Is RSS Really Dead?

I'm usually the last guy to know, and the first to admit it, but is RSS really dead? I keep seeing posts claiming Twitter and Facebook have essentially replaced RSS as the way folks filter their news these days, but I for one am still addicted to my RSS client…

IMy Shrook.png‘m usually the last guy to know, and the first to admit it, but is RSS really dead? I keep seeing posts claiming Twitter and Facebook have essentially replaced RSS as the way folks filter their news these days, but I for one am still addicted to my RSS client (it’s Shrook, for anyone who still cares).  

Perhaps RSS isn’t dead, but instead it’s professionalizing. It’s the Beta to the VHS of Twitter. Higher quality, better signal, but more expensive in terms of time, and used only by folks “in the industry.”

I write, every single day (especially with Signal), and I consume a lot of feeds in order to do that. I need a professional tool that lets me do that efficiently, and so far nothing beats an RSS reader. But I’m serious about my feeds, and most folks, I guess aren’t.

Or are you? I mean, sure, Feedburner is languishing over at Google, I hear, but

Potemkim or Real.pnghell, I have 207,000 readers consuming my feed, at least, that’s what Google tells me. And that’s up from about 170K earlier this year. Are you out there, RSS readers? Or am I blasting XML into a ghost town?

Just wonderin. Shout out if you’re here, guys. And shout out if you’re reading this because someone pointed to it on Twitter….

145 thoughts on “Is RSS Really Dead?”

  1. RSS is hardly dead. The iPad and related tablets with it’s slick RSS reader apps ala Reeder make reading my feeds better than ever. Like you I need my content fed to me

  2. I think RSS may be about to get a hell of a lot bigger.

    The thing that has changed is the emergence of ebook management apps like Calibre which basically suck down full RSS feeds into whatever reader you’re using (Kindle, iPad, Nook and a dozen others).

    So you can essentially subscribe to any site and for the first time read it not on the computer screen.

    Recently Flipboard announced they were planning to embrace RSS as well.

  3. No, RSS is not dead. I am kind of an information maniac. If at all possible, I don’t want to miss important information about topics I am interested in. Sure there may be tools to collate information from the different social media/networks. But nothing is as user-friendly as an RSS reader. The main reason I like RSS: no social clutter. You only see the information you subscribed to. So, no, you won’t get to read anything about your college friend (whom you haven’t talked to in 4 years) is out walking his dog.

  4. Using Windows Live Mail to consume my Windows RSS platform feeds. I just got a Windows Phone, and I’m thinking I could easily use Google Reader as a backend for a great, free WinPhone RSS app.

  5. I spend over an hour a day in Google Reader consuming RSS feeds. I couldn’t imagine doing this in Twitter:

    – noise to signal ratio is too high on Twitter

    – tweets are interleaved; in Google Reader I already have a sense of the value of the items I’m reading based on their source, and can easily decide on a busy day which feeds to read and which to skip

    And just all round Twitter is irritating!

    I think Twitter is great for casual consumers of information, and for folk wanting pointers from friends (I scan Twitter once a day), but that professionals will always use RSS.

    Ultimately they’re complimentary – I think in the future everyone with an RSS feed will stream it into Twitter as well, if they haven’t already, so people will be able to choose:

    -read just feed items, grouped by source, in say Google Reader, or

    -read feed items plus personal comments, interleaved in chronological order, in Twitter

  6. Came here from Twitter – I would say that I get 70% of my professional news via RSS, the rest from Twitter. Facebook just feed me videos of kittens.

  7. Coming to from RSS. My RSS feed is like consuming news with “intent” while twitter and Facebook news is more like “discovery”. (to borrow and modify from a book I read a few years ago)

  8. Nope never physically seen anyone use Twitter. Love RSS don’t bother with facebook – too old – I see lots of young uns do it tho even thru a program called hotmail

  9. I still use RSS a lot (Google Reader), I have a strong aversion against RSS pushes on Twitter. I view Twitter as a social application, where I want to talk to or ask people things, RSS I use to quickly skim through articles. Worst offenders in my view are Twitter accounts where you can’t see whether you are dealing with a human or a RSS pusher.

  10. RSS is still king for me…I love consuming my ‘inbox for the internet’…nothing compares and I don’t think anything will replace (for me)

  11. I am definitely still using – and relying upon – RSS to bring depth beyond Twitter.

    A year or so back, I was (trying) to read too much, and I almost gave up.

    The arrival of the iPad (and tools like Reeder) changed that; I am reading more again, and doing so in comfort, away from the desk…

  12. This is the most relevant part of your summary: “used only by folks ‘in the industry.'”

    Twitter, Facebook etc. are alternative feed readers for the masses. And to be serious: they are pretty good feed readers for average users! BTW: there’s simply not enough choice for dedicated feed readers out there.

    I’m personally using Fever: But who has it’s own server space out there? Who is willing to install a web app on its own? And who is willing to pay for a feed reader application?…

  13. I read this in my RSS feed. Twitter is great for discovering new and interesting things, but for consistently good sources of information, nothing beats RSS. I want to make sure that I get the chance to read everything from certain blogs and newspapers, and with RSS that information is nicely contained and waiting for me. With twitter, I have to constantly watch it to pick up on things.

