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Rise and Demise of RSS (vice.com)
154 points by ForHackernews 34 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 123 comments

I was one of the inventors of RSS. I was on the RSS 1.0 RSS-DEV Working Group.

I'm also the creator of Datastreamer (http://www.datastreamer.io/) which you could think of as a massive petabyte-scale RSS aggregator.

Seeing that I helped invent RSS, and have probably parsed more RSS than anyone (hundreds of petabytes), I'm going to call it and say that RSS is dead.

Datastreamer used to index RSS and we've long since deprecated it as a secondary data source. It's really not our primary content source.

We prefer to index raw HTML.

HTML can do exactly what you want and you don't need RSS thanks to microformats and microdata.

Here's the main problem:

1. Publishers don't care about your use case. They WANT you go to back to the site and click their ads.

2. Publishers want to hoard their content and sell it if possible. This is the exact antithesis of RSS content distribution (that the Internet should be open).

What's the way forward?

1. HTML microdata parsing RSS but implemented in microdata.

Publishers actually WANT their data to be distributed this way as they're hoping their content is distributed over Twitter and Facebook.

The only downside here is that full content is often not used.

2. Metadata sharing.

SELF metadata sharing where communities of users markup and share their own content.

I'm going to be working on some ideas around this in Polar (my project around distributed content sharing).


I think you're going to start seeing some of the ideas around the next gen of content syndication in a few months.

Right now I'm trying to build a large network of users by building an amazing tool to handle your content.

Once the user base is there then I can enable content collaboration where users are sharing content to each other.

This will also include some RSS-like features at some point but indexed around microdata.

Every blog I've tried to follow for years has had an RSS feed. Are microformats really as reliable? Like, picking a blog at random from my feed, I don't see any microdata on the page.

The biggest challenge with this strategy is discovering which links to index.

The microdata is much more data.

You can see this metadata when you post to Twitter or Facebook and it shows a preview.

We have the internal stats to show that this is MUCH more reliable than RSS but I don't really have it in a format that I can readily share.

Discovering the links can be done by just spidering every post on the front page.

The biggest challenge is the timestamp. We handle that by just keeping a fingerprint of all the URLs and we only index URLs that have either never been seen before or have timestamps.

I honestly with timestamps were required by Facebook and Twitter or at least given special treatment.

The special treatment strategy by Google and others has REALLY done a great job at upgrading the quality of the Internet by not breaking it.

Basically saying that your site will get some tangible financial benefit if you run X spec.

So if you enable IPv6 or HTTPS you get an SEO boost.

Companies actually pay attention to this and implement these changes.

Out of everything you've said, my only takeaway is that og:image is useful for Facebook and Twitter. I'll happily admit that's true, and I use it on my own sites.

Otherwise... What does "MUCH more reliable" even mean?

The rest of it seems to be you trying to catch up to RSS...

"Every blog I've tried to follow for years has had an RSS feed. "

I follow many blogs (Rule of thumb: the fewer posts per time, the higher the content of the blog likely is) and you would be surprised how many feeds fail over time. Sometimes new domain, sometimes new URL (e.g. blog.domain.com to domain.com/blog very common). And often an RSS feed contains errors that never go away.

> Publishers don't care about your use case. They WANT you go to back to the site and click their ads.

Isn't that actually an _incentive_ for them to offer RSS feeds? After all, I'm probably not going to go to their site if my RSS reader never notifies me that they posted a new article.

Unless you have tons of blogs you want to follow or a really slow internet connection, it seems simpler to just take a minute and check each blog site routinely. When I first tried out RSS in the PSP days, I was hoping that could serve as a consistent interface for news.

It was pretty disappointing to find out that no one wanted their full article on RSS. It was always just a snippet and a link to the full article on their website. This is what I believe burtonator is referring to in the part you quoted.

Checking even a few sites routinely for new content is a huge waste of life. You have to figure out if there is new content, then you have to remember where you left off and, assuming a site even makes that easy (most don't), while figuring it out, you have to avoid falling into a bottomless pit of click bait. I have 12 feeds in my reader; HN, a handful of YouTube channels and a handful of personal blogs. Some have posts every minute, some have posts every day, some have posts months apart. Of all these feeds, only 1 contains the actual content (Planet GNU), everything else is a link and maybe a small summary, and I'm perfectly fine with that, I just want the uniform process of notifications that RSS provides because the alternatives are all horrible.

> Unless you have tons of blogs you want to follow or a really slow internet connection, it seems simpler to just take a minute and check each blog site routinely

Obviously I can only speak for myself but there's no way I'm going to do that. My feed aggregator (Feedbin) serves as my daily inbox of web content. From there and since many feeds are truncated I'll open specific articles that seem interesting to me. Truncation is fine, I understand that commercial sites need a way to get visitors.

