I'd like to see new innovation around protocols and client 'browsers' that were made with monetization built-in as a first-tier specification.
1) client sends request for content with some header with payment information attached.
2) server verifies payment transferred.
3) server responds to client with content after payment verification.
If this existed, RSS would be alive and well. Internet publishers would be alive and well. The internet would be a more beautiful place with a viable first-party alternative to ads.
Challenges here would be:
- Sufficiently low transaction costs to make micropayments viable. (Bundle payments?)
- Verifying proof of payment extremely fast
Someone(s) should create a new protocol.
FTP was invented in 1971.
SMTP was invented in 1982.
HTTP was invented in 1989.
RSS was invented in 1999.
Bitcoin was invented in 2008.
The amount of innovation around protocol has been abysmal relative to the explosion in creativity around applications on top of these protocols. And SMTP/HTTP are the only ones with any real mass adoption today.
I keep hearing how RSS is dead for many years. My favorite blogs seem to be doing fine, its not like my newsblur stream of posts has decreased over the years.
Many people are unhappy about non-monetized readers and authors just being happy off by themselves. The people most able to "fix" that are the happy readers and authors, and the readers are not very motivated to spam and tax themselves, and the authors obviously don't mind not monetizing or they wouldn't be blogging to begin with.
There doesn't seem to be an obvious disruptive force or angle to apply force to "improve" the stable situation of a distributed decentralized happy unmonetized ecosystem.
Unless a blog really has ~50,000+ daily uniques, or a lucractive audience niche, I suspect there’s not much opportunity to monetize even if they wanted to.
As someone getting into RSS more recently, I've definitely struggled to find decent sites to follow (though trawling hackernews totally helps:)).
Note there are ways to get an RSS feed from some sites without them (RSS-Bridge is what I use), but the experience is much better if the site natively produces one.
In time, you'll find yourself with hundreds of feeds on a variety of topics.
He always seems to have interesting links to good blog posts.
It isn't practical for consumers of content to try and find the quality content mixed among the mass of dross when content is spread out among individual creators. This gives rise to aggregators. And even aggregators of quality content cost money to run. Maybe you'd use HN as a counter example
but HN isn't run out of the benevolence of ycombinator, there are secondary benefits that justify the costs.
So my comment shouldn't be taken as "there's no such thing as quality content without costs" and if I made it too easy to interpret that way instead of more charitably, that's my fault.
So let me amend it: You don't get concentrations of quality content without costs.
Here's some quality content: https://www.raptitude.com/
I've been following that blog for years, via RSS. Every article he writes, I read. He gives it away. You can support him by becoming a patron or signing up to courses, etc. he offers. No advertising, and very high quality.
I have noticed that people in hackernews generally tend to look things from a, excuse me for saying so, narrow business "make money" perspective. Or maybe it's somewhat US related, I'm not sure.
There are thousands of sites that don't live from advertising. Government, universities, and every public or even private institute has a site to provide information, news, announcements etc. There are also hobbyists' sites who are never going to make money from adverts.
Not everything should be reduced to a Facebook page.
Not everything should be about money.
First and foremost I think there is a need to recalibrate what matters and what actions that requires.
Everyone has activities they enjoy that don't produce any income. Just because people enjoy an activity doesn't mean that there has to be a way to make a living from it. People enjoy playing video games, riding horses, sailing, painting. For most people they will not be able to support themselves with these things and we generally don't think that we have to go out of our way to make it possible for them to, so why is blogging different?
The general order of business goes "Here is something people are willing to pay money for -> You can do this and make money" not "Here is something I want people to pay me money for -> Pay me money for this"
Is this that bad? I personally don't mind this at all, I subscribe to RSS feeds so I can easily tell at a glance who has an update in one place. If they then want to redirect me for the full content, then so be it, especially if the alternative is me loading every single one of those sites every day to check anyway.
I get that when people think of “RSS”, they’re thinking of tech that downloads text and maybe some images into a reader, but it’s just another means of syndicating media. The same places that disseminate the full text continue to do so because they’re not invested in making money directly off the writing, and the same places that have an investment in you going directly to the site continue to operate their feeds in that manner. If you have a browser extension that can discover it, or are willing to do a bit of guesswork, it’s amazing how many new sites launched in the last year that might not expose it on the website (because the webmaster didn’t think it was important to expose even when the CMS has it) actually have a feed you can pass off to a reader.
I don’t think RSS is ever going be competitive with a service like Instagram or Reddit for what they do, but the full value of these services doesn’t lie entirely within a feed and wouldn’t be neatly exposed within the constraints of the RSS or Atom specs to begin with. It’s different, and therefore have other, albeit less popular than social media, uses.
If someone prefers a stream of photographs to a stream of blogs and news sites, and that’s a lot of people, then RSS isn’t going to be competitive for their attention. If somebody prefers the discussions on Reddit and the semi-randomness of sources, RSS isn’t going to be competitive for their attention either. If you don’t care about an image stream (with comments, reactions, stories and whatever else Instagram has), and you can do without the Reddit commentary, well, you may very well have a use for RSS. Or maybe not. If it hasn’t gone away yet (and it really hasn’t), I have a hard time believing it is going anywhere in the near future.
