Reply-to links in site feeds September 10, 2021 on

Hello and Happy Friday!

Recently, I've been curating my RSS feed list and a few of the blogs I follow, included a Reply-to link directly in their feed for each of their posts. I really love this idea. I think it lowers the friction for direct person-to-person interaction without needing any other sort of network or platform to be involved. Just good ole slow tech RSS and slow tech email. As a lover of RSS, I immediately set out to do this for my RSS feed!

Well, like everything it's harder than one might initially think. To make a long story short, the Atom RSS feed encodes the links so I couldn't just hack in an a href link at the end of my template njk template file. My first stab at this was to manually encode my link using this encoder. I just pasted my html in and it spit out the code into a format that would work in my feed. Not great.

After some discussions in the Eleventy Discord, Bryce did a write up on how he recently implemented reply-to links on his site. It's well written and easy to understand. I noticed that he's only providing a feed for the last 10 posts. It never occured to me to do that but it makes complete sense. Anyhoo, here is how I implemented Reply-to links in my feed:

"permalink": "/feed/feed.xml",
"eleventyExcludeFromCollections": true
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<feed xmlns="">
<title>{{ metadata.title }}</title>
<subtitle>{{ metadata.desc }}</subtitle>
<link href="{{ metadata.feedUrl }}" rel="self"/>
<link href="{{ metadata.url }}"/>
<updated>{{ collections.posts | getNewestCollectionItemDate | dateToRfc3339 }}</updated>
<id>{{ metadata.url }}/</id>
<name>{{ }}</name>
<email>{{ }}</email>
{%- for post in collections.posts | reverse %}
{%- if loop.index0 < 10 -%}
{% set absolutePostUrl %}{{ post.url | url | absoluteUrl(metadata.url) }}{% endset %}
{%- set emailReplyHTML -%}<p><a href=" “{{ }}”">Reply via email</a></p>{%- endset -%}
{%- set finalHTMLContent = [post.templateContent, emailReplyHTML] | join -%}
<title>{{ }}</title>
<link href="{{ absolutePostUrl }}"/>
<updated>{{ | dateToRfc3339 }}</updated>
<id>{{ absolutePostUrl }}</id>
<content type="html">
{{ finalHTMLContent | htmlToAbsoluteUrls(absolutePostUrl) }}
{%- endif -%}
{%- endfor %}

If you're not providing Reply-to links in your RSS feed, I recommend that you do. I love it and I think it's a great way to encourge more interaction from people reading your content.