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RSS Is Dying, and You Should Be Very Worried (camendesign.com)
278 points by sant0sk1 on Jan 2, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 188 comments

I have used RSS for years now. I check google reader about as often as I check hacker news. I start my morning off with a cup of coffee while I read my feeds using Reeder on the iphone or ipad.

Not once have I used any of the RSS features of a browser. I really don't see the point. I guess google doesn't either.

The thing annoying me about this (sensationalist) article is just that… nobody wants to use their web browser for RSS: they want to browse with it.

It also cites the lack of a reader in Chrome as a sign of RSS' impending doom, while ignoring the fact Google also run a (really good) RSS service for free called Google Reader, which is much more intuitively named than RSS and whose name is easier to understand than the RSS icon. By the article's logic, one could also predict the imminent death of word processing, IM, (both of which Google also freely offer) and 99% of other programs, all due to the fact they don't have buttons on Firefox's already over-cluttered toolbar.

For me, the best solution is Opera's. It gives you a sort of summary of the feed when you click on it, and asks you where you want to add it (Opera RSS reader, Google Reader, etc). I click Google Reader and it's added automatically.

That sounds like a good implementation. I imagine the Chrome team would agree, and suggest users install the extension which does just that, if they like it: https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/nlbjncdgjeocebhn...

Actually, just about everything he mentions could be done using a Chrome extension (modifying the new tab page, for example).

I don't use the browser's RSS feature either. I only use Google Reader's web app to subscribe to feeds. When I want to read the articles, I do so on the go, with NetNewsWire or Reeder on iPhone or iPad. Before this blog post, I hadn't even noticed that Chrome doesn't have RSS built-in, so I won't miss it in Firefox 4 either.

It would be nice if Mobile Safari had a button to add feeds to my Google Reader account, but I doubt that will ever happen, unless Apple chooses to implement a similar solution in MobileMe. I would settle for a bookmarklet, though (like Instapaper offers).

In any case, as long as all popular blogging services and CMSes have syndication turned on by default, I don't think we're in any danger of RSS dying off.


The link isn't always there, but it appears at times on the "home" page for Reader.

edit: it will, unfortunately, take you to Reader if it finds a feed, to give you the option of subscribing. So it's not quite Instapaper-like. But, better than nothing :) I get a lot of use out of it.

Works great, thanks for the tip!

Sadly, some blogs have begun to rely on RSS functionality in the browser, and don't place an RSS link visibly on the page. That makes it rather difficult to subscribe.

Most of the time you can copy the site's URL into Google Reader and it will try to find the proper RSS feed. It works for blogs hosted on Blogger and Wordpress, at least; not sure how it does it.

"not sure how it does it."

The same way that some browsers do it. There is a meta-tag in the page, which describes which feed formats are available, and where to find them.

<link rel="alternate"> to be precise.

I think it's a bit more than that. It's worked on sites that Safari can't find a feed for, and I presume Safari looks for the meta-tag.

I guess Google Reader uses a database of feeds that other people subscribed to.

For one thing, it shows you the whole history of the feed -- even when the XML itself contains just the few most recent items.

I enter the site name and it works too. Google is good at data parsing :)

In fact, the article is on a site without any visible RSS feed available itself. You have to read the HTML source and manually parse out the rss feed.

And then the author complains that it's hard to use and people aren't taking advantage of it. Jerk.

His whole point is that you should subscribe to feeds from the browser chrome (using the meta tag), not from a link in the page itself.

You only have to read the HTML source if your browser doesn't show you the feed button next to the address bar. That was kind of the author's point.

In fact, I'd bet that part of the reason many people don't use the address bar feed button is because the practice of having links to feeds is so common, and anything on the page is automatically more obvious than something out in the browser chrome.

i couldn't agree more. Breakfast, Coffee and Reeder is my morning routine.

And a browser's RSS features are indeed too limited - third-party web- and mobile apps are much more sophisticated when it comes to RSS.

What I'm more worried about is the trend to only show an excerpt or introduction of an increasing number of articles. Given the fact that most of those sites rely on ads, it's fair to do that though.

Excerpts only in RSS annoy the hell out of me and here's why: I usually read my RSS feed in Reeder on my iPhone during my morning commute. There's still no mobile reception on the London Underground (I'll resist the temptation for now and save that rant for another time) meaning that all I can read is what have been cached by Reeder before I left home. Which means that I'm unable to read posts that only have excerpts in RSS. They should figure out some other way to monetize their RSS feeds; I particularly like Daring Fireball's approach of having sponsored RSS-only posts every now and then (that are actually interesting to read).

Full text RSS makes it really easy for your content to show up on spam blogs, which is why I think it's not used all the time.

You might be interested this in this article: http://www.steverubel.com/instapaper-20-turns-every-rss-feed...

Email me (address is in my profile) and I'll send you a promo code for Printful. It extracts full articles from web pages, so you'll be able to read all your news from the underground.

RSS isn't dying because browsers are deciding not to build native readers into their UIs. It's dying because it's not terribly easy to understand for most users. The article readily points this out.

And even for technical users like me, it isn't solving the main problem I have which is discovering new and interesting content. Sure, once I've found some new source of content it's nice to put its RSS feed into a reader. But really, bookmarking is pretty good too. Yes there are clear benefits to RSS over naked bookmarks, but the discoverability problem is still paramount.

Anyway this is kind of inconsequential to the point of whether native RSS functionality should be included in a browser. Mozilla is right to kill this "feature." RSS is an application-level protocol on top of HTTP, itself an application-level protocol. Browsers are built to perform HTTP requests. In my opinion they shouldn't do much else. A feature that displays and helps you manage RSS content falls into the category of bloat.

> Sure, once I've found some new source of content it's nice to put its RSS feed into a reader

This is why most linkblogs are now twitter feeds. Even Andy Baio’s is still a subset of what he twitters.

My problem in RSS feeds is importance, some sort of metric of popularity would be good. A lot of times I’ll remove a feed for curatorial purposes to have that site drop some major project that goes viral, and I then find out several weeks later.

The entire concept of RSS is somewhat flawed for what happens in the real world. It would be a lot better to create some XML encapsulation of what the front page of the NYT does in terms of curatorial importance.

"It would be a lot better to create some XML encapsulation of what the front page of the NYT does in terms of curatorial importance."

RSS would be a critical tool for anyone trying to solve that problem.