However not providing an RSS feed at all is a good way to miss out on my page view.

> Unless you have tons of blogs you want to follow

You mean you don't? I've got maybe about a hundred at this point. Even if it were only a half-dozen, that'd still be _way_ more than I'd want to check manually every day.

I'm not the inventor of anything but I'm going to call it and say that microformats and microdata are dead.

Doesn't OG fulfill microformats purposes ?

RSS did not decline due to technical differences. By the time Google Reader was killed, RSS readers had advanced to the point where wide public usage was possible because the readers dealt with the incompatibility problems outlined in the article.

RSS declined because major tech companies convinced large media companies that they had a better future publishing to their walled gardens and not directly to the public.

The walled gardens only benefited the garden owners, not independent publishers. Now that that is recognized there is again a chance for independent publishers both big and small.

RSS declined because nobody wanted to put up content on 3rd party systems that didn't pay them.

Large media companies had to actively do work to shut down their RSS feeds, when they could've just done both. They took them down because they weren't making money on keeping them up.

> RSS declined because nobody wanted to put up content on 3rd party systems that didn't pay them.

The feeds I use come directly from the provider in almost every case, and some of them had ads so it put the system ahead of Twitter/Facebook/Google+ in that regard.

The theory was that they’d get more revenue from more users but we know that wasn’t true even when the numbers weren’t totally faked like Facebook’s video push. What we know is the case is that the companies who pushed those rosy predictions profited considerably and were able to freeze out many competitors.

If the incentives would've been right there's no reason this should've been the case. Large media companies don't make money form being in the Facebook newsfeed, but rather from the traffic redirected from there.

> RSS declined because nobody wanted to put up content on 3rd party systems that didn't pay them.

Probably 2/3 of the RSS feeds I use come directly from the content producers, not from third party systems.

I meant people's RSS readers as the 3rd party, vs the 1st party website hosted by the producer. Not the clearest way to say it, I admit.

Ah, I understand. RSS is often used for things that aren't connected to a website at all, so I don't automatically make that connection.

I think it had much to do with the fact that it was much more difficult to monetize content delivered through RSS. I recall some sites playing around with delivering ads through it, but it was nowhere near as "robust" a platform for ad delivery as via their own full-fledged sites. And less face it, most content sites really are just operating as ad delivery platforms, so anything that interferes with that will fall by the wayside.

I run a podcast hosting service. Every day we push between 20 and 30GB of RSS feeds out into the world. In the same time frame, we push about 150KB of JSONFeed data.

RSS is a clunky tool that's difficult to extend. Extensions end up being duplicated by vendors that consume the data in slightly different ways. The ability to embed rich content in a feed is limited and nonstandard. To your average user, the functionality comes off as "this seems broken" instead of "what an amazing ubiquitous standard." If I had a quarter for every support request about why "Podcast App X isn't showing my links" I could cut my prices. RSS is not a good format.

On top of that, it has obvious omissions. There is no standard way to do pagination. Podcast feeds need to include _every episode_ with full metadata for the back catalog to be available. For podcasts that publish every day for years, this adds up to megabytes. If you think parse/execution times are bad with JS, imagine the work your phone is doing when it chews on a few meg of XML every half hour for all those shows you're subscribed to that don't publish episodes anymore.

RSS is bad and broken. It still works, but it's like IRC (or how IRC used to be): it solves the core needs of many people in the most mediocre way possible and everything else is a hack or just outright doesn't work. I really wish there was enough demand for a better standard.

> There is no standard way to do pagination.

RFC5005 is the standard and covers both Atom and RSS: https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5005

No idea how many apps support it but Podcast Addict does at the very least: https://podcastaddict.uservoice.com/forums/211997-general/su...

Does that amount of RSS data include Atom? If so, what is the ratio, and if not, how much Atom do you serve?

I don't serve Atom, simply because it's not as well supported.

JSON won't resolve that issue for podcasts that you've subscribed to that don't publish anymore. That's either a cache issue from a static resource or a service issue that doesn't support the cache response.

Also, the issue with the size of the rss feed:

It all comes down to how the settings are set. Is it set to full syndication of the article, or is it summaries. Either way, JSON won't solve that issue.

JSON isn't going to fix your issue with non-standard attachments to the articles. It's going to make it worse.

The size is an issue because XML is much more costly to parse and query than JSON, in my experience. But even if that was solved, there are a ton of other more pressing issues to solve.

WRT zombie podcasts, you can't expect users to say "I'm paying for this hosting but I'm done publishing episodes". They always think they'll get around to publishing more. And in my experience, they end up letting the show go only when their credit card expires.