There's been a worrying trend of some podcasts shifting to a "get our app" mode of delivery. I've been boycotting each one, and been encouraging the podcasts I donate to to explicitly keep the RSS delivery.
Granted, I only have two immediate examples:
* Season 2 of The Onion's hilarious true crime parody (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Very_Fatal_Murder) is exclusively on a platform called Luminary. I can't even figure out exactly what Luminary is, because they serve me with a special can of "Luminary is not yet available in your location" crap. Not that I care anyway. The first season is on regular old RSS and is fantastic (if you like the true crime genre and The Onion-style silliness).
* Wind of Change (https://crooked.com/podcast-series/wind-of-change/) investigates the (serious!) conspiracy theory that the CIA created the hit "Wind of Change" by The Scorpions. Now, this is borderline, but the podcast is available over RSS – however they're clearly trying to push people onto Spotify by releasing all episodes there at once and only dripping out an episode a week over RSS. I'll allow it.
Luminary by the way is one of those "we're going to do podcasting but it's not really podcasting because we're going to lock things up behind our paywall." kinds of "podcasting" apps. Think of it as Spotify but without the music or (I believe) without the free tier. Mind I've never signed up, but I remember there were a big story last year, or maybe it was the year before? Either way, they aspire to be the Spotify of Podcasts and Spotify is also trying to be the Spotify of Podcasts. I think Spotify is probably winning that exchange.
The strange thing is, a lot of these podcasts could probably get away with charging more directly if they wanted to. Joe Rogan has literally millions of fans, and charging for episodes isn't exactly incompatible with RSS. It just means you need to authenticate for access to the feed which is fine. I do that with TechMeme Ride Home subscribing to their ad-free feed. I think I'm paying $5 a month for that at the moment. I also pay for podcasts that don't have a premium feed per se and can be found in every podcast directory, but are products of news and political commentary organizations to which I pay a monthly or annual sum to support, primarily because I enjoy their podcasts (and newsletters) so much. I get access to their websites and dead tree print editions, but really it's the podcasts I find I like the most out of the deal and am happy to pay for just those.
And Joe Rogan is bigger than almost all of those, so selling out to Spotify to try to be the next Howard Stern feels a bit like he's selling himself short. Welp, we live in a free society with free markets and he's free to do that if he wants to. I get that he's a controversial figure for some, but so are Howard Stern and PewDiePie and last I checked, they're doing fine.
Depends on the type of show of course. But if they are talking about some interesting deep topic, I find it useful to use that time to think more. It's kind of the difference between skimming and flipping through a book vs reading a paragraph and looking up, pondering a bit, then reading along, after a chapter standing up and walking back and forth a bit in the room, thinking.
Much of my browsing of the site at least starts off in a feed reader, to make it quick to find what I'm interested in. From there, I'll open links to the site proper, with all the comments and such that make the experience what it is.
I personally think it's really cool that I can follow people I respect and see a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, but inevitably some stupid controversy erupts and all of them have to get their opinion in on the subject.
The other problem I have is that generally, people tweet too much. It is too easy to compose a tweet and fire it off into the void and and while they're at it, about five or six retweets. RSS didn't improve this for me, I look for ways to make Twitter work for me, and it's just unworkable. The one time the list of accounts I came up with was political (that is to say rather than being constantly exposed to the abhorrent politics of people I otherwise respect for other reasons, I picked people who I respected in the field of politics), it was still an irredeemable crapshoot.
If Twitter works for you, I have no doubt Twitter RSS can also work for you, but Twitter doesn't work for me. Too much noise, not enough signal. Same with any kind of firehose feed, I think I even followed an HN firehose feed at one point six or seven years ago which just overwhelmed my reader within a week. I mean if you tried following Tumblogs as I did at one point in my youth, I tried to treat them like blogs, but what I didn't realize was that nobody was really interested in using Tumblr like a blogging platform. Your typical user that posted at all, was generally going through their feed and reblogging whatever they liked, and they'd do this 30 or 40 or 50 reblogs at a time. It was asinine, I gave it the old college try because a few of my friends really seemed to like it and I wanted to see what they saw, and it was just asinine.
Anyway it sounds like you're still using Twitter RSS, and, I mean this sincerely, kudos to Twitter that they're apparently still maintaining RSS feeds. I really thought that would have been killed off by now. More choices are generally better, so I'm glad that's still a thing.
That's a gross oversimplification. Lots of content isn't worth anything but some is. If you're a stock trader, for example, certain timely information is well-worth paying for. And there's a market for that served by Bloomberg, Thomson-Reuters, and so on.
The term "content" obscures the differences by suggesting its all interchangeable. That's certainly in the interest of the Googles and Facebooks of the world: When all content is equal, no content creator has any negotiating power.
