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RSS Update: Not Dead, But On The Watch List

By - January 30, 2012

Since I posted my call to action last week, nearly 600 folks have raised their hands and told me they’re reading this site via RSS. That’s pretty good, given my actual request was buried under 500 words of rambling conjecture, and my Disqus commenting system went down for portions of the first day. Not to mention, my RSS feed has grown by about 90% since the last time I posted the request, yet the number of comments (plus Tweets and other responses) was three times higher. It was the most comments I’ve ever gotten on any post, period.

So I think it’s fair to say the call was answered (we missed the overall number by about 85 votes, but there’s still time). For at least a very vocal minority of readers, RSS is still a critical tool. But, reading through the comments, it’s clear RSS has major issues, and that no one is really expecting those issues to get resolved. Most of you depend on Google Reader, and feel like the Google+ integration has been a step backward. And those of you who are publishers feel like Feedburner (also a Google product) is neglected and untrustworthy, and that there are simply no good monetization tools.

But a ton of you thanked me for making my feed full text, and I won’t be stopping that anytime soon. Thanks all, and if you haven’t left a comment on the original thread, please do! If we get to 664, I’ll feel somehow more complete!

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22 thoughts on “RSS Update: Not Dead, But On The Watch List

  1. AdamGurri says:

    RSS is a vital part of my information diet. But I agree about the issues. I feel like RSS reading is stuck in the place that search was before Google. No one has really figured it out yet, either from a user experience perspective or a business model perspective.

    Thanks again for keeping your feed full text.

  2. Daily user of Google Reader with roughly 200 feeds in 9 categories, plus a separate account for work. I really like the ability to post direct to G+ and the ability to send to Bufferapp (to distribute to Twitter) and other sources. I’ve stopped tagging in Reader and now let Twylah organize my Tweets for me so I can find content later as needed.

  3. Bruce Wayne says:

    Daily user of Kleemi Reader with 300 feeds and 5 categories. Its based on Open source. Has a minimal drop dead easy to use interface and is integrated with the Kleemi “Conversations” the Kleemi micro blog service. 

  4. Anonymous says:

    Tweets / most other social media couldn’t be more useless for reading news.  Get that crap out of my social network.  Reader is the best news platform I’ve found so far, but it’s far from perfect and Google hasn’t put much effort into making it better.

    The worst is when someone links to twitter at the bottom of the site and all it shows is people re-tweeting the article title.  How is this helpful?

  5. Michael B. says:

    RSS Reader is the best news source online. Period.

  6. Phi says:

    RSS is invaluable tool

    Yes, tweets are fast but is more like a flash news on TV without any way to get inside the news or have a follow up or get more datails….

    I would be lost without RSS and a good reader
    period

  7. Anonymous says:

    There is nothing like RSS for keeping tabs on lots of news sources. Perhaps part of the reason it is still effective is that monetization isn’t trivial, which also has something to do with Google’s lukewarm treatment of the technology. It certainly lost its mainstream appeal a while ago, but that’s OK: It’s being used today by mostly the digerati/technorati, and it’s a demographic that everybody wants to reach. The Internet’s very own 1%… If studies are to be believed Flipboard, Pulse et al are apparently turning immensely popular, so perhaps RSS is in the process of making a resurgence. 

    I tend to prefer reading articles from feeds that publish full content, if given an option. At any rate, most feed readers make it easy to browse the full/original article within the app itself, sometimes in “readable” format.

    I use Google Reader, and a bunch of feed readers on top of it (Feedly, Prismatic, and others). Well over 300 feeds (most of which are low-frequency/long tail).

  8. [...] RSS Update: Not Dead, But On The Watch List, John Battelle’s Searchblog [...]

  9. Ivoszz Ivoszz says:

    good news :)

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hi John, 
    Sorry I missed your original post. Happy to report aggregating content via RSS is alive and well – at least in the enterprise. 

    Couple of points along those lines (warning – self serving info incoming): 

    Three out of the top five global pharma companies use Attensa StreamServer to gather, organize and deliver relevant information tailored to the unique requirements of individual employees. It’s a process can be quickly and easily repeated for individuals within workgroups, departments or across an entire enterprise. 

    One of those clients characterizes our solution as a “massive win” in productivity gains. Another big pharma client plans to use our StreamServer as an Information Services Platform.

    And, an integration partner based out of the U.K has taken a similar approach with Attensa’s StreamServer, using it in a lightweight integration framework in their social business offerings. That solution is being used at two global professional services firms. Hard ROI analysis show a nearly 23% reduction in email inbox traffic attributable directly to how Attensa optimizes certain workflows.

    Okay… soapbox off. Suffice it to say I’m a paid mouthpiece for Attensa, but I’m also a huge RSS fanboy. If I had to guess – I’d say we’re coming out of Gartner’s trough of disillusionment and headed up that slope of enlightenment heading towards some measurable business value. 

    Cheers,
    Scott Quick, VP Enterprise Solutions
    Attensa

  11. Tomasvdb says:

    you’re right to point out that the lack of a decent RSS reader is a problem. for instance flipboard needs to go through e.g. google reader to show content (and initially didn’t even support rss at all).
    I really don’t understand why RSS is so neglected, it is the best way to consume curated content in bulk. It’s the news without the noise…

  12. Arly says:

    I like RSS feeds – I separate them into work and personal – and peruse in the morning!

  13. Dan Thornton says:

    Much like social media, it’s not about the numbers – it’s about the type of people that use RSS. I use RSS because I’m a writer, journalist, blogger and marketer, and it allows me to utilise those feeds in various ways, whether it’s filing, content curation, inspiration, targetting specific sites etc.
    It’s not general consumer behaviour, it’s digital information junkie behaviour, which is more valuable in many ways…

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  15. [...] RSS Update: Not Dead, But On The Watch List | John Battelle’s Search Blog – and much of the problem is Google’s Feedburner and Google Reader | Google+ integration [...]

  16. Vkline says:

    I do.

  17. One more RSS reader here dropping you a comment

  18. Adil Gunaslan says:

    alive and well

  19. wererogue says:

    The great thing about RSS for me is that I can read stuff later.  So… I probably don’t fit into your metrics very well.

  20. kerryritz says:

    Hi John
    better late than never. yes, i still like browsing through my RSS feeds and the full text version makes it so much easier to read on mobile devices

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