You keep referring to "JSON," but the parent post referenced "JSONFeed." The question you should be looking at isn't whether JSON is somehow better than XML in an objectively measurable way; it's whether JSONFeed is somehow better than RSS in an objectively measurable way.

And in fact, JSONFeed does resolve that issue for podcasts that don't publish anymore, because it has an "expired" key that indicates that. One of the other problems that the parent post mentioned has to do with pagination, and JSONFeed handles that issue, too -- which again, RSS doesn't. JSONFeed also supports attachments in a better fashion, allowing for alternate representations of the same thing (e.g., different audio formats). Extensions are baked into JSONFeed rather than being a slightly dubious hack. The spec also supports things that have become common in the last decade-plus that RSS and Atom simply don't handle, from simple things like including favicons and banners to real-time notification endpoints.


JSONFeed has come up before on HN and the same kind of "why do you think it's better because it's JSON" questions came up. I guess we can argue about whether the bike shed looks better when it's painted with braces or with angle brackets, sure. But it's not the JSON part that makes JSONFeed better; it's the "we've thought about what we've learned in the 16 years since RSS was last materially updated" part that makes it better.

"JSONFeed has come up before on HN and the same kind of 'why do you think it's better because it's JSON' questions came up."

If JSONFeed has practical improvements over RSS/Atom, they've done a terrible job of promoting that. The initial (and to this day only) blog post and the intro to the spec imply that the only problem JSONFeed is trying to solve is to avoid parsing XML, which is just not a problem to many developers.

> Podcast feeds need to include _every episode_ with full metadata

In my experience, most publishers just don't include the full series of historic episodes, but only the last 10/20/100/...

This makes it even worse because now the client is responsible for syncing (an episode might have been deleted forever or just fallen out of the top-N list by recency).

In your experience, do you often see full historic RSSs?

We always serve full historic RSS. If we didn't, there would be no way for most listeners to consume the old audio. When you use a third party service like mine, you either need to use the website that I provide for that back catalog (a bad experience for the listener) or jump through hoops to maintain a separate copy of each episode on your own website so it's still available if the feed is truncated. In neither world is that a decent experience for the content producer or the listener.

And like IRC, RSS is still better than any of the other things on offer.

"But I use RSS every day!" - a Hacker News reader

I think this tweet at the end of the article answers that well:

  "Who is going to tell the normal people that RSS is dead?
   Who is going to explain to normal people what RSS was?"
The articles aren't claiming the standard is dead, they're claiming that the use by normal users is dead. The RSS standard is still used to make billions of dollars of money (as a backend tech for content licensing & syndication), but users don't touch it.

This article from last year has some better examples of why RSS is dead: https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/07/rss-is-undead/

People on HN would do well to print off the comment thread here about Dropbox [1] and how it could be replicated "quite trivially by getting an FTP account, mounting it locally with curlftpfs, and then using SVN or CVS on the mounted filesystem" and hang it on their wall where it's easy to look at.

10 years later they're top 100 on Alexa, publicly traded on Nasdaq, with a market cap of nearly $9b with revenue of $360m with over 12m paying users. What's "quite trivial" to the HN audience is pure magic to everyone else.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9224

But most people never knew what it is. Why would RSS be any more dead than 10 years ago?

Because 10 years ago there was quite a bit of hope if not absolute certainty that RSS or some syndication format was going to 'conquer the world'. Now there is a certainty that this will never happen.

In our world the certainty of diminishment is equated to death.

And really at some point in the future it will diminish enough that Google Chrome will announce a release not supporting RSS in the browser (but you can still get it via plugins!) and then we can have some more RSS is really dead now articles.

on edit: assuming Google chrome supports it now which I wouldn't know because I don't use chrome as my primary browser.

Not conquering the world doesn't mean you're dead. I never conquered the world, but I'm very much alive.

We need to get rid of this idea that the only way to survive is to dominate. You can survive in a niche. There are still people using IRC, even. New things become popular, but there will always be people who don't go along with the latest fad and either stick with a previous one or jump ahead to the next one.

Personally, I've never really used RSS, but I'm seriously thinking of starting, particularly because of the demise of Google+. (Google+ really is dead, or at least dying soon, but that is because Google is actively pulling the plug.) Google+ got me into contact with a number of blogs whose owners posted their blog updates on G+. Now that G+ is dying, I need a new way to keep up to date, and I find myself looking for a new social network that allows me to follow blogs of people who themselves may not be using that network. RSS is the obvious answer here. I believe Hubzilla supports RSS, so that's immediately an interesting candidate to me.

you will note that I did not say it was dead, I explained the urge on other people's part to label it as such. I do believe it is dying in the same way someone with a degenerative disease is, slowly over years, with a few major hits to come that will make everyone say 'now it's really happening. It's also sad because this disease is one that could be halted, even turned around, if it was to the interest of anyone with the power to do so.

you may be alive, but xlink is pretty much dead.

irc may be alive but I don't think anyone argues it is in good health.