A lot of the complaints here are that RSS isn't what RSS isn't. OK, that's great, but those are more "entrepreneurial opportunities" than problems with RSS. Toss out RSS (and I assume by extension Atom and all similar friends) and those opportunities recede, they recede a lot, they don't get better. It is what it is and it has always been designed from day one to be a foundational infrastructure on top of which to build more things, not the Final Answer To All Problems.

RSS is strictly linear, largely chronological.

The NYT front page, while changing day-to-day still has a layout that embodies importance. There needs to be some sort of semantic interpretation of how important something is other than h1’s. How do we replicate the 144pt super-important headings while removing presentation from content?

The web was built for rationalist minds and papers, and the separation of html elements furthers this goal, yet hampers any sort of human-ness of communication.

RSS is great for a blog, but bad for newspapers. Check out NYT’s RSS feed. Every article ticks in at an equal level of importance and requires the viewer’s mental acuity to discern what’s #1. Not so with their web-front or printed sheet.

Syndication, while essential, needs to be extended.

It also has to be some sort of project that uses RSS, not something built into an RSS-replacement. It requires some sort of third-party interaction with your input to determine "importance". Leave it to the New York Times and at best their decisions about importance merely won't match yours; at worse they'll simply label everything "important", sort of like the way my HR department seems to reflexively tick that box in Outlook regardless of whether open enrollment is about to close or somebody's parking job is a bit off and could they please correct it?

You bring up a good point, importance is a human attribution to information, and a lot of people are either stupid or self-important. Impartial judgement is important, but NPR's music segments demonstrate that trending topics are middling and not truly important.

If the curator is strictly online popularity, news sites invariably turn into people magazine. You need some high-and-mighty news nerd to determine what's truly important. Sure, the curator's occasionally wrong or late, but it's a lot better than pointless water-cooler talk.

I know the rss reader fever (by Shaun Inman) tries to do something like this.

As does Google Reader's "Sort by magic" (under "View settings").

The concept of RSS itself, like any other piece of technology, is not something users should understand directly. What RSS lacks is a simple, friendly concept to act as its public face. The ways people have explained RSS in the past have been daunting, unappealing, or inappropriate for the web.

"Subscription" is the most common term used, probably because it is a reference to the underlying technology (publish/subscribe) and to a vaguely similar concept in userland (subscribing to a publication.) But subscription is not a good metaphor. Subscriptions do not lessen your commitment; they increase it. Having a bunch of magazine subscriptions is a burden! They fill up your mailbox and clutter up your apartment. A "subscribe" button scares people away because it evokes a much more consequential decision; the user wonders if it is worthwhile to commit to this burden. And of course subscription is not the only way to use RSS.

What web sites and browsers need to do is simply SAY in their UI what the RSS features do, without saying "RSS" and without trying to train users to recognize the RSS symbol.

I am not a UI designer, but I think the word we're looking for is "updates." Buttons should say:

"Show me recent updates to this site"

"Show me future updates to this topic"

"I want to see future updates to this site"

The button to show your RSS feeds should say "Updates" and should have a tooltip saying "Updates to your web sites."

To help people discover this functionality, I think it would be great for browsers to check for RSS feeds on the sites a user goes to frequently and work that into the UI somehow. When you open Chrome and see thumbnails of your favorite sites, each thumbnail might have a button saying, "Recent updates...."

And there's one simple feature that people would easily figure out and would actually use. When you're on a site that has an RSS feed, there could be a little pop-over button in a corner (like the button added by Feedly's Firefox plugin) that you can click to see a list of recent updates to a site. It's a simple feature, some people would figure it out for themselves, and anyone could grasp how it worked after seeing it used once or twice. It would put pressure on websites to provide good RSS feeds, because they would know many users were checking them. Here's a tip: put the words "Recent updates" on the button.

tl;dr Don't say RSS, don't use a symbol, don't say "subscribe" or "subscription," just use the word "updates" and say what you mean.

Good ideas. Even though the article severely exaggerates, I agree that the browser is the ideal integration point for rss from a ux point of view, but the implementation needs to be totally reimagined for it to appeal to a mass audience.

> And even for technical users like me, [RSS] isn't solving the main problem I have which is discovering new and interesting content.

I have no expectation for it to solve that. It serves its purpose well. I'm thankful for widespread RSS and love using it.

To be clear I have no expectation for RSS to solve the discoverability problem either, and I think RSS/Atom/PubSubHubbub is very useful. I'm just noting why I believe they aren't heavily used by most people, and in particular, me.

I can't imagine that browser button pursuading anyone who doesn't already understand and appreciate RSS to start using it. Anyone tech-savvy enough to see it, and start googling to find out how to use it properly has certainly already heard of RSS.

And on the other side, anyone who does use RSS, and anyone in the future who learns to use it, won't be put off using it by the loss of that button.

The worse statement in this article (other than the french man smoking) is:

  Mozilla’s mistake here is to associate low usage with user dis-interest.
Ummm... they're correct. He claims that, just because only 3-7% use it, it must be kept in because "what regular user wouldn’t want this feature!?" Clearly the answer to that question is "93-97% of regular users". Touché?

3%-7% that use the button are most likely power users. It would be unwise to disenfranchise them as they are the ones who normally advocate your software to their friends (regular users).

In chrome at least you can install a plugin to add an RSS icon to the URL bar. Easy enough for power users.

That seems like it's the best option, actually. For power-users, a 3rd-party built extension is more likely to be updated / have the options you want than the button built into every version of the browser.

Actually, it is a plugin made by Google, so they must know there's a need... https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/nlbjncdgjeocebhn...

Sure, you could make an argument that 3%-7% is enough people to justify keeping the feature. Or you could make the argument that while it isn't enough, because they are the online non-shopping version of Alpha Consumers, it's worth keeping it to help get the browser promoted.

However you cannot argue that it has to be kept because every regular user wants this feature - statistics don't lie, clearly the majority of users don't care.

Anyone who is a power user can simply add the icon back.

Your assumption is only true if the user experience stays the same. Some things (like web mail) take off even when the user experience sucks, but other things that people actually want can be held back by poor user experience. For an example that has spanned practically the entire history of the internet, consider online gaming. The first internet gamers (MUDers? my history is weak) were a small population of hardcore geeks, but as the user experiences got better, the number of people playing rose in a kind of slow-motion explosion. When each breakthrough game appeared, it attracted a new crowd of players who until then had not found online game slick and engaging enough.

In 1985, 1990, 1995, or 2000 you would not have extrapolated the current percentage of online users playing social games into the future, because it was obvious the experience was going to get better. It was easy to imagine better graphics, sound, responsiveness, and social interaction, and everyone assumed the better experience would attract a broader range of users.

