WordPress: Broken RSS Feed

This is one of the worst bugs I’ve encountered in a while. The worst because you really don’t know exactly where the issue can be fixed…

If you go to your site’s RSS feed (http://YOUR_SITE_URL/feed), you might see this message:

XML Parsing Error: XML or text declaration not at start of entity
Location: http://YOUR_SITE_URL/feed
Line Number 3, Column 1:
<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?><rss version=”2.0″
^

Vague… i know

There are a bunch of responses out there if you Google the error, but nothing specific. The main takeaway is that you have a space between two adjacent php calls.

<?php foo ?>
[extra line break here]
<?php foo ?>

Instead, you’ll want it to look like so:

<?php foo ?>
<?php foo ?>

Or even better:

<?php foo
foo ?>

This not only can be caused by a faulty functions.php file, but ANY theme file and/or plugin.

In my editing program, I was able to do a regex search for the following:

\\?>\n\n

The search found several files in my theme and within a plugin. Removed the offending blank line and boom-yer-pregnant!

I noticed this weird issue affected another thing (maybe others)… When you click “Edit Image” in the “Edit Media” screen, the thumbnail won’t show up.

Screenshot_2

Another way to spot this issue is if you see an unintended first blank line in your website’s source code.┬áIf you didn’t mean to put that there, then there’s a blank line error in one of your files.

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