RSS is alive but it doesn't get out of the house much and there are a lot of rumours as to how bad exactly the condition is.

on edit: formatting

Ten years ago, every browser would have featured a prominent orange button. People wouldn't have a clue what it was for, but you could point them to it, and the browser would present som sort of live bookmark system or whatever. It was worthwhile to deliver a feed. Then Google embraced, extended, and extinguished, and also the Facebook nightmare began in earnest. Therefore less undead today than then.

Google still support RSS in Chrome, albeit via their official extension:


I'm still sad that it's not an in-built feature on any mainstream browser anymore though.

I was mainly referring the Google Reader cycle: Lure the whole world in with convenience. Dazzle with features. Kill.

Maybe because the laymen's share of users is ever-increasing?

> The articles aren't claiming the standard is dead, they're claiming that the use by normal users is dead.

Apparently "normal users" don't understand that the web is not the internet, so by that standard all non-web internet services are dead.

With that argument, git, Gcc, Emacs and Lisp are also dead.

I hope RSS keeps being provided for most sites. I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I keep track thanks to RSS.

Most podcasting platforms behave the same way: they put themselves in between listeners and broadcasters and limit the way people can share the audio, how it is synchronized with some device, and always making sure that our browsing data can me monetized in some way.

So podcasters usually have a never-ending list of platforms, which not always overlap, and which I would never subscribe anyway.

I find this annoying, and that is why I've always used RSS. For news, it allowed me to skim through the stuff I didn't want to read and also to miss all of the annoying ads.

Now, it seems many RSS reader behave the same way: users need a login in order to access a closed environment that monetizes your reading habits.

Fortunately, I found QuiteRSS (https://quiterss.org), a cross-platform FOSS for RSS with backup, import/export, and adblocking.

I like it a lot. I guess the only way it could be improved is by making it fully portable.

Podcasts are amazing. I helped invent that too.. I actually created the mod_link spec for this purpose:


interestingly I was attacked for it and people thought it was an anti-RSS feature and that it was "dangerously stupid"

... I didn't expect that reaction but looks like I was right. Podcasts provide for most of the value in RSS right now.

Podcasts aren't going anywhere!

The main reason podcasting was successful IMO is apple supporting it.

Although it's silly to say RSS is dead given how pervasive the feeds remain and that it's used for podcasting, one of the most vibrant corners of online media, it is interesting to think about why it has fallen out of favor as a way to follow updates and news.

For me it just doesn't scale beyond a certain volume of posts. It is great for 10-20 sporadically updated blogs but as you start going beyond that, for example by adding a critical mass of frequent posting writers or professional news sites or aggregators, it becomes stressful to keep up and the signal to noise ratio drops. For all their faults, Twitter and Facebook both do a reasonable job of assisting with moving good stuff to the top of the "river" of news.

Personally I've started using tools that sit one level above Twitter and show me things a certain number of my "friends" liked or retweeted over the prior 24 hours or 8 hours or whatever. (Right now that's Nuzzle app, previously it was news.me email newsletter.) I follow nearly 1000 accounts on Twitter, and while this is excessive it is manageable and I see things I'm interested in without much stress.

RSS could hypothetically feed into an algorithmic sorting tool but it tends not to be used this way. My theory as to why this is is that, at least in the text news use case, it has a small and opinionated user base and only a subset of that base would want their news sorted for them -- and many RSS users vocally do not want that -- so it never gets built and RSS never gets the chance to grow to a broader audience.

Another issue is that there are slightly too many choices. It's not trivial to 1> pick a reader and 2> pick what feeds you want to follow 3> figure out how to follow them. It's not that it's so hard it's just not as easy as say Twitter.

Just wanted to say that many rss feeds come with a legal disclaimer that prohibits filtering. It is without teeth, but it could still cause problems for businesses.

I still don't understand how people who don't use RSS/Atom get by day to day… during development of software projects I subscribe to tags on GitHub for dependencies that I may need to update, same thing for stuff I package in the Arch User Repos and need to update promptly after a release, for services that I host I subscribe to lots of services blogs and status pages so that I get news of security updates or outages quickly, etc.

Even for non development stuff I can't imagine going to each blog I read individually or just hoping that I see it on a social network; instead they all come to me and I don't have to do any work to read through all the various blogs I like, news sites, etc.

