Wednesday, January 12, 2005

XML is for geeks

Danny Sullivan summarizes a blog discussion between Jeremy Zawodny, Dave Winer, and others on "more consistency in how people can find and subscribe to RSS, Atom and other feed content."

When you boil all of this down, the problem really is that the XML shouldn't be exposed in the first place. Dan Isaacs nails it in his post:
    What the hell is the point of making the XML simply link to the .rss page? Are there really more than 5 people on the planet that would be interested in the actual RSS?
RSS is a data format. No one but us geeks cares about XML feeds. People just want to read news.

See also "Getting your grandmother to use RSS".

4 comments:

Michael said...

Since not all browsers *cough* IE *cough* let users know when a site has a feed, a button is still needed.

It doesn't need to point to the rss feed, it really just needs to send the URL of itself (the HTML page) to the user's chosen aggregator, which can then use auto-discovery to find the find and subscribe to it.

Pointing to the feed is a holdover from before most aggregators support autodiscovery.

Then of course, there's the problem of multiple feeds for a site, but that's also solvable.

Mike Rowehl said...

I just posted about this last weekend, it's something we've been feeling at Feedster so I wanted to get a discussion going:

http://www.bitsplitter.net/blog/index.php?p=388

The proposal is for more of a simple redirection service than a suscription service. But as long as whatever the solution ends up being gets open sourced I don't think it'll make all that much difference. I personally would like the users to be able to deliver their subscription information to whatever endpoint they want rather than a central server.

Greg Linden said...

It's true that there's ways to make feeds easier to use -- autodiscovery from the blog URL, buttons linked to some centralized service -- but I think that's still not good enough for the mainstream.

Most people don't want to find and configure a feed reader at all. They just want to read news. They configure a feed reader only because they have to in order to find the news they need.

Keep your eye on the goal. Building a good list of XML feeds in your weblog reader isn't the goal. Reading news is the goal.

The more work you can do for readers, the better. Find the feeds for them. Pull out the interesting articles. Help readers discover new articles and new feeds. Help them read news.

tearfang said...

"Are there really more than 5 people on the planet that would be interested in the actual RSS?" Well... Yes.

One of the reasons the internet has grown the way it has is becasue view source made the code easily accessable to all us geeks and wanabe geeks so we could figure out how to make our own web page do that.