With RSS it's not so easy to imagine how the user experience will improve. We're suffering a failure of imagination. We have the use case: Checking for recent updates on a web site is something people do all the time. They even do it on web sites they're visiting for the first time, and it can be really frustrating depending on the organization of the web site. We have the technology to serve this use case: RSS.

So the users want the information and the browser can get it. We can't yet imagine an effective way to present the information to the users, but proof by failure of imagination is no proof at all. Personally, I think it's likely that someone will find a graceful way to present RSS information to the user, and RSS will disappear from our sight and from our vocabularies into a heretofore-unenvisaged UI element.

The argument is that more people would use the feature if the UI were better, and that hiding the feature because "nobody uses it (because it sucks)" is not the same statement as "nobody uses it (because nobody wants it)".

The worst statement in your comment (other than your use of "worse" in place of "worst") is:

  anyone who does use RSS, and anyone in the future who learns to use it, won't be put off using it by the loss of that button
What about those who use RSS and use that button (like myself)? Won't they be "put off" by the loss of the button?

I think you miss the author's main point which is that the usage of the button is low not because users don't want that feature but because the UI is crappy all around. Removing the button only makes the UI worse.

Hitting me where it hurts, a spelling mistake, I guess I should start proof-reading my HN comments.

  What about those who use RSS and use that button (like myself)? Won't they be "put off" by the loss of the button?
If you stop using RSS because the button is no longer there, you clearly didn't actually care about RSS in the first place.

You're basically saying that it's ok to make any UI worse because users will either put up with it or stop using the feature entirely (which just means that they didn't care about the feature in the first place).

No, you're confusing two seperate points.

1.) Why is it ok to remove the button - because hardly anybody uses it.

2.) Why does Firefox removing the button not meant that "RSS is dying" - because people who currently use RSS will keep doing so, just without using the button.

Your second point is flawed. The button makes using RSS more convenient. Removing it makes it less convenient. Saying people would not be "put off" by making it less convenient is naive at best.

RSS is not dying.

There are very few individual users of it but there are literally millions of web sites that use it. Almost everyone on the Internet uses a portal site of some kind and the only way to be included on one of those sites is RSS/Atom feeds.

So as long as people want to use RSS for a personal reader it will be there to do it. And there will always be RSS readers because every programming environment I can think of has a pre-built library for feed reading meaning a programmer could whip a reader up in under an hour.

As far as the button disappearing from browsers that just makes UI sense. Chrome Browser taught the rest of the industry that most people hate clutter in their browser. So buttons that 93% of the users don't use are being taken out. But they can be added back with a simple browser extension/plug-in/whatever. So even here the people who want to use an RSS reader aren't losing anything

(and even without an extension/plug-in/whatever any user savvy enough to be using a reader will know how to cut and paste a url)

The implementation of RSS in Firefox was always an "ultra-lite" version that I doubt will be missed by any serious RSS enthusiasts. A full-featured RSS reader feels a lot like a mailing list, so I think it's appropriate to keep RSS in Thunderbird rather than Firefox.

In some respects, a web-app RSS reader (like Bloglines or Google Reader) is better. You can access your feeds from any computer, the read/unread status is kept synchronized between PCs, and the centralized web-app arrangement makes more efficient use of network resources. Better to have Google Reader poll a site every 30 minutes than to have 10,000 Firefox installs each polling it every few hours.

The only browsers I know of that ever had good in-browser RSS readers were Opera and Seamonkey. But even in those cases, RSS was included as part of the mail client, not shoehorned into the browsing paradigm.


I once wrote a Python script that would parse RSS feeds and write emails in a maildir (or whatever is supported by Python); one was then able to read news from an MUA which was comfortable (Mutt by then). I lost that script when I did a 'dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda' before quitting my last job and realizing 2 minutes later that I forgot to backup many useful scripts I wrote over the course of my year and half in that NGO.

Being a smoking Frenchman, I'm tempted to be gratuitously insulting to the author but there's one interesting problem that could come from RSS' disappearance from browsers: the lack of visibility may very well "destroy" the format in the long term. Also, as the web is increasingly publicized, the incentive to remove a format that generates traffic but may hardly generate revenue might be high.

The canonical one is called "rss2email"

I'm the maintainer of the project and it's homepage is http://www.allthingsrss.com/rss2email/

I've always used the browser RSS button precisely in order to add feeds to Google Reader -- I feel like that's the button's main use case. It's an immediate, standard way to see whether a page offers a feed, and to quickly save the feed in your reader. I've found it incredibly useful.

It's been a while since I used Firefox's RSS button. I see it offers more options than I remember (like subscribing with a web-based reader). And it looks like the plan is to eliminate any standard in-browser indication of the presence of an RSS feed, something I didn't really catch from the blog post's talk about a "button on the toolbar."

That does seem pretty inconvenient. Many of the posts at bugzilla argue that the most important feature of the button is the fact that it indicates, in a standard way, that feeds were detected. And I agree.

On the other hand, since it's Firefox, there will probably be several feed-finder extensions available before 4.0 is final.

> A full-featured RSS reader feels a lot like a mailing list

Yep. I read all my RSS feeds in my mail client, claws mail. The feeds display on screen just like a mailing list. Plus you get the benefit that most email clients have such as deep searches, filtering, etc.

From the user flow, RSS doesn't make much sense. Clicking an RSS button shows you the same thing you just looked at, except without the site design and only partial content (Safari). Currently, in Chrome, I just see a dense block of text.

RSS is an amazing tool, but maybe we just haven't found the right UI for it yet. Exposing it in the browser doesn't work very well and treating RSS as an Inbox (like Google Reader) where every item needs to be marked as read is too overwhelming. Personally, I think a social approach to RSS that puts content and personal preferences at the fore-front would solve a lot of this.

RSS saves me from having to load up 100 different sites several times a day just to check what’s ‘new’.

Everything wrong with RSS in a nutshell: this is a problem real people don't have.

I fully appreciate the sentiment, I hate when people build stuff people don't need.

But I want to dig a little at this. I think the fact that most people only have access to CNN or Time or Fox News or Cosmopolitan or Maxim or whatever... that there is not an easy way for people to get news aggregated from 100's of their peers and thought leaders in their affinity groups.... I think that IS a problem people have. It may not be a problem they are aware of, but I think the social cost of consolidated media is very high.

I think RSS, and technologies like it (Twitter, Facebook) are an important part of the solution to that problem. RSS is obviously not very user friendly, and I'm not sure if it will have a place at the table 10 years from now.

But the problem it solves (a standard interchange format for syndication) is absolutely real, and it's not going away.

