Given the new wave of publishing RSS/Atom feeds, it offers a new capability to the Internet infrastructure. It offers a much more democratic and fluid environment for distributing news and information. The old model is centralized and controlled vehicles for disseminating news, such as the wire services which distribute news stories for broadcast and print around the world. RSS/Atom feeds allow a different and more open way to achieve the same purpose.
You might think that someone posting their content through an RSS feed makes it open for anybody to utilize. Think again.
Please don't steal this Web content is a story of one perspective. That publishing content on a website is still covered by copyright, that publishing that content through an RSS or Atom feed is still covered by the copyright, and that many websites have been set up which republish RSS feed content without permission.
With the product data in the database, we want to make sure the categorization is balanced. It's my feeling that each category should have a relatively small number of items in it, so that the user has a short list to look at. The categorization should be used to create categories with small numbers of items.
Since the categorization is primarily being generated algorithmically, this leads us to an iterative process of generating the categorization, looking at the size of the resulting categories, and tweaking the categorization algorithms.
It would be unweildy and unbrowsable to simply present a list of products. Some of the merchants shareasale offers have 20 thousand or more products available, and presenting that in a single list of products would be horrid to the users. To make it pleasant for the users to browse and search for what they want, it will be exceedingly helpful to break up the products in short lists.
This is where categorization comes in. By labeling each product with a category, you can simply make enough categories so that each category has a small list of products.
Theoretically the CSV file format is very easy to use. But there have been a few problems with some files I've retrieved from shareasale.
The first is documented by Shareasale. You have to search the file for the string YOURUSERID and replace it by your Shareasale ID number. This number is shown at the top of the affiliate account manager pages.
You'll have downloaded a datafeed by now. If you look in the file you see line after line of text, with values separated by '|' characters. While this is a "comma-separated-values" (CSV) file, in this case they use '|' characters instead of comma's.
Shareasale documents the file format in their help center: Help Center » Knowledgebase » Affiliate Topics » Product Links » Datafeeds
Shareasale, and some other affiliate marketing programs, offer data feeds, or files containing prewritten product descriptions. The techniques described here can be applied to any of these data feeds, but for the moment I'll concentrate on Shareasale.