Joe Clark: Accessibility ¶ Design ¶ Writing

Canonical test podcasts:
How to test your podcast app against difficult cases

Are you the creator, programmer, or quality-tester of a podcasting application? This page provides a range of podcasts that exemplify a range of atypical use case from merely uncommon to exceedingly fringe. If your app can handle all these, you’re doing well.

Remember: Your app will be used to listen to potentially thousands of podcasts you’ve never heard of (or would ever choose to listen to yourself). Quality testing is about other people, in this case your users or customers.

Technical misconfiguration

Category Podcast title RSS Notes
Constant errors in series vs. episode art Red Ice Radio 3Fourteen RSS Series art fails, episode art always works (developer can find nothing wrong; XML seems fine; art URLs always load in a browser)
Time of issuance is consistently wrong CBC Day 6 RSS Invariably issued at 04:00:00 GMT, i.e., midnight Toronto time, even when nonsensical
Flaky RSS feeds Jim Goad’s Group Hug Goad RSS Anything from Soundcloud, which will go tits-up in no time and which hides RSS (when it’s even available)


A difficult and potentially wide-ranging topic.

Metadata and show notes

Category Podcast title RSS Notes
Lengthy marked-up show notes Sewers of Paris Sewers RSS
Buries guest name at end of description Sam Harris (quite smart in global terms) Really very smart RSS Sam Harris, who is smarter than you, makes guest names invisible by refusing to front-load episode descriptions with their names
Show notes updated after the fact InfoWars Alex Jones RSS Either no show-notes text or a placeholder, later updated with 500 or more words. Also: Very long episodes in high volume

Bookmarks and chapters

Podcast content itself

The actual content of a podcast – which you’d have to sit there and listen to – can be an issue that you need to test against. For example:

Both cases don’t work with, say, music podcasts, where 100% or 1× speed is the only way anyone ever wants to hear that podcast, and the same episodes can be listened to over and over again.

Content, then, is something you can test against.

Category Podcast title RSS Notes
Music Deeper Shades of House Deeper Shades RSS No lyrics; very sensitive to changes in speed
Borderline pornographic No Safe Word
(blog post)
NSW RSS Some people listen to “adult” podcasts
Not in English Ar bed o treiñ
Breton RSS Distance between English and e.g. Japanese or Chinese is too large, but too small with e.g. French or Spanish. So try Breton
Character encoding Moopaa On Air
Thai RSS The real stress test is not Japanese or Chinese but Thai, with diacritics and no spaces between words
Fonts Spoonful of Russian
(Cyrillic and Latin)
If you use a custom font, you may find to your surprise that it does not include Cyrillic and/or Greek. A great many professionally designed typeface families do in fact encompass all three scripts (with some exceptions for rare characters), but unless and until you test for this outcome, you’re likely to produce visible errors, such as incorrect fonts for Cyrillic or Greek. Note that multi-script text is common, so you have to test with mixed-script cases, as provided here (otherwise you may not notice that a script you cannot read has simply switched fonts)
Startup Stories
(Greek and Latin)


Your application has to work with Jeremy Keith’s service that allows people to assemble their own podcast feeds out of audio files uploaded elsewhere, Huffduffer. This includes handling many feed possibilities, including lengthy search terms that produce feed titles beginning with that entire search term in neutral quotes. (That then becomes a question of sort order.)

Still needed

Pronunciation note: “eks”

When discussing playback speeds, a notation like is not:

See also

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Posted: 2017.09.26 ¶ Updated: 2017.10.17, 2018.06.27

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