I had a RSS reader. I am bothered by unread emails or notifications. It was a big waste of time for me to clean up all the "new stuff". And just marking as read felt like missing out.

Now I just browse a blog when I feel like it. If there's nothing new, I might reread some old post. That's it!

yah, I only subscribe to things where I actually want to read every article; otherwise there's just too much stuff (well, with a few exceptions where I want to read most of it and don't mind skipping over the occasional post I don't care about or where I don't care to read some of it, but it's critical that I don't miss certain posts like security updates to an important product I use).

I added GreenkeeperBot/renovate to my project so a PR is done whenever a dependency can be updated.

Email notifications and newsletters are much more popular than RSS/Atom, as far as I can tell. People already "get" email, and probably have an account, so it's easier to convert non-techies.

That's fair I suppose; I still use a lot of newsletters for things that don't have RSS feeds. My inbox tends to be more cluttered and harder to organize though (filters vs. just dragging a feed into a folder or adding a label) so I avoid it wherever possible. Still, having things come to me that way isn't the end of the world either.

For checking dependencies for updates, my package/dependency manager (pipenv) can check for me, and even do an audit for what dependencies need security updates, through the safety tool (https://github.com/pyupio/safety). This is for an application though, not a distro like what you seem to be doing.

The title is somewhat contracted by the content itself:

"...Today, RSS is not dead. But neither is it anywhere near as popular as it once was...."

Though I think that more moderate conclusion is debatable as well. I continue to new sites which offer RSS etc., and it seems to be the exception rather than the rule that (relevant) rites lack RSS.

I find the only sites lacking a feed of some RSS-equivalent format are the ones that have commercial interests that are not compatible with RSS or really many other open standards and principles of good web design but might otherwise make good app design, and home made sites that don’t account for the idea that one might want to read a feed instead of visiting the web page, if they even considered that some out there might still use feed readers.

Wait. Who is going to explain to normal people what HTTP is?

I was at a party a few weeks ago explaining Usenet to a crowd of confused faces. When I said, 'its sort of like reddit.. but not reddit', that seemed to satisfy them.

Just tonight I had to explain what a .exe file extension is for to another friend.

Its easy for those of us who are technically minded to 'just get it' when we use a new system, tool, etc -- and its also incredibly easy to forget how little the general public truly understands (or even cares) about the technology they operate on a daily basis.

The day I meet a woman who cares about scraping websites to create RSS feeds is the day I consider marriage again.

> The day I meet a woman who cares about scraping websites to create RSS feeds is the day I consider marriage again.

My wife is also the first woman I met who knew what IRC is, even though she's non-technical (apparently they covered it on her journalist studies). One of the many little things that impressed me about her :).

We might have to compete for the attentions of such lady. I hope it won’t come to fisticuffs.

This seems to be a popular meme, especially on HN. RSS is not 'demised'. It's still used heavily for podcasts, wordpress (and many other blog sites) expose it, and there are countless mobile and desktop apps for fetching RSS and displaying them. RSS is alive and well, even if Google Reader is no longer a thing. Or is considering that RSS did not replace everything on the internet 'proof' that it is dying?

True dat!

For me, RSS is by far (still) the best way to access web content.

I've tried some self hosted RSS readers over the years but I've stayed with FreshRSS[1] for the last year. It has been a marvelous experience. Zero trouble, zero administrative burden. Self-hosted bliss. Best of all is the fact that it uses a flat file DB so it can easily be backed up, moved around and migrated. Can not recommend it enough. Also, it's PHP, so works on any cheap shared hosting. That's how I use it.

One of the best things about it is escaping the algorithmically curated feeds.

Every site and service that I wish to follow has an RSS feed, except for Twitter. I use RSS-Bridge[2] (self hosted too) to follow users. RSS-Bridge[2] will give you feeds for just about every service you can think of.

If you don't find a feed for a site, sometimes you just have to dig a little. You learn at which URIs the most commons CMSes presents their Atom/RSS feeds (hello /feed/).

[1] https://freshrss.org/

[2] https://github.com/RSS-Bridge/rss-bridge

> For me, RSS is by far (still) the best way to access web content.

Same for me. I'm using Feedly atm. But the majority of users don't use RSS and they never did. Perhaps that is never going change.

I use a native application (QuiteRSS) as my reader but for twitter I use a modified version of the twitter_search_to_rss.pl and twitter_user_to_rss.pl + TwitRSS.pm from TwitRSS.me (https://github.com/ciderpunx/twitrssme/tree/master/fcgi). The resulting xml files are saved out into my ~/www/RSS/ directory and that URL path is used in my various readers.