But there's a distinction between a multi-month investigative report and hastily paraphrased rewrite at some fly-by-night website intent on capturing algorithmic ad dollars.
Pricing news content is hard because it has a different value to different people and often the value is only apparent after it has been consumed.
It's worth asking how much we will pay for reports on political corruption, civic injustice, and so on. If the price for content is $0, the signal to noise ratio will disappear.
I'm seeing more credible journalism done by bloggers than the mainstream media at the moment.
> Pricing news content is hard because it has a different value to different people and often the value is only apparent after it has been consumed.
You're suggesting that journalism is a public good because the value is captured by society as a whole as opposed to by the individual newspaper subscriber. I wouldn't argue against investigative journalism being important for democracy etc., but why does it need to cost anything (even by the public)? What about the whole Harvey Weinstein/MeToo saga which started after some individuals made some tweets without being paid by a journalism company to do so. There is no shortage of outraged citizen activists who will do "investigative journalism". I don't know why their free work should automatically be considered inferior just because they don't have a journalism degree and aren't being paid by a journalism company.
Reporting on corruption and injustice is critical to a society, but doesn't have any monetary value. The way I see it, we already have a way we choose to fund that kind of thing: non-profits/NGOs. Some media outlets (Vox, The Guardian) are already turning to just asking for money in this way, and over time journalism might become more formalised as something funded by the public for civic ends, not as a commercial product. To that end it should be unbundled from stuff like sports coverage and celebrity gossip - which might really end up disappearing as a viable career and be done exclusively by amateurs.
I would have agree with this two years ago but things have changed. I'm just worn down with the huge volume of free dross that doesn't tell you anything. This year I've started subscribing to a bunch of resources and stopped with google news/fb noise.
To be fair, most were aweful and never reached critical mass. And many were to early and badly placed. Today situation is different. Patreon, twitch, youtube, netflix, spotify and all the other paid services proof that people are willing to pay something for content, to their conditions.
I think a well implemented micro-payment could work out today well enough to be viable. Something build into the browsers and aggregator-sites (reddit, hackernews, google news, facebook...) first. Most users don't wanna waste their time with micromanaging their bills, so make it optional, and automate it for the rest of the time.
Most places use content to get you to look at ads, but some places write content as a sort of ad itself - we said something thoughtful to build brand recognition, consumer confidence.
I used to call them malicious SEO sites, but your point makes better sense than my hatred.
Games won't become free until it's easy for commoners to make them. Even with Unity and all the easy plug and chug game dev resources, it's still hard and requires multiple people with different talents.
Software is no different. When Compaq reverse-engineered the IBM PC BIOS, the standards were incredibly high. If I violate a GPL license or steal some copywritten Unity code for my game - I'm probably pretty safe. Unless, of course, a bunch of people agree that my software is valuable. I could be in big trouble if that's the case, even if I give it away for free (as in beer) and never make a cent off it.
2) It's pretty unclear to me that Substack actually lets "legions" of writers make a living. https://substack.com/discover lists the top (income making?) writers, and it drops off very quickly. By number 25, it is "hundreds of subscribers" paying $10/month. That's a nice hobby income but isn't really "a living".
Would be interesting to read about that — you happen to have any links?
I websearched for "failed micropayments" and found: "One type of micropayment that does work — one you might not even think of as a micropayment — is in-app-purchases (IAP). IAP are a huge source of revenue [...]"
And: "One reason users don’t like micropayments for content [to read] is it requires a decision ... waste the users’ mental effort ... costs so little that its implied worth is almost nothing" (here: https://blog.applovin.com/why-micropayments-fail-and-one-not... )
There was a wave of micropayments startups about 6 years ago. The only one I remember is Flattr. The crypto bubble came and gave new hope because maybe the reason micropayments failed before was the credit card processing fees. Nope, still didn't work. I don't use Brave Rewards and have never heard of anyone making more than pennies with it.
Xanadu was one of the original visions of the internet from the 1960s. It sounded like a lot of the idealistic plans people come up with for micropayments where content creators can collect micropayments from viewers. Of course it didn't work.
Micropayments is an absolute cemetery of a business model.
> If any of them were successful, you wouldn't be asking this question
If you change from to: "successful" to "hugely successful in all English speaking countries" then I agree ... almost,
But there're also different continents and countries and different languages
... Which prompted me to now search for "Chinese micropayments" — and:
> "[the company's] growing profit margins are riding the wave of China's exploding media micropayment economy"
Reading a bit more on different sites: Apparently this started 5 years ago and has been working well, in China. Micropayments. A little bit I got the impression it's currently being used primarily for tipping.
Is this true? It certainly doesn't feel like it. Reader was a first party branded reader. Google could put ads on Reader relevant to your interests (which they'd have been more keenly aware of than if you weren't using Reader), and they didn't have to pay out the publishers.
Google killed Reader, I think, for the second reason you mentioned: publishers were neutering their feeds. Reader had gone from a tool for consuming content to a tool for being notified about content.