  14. I’m not part of the “industry” and still I prefer my doing my reading on a RSS Reader (Google Reader) to Facebook or Twitter.
    Facebook I use for networking and some conversation. Twitter I have yet to understand how to use.
    The fact is RSS just waits for you until you read it, it isn’t limited in any way, while the facebook and twitter streams just flow and wait for no one…
    So yes I read your RSS, once in a while I catch your comments on Twitter.

  15. I follow my RSS feeds in Google Reader, and I open it every 10 minutes – I’m addicted to it.

    I prefer it to Twitter as RSS readers mark read posts so I don’t see duplicates, and if I am away for a few days, the posts don’t vanish into the endless pile of tweets.

    Twitter might be the solution to getting news out and about and securing new readers to your blog, but in terms of tracking each post you upload, RSS is the way to keep score I believe.

  16. twitter is full of noise, RSS has a much higher quality to it.

    just check the user forum for the flipboard ipad app, the most requested feature is RSS integration.

  17. RSS reader. I can get a much better idea if an article is interesting through Google Reader than I can from Twitter. If anything I’m upping my consumption of news via RSS.

  18. Tried Twitter, couldn’t make it work for me, back on RSS.

    I think you’re about right – RSS is boring and professional as opposed to fun and social.

    My guess is that the rest of the difference comes down to the fact that one’s an open standard and one’s a social networking company – RSS doesn’t really have it’s own tribe in the way that Twitter does.

  19. I read RSS every day, and update multiple times a day. I also refuse to use Twitter (it’s for twits). Facebook and Twitter are for stupid comments that no one ever reads. RSS is for news.

  20. Hell, I only really started using Google Reader regularly about a year ago, and now RSS is supposed to be dying? I don’t buy it. Twitter and Facebook are simply too stupid and annoying to offer me exactly what I’m looking for.

  21. RSS Dead? No way. There’s a lot of people out there still using it and is very far from day. May be it’s changing its form.

    Twitter and fb replacing it? Not even close. There are many niches out there with a public far from “geek” that still does not know how to do that switch and love reading a blog using RSS in email form.

  22. I use RSS (Google Reader) every day. I’ve invested a lot of time into organizing a lot of feeds and folders with it. I don’t think I’ll stop using it unless RSS feeds stop being available.

  23. I agree that RSS really does fit more in the realm of a professional tool. I just recently started cultivating my feeds with Google reader and have found it much more fitting for some types of information. There is just too much junk on the social networks to offer the same value.

  24. I just started using RSS this year and find it really useful. I track about 150 feeds, including my Google Alerts. I also use Twitter, but don’t get a fraction of the info from it that I do from blogs.

    And not to sound like a fan boy, but your SNR, John, is very high. I recommend and quote you to people.

  25. I’m and editor. I use RSS to make sure I see everything posted by certain sites and to skim others. I use twitter to watch for what might be bubbling up. I can check RSS and know it will be there. I glance at twitter several times a day, but never look back at the stream of items I missed.

  26. I’m here! I’m with you, I couldn’t be effective at my job without my reader. Google Reader for me, because of the Listen podcast subscriptions that feed into my Droid.

  27. Definitely echo most of the comments here. I don’t see twitter as a replacement. In fact I see it as more of a sumerised comments box for articles published via RSS.

    I’ve spent a long time organising feeds into topic channels, and don’t plan on chainging anytime soon. If anything with the introduction of services like evernote and instapaper I see it more valuable than ever.

    I use google reader with reeder on the iPad and iPhone. But have just changed to mobileRSS on both devices, because they support exporting to evernote.

  28. Came here from Google Reader… can’t imagine not using it for news. Maybe it’s because I like to at least skim the least interesting articles rather than just ignoring them on my twitter feed.

  29. Twitter Vs RSS???

    That’s a joke right? RSS feature committed, serious publishers and is more about functionality than about fashion.

  30. Interesting post John, I have been thinking about this for a fair while. I think it has something to do with the way people consume content.

    Many people are happy to graze Twitter, but the ‘super nodes’ that are the ‘social editors’ need a much more robust way to get content: RSS. If you like RSS is the weapon of choice for the content apex predator, rather than the content herbivores.

    Facebook is weird one because although it is recommended content your view is heavily filtered through a Facebook algorithim. Which is also the reason why it makes more sense to go ‘above the line’ on facebook campaigns rather than rely on WOM a lot of the time.

  31. another RSS guy here. BTW I found your blog through the Google Reader pack of blogs related to Search :), and have been hooked since then.

  32. I am reading this on my RSS reader (, although it came in as a tweet. To a good RSS reader, this should make no difference.

  33. Great comments, folks. I particularly like the idea that RSS is used by “connectors” or social nodes – may explore that in a follow up post. And this is like the 99th comment, which I think is close the most comments I’ve ever gotten on a post, at least this quickly. Thanks!

  34. I use Google Reader and access almost everything I read via RSS feeds still. I use Twitter as well, but my main interface for getting information is Google Reader.

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