3 Ways to Exclude Content from WordPress Feeds

~{*}~ This may surprise you, but I post quite a bit of content that never appears in the site’s main feed. It is my impression that a vast majority of subscribers are interested in web/graphic-design and development-related topics, and are really much less interested (if at all) in the miscellaneous odds and ends that wind up in the ever-expanding Perishable Press database.

In the past, the process of excluding content from the main feed typically involved changing the post-date to something at least a year or so in the past. The thinking was that I could always return to these posts at some point in the future and put them back into sequential order. Although effective, this process quickly became far too tedious and time-consuming to prove practical. Keeping my eyes open for possible solutions, I have accumulated several excellent techniques for excluding content from WordPress feeds.

Excluding categories without a plugin

The first method I discovered involves excluding one or more categories from the feed by simply editing the feed URL itself. As Jaypee (404 link removed 2013/01/03) explains, it is possible to exclude any category n by appending a query string to the feed URL like so:

http://domain.tld/feed?cat=-n

..where n is the ID of the specific category you wish to exclude. Likewise, it is also possible to exclude multiple categories x, y, z as follows:

http://domain.tld/feed?cat=-x&cat=-y&cat=-z

..where x, y, z represent any three excluded categories, etc.

Of course, the upside to this method is that it doesn’t require a plugin in order to work. You can simply link directly to the filtered feed, invoke some htaccess voodoo, or even make the required changes via Feedburner, if that’s your thing. The only real downside involves potential loss of subscribers after switching the feed URL, but again, this may be easily resolved via htaccess or Feedburner.

Update: Mimi suggests an alternate approach for versions of WordPress with which the above feed format doesn’t work. Thanks Mimi! :)

Excluding categories with a plugin

If you would like to exclude categories without fiddling with your feed URL(s), check out the Ultimate Category Excluder plugin from Michael Clark. According to Michael, the Ultimate Category Excluder plugin “allows you to quickly and easily exclude categories from your front page, archives, and feeds.” — But it’s even better than that: for each excluded category, you have granular control over where the category’s posts are excluded. So you could exclude your “Milk” category from feeds only, your “Monkeys” category from both archives and feeds, and your “Pancakes” category from all three (front page, archives, and feeds). It’s entirely up to you and completely configurable via the WordPress Admin. Most importantly, though, this plugin is an excellent way to exclude category content from feeds. Note: This plugin has been tested officially only on WordPress 2.1, but I have been using it with great success on WordPress 2.3 as well.

Exclude individual posts

Rather than excluding an entire category from appearing in feeds, you may prefer granular control over individual posts. The Stealth Publish WordPress plugin by coffee2code prevents “specified posts from being featured on the front page or in feeds.” After installing the plugin, simply “unfeature” any post by assigning a “stealth-publish” custom-field value of “1”. All such unfeatured posts will be excluded from all feeds as well as the front page. This free plugin is compatible with WordPress versions 1.5+, 2.0+, 2.1+, 2.2+, 2.3+, and 2.5+. I am currently using this plugin here at Perishable Press and it works perfectly :)

..and I’m out!

Using one of these techniques, excluding content from your site’s main feed is a snap. If you know of other techniques, please share them by leaving a comment below. Thanks!