I was a heavy user of Reader (and did huge amounts of work on RSS/Atom/etc), and I agreed with this assessment at the time.
More and more publishers were just putting headlines in RSS, so you had to click through anyway, and commercial blog sites were publishing a much larger volume of content, most of which I ignored. But I didn't want to unsubscribe, because occasionally there was something good.
Given that, I was finding much better content through aggregators like HN or via Twitter/FB.
Maybe they could have iterated and built something different, but what they had really wasn't useful.
There was no separation of the chat friends and the people that you followed.
I've still got random people in my address books from that debacle.
Also, IIRC they specifically killed it because of Google Plus, which according to their plans should replace Google Reader and the demand for RSS.
What you describe looks like authentication and authorization rather than payment processing. Which may be a good thing. Adding support for authentication to the RSS protocol (OAuth for RSS anyone?) and RSS clients can potentially make it more interesting for publishers and solve the problem with monetization.
Monetization is rather simple, people visit a website if they want to read more about the news. In exchange you get guaranteed access to their attention not intermediated by Facebook, Google or Twitter.
Content publishers: Update the RSS feed generator to include the ads associated with the post. Write tools for dynamic ad insertion that actually updates the syndicated feed.
RSS App creators: Build ad networks that work with both ad buyers and content creators to match content-relevant ads, and either replace the dynamic in-post ads (and share revenue), or add additional intra-post ads.
Someone explain to me why this couldn't work with the existing technology stack - no new protocol, or client-side changes required.
Also it is too lightweight in terms of cpu, memory, network and power usage, so it wouldn't push users to upgrade to the latest and greatest hardware (and data plans) every year just to maintain the same performance they had last year.
I think what you mentioned could be accomplished using existing protocols. There isn't a need for a new protocol for this specific purpose.
For this specific purpose, what if we just had personalized/signed RSS feeds per payer?
This is exactly the recently-proposed LSAT protocol. It uses the HTTP402 response code to prompt for payment over the Lightning Network in exchange for a cryptographic bearer credential that may be used in future requests to the server.
I probably should write a post with exact numbers:
* how frequently it is updated
* how many websites still support it
The streaming and game services seems to point at monthly subscription fee from an aggregator as a working model. Not sure how they distribute royalties though, I suspect there are many models I won’t agree with based on what they incentivize.
Then there are the Kickstarter/patreon. Where money is given more in support than for a specific product. This is more like the UBI approach.
I think there is room for a hybrid approach here, merging the two.
But really I think we need a major reconfiguration of our global economic structure.
> I'd like to see new innovation around protocols and client 'browsers' that were made with monetization built-in as a first-tier specification.
I don't think the solution should be to cater to what big platforms want.
If we did that, then the logical conclusion of that is that we would have to download some bloated locked down app for each platform we wanted to visit, and we would have a plethora of walled gardens. Copying and pasting text would be very limited, and we certainly could not "view source". The best we could do to save content was take screen shots, we certainly could not click on an image and save it. Basically what they are doing now.
Platforms would like nothing better than to completely deprecate access by web browsers all together. (Didn't Instagram do that recently?) Perhaps in the near future, websites will require that you use an "Apple approved" web browser, if they let you access them outside of the app at all.
But, they fact that they present any of their content at all is because of the ubiquity of web browsers. They could probably make more money if they had complete control of their platform, and could do things like prevent ad-blocking.
So, we should have pushed more for RSS to be de-facto requirement of serving content. Firefox, and other browsers, should have advertised when RSS was available, and make it highly discoverable for users.
> The amount of innovation around protocol has been abysmal relative to the explosion in creativity around applications on top of these protocols. And SMTP/HTTP are the only ones with any real mass adoption today.
I don't personally care that much about the protocol itself, I care about the content that the protocol makes available. If reading an RSS story required unpacking a bloated js runtime and fetching even more content, then why not just use a browser?
Publishers also hate SMTP and IMAP, and would love to force users to log into their platform and view ads, just to send an email to someone. And Google is certainly doing their part to eventually kill off these protocols.
AOL and many 90s ISPs did not support these protocols either (even though they used them internally) because they wanted to make users log into their platform instead of using their own mail client.
But the reason that SMTP still exists today is because of its ubiquity. The more RSS is adopted, the more popular it becomes, and the more platforms had to support it, even if they did not want to.
Being able to programmatically send emails is incredibly useful and helpful. I'm sure that when the last SMTP server shuts down, they will tell you that it is ok, because you can still use the mutually incompatible GMail or Outlook.com APIs. Pending approval.
Firefox did, with a subscribe button in the address bar. https://mariolurig.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/firefox-rs...
Is that from Firefox 3.6? I would have to confirm this, but I'm pretty sure they started de-emphasizing RSS around 2011 with Firefox 4.0.
It was many years ago, I was looking at some discussion about it here: https://decafbad.com/blog/2011/01/15/how-to-use-feed-auto-di...
I remember being rustled about it back then, also.
