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.
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.
Otherwise... What does "MUCH more reliable" even mean?
The rest of it seems to be you trying to catch up to RSS...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Probably 2/3 of the RSS feeds I use come directly from the content producers, not from third party systems.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?"
This article from last year has some better examples of why RSS is dead: https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/07/rss-is-undead/
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.
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.
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 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
I'm still sad that it's not an in-built feature on any mainstream browser anymore though.
Apparently "normal users" don't understand that the web is not the internet, so by that standard all non-web internet services are dead.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
"...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.
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.
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 :).
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 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 (self hosted too) to follow users. RSS-Bridge 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/).
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
rss is nice as a universal tool to follow things forums/podcasts/news.
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)
While I wouldn't say I rely on RSS, I use Feedly  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  as my desktop client, though I hear NetNewsWire  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.
Nowhere now that even Mozilla has eliminated it from Firefox.
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...
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.
On Android, News+ , which has a BazQux plugin.
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.
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!
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
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 don't use it anymore, not because RSS is bad but because I don't need rss
I use Feedly for my subscriptions, filters and other logic processing.
It's 95% like Google Reader used to be.
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.
It's also an easy system to deal with when automating, especially with systems like IFTTT, etc.
Queue rekt.webm: https://trends.builtwith.com/feeds/RSS
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.
At this point I'm assuming the death of Google Reader has lead to an RSS explosion that's annoying some corporate creature.
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.
It paved the way to the bloated, paywalled, app-siloed, dumbified media consumption of today.
people who have a clue use it extensively.
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.