In an effort to raise awareness about syndication on the Web, Daily Blog Tips has started campaigning for another online event: RSS Awareness Day, which happens on May 1st.
Now I have got to wonder why we have to be so specific and tackle only RSS feeds and not feeds and syndication in general. Why call it RSS Awareness Day when it should be called Feed Awareness Day instead?
And they wonder why
Copyblogger asks, “will RSS ever go mainstream?” Again, that’s asking the wrong question! It’s like explaining how Gmail works, instead of how email does. And they’re wondering why very few people are using RSS—correction—feeds.
Eliminate the confusion
Choosing to shine the spotlight on RSS alone becomes another obstacle to actually understanding—and not just becoming aware of—web feeds. It confuses the very people we want to educate.
RSS is a standard, not the standard. The default feed format for WordPress blogs may be RSS, but on Blogger, it’s Atom. You can’t even guarantee that blog platforms offer RSS feeds. How will you explain that to people who unwittingly discover this fact? And how will you explain all the other buttons that are not labeled RSS, but XML, Atom, or RDF instead? You’d be opening an unnecessary can of worms.
Some friendly reminders:
- RSS is a feed format.
- RSS stands for several things, including “Really Simple Syndication”, “RDF Site Summary”, and “Rich Site Summary”
- (Note: RDF stands for Resource Document Format.)
- RSS is a feed format written in XML.
- (Note: XML stands for Extensible Markup Language.)
- Atom is another feed format.
- (Note: Atom stands for nothing.)
If you’ve been on the Web long enough you might appreciate all these acronyms, but ordinary people don’t. Do them a favor and make it simple for them. Do not recite the list above to them (that was just there for your geeky pleasure). Just explain what you can do with a feed, and how easy it is to use.
Awareness, truth, simplicity
The feed icon is a standard for not just RSS, but all types of web feeds. And just as this icon has helped us understand feeds in a symbolic, abstracted way, we should do the same for those who haven’t understood yet.
Please, if you’re going to start a campaign about awareness for normal people, convince them how easy it is for them to participate. Don’t geek it up. Do it right.