+1 for everything you wrote. I'm still using quiterss and heavily relying on the filter actions on a daily basis. My only experience with an online self hosted client was tiny tiny, which I didn't like. Thanks for sharing the freshrss alternative, I guess I'll give it a try!

Yeah, the "RSS is dead" meme is totally nuts. This protocol is all over the place, the entire podcast industry is built on it, there's still a healthy industry of people who use RSS readers to consume their news, and its use in backend/site-to-site data exchange is massive. How does that equal dead?

I think RSS just suffers from inflated expectations, a lot of technologists like Winer thought it was going to somehow trump the realities of the content industry (like content providers restricting licensing and distribution when it makes them more money). A protocol isn't a complete business, or app, or even user experience. It's just a piece you can combine with other pieces, and many people do.

It's not even that big of a deal that some sites like Facebook are walled off from RSS. We should keep it around and use it for everything else, which still means tons of content. So what if you can't see your Facebook timeline in your RSS reader, FB is mostly junk content anyway.

Here's a problem that needs some real attention: RSS syndicates articles and posts (or at least their excerpts), but we never got a good and widely adopted standard for syndicating comments, reactions, and identity. What would the Web look like today if we'd had a good standard for that stuff when Zuckerberg was building Facebook? ActivityPub's meant to address these areas, but it's a lot more complicated than RSS, and a big part of why RSS succeeded was because it was simple. It remains to be seen whether AP will take off -- maybe they need a simplified version 2.0.

> [...] we never got a good and widely adopted standard for syndicating comments, reactions, and identity. What would the Web look like today if we'd had a good standard for that stuff when Zuckerberg was building Facebook?

You should take a look at https://indieweb.org . Work's being done there for quite some time about adopting web standards to make the open web social and moving away from data silos.

I've never stopped using RSS as my primary means of consuming content online, and other than being annoyed at Reader being killed and having to switch to Inoreader, I haven't noticed any dip in availability or difficulty finding feeds at any point. Subreddits, new websites and blogs, all have RSS still.

This is just clickbait, plain and simple. It's fashionable these days to declare X or Y is dead/dying to bring more views in. It's tabloid media gone digital, nothing more.



In the past year I have cleaned my mess of (social media) accounts and got rid of everything that is not needed and switched over to RSS (with Liferea). It works perfectly fine. No annoying notifications, no unnecessary mails, just new News when I feel like opening my RSS feed. A wonderful thing.

RSS is one of the main ways I consume the web (including HN). Been doing it for years and I'm very happy with it. I don't know anything about how it works, but it seems lightweight in that I can keep using it without any problems even now when I'm in China, going through terrible internet connections which prohibits "normal" web usage (in addition to The Firewall, that is).

People use Facebook and Twitter (and Hacker News) as a kind of crowd-sourced RSS, but with the fall of trust in soc. media and the rise of fake news retweets, I wouldn't completely dismiss a big come back of rss in the future.

I use RSS (as a user) every single day. It's one of the core technologies I use. Although I've been hearing that it is dead for years now, it is very much the opposite for me!

Same here.

To be honest, I was quite surprised to read about the "death" of RSS in Motherboard, I would have hoped they would rather write about how alive it still is despite uncountable attempts by tech and press Goliaths to get rid of it...

Being forced to choose to visit each website or to basically surrender to Facebook's or Google's interpretation of "what I should focus my attention to" seems surreal to me.

I understand that I'm surrounded by people who enjoy these choices being taken for them, but for me, RSS feeds are still my gateway between the web and my time.

Remember that time when bots manipulated RSS to push fake news and political agendas? Yeah. I'm so glad Twitter and Facebook replaced RSS. We dodged a bullet there.

Why do you assume RSS is immune to bots? The attacks on the election focused on Twitter and Facebook because they where dominate not because they were uniquely vulnerable.

It's not dying at all. The death of Google Reader led to a healthier ecosystem with many competitors.

Don't most podcast players use RSS? Isn't this the age of the podcast? :-)

Like most SGML/XML languages, RSS as a tool for machines is pretty great: server pushes data out, dedicated client (podcast player) retrieves it (often through a directory/aggregator), the user is happy without ever having to know RSS exists.

As a document format for chronological, uniform data streams that need to carry human-readable metadata, RSS is just fine. What is unrealistic is the delusion (of which I was complicit, like many) that it could also become the standard way to retrieve most or all information on the planet. There are too many incentives against that.

yes and other things. its just put to the background. there are others but the concept mostly remains the same.

rss is nice as a universal tool to follow things forums/podcasts/news.

I've not really used RSS and it's certainly never been a critical part of my Desktop/Laptop workflow. The first time it was exposed to me was through Firefox live bookmarks which I thought was pretty cool. Then I believe they removed the feature or just took out the bundled ones.

