Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds are an XML format that was created to syndicate news, and be a means to share content on the Web.
Say you want to read updates from more than two dozen sites weekly. Having a way to subscribe to those sites from a central location, instead of needing to visit them individually, is very convenient. I read about 232 sites and blogs, and pull the questions from LinkedIn for three categories.
You can also syndicate Google Alerts to an RSS reader, for example, and save your inbox for real correspondence. I also have a service that tells me if someone is reposting my feed, which is how I know when sites scrape my content.
As a publisher, you want to offer a way for people to subscribe to your content — and offering a feed along with an option to receive it in the form of email, is the easiest way to do that.
Despite the link sharing taking place on various social networks — Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+ — feeds are still a major way to publish and pull content.
Which is why it is puzzling that FeedBurner, a well-known and widely used service that offers RSS and was acquired by Google more than three years ago, is in such a state of disrepair as it today. Last night I started a thread on Google+ by asking the question: What's happening with FeedBurner?
I see great angst in the unmoderated, unloved, utterly ignored official FeedBurner support Google Group. Several people mention that Friendfeed is being dropped. I now see that it has been dropped from my account.
There's at least one other comment about the counter not updating. My numbers have been way off for more than a week.
The forums themselves are a disaster. They're full of commercial spam, and nobody from Google appears to participate. ZERO support. This is puzzling, as it's unrealistic to think that site owners and people will stop using RSS in favor of just waiting for the content to be shared in social networks.
Someone, at some point, needs to have seen/read the content, found the news to share it, etc. Does Google's neglect mean there is opportunity for other entrants in the RSS feed space?
[image courtesy of Stephanie Quilao]