Podcast directories can be a good thing. Podcatcher programs can be a good thing. Working together, the combination of a podcatcher that connects to a podcast directory can be a great thing for the serious podcast listeners. You have the ability to find and listen to new podcasts immediately. When the podcatcher has a recommendation engine that takes a look at your current subscription list and finds similar podcasts that you aren’t subscribe to in the connected podcast directory, you have reached Podcast Nirvana.
Unfortunately, the weak point in the scenario is the podcast directory. Most directories want to be able to boast having the largest number of listings and therefore don’t do regular pruning. The only entity that I can recall going through a regularly scheduled pruning process was the late lamented Amigofish, which was more of a recommendation engine and not really a directory. (The last time I went to Amigofish, the website returned nothing but an error code and what seemed to be a dump of all of the Ruby on Rails settings.)
Recently, I was using my podcatcher of choice on my Kindle Fire to find new potential subscriptions. For some reason, I had never noticed the Recommended tab, but decided to give it a try. Three of the first ten were Book Review Noise (a show I stopped doing last year and doesn’t have a working feed), Noise Talk (a show which I haven’t updated since August 2010), and Mosai Noise (a show I put on hold in February 2011). Another one was Kryptographik, which I know for a fact had a dead feed and show hosts who have moves on to other realms of creative endeavor.
I can understand keeping old shows that still have working feeds because you never know when the show host will revive things, but keeping dead feeds is just a combination of laziness and padding your numbers. I hope that the recommendation engine will find a way to remove the dead links so that their recommendations actually mean something.