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Moving RSS forward (superfeedr.com)
54 points by julien on March 15, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 32 comments

Generally, it's hard to convince nerds that something trivial to them is not trivial to non nerds.

In what reality is it obvious that "to 'get more of something' I have to copy a url (what's a url?) from a browser tab to another web application?"

Before telling me that poeple just have to click the "feed icon", watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4MwTvtyrUQ and ask yourself if you think people will go from:

"I want more of this site" to "Why don't I click that funky little orange icon in the address bar?"

Subscribing to an RSS feed is exactly as difficult as bookmarking a site: if I use the browser's own ability, it is a click near the URL then a click on the "Bookmark page" button (or menu) respectively a click on the "Subscribe" button; if I use a web based aggregator, it gets very difficult as I have to click on the so-called bookmarklet in my bookmark bar.

The first part may only be true in old Firefox and Opera.

I disagree. Bookmarking is something people understand better because they've done that for centuries. Even the word makes more sense 'book marking'. "Subscribing" on the other end is what people used to do when they paid to get magazine delivered to their places...

> "Subscribing" on the other end is what people used to do [...] to get magazine delivered to their places.

Which is what RSS does! It gets the next issues of the "magazine" delivered to your place.

Maybe we should rename RSS to something like "Carrier Pigeoning"

Not true. When I bookmark a page I'm never asked what format I want the bookmark in, or which page I'm trying to bookmark.

Click a browser's feed icon and you'd better be prepared to choose between RSS and Atom, all content or top content, and full feed vs summaries.

Google Reader got even some of my family on the RSS train - instead of searching for the RSS button the site, I told them to search in Reader for the site, and pick the one with the most subscribers.

It's something that made RSS a whole lot more accessible to everyone. Another thing that will be lost when Reader shuts down.

No offense, but in which universe does copy-and-paste require nerdship?

(Do we really need more people online who can't handle that or find someone to help them?)

Does this actually solve the problem?

I mean they offer two text prompts "Follow this Blog" which makes me think that it will take me to twitter to follow them there, and "Subscribe" which makes me think mostly of email lists. I'd suggest something like "Track New Posts" or the like.

Ok let's assume that you can come up with text that actually makes people want to click it. The only help a user gets then is "Pick a service to subscribe to this page:" which could confuse the user into thinking it is some sort of update tracker for the particular page they are on. If a user doesn't recognize any of those services they won't even know what they are picking. There is no glossing, like say "Bloggtroter will let you get updates to this site, and your other favorite sites in email". Oh and they can't click on the sites (to say read about them) without setting a preference that is hidden. On that why have a separate settings page at all? Just have a "View All" button and if they click something else set that.

If you work through all that I'm still not certain the use case is actually better than what they get if they hit the RSS feed directly and styles and transforms are used.

The point is to not make you click the button the SubToMe homepage of course, but on blog posts that you liked, on your friends's home page... etc.

The words are then up to them.

As for users not recognizing any of the services, this is what we're trying to solve with registration. Once you've used any subscription service once, it will show up in the modal, rather than the defaults.

You are right though that we need to clarify what each service does to make it easier for each user to pick their favorite services.

Well yes the words are up to the site owner, but I think you underestimate just how hard it is to explain what RSS does, and why you'd want to do it. Honestly if you can find a way to do that in something short enough to put on a button, then you've pretty much solved the future of RSS.

Agreed, it is hard to explain RSS and this is one of the goals of this button: completely hide them away from the subscribers...

    function addHandler() {
                                       "feed reader name");
If your feed reader provider does that, then when you land on a feed, Firefox will prompt you to add it to "feed reader name". Say yes and it will throw it at the URL it builds up (where %s gets replaced by the feed's URL).

You're being very defensive about the difficulty thing. How many times do I need to see that youtube link and a variation on "no seriously, it's too hard"?

It's not "very hard." Sure, some people don't get it, but then what are the chances they understand your modal? Surely the act of understanding how to set up and use an RSS client is more difficult than copying a link once you've done that.

In all the recent discussion around Reader and RSS, I haven't seen "too hard" as a primary concern from anyone.

Most elegant solution is Opera implementation [1] - a simple feed icon is displayed in the address bar if <link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS" href="http://www.example.com/rss /> is in the <head> section.

Other thing is dicoverability of that icon and learning what it does.

[1] I think Firefox does that too.

What's a "Feed icon" ? Ask someone around you who is not a geek to show you the "feed icon".

Well, that's a problem of discoverability - it seems that browsers try to hide that icon e.g. Firefox removed it and you need extension for chrome to show it.

All browsers do that when you have a registered RSS reader, right? I stopped using RSS a long time ago (encourages procrastination for me) so I might be wrong here.

Until Firefox removed the location bar's RSS icon, that's exactly how I subscribed to feeds: click the icon and then click the "Subscribe in Google Reader" button that loaded. That might not have worked if I used a different client, though.

Not only does the Firefox subscription mechanism work with other web clients, it supports desktop clients as well. It doesn't require registration with a centralised server, nor does it require websites to add a button to their page to enable subscription. In fact it's better than this proposal in every possible way.

The real problem was that not many people cared to subscribe to feeds, so it was considered a waste of space to have on the toolbar by default. It's easy enough to add back though...


Firefox hasn't removed the feed button. But it is not on the toolbar by default, like it used to be. You have to customize the toolbar and add it. Chrome I think never had a feed button by default. But there are a number of feed extensions for chrome that you can get (there was one made by Google also).

What's the "RSS icon"? I have no idea.

Of course... print it, go outside and ask people what that ease. Ebven if you live in SF, I bet than the vast majority will tell you it's nice but have no idea what that is!

There's a big red warning suggesting I should enable third-party cookies. That's just plain wrong.

Lucian, what's wrong here is how Google has a bug that breaks localstorage and which forced us to show that warning if you have that option setup :/

We would love to not show that warning, but since there is a bug in localtsorage which can only be avoided with that, then, well, we avoid it with that :( We'd rather show you a message than fail silently.

It is quite simple in Chrome. Just click on the RSS icon at the corner of the omnibox. Then there is a drop-down showing a list of RSS readers that you can subscribe with.

Can't think of anything simpler.

Just find a non-nerd and ask them what the "RSS icon" is. They have NO IDEA.

Don't trust me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4MwTvtyrUQ

Also, then, tell them, "If you were to follow that site for updates, what would you do?" and please, tell us the answers.

I'm pretty sure you have some kind of RSS extension installed, because Chrome doesn't do that by default.

In fact, I suspect it's the "RSS Subscription Extension" published by Google which disturbingly no longer seems to be available for download [1]. Click on a feed in a regular Chrome install and you're looking at unstyled XML.

[1] https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/rss-subscription-e...

Why they had to do that? They must had deleted it recently (last cached by google search at 9 Mar 2013). Closing down a service is one thing, not making it easy for people to use feeds in their browser is another. And it was just an extension, not even part of the browser. And when you see the feature creep in Chrome lately, it makes you wonder what their priorities really are..

You are right, I assumed it was installed by default because it syncs wherever I log in. Sorry about the confusion.

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