Slack has a slash command for ‘/feed subscribe https://foo.bar/baz.rss’ so we use that plus the above sites RSS feed for real time notices on when new data is added.
If you click a link to an Atom feed in Mobile Safari, iOS will launch the Apple News app. Which will then show you an error message saying the content is unavailable.
As far as I can tell there is no way for an installed reader app to take over handling of feed URLs. It just makes the entire feed ecosystem look broken for anyone using an iPhone or iPad.
Apple is basically monopolizing the whole market for rss readers.
Apple News is available in a whopping 4 countries, 4 years after its introduction.
Note the absence of the UK in the below sources:
If a nation state doesn't recognise itself being in the EU, and the EU doesn't recognise the nation state being in the EU, It's not in the EU.
Did the UK MEPs serve their last day already?
You can't be a monopoly with such a small userbase.
Not sure why though.
Besides that you can still use a desktop PC. Most people do anyway.
I'm have very negative outlook on Apple with their vendor lock-in and walled garden, but how long do you think Google will let you make this choice if they gonna have no competition at all?
Google was slowly making Android less and less open with every release. Now "security" features like SafetyNet decide whatever you're allowed to use software or not.
Think on it! Just look at what Google doing with web because of their monopoly on search and browser markets.
Google might have a monopoly on the web, but at least they have given us tools to work around it, unlike Apple.
No you don't. Much of the software preinstalled on an Android device is permanent. And you can try stripping out Google Play Services, but good luck having a "smart" phone.
> Stop developing for Apple products. Stop treating Apple like they matter.
The market, as it actually exists, disagrees (especially in terms of profit, as opposed to number of devices). I understand hating Apple, but if I write software for profit, I care about where the customers/money are and Apple absolutely qualifies. Should you also support other platforms? Absolutely. But removing support for a platform like you're suggesting is at best prioritizing ideology over profit, and even the ideology argument is... not one-sided.
RSS should be ubiquitous, and seen as an essential part of any service that serves structured incremental content. People should be emailing webmasters asking why there is no little orange icon.
It also serves as a back door form of accessibility. But I strongly suspect that RSS goes against the interests of big tech who don't like RSS, because companies like Facebook go through so much trouble to make it difficult to scrape or modify their content.
I just wish that Mozilla would stand up more to their corporate underwriters. Now RSS is relegated to add-ons, and is on the same tier gopher (no offense to gopher).
But unfortunately that is not really a solution. It is like saying that it is ok that a website removed screen-reader support, because you have a screen reader that can still parse the website anyway. The problem is RSS not being made available at all.
RSS being made available less and less, and they have less of an incentive to do so. And I am saddened that a lot of the good work Mozilla did was abandoned by them and that the web is regressing.
Additionally, having to make your own scraper is really not a solution to RSS not being available. Scrapers are very high maintenance, and can easily break with updates.
It's not an outlandish amount of work, if lots of people chip in with their favorite source.
In the same way that I don't think that YouTube allowing users to submit closed caption transcripts, or machine generating them, any substitute for the content creator
providing them in the first place. I'm sure in the near future, smart TVs will be able to machine generate closed captions from the audio, but I still don't think we should let television producers off the hook for providing captions.
RSS should be the default. And it is not hard to generate RSS.
I happen to think that big platforms only reluctantly adopted RSS over a decade ago because it was a "standard", and because they felt that it was popular enough to justify the traffic from it. But they do not like RSS. It works against their analytics, their ads, and their control of the presentation.
And while it is cool that people are crowd sourcing scrapers, I think the real solution is to promote RSS itself and encourage more platforms to simply provide it. And organizations like Mozilla taking Facebook's position that RSS is obsolete has been profoundly unhelpful to the web.
It let's me curate sources into different customizable feeds like news or science. I pay for the pro happily since they let me add specific twitter accounts too. Really saves me time!
The data services which provided content-without-markup were abandoned, and the fluff and garbage were embraced.
It was supposed to be that Mozilla would be a beacon of light in a murky web, but it has lost itself in the void.
It seems to me that Mozilla executives has no fortitude. They prefer revenue rather then invention and what's best for the user. KaiOS is becoming the third biggest mobile OS, guess what it's FirefoxOS, but Mozilla was too afraid to give it a shot. Then there's the Rust programming language that is taking the world with storm. It seems there are great talent, and if they would be allowed to work in the user's best interest people would switch over from Chrome - and Firefox would become big enough to matter.
As for revenue, a lot of purchases are initiated from the web, but they leave the browser for a short while and takes a 3-5% cut. Browsers could work with banks and offer a secure wallet. And micro-transactions could become a thing. Publishers are crying for a solution! The web have been funded by ads for over 20 years now, with diminishing returns. And users hate it! The web is ripe for invention!
Google - and any search engine - cannot help you find an exact web-page you found after hours of researching while web-surfing earlier.
And RSS feeds are for when you’re already interested in a content source. Google searches help you find something new: they won’t help you automatically be informed of new posts. They just save you the time of having to manually sort-out new content from the old when you visit an article website.
