Really Simple Subscription

Dave Winer proposes a solution to the problems caused by the lack of a standardized method for feed subscription. While I would love to see these problems resolved, with all due respect to Dave, I can’t say I’m wild about the idea of a centralized subscription server. This seems too complicated for something called Really Simple Syndication, and I imagine many users wouldn’t want their subscriptions stored on someone else’s server (or wouldn’t be permitted to by their employers).

In my mind, the real problem is that the browser does the wrong thing when you click that ugly orange RSS or XML button. Just as your browser knows how to handle “mailto:” links, it should understand what to do with a link to a feed.

So I have to point out that the feed:// protocol (aka: feed URI scheme) was created to resolve this problem. Is it a perfect solution? No, it’s not (there’s no such thing). Past discussions about this idea have devolved into arguments about MIME types, but I maintain that it’s the best one we’ve got because it works right now. It’s already supported by FeedDemon, NetNewsWire, RSS Bandit, NewsGator, NewzCrawler, SharpReader, Shrook, FeedReader, Awasu and other desktop RSS readers. It would be simple for Yahoo!, Google or MSN to support it through their toolbars, and for Bloglines to support it through their notifier tool. And it would be dead simple for browser developers to support it as well.

The other part of the problem is that those orange RSS or XML buttons look far too techie. Why not drop the geek acronym and just use FEED instead?

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