August 22, 2014

RSS *Yawn*

Posted by: of on 04/4/06

With our recent posts on RSS, I figured I’d weigh in with a quick opinion of my own. I know its heretical for a blogger to say so, but I think RSS is vastly over-hyped. To that end, I’m happy to point out Dave Taylor’s recent post where he points out an obvious truth: most RSS readers suck.

Here’s a brave admission: I don’t use any RSS reader. I haven’t for a couple of years. I tried various ones here and there, but ultimately I come back to the fact that I just don’t have time to keep up with all that information, and I’m an information junkie, blogger and researcher. I don’t know how the rest of you do it. I have simply don’t have an extra hour every day to scan the posts of the 200 blogs I love. I barely have time to read the industry sites that cover my sector (Internet advertising). Basically, I try to scan MarketingVOX daily, and then spend 2-3 hours with email and then, if I have any time left, I try to actually do some work. I’d love to read more blogs, but where do you fit it in? I’m sleeping only six hours a night as it is. I’m a drop-by blog reader; I cycle through my favorites here and there where I have time andbrowse their archives.
But it’s one thing for a blogger to admit this (and those who follow my blogging know that I’m also a catch-as-catch-can blogger, not a daily machine like some people). But what the hell does an ordinary person need with RSS? A blogger, a trend watcher, a journalist, or just info junkies, I can see the point of why they use RSS. But that accounts for the 5% of the population that already uses RSS. Why on earth would my mom need an RSS reader?

Here’s what baffles me most about RSS and the blogosphere: for all the excitement about about RSS as a reader subscription feature, it’s been virtually ignored by blog software tools as a true syndication mechanism. Why isn’t it a standard feature of every blog publishing tool that you can customize the resyndication of your other favorite blogs? E.g., I’d like flexible controls to put in the margin of my blogs up-to-the-minute headlines (or short posts, or long posts) from my favorite five (or 10, or 20) blogs. I tried to do this two years ago and all I found was some university hack. I suspect there are (but don’t actually know of) some more mature widgets out there that let you do this now, as I’ve seen it here and there on other blogs, but it’s certainly not widespread. It would be like blogrolling on crack. Seems like a no-brainer. Is there a WordPress plug-in for that?

(Of course, what blog publishing tools really need is the ability to aggregate posts and publishing them as an email newsletter, but, as Molly Shannon memorably said, don’t even get me started…)

5 comments for RSS *Yawn* »

  1. Hi Rick. Doesn’t Feedblitz do what you ask in your last paragraph? And don’t we come right back to the spam and email deliverability problems that has everyone excited about RSS?

    Just a thought. I’ve found that email is still really popular for subscriptions. We’ll have to see if Microsoft Office 12 and Vista can change things for the masses.

    Comment by Brian Clark — April 4, 2006 @ 11:35 am

  2. Feedblitz does deliver email newsletters (though I don’t use it, so I’m not familiar with how flexible are its features), but Feedblitz is a work-around. I think it should be a basic feature of blog publishing platforms, like WordPress, Moveable Type,, etc.

    As for spam and email deliverability, email is still far more deliverable than RSS, considering that 5% of Internet users have RSS readers versus 100% having email clients. It should be an option. If geeks still prefer to subscribe to RSS than email, good for them. But for the rest of the world who still has no idea what RSS is, bloggers are missing a major opportunity to broaden their audiences by not having email lists. Particularly for those pursuing an ad revenue strategy, email is still a popular channel for advertising, too (e.g., Adrants, MarketingVOX, two blogs that have large and growing email lists).

    Comment by Rick Bruner — April 4, 2006 @ 12:13 pm

  3. I’ve added a Feedlinx Feedroll on my site( It provides a nice “what’s on?” display of my favorite feeds. Feedlinx is another great RSS-to-email tool (

    I think we are just beginning to see some of the applications of RSS. I’m interested in how businesses can utilize it for internal messaging and workflow. It’s much more direct and immediate than email. In a couple of years, we’ll see some maturity in the tools and you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.

    Comment by Shannon Whitley — April 4, 2006 @ 6:29 pm

  4. Oh, I agree with you about email as a viable channel. I was shocked to see the percentage of my readers that subscribe by email instead of RSS, since it’s a blog for bloggers.

    Since my background is in email publishing, I wish the deliverability issues would just go away. And by that I mean people who have subscribed actually getting what I send. In that regard, email is hit or miss, and RSS is 100%. So far in testing Feedblitz, I think most of my mail is getting through (maybe becasue RSS to email content is trusted more at this point, or Feedblitz has been good a schmoozing the major free email providers), but they do lack some of the features that other companies like AWeber and GetResponse have.

    As far as having email built in the platform, that would be nice. But again, how many emails get through is up to how much trust the big email services have in the sending server, and that takes serious attention to relationships with Hotmail, Yahoo, etc. I’m not sure the blogging platform providers would bother to establish the relationships that the dedicated email service providers do.

    Good topic. I excitedly embraced RSS after getting fed up with my legitimate emails getting blocked by over zealous smam filters, but obviously RSS adoption and ease of use have a way to go.

    Comment by Brian Clark — April 5, 2006 @ 8:21 am

  5. WP Bookmarking Widgets…

    What is RSS?
    RSS content is also referred to as a feed. Many people say that RSS came from Really Simply Syndication but the good thing is that you don’t have to know what it means to use feeds. A feed is simply a way in which a reader may subscr…

    Trackback by Patrick Chia Blog — April 26, 2006 @ 11:23 pm

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