Your comment reminds me of this Calvin and Hobbes strip: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_RbiRIw_w4rU/SNkssvl3KeI/AAAAAAAAAC...

Maybe it's too late, but I don't quite see the connection. Regardless, I consider Calvin to be "good company".

It's slightly exaggerated, but I really did use to do something very much like that. I used to load up a ton of sites (less than 100, but enough to be a pain) every day because, like most people, I had no clue what RSS was. I was literally about to write a script automating the "Have you been updated?" check when I came across RSS in my research.

I know most people don't like to visit more than five sites on a regular basis, but the same could be said for printing bingo cards or reading books. I don't think that makes a significant portion of outliers "not real."

Also, anecdotally from being the de facto "computer support guy," I've found that more people don't know about RSS but would find it useful than those who know about RSS and can't imagine a use for it.

I did something similar. Guess I'm not a real person, either!

and they say artificial intelligence isn't making progress!

My non-technical sisters know what RSS is and use Google Reader to watch blogs of family & friends. I couldn't believe it when my sister first mentioned RSS or Google Reader, I remember exclaiming "You know what RSS is?!"

I bet if someone made a sports oriented RSS reader a whole lot of people would use it. Some people like going to <= 10 sites to see what's new but people who follow more than 10 sites would like the idea of RSS.

Well hopefully real people might one day branch out from the Yahoo! homepage and make it a problem.

It's something real people want. To say it's not is ignorant. People don't 'need' ESPN to consolidate sports news, but they will pay out the ears to have it. Plenty of people use RSS to get the newest info from multiple sources. It is a useful feature to have, regardless if it was RSS's original purpose

I know many customers who, before rss, had to open websites by hand, copy the relevant news articles from the websites and then compile this articles into a company newsletter. Work which sometimes took days before is with rss a matter of hours (they still have to read the articles and decide which are important enough for the newsletter). So, "real people" may not have this problem, but more than one company has.

Solving database scalling issues is also a problem that Real People don't have and yet it's still a problem that some Fake People have to solve.

Ha! Summed up exactly what I was thinking.

Difficulty reading "100 sites several times a day" isn't a technology problem; it's a focus problem.

Feed readers and sites like Hacker News are two solutions to the same problem: content aggregation. Is it dumb for Hacker News to collect stories from hundreds of different sites? If no, then why is it dumb for a feed reader to do the same? If yes, then why are you here?

I am subscribed to around 400 niche blogs, for various topics (game design, linguistics, sci-fi writing, etc.)—but most of them update very rarely (once every few months.) This means that, on average, I'll see 13 new articles on a given day—but I would have had to check all 400 sites to find those 13. The alternative is to only check them once at the same average rate they update at—but that means that I'll get a big wodge of material, go through it all the first time I have a few hours free, and then get nothing for months.

RSS readers may be dying (I admit that I once was a Google Reader fanatic and now only log in time to time), but RSS/ATOM as a format for communicating between websites is still pretty decent. I often setup an ATOM feed for the data on whatever webapp I'm building, and usually end up using that feed to integrate with other webapps. (And as a bonus, I can hand it out to techie users).

I don't know, do you think that RSS readers dying will mean websites will stop producing RSS feeds? The output seems to be built in to many systems these days already.

It is pretty clear why Google doesn't like RSS, it stops you from browsing the web and that is how they get paid. As a user though I also don't like it anymore and I'll share why...

This isn't 1970 anymore where I want to read "What's New" from a small list of new sources. I prefer to go each day to a list of curated aggregators like HN or what the people I follow on Twitter or saying. This is vastly superior to RSS and this is why at least one technical user no longer uses it.

"It is pretty clear why Google doesn't like RSS, it stops you from browsing the web and that is how they get paid."

But they built and are actively maintaining Google reader. I don't think Google dislikes RSS, rather they are hesitant to build a browser feature for something that should really be a separate application.

Plus content producers place google ads in rss content so I dont think google cares.

They also employ 2 of the 3 creators of PubSubHubBub a technology specifically created to enhance feed syndication. It's also a project that was developed on company time (albeit 20% time) and is hosted on their GoogleCode website. AND Google Alerts was one of the first (if not THE first) to implement the technology.

Robert Scoble says he was told (ostensibly by someone at Google) that the Google Reader team has been largely disbanded, and that the project is no longer maintained. He's mentioned this a couple of times on Quora, on Buzz, and on his blog.

Well I'll go one step further then and point out that Google is the creator of PubSubHubbub (http://code.google.com/p/pubsubhubbub/). My point is that I don't think Google hates users aggregating content and having it pushed to them rather than browsing for it.

I don't disagree but in fairness it was created by 3 people one of which worked at SixApart

Thanks for the info. Before posting my comment I did some quick Googling and couldn't find much about the history of PubSubHubbub. I did want to be sure that I wasn't wrong about Google's involvement. Using the word "creator" with respect to Google itself was probably a little strong.

Here is the link re: Robert's comment from Quora:


I don't think aggregators obviate the need for rss. I don't really like the idea of the masses entirely determining what content I have awareness of. Furthermore, aggregators simply don't offer the sheer volume of content pumped by an rss feed with a good couple hundred subscriptions. And if you are into niche content like say arxiv's math.OA you pretty much need rss.

How much time does it take you to sort through it all? That's the tradeoff you make with aggegators vs. rss. Personally, I'm also subscribed to a few hundred feeds on Google Reader, and I usually go through them first by deleting everything older than a day, and then sorting by "magic". But that has major limitations: I lose occasional posts and older, but still interesting, content, and magic just skews the sort towards what I've read before (maybe through keywords?), and I lose out on new and interesting content.

RSS - you have high volume and high breadth, but it takes a long time to look through it and find the things that are interesting.

Aggregators - the "most interesting" posts are right there on the front page, but it has a very narrow focus and is filtered or skewed by the community.

I think what we're really looking for is the most interesting content that is customized for us, but it's a big problem to tackle. Newsblur (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1869136) was an interesting idea; not sure where that's gone since November's post.

And where do the aggregators get the news item they aggregate?

They often get their news from blogs, news websites, word of mouth, and web searches. RSS is very useful for keeping up with some of these sources.

Sometimes aggregators do get their news from other aggregators, but at some point that incestuous chain has to be broken and someone has to read the original news somewhere and pass it on to an aggregator.

Finally, most aggregators themselves (including HN), publish their news via RSS (or Atom). I know that's how I read HN headlines, and virtually every other news source I regularly read.

Of course, there's the question of "Where do the curators get their news"....

