vBulletin’s inbuilt RSS feeds

A great many vBulletin forum owners appear to be unaware that their forums can provide an RSS feed “out of the box”.

This is a great shame because it limits the forums ability to grow and have visibility.

Now the naysayers will say one of two things

  1. I don’t want people stealing my content
  2. I want people to visit the forum and if they use feeds they might not (usually because of ad revenue)

The reality is that there are a great many forums out there all competing for the same users and you need to use every competitive advantage there is. In vBulletin it’s things like allowing users to subscribe to daily digests of posts to a forum. Pretty much the same thing result as an RSS feed but it’s turned on by default and forum owners don’t proactively turn it off.

vBulletin and vBOptions

Forums like DigitalPoint grew from Shawn’s reputation and also because of his excellent keyword tracker which sports the five latest posts on every page. Even when you are not in “forum posting mode” you will look at that list while you’re waiting for the check to finish processing – an it drives you back to the forum.

So you can use the RSS feed to drive users from another part of your site back into the forum, or from an associated site into your forum. After all the feed provides fresh content for the other pages. And chances are that fresh content is keyword rich!

Oh, and RSS feeds allow you to submit to my Top 100 vBulletin directory which uses the feed to give both inbound links and to measure forum activity.

Turning on the RSS Feed

First of all log in to the Admin Control Panel. You’ll see on the left hand menu that right at the top there is “vBulletin Options”. Click on that and then on the options choice and it’ll show this panel. Scroll right down to the bottom and look for External Data Provider and select that. Click on Edit Settings.

vBulletin and External Data

Once that window is open you have a number of choices.

At a minimum you need the RSS feed checked. Personally I see no harm in having all 3 checked.

The number of days to show feeds for will differ depending on the busy-ness of your forum. You should aim to have atleast 10 items showing at all times. For some that might be 1 day, for others it may be significantly more!

vBulletin and RSS feeds

Once you’ve saved you’ll find your feed at http://www.mysite.com/forum/external.php


Recent Comments



  1. March 26, 2006

    Thanks for this, I am going to start a thread using this Sarah!

    PS: This comment box is being covered up by your ADSENSE ads, try to
    fix the formating of it!

  2. May 22, 2006

    Well written and informative. Thanks!

  3. July 8, 2006

    Just discovered an RSS feed that wasn’t including the full url for in the feeds. I suspect that the options to complete the domain hadn’t been filled in.

    make sure the forum url is filled in

  4. aladavlis
    December 17, 2006

    I am having trouble with my Internet explorer.It is doing some very odd things.Sometimes it will completely close the page i am visiting for no reason or it will be very slow loading pages and when i say slow i mean very very very slow for eg i tried to google something and after 10 minutes of the page trying to load i gave up.I thought that it was perhaps the topic i was searching so i tried putting in random things to see if that made any difference but it didn’t.Another problem i had was when i was on a forum and clicked on a link and nothing happened i tried to open a new tab and that wouldn’t work either and it would let me access any options that are in my tools menu.i had to restart my computer.Just to let you know i have high speed Internet connection.Thanks in advance to anyone that helps me with this problem.

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  6. February 5, 2007

    I really don’t know anything about RSS feeds. Who sees them and when? What are they showing? Random posts from my forum?


  7. February 6, 2007

    It depends how the feed is setup. In this case they are the most recent posts and can be used to promote the current activity on your forum.

    In the case of DigitalPoint the most recent 5 are promoted in tools such as the keyword tracker to encourage users to also visit the forum.

    RSS readers typically cache the files for an hour so you aren’t getting a huge database drain while promoting the forum.

  8. April 7, 2007

    Excellent post, This is exactly what I was looking to do.

    Thank You

Comments are closed.