It wasn't until working on blogs that I became aware that RSS was much used. If we had some javascript get injected into the generated rss files (common with wordpress), users would complain the feeds would stop working. I'd get it fixed, but unless someone was asking for a live feed to be syndicated on another website, I just haven't used it personally.

I remember some news apps for phones like Pulse that seemed to run on RSS feeds for a bit. But that's about what I assume the majority of the population experiences of RSS. It runs some things like podcasts 'under the hood' but where does a new user get introduced to it?

I run entirely off emails, every email that comes in gets an action (usually delete, respond, or file). People in here talking about relying on RSS, what software do you even use it with? (don't give podcast apps please)

> People in here talking about relying on RSS, what software do you even use it with?

While I wouldn't say I rely on RSS, I use Feedly [1] as my RSS reader on Android & sometimes through the browser. I think Feedly are the biggest player in the space now that Google Reader is gone, but they have lots of competitors. On the Mac, I tend to use Reeder [2] as my desktop client, though I hear NetNewsWire [3] is being rewritten & re-released soon.

A few years ago I did some work with a law firm that used RSS to keep up with what's new in their field, and they wanted me to develop RSS feeds for sites that didn't provide one. Instead of visiting dozens of websites every morning to check for updates (and delegating that task to an assistant), RSS brings all the latest news in one place they can check each morning. A pro/commercial reader like Feedly also provides highlighting & note-taking functions, so you can highlight/quote important paragraphs in an article & keep them in a searchable database, together with your own annotations.

[1] https://feedly.com/

[2] http://reederapp.com/mac/

[3] http://netnewswireapp.com/

NetNewsWire works fine right now, and I have been using it for over a decade to follow various blogs and tech sites. I doubt there's VC-level money to be made in RSS, but it's actually useful, so I believe it will be at least as alive as it is now in another decade.

> It runs some things like podcasts 'under the hood' but where does a new user get introduced to it?

Nowhere now that even Mozilla has eliminated it from Firefox.

I use a dedicated RSS feeder app to see blog posts from dozens of different blogs that update on frequencies ranging from ten times a day to once a year. It’s also useful for webcomics like xkcd.

Mind sharing the app used?

I like https://feeder.co/ personally, although I haven’t done any exhaustive searching.

RSS is not dead. I could not live without it. Besides the news.

1. I don't like twitter but follow to Twitter accounts. Twitter to RSS: http://twitrss.me/

2. A site has no feed? Make one: https://feedity.com/

3. Looking for a job? Use RSS: https://www.indeed.com/rss?q=telecommute&l=Canoga+Park%2C+CA...

What's a good RSS page / app?

On android, Google chrome has a RSS like feed that I rather like, but it feels weird to use - I never intended to have it or use it, and I have no real insight into it.

Newsblur is really nice. Web site, mobile apps, and it's even accessible in Emacs via elfeed-protocol.

On the web, BazQux Reader ( https://bazqux.com ). Excellent successor to Google Reader, and totally worth the $20/yr subscription

On Android, News+ , which has a BazQux plugin.

I use https://www.inoreader.com; it has a pretty nice Android app too.

I have built https://feeder.co would love HN’s feedback.

Big fan, I use it everyday.

That said, I do have one small complaint. It is with a change just made in the last few days: the new iOS app update makes it so if you are on the list of all unread articles and you swipe left to mark an article as read, then the article disappears from the list. I’ve repeatedly accidentally marked an article as read and then had to go searching through all my feeds to find it. Instead, it should have the old behavior where it removes the “NEW” icon but otherwise doesn’t change. The app currently still had this behavior when you actually open the article and view it. Even better would be a complete feed sorted by date that shows both read and unread but has unread at the top. This would be similar to how the iOS mail app works.

Thanks for the feedback. Cool to find a user on Hacker News! That's something I hadn't considered. I personally felt it more satisfying to mark as read when the post flies out. But I agree that it can be inconvenient. Do you think an Undo button would help (not sure if you've tried the Outlook iOS app, but it does it really well)?

We have better sorting options in the web and browser extensions, adding them to our iOS and Android apps is prio though. I like the idea with unread at the top!

An undo button would definitely help, especially if it is able to undo multiple times.

Thanks for the fast help! I really appreciate it, and it will make me even more likely to keep on using Feeder in the future

I'll throw out a plug for ttrss.


After some of the initial pain of setting it up (which was educational for me anyway), it's exactly the sort of lightweight thing I was looking for after Google Reader shuttered.

I used to run a bot that sent RSS items to my email, so I could use _any_ UI I wanted to manage those (because rss is just like emails you receive en masse without any reply, so any mail client will work). Bonus: Sync is built-in, no need for some fancy protocol that only works in some applications on some platforms.

