Neil Turner's Blog

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Dave’s Early Morning RSS Rants

For once, I generally agree with Dave Winer. Last night he posted a couple of rants about RSS, and I personally feel he has a point.
The first is about choosing a new name for RSS. Why? RSS is already well-known amongst the weblogging and news syndication communities – choosing a new name would only add to the confusion. You may also want to take a look at the hoo-hah surrounding the naming of Atom (which is now its final name) – why bother going through all that if the existing name works? It may not be perfect but it’s better than nothing, and having just the one name will make it less confusing.
(That said, depending on who you ask, RSS either means ‘Rich Site Summary’, or my personal favourite ‘Really Simple Syndication’. But at least the acronym is the same.)
The other rant is about aggregators, and I agree with Dave that they should not poll more often than once an hour at the most, purely for the sake of saving people’s bandwidth bills. I set FeedDemon to syndicate every three hours, which I personally think is quite often enough, and if a feed has used <ttl> then it obeys it. If only all aggregators would do that.
Of course, this may just be my own early morning opinions coming through.


  1. So what is Atom?

  2. Atom is two things:
    There’s the Atom syndication format, which is like RSS but more consistent – it’s likely that there will be just one version and that there won’t be the same ambiguity associated with it.
    Then there’s the AtomAPI, which is designed to replace the Blogger and MetaWeblog APIs which programs like w.bloggar use. This is perhaps the most interesting as it is far superior to any API currently available, and has full backing from Blogger, LiveJournal and Six Apart, who make Movable Type and Typepad.
    The syndication format isn’t too much to get worked up about (since RSS generally works alright anyway, despite the politics attached to it) but the API is worth watching. You can probably find out more if you do a Google search.