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    I’ve honestly never heard any criticisms about RSS. It does one thing, and does it well. I get to choose what I subscribe to, and catch up on things when I’m interested. It’s pretty weird that it somehow isn’t the default for getting content. What’s the reason for that, the fact that much of the web is social media and aggregators?

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      My main criticism of “RSS” is that it’s the name for like … four different incompatible XML formats, and people often use the term to include Atom, which is the feed syndication format that was actually the most carefully and thoughtfully designed, (it even has an RFC!) but isn’t actually RSS. It wasn’t just “this version was replaced by that version, which was replaced by that version” either; it was like there a bunch of different formats created by completely different groups of people. They couldn’t even agree on what the acronym stood for.

      IIRC one of the four different RSS variants was actually decent, (can’t remember which one tho) and I think that in this day and age, if people are still talking about RSS, they’re probably talking about that one? But I honestly don’t know because no one cares to specify. Edit: this article is actually an exception which refers to “RSS/Atom” but it’s unusual to hear people say that.

      That said, even RSS 0.9 with its gross design flaws and gaping ambiguities would be a hell of a lot better than the alternative of “find us on Facebook or Twitter”.

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        This is a criticism of “RSS”, though, not of RSS. (Unless you’re advocating that we stop using these formats because of a naming ambiguity?)

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        I think it’s a bit too technical for a lot of folks. The name for one (the acronym RSS doesn’t “mean” anything for most people, just as HTTP or HTML doesn’t), and the fact that you’d have to know how to copy the link into a dedicated feed reader. Very often the link isn’t even visible - you’d have to dig through the HTML to find it in the meta tags, or “guess” where it is because you happen to know someone is using e.g. Wordpress. The link can be opened with a browser, but if you do, you get “gibberish” (either the browser presents you the XML or even worse, a prompt to “download” that XML).

        And I’m speculating here, but I presume social media gives you a frictionless, unified way to subscribe to people you want to follow and a single place to keep track of all the content those people post, including a way to discover new stuff that might interest you. So why would you bother to go to all their online presences, find the buried link and add them to your feed reader? Also, feed readers often can’t display all content (especially video, images, but also special styling) correctly - one often needs to go to the website directly.

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          A portion of that is due to Google. Starting in 2005, they made Google Reader available and amassed a large following. Then in 2013, they killed the project (because they failed to get, what? A billion people using it?) and none of the (at the time) RSS/Atom readers were as good as Google Reader (from what I understand of the reactions).

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            The main problem with Reader was that it was good enough for developers to have a hard time competing with it with a paid product, and once it disappeared there were simply not enough people prepared to pay for an alternative.

            But the reader market isn’t dead. I pay for Feedly (mostly because there’s a decent mobile version) and have since the demise of Reader, and they’re still around.

            But I really do think Google looked at the numbers of users compared to the maintenance burden, saw that the usage was basically flat, figured it was not worth it (or maybe thought Google+ would be an alternative) and simply axed it.

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            My theory is that it’s because it requires a conscious choice to set something up and then curate a list. Social media is optimized to have zero friction/barrier to entry (in fact the actual legitimately social aspects of it draw one in, understandably), and then all the other content is just kind of… there, and it becomes the default because it is in fact already there.

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            I couldn’t agree more about feeds being a great way to be notified of new things happening. I mostly migrated away from Twitter recently, and part of that was to switch to RSS for the news from my local U.S. National Weather Service office. (They don’t offer a feed, unfortunately, so I’m using Feedbin’s Twitter support to pretend that their Twitter posts are a feed. Fingers crossed Twitter doesn’t go down right before a big storm…)

            Feedbin also has an email-to-feed gateway, so I direct my Substack subscriptions and even some marketing emails from local businesses right into my RSS reader. Leaving an article unread in there for a couple of months is a lot less stressful than keeping it around in my email inbox.

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              A reasonable argument, if you’ve some how forgotten that reader mode exists.

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                I don’t think RSS is the best way to read online, but it’s a decent way to collect things you want to read. You couldn’t read a Bartosz Ciechanowski post in an RSS feed.

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                  Reader mode as in the browser feature that reformats the page to be more legible? How does that help with finding that someone has made a new post on their site?

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                    It says “The only civilised way to read online” rather than “The only civilised way to discover things to read online”. edit: admittedly a bit pedantic of a critique.