HN contributions don't just materialize - they're often posted by people who scan large amounts of material. Via RSS, usually.

Then again, those users are certainly savvy enough to use RSS without a browser button.

But most of the significant "curated aggregators" offer RSS feeds: http://news.ycombinator.com/rss

"I prefer to go each day to a list of curated aggregators like HN or what the people I follow on Twitter or saying. This is vastly superior to RSS"

Vastly superior for looking well educated to others, less superior for actually understanding how the world works.

Maybe you could expound a bit on that?

Reading the frontpage of social news aggregators is much less schema-expanding than reading larger bodies of work from individual authors. This is especially true since content written for news aggregators tends to be infused with the sorts of biases that these aggregators reward; in the same way that NYT articles tend to favor establishment interests and authoritarianism, content written for HN is often tinged with Internet-inspired scientism, masturbatory theses, topical gossip, and all other manner of nonsense and pseudointellectualism.

The worst part is that when you read HN you actually feel like you're learning, because you are. The problem is that you're not learning nearly as fast as you would be if you were reading books. It's the same reason why 2-5 year olds who watch TV are measurably learning, but at the same time end up dumber than kids who aren't watching TV because they're learning at a slower pace. The fact is that even reading a book about something as seemingly mundane as the history of American homeopathy will teach you more about life, the universe, and everything than six months of reading HN. (E.g. http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/295/13/1590.extract )

Obviously, I'm not Alex. But I'll take a crack at it. Seems to me there's an echo-chamber quality inherent in any community of like-minded individuals.

For example, if I sourced my tech news solely from HN, I might imagine that large corporations consist solely of oblivious, slow-moving dinosaurs incapable of writing decent software. But if I had http://cacm.acm.org/ showing up in my RSS reader, I'd be exposed to a somewhat competing view.

To me, the value of RSS is the ability to subscribe to a few sites I wouldn't normally bother visiting. It's not hard to remember to check HN. Remembering to swing by corporate IT and Microsoft-focused publications is a bit tougher. RSS can help with that.

1970... back when RSS was huge!

You just prefer socially aggregated feeds is all. I actually like a mix of both. Setting up intelligent RSS feeds that will come in handy just takes a little upfront work is all. But then you've got an algorithm that you can constantly tweak and refine, which I find very useful, especially as a research tool. Give Yahoo Pipes a whirl and see if it changes your mind. http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/

RSS also has other, more technical uses than reading "What's new". Many systems and websites rely on it as an easy way to publish or consume information.

I prefer to go each day to a list of curated aggregators like HN or what the people I follow on Twitter or saying

But aggregators can publish RSS streams too. How is following someone on Twitter different from subscribing to his RSS feed?

I would agree that a site like HN isn't very attractive to read via RSS. When the ranking is dynamically determined by readers' interest, you lose something by freezing the list in the form of an RSS stream. But for a curated site like Slashdot, what difference does it make if the link stream comes in the form of RSS or as tweets?

Incidentally, I wouldn't call HN a curated site. Slashdot has editors/curators; HN doesn't.

The aggregators might need the rss feeds to do their aggregating, though. Although I always felt making it "pull" is a bit crazy. PubSubHubBub to the rescue?

Google operates the largest RSS reader and largest RSS host... I'd say they have no problems with it.

Does this mean, its end of the road for feed aggregation and feed reader sites?

RSS isn't dying, it's become so pervasive that it's now invisible infrastructure.

I'm glad my browser doesn't support RSS natively when other apps offer a far greater experience. Have you tried the safari rss reader? It's awful.

As a chrome user I'm happy that it does one thing well and that's displaying web pages. Now I'm free to use any online RSS reader I want and be able to access my RSS feeds from anywhere.

It's hard to take the author's concern seriously, when I can't even find the RSS link on his/her page.

because the browser is supposed to provide the button.

Why do you think I’m worried? I don’t want to have to clutter my site with a button to an XML feed that nobody understands. I want the browser auto-discovery to do the right thing and present the right interface to make RSS worthwhile.

Turning the key in a car shouldn’t present you a diagram on how to connect the battery. Browsers shouldn’t sit there dumbfounded when presented a piece of RSS.

Your analogy doesn't work for me. A car is built to run when you turn it on. That is basic functionality. The reverse analogy to a browser would be "making an HTTP request shouldn't present you a diagram on how to do DNS resolution," and the browser doesn't.

If I copy the URL of your site/blog into my RSS reader's Add Subscription dialog, I don't know of any RSS readers that wouldn't scrape your site for the link tags I assume you put in and discover the feed for me.

Why do you think I’m worried?

Because auto-discovery isn't working on his site either? (At least in Safari)

It is working. Safari changed the way it displays RSS feeds. You have to click and hold on the “Reader” button to display any RSS feeds.

You can take his concern seriously, RSS autodiscovery in FF is working fine on his page. And that's the feature the author would like to keep in the future.

> Mozilla outright refuse to listen (33 bloody votes!)

Wow, 33 votes. They're really ignoring the masses on that one.

For a bug in Mozilla's Bugzilla installation, that's high.

Of course all the high-vote bugs are special-interest-advocacy stuff like "bring back MNG support" and "bring back gopher support" and "bring back the RSS button"... So high vote count is actually a reliable indicator that the bug should be wontfixed, more often than not.

Curious why none of the comments, nor the original article, mentions Internet Explorer. They've continued to add new features in this area ever since IE7. The icon is hidden now in IE9 (as are most of the icons... less browser chrome is fashionable) but I believe they still consider this a first-class feature.

They are still the world's most popular browser... and presumably their users are less technical, so presumably it's usage is less than what Mozilla reports, but it remains.

>They are still the world's most popular browser

Because of their history. Because users aren't technical. Because IE is bundled with Windows. And look how quickly they've been falling in use. Methinks they won't be the most popular for much longer, which is an incredible mark against their design decisions because of how fast and how far they've fallen from such complete domination.

The story is about RSS dying, and the author is upset that Mozilla is removing RSS features and Chrome never had any. Are you also arguing that IE is failing because they still have those features (possibly a bad design decision)?

In which case, what is it we're complaining about? Browsers that have RSS readers are bad and browsers that don't have RSS readers are bad?

Not at all. I'm arguing that taking your design decisions from IE based on IE's popularity is illogical when looked at in context.

This. "Every website should not look like a NASCAR advert for every sharing service in existence."

That's one reason I've always thought bookmarklets were better for sharing, not the least of which is because you don't need to wait/hope the website operator adds support for the sharing site you are using.