Google isn’t to blame for the drop in popularity of RSS (Google Reader’s closing was a symptom, not a cause), it’s the content websites’ webmasters who saw that by allowing machine-readable access to their content index means that users wanting to get to their new content can bypass the advertising on their home-page, effectively halving the pageviews and thus halving their revenue - or if they included their whole article content in the RSS feed then they’re missing out on potentially all of the advertising revenue - that’s why some content authors, like Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, as an example, only provide their full RSS feed to paying subscribers.
RSS still works for podcasts though - as podcasts wouldn’t be popular at all if people had to navigate through a webpage to download each audio file each time a new release is made - so the halving of web banner ad revenue is compensated-for by having a much larger audience for the in-audio advertising baked into the podcast content.
Twitter - and centralised content platforms like Facebook also was/is a major part for the reasons I described above: allowing direct access to content means less pageviews. Somewhat concerningly, we’re seeing people use Twitter to do things that RSS was originally designed for: such as posting links to new articles posted to a blog or for things like live service uptime status updates.
Finally, there’s the usability issue: it’s difficult to describe what RSS is or why it’s good to a layperson. Ssure, today we can just say “an RSS feed is just like a podcast, but for normal web content, or anything at all” - but back in the early 2000s when RSS awareness (or hype...) peaked, I had difficulty understanding what a “syndication feed” was - the terminology “feed” implied to me it was a unidirectional continuous push-style connection (like a HTML/HTTP EventSource) - not a pull-style index file. Don’t forget the format-war with Atom too.
This is false. I am not a paying subscriber, but I still get the full content of Daring Fireball articles in my RSS reader. In fact, the RSS feed is one of the links on the site’s sidebar. https://daringfireball.net/feeds/
> However, paying supporters do get access to a few members-only perquisites, including separate full-content RSS feeds for articles and the Linked List (my daily list of links and blurbs related to Mac, web, and design nerdery).
I can readily understand why they removed it—it was implemented in what had become the wrong way for such a feature, and fixing it would have taken more effort than they wanted to expend on such a niche feature, and it was starting to hold back other improvements. (Similar deal to why they broke old extensions: they were holding the browser back technically, and a couple of years later I think it was fairly clearly the right decision, painful though it was.)
Then that is a great justification for improving it then. Or at least bundling an RSS add-on. Mozilla felt that bundling Pocket was ok, but not one of the many great RSS add-ons?
> I can readily understand why they removed it—it was implemented in what had become the wrong way for such a feature, and fixing it would have taken more effort than they wanted to expend on such a niche feature, and it was starting to hold back other improvements.
The truth is, they did not see it as an essential part of the web, worth implementing. If you look at the other stuff that Mozilla is allocating resources for, it becomes clear that maintaining RSS support would be a drop in the bucket.
RSS could have been fixed for a fraction of the cost of one of their many dead-end research projects, or they could have swapped out the canapés for a cheaper finger food at one of their events.
The fact that anyone would call RSS "niche" is part of the problem; something can still be important even if not a lot of people use it at the moment. But that kind of nuance is something lost with this toxic market-driven mentality. Accessibility features are also "niche", should they be removed? Many people consider RSS to be a type accessibility feature. Should all accessibility features be relegated to add-ons that must be manually sought out and installed?
I don't know the details of the high level decisions at Mozilla, but I also can't help but notice that all of the decisions made by Mozilla seem to align perfectly with the interests of companies Facebook, Google, Apple, Netflix, Amazon.
Sending alerts to users and getting them to navigate to your platform is what big content wants. Mozilla agrees that that is the future and that RSS is obsolete and apparently holding them back. Mozilla has no problem implementing whatever Google wants and always being behind Chrome. Mozilla also decided to legitimize web DRM with its embrace of EME.
> (Similar deal to why they broke old extensions: they were holding the browser back technically, and a couple of years later I think it was fairly clearly the right decision, painful though it was.)
Honestly this is a whole other discussion, but I would dispute that they made the right decision. If browser extensions are just toys to you, then I'm sure you appreciate how streamlined and simple they are now.
Unfortunately Mozilla has dropped thunderbird almost completely so that’s not been a real option either.
But I think Mozilla's abandonment of Thunderbird is very much in line with their abandonment of RSS, and their loss of commitment to an open web.
This exactly describes my experience on this website.
Event syndication. Say that I'd collect the event feeds from a load of cinemas, music venues I like around the world, why not, plus those of musicians. I want my RSS-based events reader to narrow down the date field to be this weekend, location to be my town, and ticket field to be available, and why not price to something I can afford, while I'm at it? Bam, everything I could dream of doing this weekend, no Facebook and using a slightly modified version of a two-decade-old tech.
Similar functionality for shopping.
Why couldn't RSS be extended to something like this?
See how much effort Netflix puts into making their catalog hard to browse, to obfuscate the actual size of the catalog and promote specific things they need to show a large return on, or all the sponsorships/ad-deals/promotions that inevitably begin to clutter almost any commercial news feed.