I don't use it anymore, not because RSS is bad but because I don't need rss

I've been using feedly. Free version just works.

I like Reeder on iOS/Mac. Within the app, you can choose a number of different sync mechanisms - I use Inoreader as mine.

Absolutely - Reeder IMO is a very well designed app and it’s great going from my phone / iPad to my home / work desktops and having the syncing work properly.

I use Feedly for my subscriptions, filters and other logic processing.

Shameless plug for https://contentgems.com. It has RSS reader, Feed filtering, and it treats URLs in your twitter home timeline as a feed, too.

I made https://feedsubs.com to read feeds from my phone with a minimalistic interface.

I use The Old Reader: https://theoldreader.com/

It's 95% like Google Reader used to be.

No idea what made people "not like" you mentioning https://theoldreader.com since that is what I use and came by to say.

As to the article's headline: if your site does not offer a working RSS feed, you've lost me as a "subscriber". I have nor the time nor the patience to track a 100 sides manually.

Host your own FreshRSS.

I'm so tired of these headlines. How many of these articles are going to appear every month until people realize they're trash?

The day RSS dies will be a sad one for my email inbox. I don't want to get all those updates by emails, and the RSS reader service I use works perfectly for my need.

It's also an easy system to deal with when automating, especially with systems like IFTTT, etc.

demise? I use an rss reader every day and consider it one of my most important news sources.

Wow, to base such a lengthy article on a google trend search of "rss"...

Queue rekt.webm: https://trends.builtwith.com/feeds/RSS

Quite a spike in 2011. What happened that year?

The insane spike is for low traffic sites, so I'm guessing a blog platform defaulted RSS.

Social networks are taking the place of RSS? Ugh.

RSS allows intelligent selection of what you put in front of yourself every day. I suppose Social media could be used in the same way, but I don't think anybody does it.

Article reachable using the Motherboard - VICE RSS feed https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/rss. Ironic?

Oh. Another one. It's been a couple months hasn't it.

At this point I'm assuming the death of Google Reader has lead to an RSS explosion that's annoying some corporate creature.

I use RSS for news, just need http://cappuccinoapp.com to be stable and to sync via iCloud properly.

If anybody wants to try RSS a great desktop app for Windows,Mac OSX, OS/2, and of course Linux/BSD, I recommend quiterss.

The feature that converted me was the ability to have notifications, but adblock is nice as well. I have feeds for when an item appears that I want to purchase in search results at the price I want, I get notification when stories appear on reddit according to my criteria, and when I want to catch a livestream live or just a newly uploaded video, you can use the channel's feed to be notified as Youtube notification is quite often broken.

Here is the list of most significant features: https://quiterss.org/en/about

I also tried rssowl, thunderbird, and more, but quiterss is one of the few still actively developed.


Just to give some examples for people who haven't tried it out before, to get the latest JoeRogan podcast for example you can use the following url in your rss reader:


You can replace channel_id with whoever you want to monitor.

Like a blog on blogspot? Then try https://username.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss and get notified for all the latest stories, and on most of them, read them as well without ever leaving your reader.

For reddit just add .rss to then end of almost any url, like https://www.reddit.com/r/hackernews/.rss , many also support .json for the programmer in you.

While there are dozens of decent ways to get notified about changes on a project at github, if you just want a quick way to watch things, add ".atom" to the end of urls involving but not limited to commits,tags,and releases, such as https://github.com/HackerNews/API/commits/master.atom and also consider looking at https://bandito.re/ .

You can usually check the source code for a page for the words rss/feed/atom if your reader is having trouble and find the url manually. Also try appending /feed or /rss yourself and see what happens. Also try googling, which also still has rss feeds for google news among other places on their site if you look hard enough, it is used internally quite extensively.

And of course this place supports it, the feed for here is https://news.ycombinator.com/rss , give it a shot.

i quite happy most websites that i regularily read still provide rss. its a strong word - demise, it just was disabled on some websites that want to wall in their customers.

Wasn't the demise of RSS readers a good example of Embrace and Extinguish strategy by the big G?

It paved the way to the bloated, paywalled, app-siloed, dumbified media consumption of today.

pfft RSS has just changed to a power user tool.

people who have a clue use it extensively.

I find articles like this obnoxious because

1) they (implicitly or explicitly) claim that RSS was at some point popular (with "normal users") in some way that it is not today, which is wrong.

2) they completely ignore the fact that RSS today is significantly more widespread than it was a decade ago.

Yes, Google Reader is gone. Get over it. Flipboard and similar have heaps and heaps of users, and they're all RSS-based.

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