The replacement for RSS isn't Facebook and Twitter...it's email. People don't understand RSS but they understand: "Enter your email address to subscribe to updates." Hence the reason that CPM rates for email are so much higher...

Users shouldn't need to know what RSS is to use it just as they don't need to know what HTTP is to read a website or what SMTP is to send email.

The interface to using RSS has always been flawed, that is where the problem is.


Based on what causal chain? At best, it's an incredible stretch of a slippery slope fallacy.

Disagree. The author clearly refers to corporations like Facebook and Twitter tracking your reading behavior.

So run NoScript. Run in private mode. Block their cookies. Block their address in your hosts file. You can use wget, curl, or any other cookieless downloading tools, none of which will expose you reading The Times to Facebook. RSS doesn't even prevent against this; it can be behind a login, it can require cookies or not serve up info, and it can send info to Facebook denoting you viewed article X. All of which is determined by the server it's running on, not the format of data it serves up.

Browsers are unnecessary for RSS or tracking, and it's a very poor match for browsing behaviors anyway.

Why should I have to do all that if RSS already exists? There's no reason to accept letting this working technology die.

I agree that browsers are unnecessary for RSS though.

Because if you're that worried about Facebook tracking your browsing habits, accessing information via RSS will only prevent some tracking. The Like button is damn near everywhere, not just on news sites. The only way to prevent it is to prevent your browsing tools from communicating with Facebook at all, and hope the servers you're accessing aren't doing it behind the scenes. And/or anonymize your connection (TOR), so even that doesn't give them anything.

The point is that paranoia (valid or not) is not a reason to keep a technology alive when that technology does not solve the problem, especially when solutions do exist. If you want a solution, use a solution, not a crippled, bundled-in-your-browser partial solution that only works under certain circumstances / assumptions.

Are you trying to pitch RSS against privacy enhancing technologies such as NoScript, TOR, etc.? The point is rather that more privacy is a neat side effect of RSS, not its primary purpose.

The primary purpose of RSS - aggregation of content -- works very well, irrespective of bad UI decisions which have nothing to do with RSS itself. And when you pull a full text RSS feed, you're probably far away from "Like" buttons and the like while reading content.

RSS is an exchange format, nothing more. Don't conflate it with some historical transmission methods, nor ignore cases where it's behind a paywall, nor embedded tracking images (since nearly any reader will allow images).

Privacy has nothing to do with RSS. Some feeds I subscribe to have JavaScript and Flash - where's the privacy there? Some are behind paywalls - I'm identified by logging in, and even more so by providing payment info to be able to log in.

Thus, by losing RSS, we would lose zero ability to read privately. It's only viewed as being without all the privacy-sniffing bells and whistles because most providers don't do so. RSS can lose all its currently-common privacy attributes while still being RSS. We should be worried about the loss of privacy online, which is rampant, not the loss of RSS (if it does die). And RSS is a particularly bad flagpole to gather around; anyone up in arms about it is much more likely to be up in arms about privacy than the reverse.

Idea being, that if you want to automatically follow updates of a source (to be just like RSS and not manual), you have to "Like" or "Follow" them on Facebook and Twitter respectively, and then they know who's reading, no matter how many no-script and private mode you apply. FB and Twitter on the other hand shares who else you are liking or following so there you go. With RSS they have no such information.

RSS is dying because browser vendors do not want to implement or maintain integrated RSS readers? That does not sound very convincing.

RSS aggregators are used by the elite few. When websites start deciding to use Twitter and Facebook instead of RSS because it’s faster and gives them better features, and regular users understand it better, then there will be complaints.

RSS is really cheap to set up compared to the cost of an entire site, and for news sites, it makes economic sense to add a feed on the off-chance that you might get 0.1% more readers.

The technology that is the RSS reader is not the driver of RSS. The feed is what drives it. NYT is putting up a feed even if is has zero browser support, I'll bet.

Until it's not worth the practically-zero cost of setting up a feed, there will be piles of feeds out there. Publishers will use anything they can to get more eyeballs, and feeds like RSS fit perfectly into that strategy.

I use RSS all the time. That's how I got to this article. And I'm not worried about it one bit.

RSS is not dying. It's just not based in the browser, and I'm fine with that. I use an RSS aggregation program, and if I really wanted to, there is open source software available to build and host my own RSS portal.

"It gives less of a shite than a French man smoking a cigarette in public"


Really HN? We're upvoting this? No offense to the commenter, but we can do better.

I don't think so, actually. I'd be hard put to make that comment's point any more elegantly.

In person, the right response to the original sentence would be a polite cough, followed by a brief but significant silence, followed by a slight but detectable face-saving change of subject. We can't do those things on the web, but in this case "um... what?" is an artful alternative.

I question the comment's usefulness to this discussion, not the elegance with which it was made (although I think I disagree on that as well).

The comment, to me, is a distraction. Not purposeful I'm sure, but it's had that effect. The fact that the community would vote it up to the point where it might be the first comment someone reads when seeing this thread is disappointing.

> The comment, to me, is a distraction

Perhaps a little reflection is in order, you were originally unhappy that the comment I made might have distracted from, or derailed, any possible discussion. Then, rather than turning the other cheek, you opted to kick off a discussion which has ironically created a genuine distraction.

update: This reply was a little bit cheeky and I subsequently sent stanleydrew an email to apologise.

The irony is not lost on me, certainly. I think this is the first time I've ever called out a comment as inappropriate in my nearly two years of active HN participation. Usually I read comments like this, downvote and flag, and then move on.

My intention was not to start a discussion. My intention was to make people think before upvoting, and to make people think before they consider posting a similar comment in the future. Hopefully, despite derailing the larger thread a bit, I achieved that goal.

I'm happy to take this discussion offline though, in order to prevent further derailment. My email is in my profile.

just b/c rss is dying, thank god too, doesn't mean syndication is dying. already ideas like pubsubhubbub have provided realtime syndication in a more compact format.

The web is just moving to realtime and ingesting a big long text file and determining deltas sucked. For that matter, XML as a data transport vehicle should end in favor of more compact and type friendly solutions like JSON.

Don't be so alarmist that a crappy tech is being phased out. Now, where's my Tandy 1000.

What would an RSS reader good enough for Kroc's grandmother and 419,999,999 other Firefox users look like? I would be genuinely interested in his designs for one. Of the many different RSS reader add-ons I've tried for Firefox, for example, there haven't been any that made me say "we've gotta put this in Firefox, let's delay $otherwork instead". If we had an energetic contributor like Kroc, though, it's quite possible that we could end up in a great place. I'm not trying to say "patches talk, chump", though of course they do speak quite compellingly. I'm trying to indicate that via open projects like Mozilla technical people can have agency beyond voting in bugzilla (!) or a letter-writing campaign.