We have the technology, but publishers will fight tooth and nail to keep control over the platform away from the end user.
The app "This is your digital life" let people do a psychological profile linked to their FB profile. The Open Graph API then gave Cambridge Analytica to (some of) their friend's data as well,
Turns out that wasn't a great idea. Disappointing because it's what I wanted too.
I think you're making a valid point about Netflix, but not seeing how it applies to more traditional financial models?
From the other direction there's not much middle ground between the proposal and a REST API. You're asking for developer.ebay.com, I've fooled around with that a little and its fun. Sometimes I think the business people don't understand how much the devs are exposing in their APIs, which makes me worry about the staying power of public APIs. There are businesses where their business model and front-end UI could all be replaced by a very small shell script and I don't think the business people understand that weakness. Of course an API can be shut off with the flick of a switch once it eats into profits.
You can put a future date in RSS for events.
To lazy to search for examples sorry.
It's really easy to get posts on the frontpage only if they have more than x points:
Or contain certain keywords:
Most sites still have implemented RSS in a terrible way. For example, many blogs I follow only show excerpts in their feeds. So the feed is worthless to me. Others put every podcast episode they do every day in between their posts. Annoying and worthless.
Then, if you want to follow a site that publishes a lot of content, often you have to subscribe to everything or nothing. Sorry all mainstream tech news sites. I don’t want to read 1,000 low quality articles every day.
Then comes the UX nightmare of actually finding the feed on each website you visit. If the site even has one.
I think it is a false premise that something is only valid if "mom starts using it". That is the profit-driven mentality. eg. "how can we market this? How can we expand RSS market share into valuable demographics?" etc
Also, I actually did teach my Mom to use RSS a decade ago and she still uses it today.
These concepts are really not that hard. I told my mom it was like she was getting a newsletter from her blogs delivered to a special dedicated inbox, but without cluttering up her email. She was delighted.
I think if someone knows how to use email, and knows how to browse the web, and knows how to sign up for email newsletters, they can handle RSS. I would argue that it is in many ways more useful for less computer literate people.
> Then comes the UX nightmare of actually finding the feed on each website you visit. If the site even has one.
This UX nightmare was solved 15 years ago. Browsers displayed a little icon in the corner when RSS is detected., Firefox later displayed an RSS icon prominently in the address bar.
The UX nightmare was then re-introduced as the RSS icon was de-emphasized and eventually dropped completely, with a dubious justification.
Most things are not that hard. The problem isn't the difficulty level. It's friction.
I mean, cooking healthy food for yourself and vacuuming your floors are both cognitively easy things to do. But most people don't have enough motivation to do these things all the time. It's why meal kits and the roomba exist.
The minute you introduce the slightest bit of friction, you lose people. RSS contains enough friction to remove a 95%+ of potential users before they even get started.
The reason why people prefer social media newsfeeds is because they have zero friction.
I'm not arguing that the problem with RSS is that it should be driven by a profit mentality. I'm arguing the problem is 95%+ of people will never benefit from what it can potentially offer the world: a better way to consume the internet.
I personally love RSS. Alongside email, it's my preferred method for reading the internet. However, I think the world would benefit more if the RSS ecosystem could be made viable for the average person. Whether that's a better protocol or a better client, I don't know.
I subscribe to 200+ feeds, but only read a dozen or so stories a week on them: http://akkartik.name/feeds.xml
The site should just have
<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS Feed for Bob's Blog" href="/rss/" />
Back when the address bar had an RSS icon in it, this is how it got the info.
...and then mom still ends up getting her news from Facebook.
Not sure if I'll keep on doing it though, bit expensive for a side project
It works quite well, has vibrant community, and support for ripping twitter and instagram feeds among dozens of other sites.
It also has a browser extension to help discover available feeds on sites that it can digest - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/rsshub-radar-...
There's also a Chrome extension, but that one is not translated from Chinese yet.
aggregators solve a different variety problem vs RSS -- RSS gives you access to random sources that you curate yourself, whereas HN or link-heavy blogs give you access to a meaningful amount of high-impact articles from high-diversity sources (i.e. more different websites than you subscribe to in feedly) that everyone else is reading
at minimum, I need a tool that lets me tame the RSS firehose with some kind of ranking or priority queue, plus mix in some aggregator reading so I don't miss things
I didn't have to subscribe to anything to get content, I just had to follow people I knew, and even if they weren't sharing a lot, their first-level connections collectively shared plenty. The interface let me subscribe to whatever feeds they were sharing from, which is how I discovered a lot of content I never would've on my own, and in a lot of cases likely not through other aggregation methods either.
Add the content they were clipping content with the bookmarklet and even sites that weren't syndicating their content were getting my regular traffic via shares.
all kinds of trust networks are good
the accidental trust networks that dwell in existing social networks (fb, twtr, IG) are gameable
a trust network where real-life experts gain and lose reputation based on their behavior should (in theory) punish corruption
In fact, I use RSS for this website as well.
