RSS Feeds Still a Major Way to Publish / Pull Content

What is RSS and why do you care?

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]

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0 responses to “RSS Feeds Still a Major Way to Publish / Pull Content”

  1. Who ever said that RSS was dead is dead wrong. It’s one of those invisible technologies that is taken for granted. The basis of our content harvesting (at Eqentia) is RSS feeds as a starting point, and you’ve seen what we have done in terms of adding value on top of it.
    However, one of the benefits of Feedburner is that they make your feed as PubSubHubbub which is a great real-time notification mechanism, basically informing subscribers within minutes of your publishing. We use PubSubHubbub extensively.
    And totally agreed that it would be unrealistic to think that social sharing will replace RSS. However, I’m seeing a red flag when I see some sites just having Twitter as a sharing mechanism, and not RSS anymore. That’s a shame. But Twitter clients aren’t the same as RSS readers, at least not yet.
    The only problem remains with managing these feeds on an ongoing basis. Whether RSS or Twitter feeds, we’re back to managing feeds. That’s why with Eqentia, we insulate the user from the management of RSS while giving them the same content & with real filtering (which RSS readers can’t do).

  2. RSS is like plumbing. How many times do you ever mention how big your pipes are in your house. RSS is the backbone of social – it moves all the pieces around. In a similar vain, talking about RSS is like talking about HTML to the average person. Who cares, as long as I can get my Facebook update or Tweet.
    As the founder of Pheedo and, and being squarely in the RSS space for years, RSS is far from dead. We manage billions of RSS updates every month for mid to large publishers – moving their content from their site to Facebook/Twitter/Google Reader for example.
    RSS had the promise as a new ‘tool’ for consumers to get updates however, RSS-to-consumer never materialized. It needed a new user-friendly UI which is now called Facebook and Twitter.
    The only person who gets really excited about pipes in your house is your plumber. RSS isn’t dead. Last time I checked, their are still lots of plumbers (who are not cheap by the way). Long live RSS!
    Valeria, contact me if you need help fixing your feeds (bill AT
    Bill Flitter

  3. really apt observation, Bill. It is part of the infrastructure of what makes the Web work and the only time one cares is when it’s not working properly or broken. Which is probably why it never materialized as a direct-to-consumer tool.
    Could it be because it’s been around a long time, way before consumers became creators en masse, and now social networks want people addicted to using them as intermediaries vs. having their own Web properties?
    Indeed, we still need plumbing. It may not be a shiny object or tool. It’s what makes much of the content on the Web flow. Thank you for your kind offer to help.

  4. RSS is one of those tools that most people often overlook. It is still powerful though and is one of the best ways to deliver information.

  5. RSS is not dead. But FeedBurner has been long neglected – it isn’t a recent phenomenon – and that’s why FeedBlitz has stepped up to provide a premium FeedBurner alternative:
    If anyone has any questions they are more than welcome to tweet me @phollows or email me directly as phil at feedblitz dot com
    Phil Hollows
    Founder and CEO

  6. Your pro page is missing the price. I’m a marketer and still dislike getting added to a campaign list I didn’t really opt into just to get a piece of information. I’m sure FeedBlitz premium is a good alternative for the bloggers and site owners who make money. I just started experimenting with a few paying features, which are labeled transparently.
    Thank you for your kind offer to help.

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