NOINDEX at the Item Level

Dave Winer writes about how he’d like a way to exclude specific items in his RSS feed from appearing on TechMeme, and suggests a TechMeme namespace for RSS as one possibility.

Rather than create a TechMeme-specific namespace, I’d prefer to see the existing noindex meta tag adapted for use on a per-item basis. For example, right now you can add this to your feed to prevent search engines from spidering it:

<xhtml:meta xmlns:xhtml="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml&quot; name="robots" content="noindex" />

I use this on the feed for my link blog (since my link blog contains items from other feeds, using noindex helps feed search engines prevent duplication) and Yahoo and Google both honor it.

So how about we adapt this for use on a per-item basis, so that individual items can be excluded without excluding the entire feed? Search engines and sites like TechMeme could simply ignore any items that are flagged with noindex.

Of course, this approach wouldn’t prevent only TechMeme from indexing an item, so it doesn’t entirely fulfill Dave’s request. But if preventing a specific site from indexing an item is something that feed creators want, then perhaps a user-agent attribute is needed (similar to the User-agent line in robots.txt).