May 9th, 2011

How to Fix RSS Redux

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Five years ago, I wrote a post about How to Fix RSS (which was my first post to appear at the top of Techmeme). The technology and media landscape has dramatically changed since then, so I’ve updated the simple three-step program, with a particular focus on news organizations.

RSS is NOT dead… it just needs to be reborn:

  1. Take down the partial text RSS feeds from your website — they are useless, and nobody uses them.  (Refer the four people still using them to 2 or 3 below.)
  2. Post your best content to Twitter and Facebook — they are infinitely more user-friendly, mainstream, and social than RSS readers, making them infinitely more useful and valuable.  And keep that old, reliable email newsletter… email will outlive us all.
  3. Create full text RSS feeds for B2B syndication and partnerships (content sharing, new platform like Flipborad, Ongo, Zite etc.).  Rather than hand everyone raw RSS feeds, distribute them through a platform that can provide:
    • Tracking and metrics
    • Control over distribution to partners
    • Control over terms of use
    • Support for web syndication (e.g. automate hard-coded links back, add Google syndication-source meta tag)
    • Support for all of your business models (without co-opting them)

Lastly, here’s a still relevant (dare I say prescient) excerpt from my original post:

But remember — PEOPLE ARE LAZY. They don’t have the time to put these packages together themselves. The real competition in New Media will be among content remixers. We used to call these editors — the only difference is that remixers will have a nearly infinite diversity of content at their disposal.

Comments (4 Responses so far)

  1. I was with you until point 3, which is a recipe for breaking RSS, not saving it.

  2. Depends on what your goal for RSS is. It can serve a huge roll as an
    open standard for B2B syndication. But it needs support for business
    models, which it has lacked to its detriment. As a direct to consumer
    standard, it does not have much of a future.

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