# # Why NOT RSS?
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Why NOT RSS?

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© June 2006 Anthony Lawrence

As I mentioned recently, I've switched to pointing RSS subscribers to FeedBurner . That's starting to accumulate data and is confirming something I already suspected:

Most of you don't come here by way of RSS.

I'm referring to the "regulars", of course, the folks who stop by at least weekly to see what's new. Only about 20% of you use RSS (or use RSS with this site anyway).

At first blush, that seems odd. RSS readers are readily available now and the latest browsers almost always have some capability of reading feeds (Firefox's "Live Bookmarks", for example). The usefulness of RSS seems obvious: you get notified when there are new postings at sites you have interests in, so you don't need to "check in".

Yet..

When I look at my own web surfing habits, RSS certainly does play a big role, but (and this may surprise you) I don't use it every day. I don't even LOOK at my RSS site lists every day.

Huh? So here I am extolling the virtues of RSS, but I don't even use it every day? What's up with that?

Well, part of it is that the sites I do visit daily always have new content. Why bother to put them in an RSS feed when I'm always going to visit daily anyway? A similar argument applies to sites I might visit once a week or so - I'm less interested, obviously, and they may not have quite so much to say as the "dailys", but I know there will be new content so again why bother with RSS?

That dependability thing may be why so few of you use RSS here: this site almost always publishes something new every day, so you may feel as I do above.

The sites I do use RSS for are sometimes the ones with infrequent postings but mostly those who post on multiple subjects of which only a small sub-set are of interest to me. I use RSS to weed out what I don't care about rather than as a trigger for the things I do have high interest in.

So what's your story? If you use RSS for this site, is it for the convenience of notification or is it a filtering tool as it is for me? If you don't use RSS, is it because you are coming anyway or because you just never got into using it at all?

Opinions are requested, and thanks for reading.


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Wed Jun 21 17:40:52 2006: 2138   bruceg2004


I use NetNewsWire on my Mac, and use it mostly for convenience. I use it daily, and will often check various sites, and links every couple of hours, as I have time. Mostly I spend about 30-45 seconds in it, and if I find something interesting, I will read the story.

- Bruce






Wed Jun 21 22:12:22 2006: 2140   drag


I've used 'straw' and "liferea" rss readers in my Gnome desktop.

They are pretty nice, liferea seems to enjoy more development time. You can usually set it up to get notifications when new news is posted even on your deskbar., but I forget the details.

I found that I liked using them. They made shifting through large amounts of information very easy, but I found on the websites that I visit often I would simply go through bookmarks by habit on a daily basis anyways. So using rss feeds were redundant.

I think there is two major usefull uses for RSS feeds... Like you said with infrequently updated blogs. I could imagine joe-blow at work and he'd check on his rss feeds every other day or so and look to see if any old friends or relatives posted anything.

The other use would be for news hounds. They'd have feeds coming in from google news, bbc, yahoo, and other major things.



Thu Jun 22 13:41:57 2006: 2143   BigDumbDInosaur


If you don't use RSS, is it because you are coming anyway or because you just never got into using it at all?

Don't let this go to your head, but this site is the first stop I make each morning on my daily journey around the web -- it is a rare day when I don't come here. I don't use RSS at all because what I want to read I can get by visiting the source site and (for the most part) what I don't want to read doesn't get in front of me.

RSS is a variant on the old "push" technology that was being advocated in the 1990's as a way to send content to users, whether wanted or not. I don't like stuff being shoved in my face, especially electronically. Since I decide where to visit and when, my annoyance meter stays at the low end of the scale and my mind is more receptive to whatever it I am reading.



Thu Jun 22 13:48:03 2006: 2144   TonyLawrence

gravatar
RSS isn't "push" at all. You ALWAYS pull, it's just that what you pull tells you whether there is anything new at the site. RSS never shoves anything at all - quite the opposite in fact.

This is my first stop every morning too :-)



Sat Jun 24 05:31:38 2006: 2154   Sledge


I check content from more than 60 websites everyday. In the past I have used amphetadesk, NewsIsFree, Awasu, feedreader, clever cactus, sharp reader, straw, sage, rsswhiz, and the feedview extension to firefox. I found this website using NewsIsFree to discover new sources.
Currently, I use Feedview in Firefox and Sage/Live bookmarks for feeds that Feedview doesn't handle. RSS presents content in a standard format without graphics, ads, and other distractions. What I do is open the feeds in tabs. This gives me a chance to skim headlines and read a few lines. Then I ctrl click the links to articles I want to read so they open in a new tab and I continue down the list. When I close the tabs with the feeds I am left with the interesting articles. I can hit a larger number of sites, filtering past the old or uninteresting content quickly.
I couldn't live without RSS and I am frustrated with the growing number of sites that send me html with information on RSS because my user agent is a web browser . Like feed burner does.



Sat Jun 24 09:26:39 2006: 2155   TonyLawrence

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If you want to bypass FeedBurner, use aplawrence.com/rss/feedburner.rss
(that's the actual feed here that fb picks up)

Using fb takes a tremendous load off my website. If more newsreaders were smart enough to pay attention to the UpdateFrequency suggested in the feed, but almost all ignore it so consequently I get hit every fifteen minutes or half hour over and over again by thousands of readers.

It also gives me tracking stats with no effort on my part, which is another plus.

But if it annoys you, please do use the rss/feedburner.rss instead.



Sat Jun 24 15:35:28 2006: 2156   Sledge


Thanks, Tony, you're the best! The annoyance is based on the folks over at BBC.co.uk and Reuters.com. I understand better now why you switched. Feedreader ignores that field too. Sorry.



Sat Jun 24 15:37:03 2006: 2157   Sledge


Thanks, Tony, you're the best! The annoyance is based on the folks over at BBC.co.uk and Reuters.com. I understand better now why you switched.



Sat Jun 24 16:44:24 2006: 2158   BigDumbDinosaur


RSS isn't "push" at all. You ALWAYS pull, it's just that what you pull tells you whether there is anything new at the site. RSS never shoves anything at all - quite the opposite in fact.

This is my first stop every morning too :-)


Actually my first stop in the morning is the bathroom, but there's no computer in there -- yet. <Grin> Anyone for networking in the john?



Sat Jun 24 16:49:57 2006: 2159   Sledge


got wireless?



Sat Jun 24 17:13:32 2006: 2161   BigDumbDinosaur


got wireless?

Nope, and I don't want it -- it's not a very trustworthy method of interconnecting machines with confidential data.



Mon Jun 26 21:14:01 2006: 2177   TonyLawrence

gravatar
(eric at fb has responded):
The deal with that is the app Sledge is using represents itself as a browser and, even worse, honors the stylesheet which probably results in issues while trying to view the content. We are providing a standard response to what the app calls for so what needs to happen is the app needs to represent itself as a feed reader so we can provide a standard feed response.

Sledge can shoot me a note directly too if he has any other questions or concerns: erico at feedburner.com

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