It'll be interesting to test Kroc's thesis, though: if he's right that RSS will be harmed a lot by Firefox removing the RSS icon, then hits to the RSS stream from Firefox UAs should change trend-line between 3.6.x and 4. I look forward to such a follow-up, it would be interesting data!

I think it'd look like it looks for many of us.

I go to a web site and see a little orange button that I can click and it will add this web site flipbook.

Yay, now I can read the web site like a magazine with consistent and readable formatting and not have to remember what that site was I wanted to go back and look at the next time they posted something.

I think it is plain and simply facebook and twitter which are killing RSS. Most normal people have heard about twitter and facebook and have no clue about the cryptic acronym RSS. Which, by-the-way requires a technical degree to understand, and to use (should it rather be v1 v2 or atom? does my pc support the best option?). Is it really a bookmark? Or an inbox? Or a notification? Now one should go through hidden features and install new apps. No sane person would set this up as opposed to a single click in a browser to a twitter feed or the push of a like button.

Like webmail displaced most "normal" people's imap/smtp (with all the firewall misery). Google groups/forums displaced NNTP.

I also feel sad, because RSS was free, while twitter and facebook are careless computing.


Okay, I haven't really used RSS before. I'm diving in. In Safari Version 5.0.3 (6533.19.4), I view all of the RSS Feeds by choosing the following (buried) menu item:

Bookmarks > Bookmarks Bar > View All RSS Articles

I can't find a "View All RSS Articles" button. By default, I hide the "Bookmarks Bar" toolbar (because I want as much vertical screen real estate as I can get.) The "View All RSS Articles" item does not appear in the "Bookmarks Bar" toolbar when I make this toolbar visible.

I am looking into the NetNewsWire app for Mac. http://netnewswireapp.com/mac/

No RSS feed for Wikipedia portal:Current events? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Current_events

Hacker News RSS is broken? http://news.ycombinator.com/rss

Wow! Hacker News RSS seems to be working now.

Lack of a browser button doesn't put me off using RSS, as many have pointed out. There are browser extensions and GreaseMonkey scripts for me to add feeds to Google Reader.

I'd be more concerned that RSS is dying because many content providers--from big media to bloggers--seem to prefer to only show me a short excerpt, or even a title in their RSS feeds. I don't want to leave Google Reader to read your articles! When I have to open every single RSS item's link (in a new tab) from Reader, that either discourages me from visiting your site... or discourages me from using RSS, as it adds little to no value, and indeed just introduces frustration.

The other reason I avoid RSS is for sites like HN and Reddit, where the order of links, their scores, and their ages are important. Maybe RSS should be updatable (which may be what PubSubHubbub is designed for?).

RSS is not dying! One of the traditional applications for RSS (a browser-based RSS feed-reader) is becoming obsoleted because most browsers aren't particularly good at managing feeds.

I can understand why the benefits of RSS aren't more widely understood by the general public; the technology makes use of an abbreviation (an abbreviation that isn't actually much more comprehensible when its spelt out).

RSS is a service, used by applications to make content portable. It's not a final solution, it's a tool that can be integrated into a number of different applications. It's quite likely that many of the applications it could be used for haven't been created yet.

A slightly ridiculous article.

I frankly never got into RSS until I started using RockMelt about a month ago. Now I use it all the time to tell me when there are new Hacker News post, etc. But unfortunately the only clickable link for the Hacker News RSS takes me to the story, which is often an external link. If I want to see the "discuss" of the story I have to manually go the website and find the post and click the discuss link. Perhaps RSS needs a more robust protocol that wouldn't require others to make their own API. Then I think browsers like Rock Melt might bring this new kind of RSS to the masses.

The reader I use, newsbeuter, always shows two links: the article link, and the discussions link.


You might also be interested in trying these alternate HN feeds:


Google Reader displays a comment link, which I always click and then click through to the article if the link is still alive from there. That's a problem with a bad RSS reader, not RSS, or HN, who would actually be at fault here.

Change the RSS button for a 'Follow' button.

RSS is the pipe, its not a solution. Your average joe doesn't "know" what TCP/IP is and frankly its the same for RSS. Something needs to sit at either end and actually make use of the RSS "pipe".

RSS brings me 90% of my outside information. And by doing it with programs like Reeder that use Google Reader to sync the feeds and what's been read allow me to do it on 3 computers, an iphone, and an ipad without ever seeing the same junk twice

But, it does require some computer savvy to setup and operate. You need programs, you need to sometimes figure out your feed URL's. Good reader has a really weird and lousy interface.

As a computer guy I don't care, but I rarely recommend it to even medium tech savvy friends because I don't see them dealing.

RSS is a tool for technologists. The average user will not find it attractive enough, so RSS will always be used by the minority. This does not necessarily make it a dying technology however.

An interesting point of this post is that Twitter is effectively about to replace RSS, and that in order to use Twitter one has to have an account with it and "follow" such and such.

But is this really true? Wouldn't it be possible to build an (authorized) interface to Twitter that would serve search results according to topics/keywords without actually creating an account with Twitter?

Something along the lines of

I'm sure this already exists somehow?

Kind of: http://twitter.com/search?q=node.js%20OR%20from:reddit%20OR%...

This searches all posts that contain "node.js", are from reddit, or are from hackernewsbot. You can even get an RSS feed for it, at http://search.twitter.com/search?q=node.js%20OR%20from:reddi...

I use Google Reader, because I want to know when there's new stuff on certain sites without visiting them all, but I don't like it that much. I prefer to read the stories on the web site, with its "native" formatting and whatnot. Is there a tool in any of the common browsers that will highlight a bookmark (or something like that) when there's new content on the site? I think I'd greatly prefer that to the whole business of using a feed reader. Am I the only one?

Recently Flipboard added a Google Reader section. I've started using this and never turned back. It solves perfectly pretty much every problem with RSS via attractive presentation, quick access to full content, social connectivity, and getting rid of the "inbox feel".

Like a few others here, I look at RSS in the morning. As it turns out, what I really wanted was a sort of newspaper/magazine format. Flipboard delivers that perfectly.

RSS is primarily used by aggregation widgets and sites as a server-to-server protocol for retrieving lists of links from blogs and news sites, and I see no evidence offered that anything is changing in that regard.

