upon myself to create an on-demand fix of the RSS feed, but Drew expressed consternation in private correspondence that I appeared to be creating a public RSS feed of his content, and while I don’t agree with him for a number of reasons, I’m abiding by his wishes and removing the public link to my RSS re-feed.

Those of you who are programmers can simply write your own script to s/&date/&date/g; his RSS feed on the fly.

Write a Comment



  1. (I meant, email me before you make your own feed up, because I really don't like it when people start making their own feeds for my site.)

  2. Uh… I did e-mail you about it, several days ago. Since I didn't hear back, I assumed you were either too busy, or didn't care. Then I saw the entry in your FAQ and concluded you probably didn't care.

    For interest's sake the problem in the feed is that the ampersand in the HREFs for your blog entries isn't being escaped as an "&amp", which causes an XML parse error.

    If you want to fix the feed, I'll gladly take mine down.

  3. it gets even better… due to "lack of subscribers," Drew is taking the RSS feed down altogether. Um, perhaps no one subscribed because it was broken?! Just a thought.

    Whatever. there are plenty of workarounds. it's just a shame that actually having fans who want to read his comic seems to annoy him so much.

  4. I too noticed the RSS feed was no longer available as of around a week ago. It's a shame–looks like I won't be checking Toothpaste for Dinner everyday anymore :-(.


  5. When I first read Toothpaste for Dinner, I liked it enough to write my own RSS feed, because drew didn't have one and I wanted to read it regularly without remembering to visit the site. After an angry email from drew, I took it down and stopped reading (but he kept sending angry emails when I suggested someone else would inevitably do the same).

    I just found this now because I was looking at the incoming search queries for my site and I'm still getting a lot of visitors looking for Toothpaste for Dinner RSS. It still baffles me that that he's so hung up on being anti-RSS that he's willing to lose audience over it.

  6. What a strange response from drew.

    I do appreciate the comic being free and all but it's quite strange he doesn't want more traffic…

    I check TFD maybe once a month and read a few then get over it. I check my rss comics everyday.

    I'd figure getting more readers is what he'd be after. weird.

    Note: I found this site googling "Toothpaste for Dinner RSS".


  7. Quite a shame — I had found the comic again, and wanted to subscribe to an RSS feed… but if there's no feed then I can't be bothered to visit. And seeing him act like an irrational jerk here made me lose all desire to read his material. I've removed his site from my, and bid farewell to toothpaste for dinner.

  8. What's the latest? Still no RSS feed for this dude?

    Everything from small town newspapers to youtube has RSS feeds now… it's not just for nerds anymore.

    someone let me know if this gets fixed?


  9. Hi, just to confirm, yes I'm a jerk, if by jerk you mean "I don't let other people syndicate my content", and "I don't have the time to maintain an RSS feed to the standard I would myself demand of such a service."

    To date, no programmers have stepped up to the plate to write code to maintain an RSS feed of my comics and other content. The demand for RSS isn't high enough that I could justify hiring someone to write the code to make it. I'm a cartoonist, not a programmer.

    Toothpaste For Dinner has an eminently fair use policy. Non-profit/educational institutions are cleared to use the images at will with attribution, as well as any and all personal sites including myspace et al.

    I love when people enjoy and share my comics, but to demand me to either offer or allow someone else to offer an arbitrary, non-standard format that is arguably inferior to the basic functionality of my website is ridiculous.

  10. I think a newsfeed falls under the auspices of a "personal site," but I suppose the problem is that it's not supplementing a personal site so much as aggregating Drew's content?

    I have another 3rd party feed I'm using for now, though ideally it would include Drew's/Natalie's blog, because I enjoy their writing/et cetera and I'd like to know about new shirts and changes to the site.

    Drew: if you made a blog post asking for someone to volunteer their time to engineer an RSS feed for you and your wife's network of sites I'm sure you would get some responses, free. It may be a few hours of work, to select and interface with someone, but you will easily get several thousand more subscribers and potential customers.

    It's also a platform for easily building new ways for people to look at your comics, like a desktop widget or an OpenSocial app. It's a technology that appeals to the people who make up your core audience, really, and your site would not be worse for offering it.

  11. Hey! The wisdom of the crowd proved to be right!

    I emailed Drew stating that I read a lot of webcomics through RSS, and that I would gladly read TFD, enclosed ads and all. I tried to be polite and constructive in my word choices, and point out that there was clearly an audience for the RSS feed.

    I got a whiny reply back along the lines of "egads! not a lost reader!". Which would have been enough to mark the guy as a net-hole, in my book, but the email even had a faux-EULA as the signature line, demanding the right to control what happened to the content of the note this person sent.

    Drew: by jerk, I mean "is needlessly and arbitrarily mean to people expressing an interest in your work" and "can't be bothered to use the default standard for syndicated web media".

    And yet still, Drew, good luck with your work, and may you one day reevaluate your positions on IP and distribution.

  12. I read a bit of his comic and thought it was weird that he didn't have an RSS feed, seeing as how it's the only website of any sort in the past few years I've seen without an RSS feed, then when I searched for a feed for the site and read this I don't plan on ever reading his comic again and I will suggest the same to everyone I come across. It's unbelievable that he can't produce and RSS feed when seemingly every other webcomic has one. This is pathetic and I sincerely hope that drew gets hit by a bus.

  13. I had noticed this but i am still an avid reader and to be honest If your not going to read a hilarious comic due to lack of an RSS feed then you are clearly way to far up you're own arse


  • Julian Dunn's Journal » Blog Archive » VAX/VMS on Linux using SIMH May 3, 2009

    […] a completely unrelated note: People are still writing in to comment on the blog post where I got yelled at by Drew of Toothpaste For Dinner for offering an RSS feed. Haha! I’ve […]

  • Julian Dunn’s Journal » VAX/VMS on Linux using SIMH May 3, 2009

    […] a completely unrelated note: People are still writing in to comment on the blog post where I got yelled at by Drew of Toothpaste For Dinner for offering an RSS feed. Haha! I’ve […]

  • Really Sardonic Syndication « Continuities May 3, 2009

    […] great comic is Toothpaste For Dinner (see the story here about the lack of an RSS feed). Note – some of the humor may offend those with delicate […]