RSS? Why bother?

This post is more than 18 years old.

Posted at 12:18 on 03 October 2005

One thing that really irritates me is when I come across an interesting blog or a website with a regularly updated news section and no RSS feed.

Now why should this be an irritation, and why bother anyway, given that in America, probably the most techno-literate nation on earth, only two percent of the population use RSS, and a whopping 91% have no idea what it is in the first place?

The fact is, RSS feeds are Useful, with a capital U. You can use a program or service such as FeedReader or SharpReader or NewsGator to aggregate the feeds from your favourite websites together and see at a glance when there’s something new and interesting. It’s called speed-reading the Internet. You can surf a hundred and fifty sites in two minutes or less.

This is so useful, in fact, that finding a site which you would like to add to your RSS reader but which doesn’t provide you with an RSS feed is a real irritation. It means that you miss out on that little toast-like popup in the bottom right hand corner of your screen to let you know when that particular site has been updated, so you have to check it out the hard way, popping back every couple of days or so and finding that there’s nothing new on the site. You may even decide not to bother, which is a bit of a disappointment if it’s a really interesting site.

And don’t forget that the two percent of people who do use RSS feeds are the techno-savvy computer-literate end of the population, who are most likely to come back to your website on a regular basis.

There’s no excuse really. An RSS feed is so simple to implement that it’s almost trivial. Nearly every blog engine or provider has one built in. Blogger gives you an Atom feed, which is to all intents and purposes the same thing. You need to add a link to it in your template, which is a bit naff, but no big deal. And producing one for your own database-driven website takes an hour or two at most.