Entering our manyth year of syndication discontent

Ben Hammersley has a new article at the Guardian on the syndication format wars, as they enter their too manyth year anniversary.

As he sees it, don’t hold your breath for a united RSS/Atom syndication effort. However, unless you’re specifically coding an application that generates syndication feeds, or consumes them, most people could care less which syndication format is used:

And so, as it stands, the content syndication world has two competing specification “brands”: RSS in its many flavours, and Atom. The Atom project has been very successful, with the two biggest weblogging firms, Blogger (run by Google) and Six Apart (the people behind Movable Type and Typepad) adopting the standard. This produced more than half a million users alone.

This switching effect, where one or two developers can move thousands of users between different specifications, highlights a valid point: for the end users, the argument is close to meaningless. As long as their RSS reader software can read Atom as well, they will never notice the difference – and most of the contemporary RSS readers have been, or are being, upgraded by their authors to support both specifications.

The only quibble I have is that Ben has lumped RSS 1.0 into the ‘RSS’ specifications, and the two really are separate specs, with a shared name. Other than that, I agree with Ben – the end user could care less. The only requests I’ve had in regards to my feeds is the type of material included, such as full content compared to excerpts; and providing more information about the source, such as my name in addition to the weblog’s name.

There! I’ve had my RSS and Atom syndication post for the year. Now that I have that out of the way, I can move on to other things.

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