As far as people actually using their "RSS" buttons to read websites, I've actually never heard of anyone doing that. The author appears to misunderstand the primary rationale of modern RSS.

Can't we just use Google reader and be done with it?

I won't miss the RSS browser button: I hardly ever use it! While I read many RSS feeds I almost never subscribe to them (which is what I've used the button for). The average number of times I've subscribed to a feed I read is extremely close to 1, and the average number of times I've subscribed to each existing feed in the world is extremely close to 0.

I'd be interested to know the number of people using Google Reader as their primary tool to read stuff from the web. I'm sure the numbers would skew heavily towards the tech/geek crowd. But I have no idea how popular it is.

RSS is dying only if Bloggers don't support it anymore. But I can't see that.

This is ridiculous. First of all what about the ATOM format? I don't think it's dying.

Anyway, why not simply have an RSS plugin / extension as some have suggested? You can do this in all the browsers.

Most of what I need to read shows up on HN or Reddit or Twitter. I know that sounds incredibly lazy, but I don't have time to mark 233 Lifehacker posts as read every week.

I only indirectly depend on browser based RSS feeds as I use Google Reader. Which does precisely what I want it to and is available without regard to browser.

The only problem with Kroc's rant is that RSS auto discovery and UI wasn't removed from Firefox. It was moved from the addressbar to the Bookmarks menu.

I find myself more & more use blekko to replace my RSS feeds, maybe this is the future of feeds.

But then again maybe blekko doesn't have a future....

I want to read my RSS feeds like a newspaper. I think formatting is really the issue. I don't necessarily want a list of links.

Why should this particular <link> incantation receive special treatment over others?

How are other <link> elements not specially treated?

    <link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="http://ycombinator.com/news.css"> 
    <link rel="shortcut icon" href="http://ycombinator.com/favicon.ico"> 
Also, this will make a good reading: http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/struct/links.html#h-12.3

"Although LINK has no content, it conveys relationship information that may be rendered by user agents in a variety of ways (e.g., a tool-bar with a drop-down menu of links)."

Well put; what I believe in is that user agents should do their absolute best to make the most sense of what information is available to it in the context of the UI paradigm of the user agent. i.e. there is not enough screen space on phones for every website to fit an RSS icon; the browser should do the best thing that befits its UI and help minimise the efforts of the user to get the information they want. RSS can massively help with that.

Imagine for example that on the Chrome home page, where sites you visit often appear, Chrome also was following the RSS of these sites in the background, and listing new news items for those sites on the home page, all without you having to do anything.

There is infinite possibility here for browser vendors to make browsing quicker, easier and more intelligent and RSS is a key part of that. The browser vendors are not interested in exploring this avenue and as such everybody is stuck doing the same stupid routine every single day. This is dumb! Our computers should be smarter than this!

Imagine for example that on the Chrome home page, where sites you visit often appear, Chrome also was following the RSS of these sites in the background, and listing new news items for those sites on the home page, all without you having to do anything.

That's a hell of a good idea actually. Having a count of items that popped on a website since your last visit would be a really useful information.

I have -- without giving it much thought -- stopped using RSS. Many friends have done the same. Now browsers seem to be dropping support. Maybe this is proof that RSS/Atom wasn't the panacea we thought it was. Maybe it is actually time for RSS to die?

RSS never really caught on beyond a geek crowd. I've never used it.

I had a lot of TiVo conversations like this ten or eleven years ago. Lots of people who never used the technology would tell me why it didn't make sense to them.

Is TiVo still big in the US? (It doesn't exist in the UK). We have various hard disk based recorders, and sky plus etc

TiVo itself isn't huge, but pretty much everyone has a DVR these days.

I just use that as an example because 10-11 years ago nobody knew what it was, but they knew they didn't need it... until they tried it.

But RSS is like 10-15 years old. How long until it takes off?

Cobol's been dying too and I'm not concerned about that either.

I think Dave Winer, basically inventor of RSS, would disagree.

Dave Winer did not invent RSS. You might want to know your history before spouting such nonsense.

many users use webkit and write a program that evaluates, stores the content effectively building a personal rss.

moreover.com has many precompiled rss feeds for various subjects.

If there was really enough demand for RSS, it wouldn't die.

It wouldn't die if enough people were convinced like the author that it shouldn't die.

How can there be demand if nobody is making it easy to use?

It seems like the incentive is missing. Browser developers have to prioritize what users use and what they know how to use. The author made the point that very few people even know what RSS is, and I think it's the content deliverers' responsibility to make users aware of that feature; there's only so much a browser can do to help with that.

I just want you to know years ago I vowed to use RSS in all of my websites for the rest of my life. I would hate an Internet without RSS feeds (and Google Reader!)

am probably contributing late, but i have recently worked on something that might solve this "rss hunger" or at least provide a better alternative eventually. am calling my creation "razor" and it runs right in the brwser, is totally free, doesn't sacrifice privacy to corporations, is customizable by the user (only knowledge of regular expressions required - in case one wants to craft their own feeds)

i've developed my solution as a firefox addon, and you can download it from here -- http://fixx.yolasite.com/razor

i'd never used rss feeds before (probably wouldn't have invented razor then?), but razor is different and to me is more powerful!

i use razor to check newest stuff from hacker_news using the following saved razor-expression:

http://news.ycombinator.com/newest)))<a href=".+">.</a>%%%>[^<]<%%%[^>].[^<]((([0-9]+.ago---[0-9]+.point---\sby\s---^[0-9]\.$---^\s\(.\)\s$---^[0-9]+[ ]comment.\s$---^\w$---^\s[\|\[]\s$---^Feature Requests$---^Y Combinator$---^Hacker News$---^(News\s)$

It might look "geeky" and intimidating, but check the above razor link (it has docs too) and you'll see why this solution is promising.

nice feeds hacking!

Thank you for demonstrating so clearly why we need RSS.

If you don't get it yet, check back in two years. You'll be able to tell us all about why that doesn't scale and can't work and RSS is a lot better. You may not believe me yet, but I can wait.

well help by clarifying why. as i said, this might not be the best, but probably the difference between this and RSS is that razor isn't solely meant to create information feeds, it is a quicker and more succinct way of scraping the web for arbitrary information.

it solves the problem of having to build a new scraper tool every time you have some site you want to programatically pick something from.

maybe i didn't clarify its purpose well, or i gave the wrong examples? imagine using it to track malformed tags in web pages of your choice in real-time, this is another way it could be used.

If Mozilla is getting rid of it and if Chrome doesn't have it, than that's just proof enough that big companies are conspiring against RSS. My fingers crossed for the Adblocker.

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