Then RSS was invented. Now RSS is supposed to be dead, and/or killed, what appears to be several times over. I never did get on the Google Reader bandwagon because I was subscribing to RSS feeds via other means.
Nowadays, I have the app ‘Podcast Addict’ [free with ads, $0.99 once for no ads; I'm just a user here] installed on my tablet through which I subscribe to over 50 RSS feeds – podcasts, webcomics, even a comedian’s “upcoming shows” feed. There are countless other RSS feeds available via in-app search and discovery let alone the “add your own” option.
By missing out on an RSS apocalypse folks seem to love to talk about from time to time, have I accidentally become one of those “welcome back” guys?
If you’re interested in getting “the news” delivered to you daily, instead of having to check a reader app, I’ve built something that aggregates all your feeds (and websites without feeds) into a daily digest via email.
I don’t want to “spam” so I won’t link here, but you can check on my submissions for “News, calm”.
On the “RSS apocalypse” front, I can say that on this product I noticed that most websites “non-tech people” follow don’t offer RSS feeds, apparently over monetization concerns.
I was definitely in a filter bubble as everything I followed had RSS.
Have a group where only the owner may post: That's a feed.
Have a group where only the owner may post top-level articles, but anyone may respond: That's a blog.
I have seen the idea about Markdown before, and have considered that too; it is not a bad idea. However, clients should only render Markdown if the article contains a "Content-type: text/markdown" header, and assume plain text otherwise. Clients that don't understand Markdown you can still read the article, since Markdown is meant as readable even when not rendered, so that is good, too.
I even wrote a simple NNTP server software and NNTP client software. Both programs are based on SQLite.
I have not considered your idea of servers where users can create their own access-controlled groups, although that doesn't seem so bad; some people may wish to run such servers, and may have some way of users controlling them.
Also note, you could have multiple interfaces if wanted: HTML, RSS, email, and NNTP, with NNTP as the primary and preferred interface. (To these, Gopher can also be added for read-only access, if wanted.)
One of the properties of traditional Usenet I don't like is that creating groups isn't a matter of minutes, but a matter of days or weeks. If we want an NNTP-based alternative to blogs, twitter and reddit, we can't have that. Instead, a user should just get control of a namespace managed by the server he's registered with.
Also note, you could have multiple interfaces if wanted: HTML, RSS, email [...]
That's a very important part of the equation: The server should auto-generate HTML pages and RSS feeds for the messages to allow seemless integration into the WWW. Let the power user use their news reader, but don't deny access to the 'layperson'.
There's still some business benefit to hosting, scraping, providing search etc. The business models are closer to the open web.
I'm sure there's flaws and challenges in the idea. Even if private posts were encrypted you'd still leak some info publicly. Still I think its a neat idea.
I think RSS should be better built in to browsers. Make it as simple as a follow button is on centralised websites.
e.g.: A little RSS icon pops up when RSS is available on a page, press it and you're now following that feed. Feeds window in the browser shows your feeds, and a small alert icon shows up somewhere when there's unread content. Your subscriptions are saved to your account. If you want to read the article, you click the link and read it directly on the source website. It doesn't need to be any more complex than that.
Firefox had "Live Bookmarks" for RSS but it was relatively terrible, and eventually got removed.
But man -- what a testament to how much I loved Google Reader that it still feels like a fresh wound to have it brought up again.
Damn you, Google!
$6-$18/mo should be fucking enough for a service to keep my goddamn information to themselves.
I'm using FeedReader, but I'm not especially happy with it. Would love to hear some more recommendations.
The interface is pretty good, privacy is respected as far as I can see, service is hosted on their own hardware, not in the cloud, the author is very responsive when issues arrive, and the code is available for self-hosting.
It is also how I keep up with people on Twitter, and YouTube, without having to access Twitter or YouTube.
You collect data, use it for marketing, then add it to your valuation. Says everything I need to know about your company.
However, the podcasting industry seems to have ignored Atom, which is stupid. Podcast feeds are exclusively RSS, and from information found, most major clients probably don’t support Atom. But the area is a mess with no good documentation anywhere on what works or doesn’t (and all of the even-halfway-decent content of this sort is from 2006–2010).
People colloquially refer to feeds as RSS, even when they’re mostly Atom. Reminds me a bit of the SSL/TLS situation (where I think the name “TLS” is finally more popular than the name “SSL”).
It's one of the best news experiences I've had and is an improvement over what I was used to with Google Reader and Feedly. I feel much more in control of my content consumption.
Would be fun if others did the same and posted about their experiences!
But either way, self-hosted RSS is the way to go. Nobody can take it away from you...
Also, tt-rss' developer, fox, is rather abrasive, akin to Theo de Raadt from OpenBSD (which I love and will always use, despite Theo's abrasiveness). I will admit, the projects do generally benefit from this unyielding approach, but it makes it a chore to request help, knowing that you'll likely be upbraided for asking questions.
I also like that FreshRSS has better 3rd party app support (at least on Android).
I think it's fantastic.