RDF Social Media Weblogging

Really simplifying syndication

My move to simplify my syndication has not met with unqualified success.

The folks at Bloglines were able to delete all of the many different syndication feeds for my site. Unfortunately, rather than move existing subscriptions over, they just deleted them, which means about 250 people are now no longer subscribed to my site. This would be a minor inconvenience to these folks to re-subscribe, except I’m not sure how many will notice that my site is gone from their lists.

I mean, that’s like throwing your own funeral and no one comes.

The .htaccess redirects also caused some interesting results at times. Wordform uses WordPress’ syndication functionality, and the only way to change the number of syndication feeds I support–as well as the default format–is to write a fairly complicated plugin or directly hack the code. As it is, I’ve had to add some of the functionality back in to allow feeds for categories, which means people could subscribe to one feed three different ways: through the static index.rdf file I generate, directly through the program, or attaching /feed/ at the end of my site.

This is something Bloglines should look into: providing a user interface for users to control feeds, and be able to ‘redirect’ a subscription for one feed URL to another feed URL. Bloglines can’t seem to distinguish that the three different feed URLs are to the same feed.

As for forcing people into providing many feeds, that’s something weblogging tool developers should look into: it isn’t efficient to have sites provide many different feeds. Let your users pick a feed that suits their needs, and give them the option to just display the one feed. The same format should work, then, for category feeds, comment feeds, and the main feed.

For myself, I prefer RDF/RSS because the format fits in with my other metadata use. But for others who are into podcasting, they may want to use the iTunes version of RSS 2.0. And still others who like the precision and flexibility of Atom, give them the Atom format. It’s too late to try and focus on one and only one syndication feed format — the three variations each have too wide a distribution. However, aggregators can support all of these main feed types, and people shouldn’t have to worry about keeping each and very version and variation of feed type alive at their site. It’s messy. It’s inefficient. It’s XML overkill.

Eventually if RDF/RSS dies out, which I don’t think it will, I’ll just add support for whatever syndication format best suits my purpose and redirect my index.rdf file to it. Yes, I know — crufty URL, and I should have just stayed with as a way of designating my one and only feed. Then I wouldn’t have to do the redirects I’ve done, and may have to do in the future. I knew this. But no, I stuck with index.rdf, anyway.

Sometimes I just get pig-headed, mule-brained, heels-dug-in stubborn. I am a tech, after all.

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