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RSS typically loosely refers to a set of XML feed file formats of varying degrees of use for syndicating typically time-stamped content from web sites. RSS is an acronym that stands for: Rich Site Summary (originally RDF Site Summary, often dubbed Really Simple Syndication)[1]. Atom is an alternative XML format for feeds.

RSS formats are fairly widely used, from news sites to blogs (all blogging platforms support, self-hosted or share-cropped), through ecommerce or classified sites such as Craisglist, though there have been shutdown in recent years.

RSS formats are fairly open (development/licensing processes/openness varies across variants) yet all encourage an open feed file ecosystem across the web which means that every application can produce or consume RSS feeds, without relying on terms of service, agreements or service-centric API.


Indieweb Examples


Silo Examples


Nearly every Flickr page has an RSS feed that provides some of the information on the page. E.g.


Problems Consuming RSS

There are many known problems consuming RSS feeds. See feed#Criticism for an extensive listing.

Ambiguous Usage

Use of the term "RSS" in conversation, whether online or in-person, has been ambiguously and interchangeably used to mean:

  • RSS 2.0 in particular (implying all other versions of RSS aren't actually RSS, or are ignorable, or both)
  • RSS feed files of any version
  • RSS feed files of any version AND Atom feed files of any version
  • as a synonym for a feed file of any format


Causes Plumbing Misfocus

Discussion of RSS in the context of indieweb or openweb etc. typically causes everyone involved in such communication to shift their thinking / conversation to be plumbing-centric (since RSS is a format, not a user feature), instead of user-centric.

This is at the opportunity cost of discussing actual user-level features, such the features and levels in IndieMark, and against generally agreed upon IndieWeb principles, in particular:

  • UX and design are more important than protocols and formats.

Solution: refocus the discussion on use-cases.

When someone asks "Why don't you support RSS?" or requests "Please use RSS":

Ask them, "What's the use case you're trying to solve?"

Then document the use-case, and how you're solving it with building blocks on your own website.

And keep the discussion focused on use-cases, rather than plumbing.


Instead of publishing/consuming RSS:

When using such alternatives, you should consider RSS or Atom's ubiquituous nature. Very few readers support Microformats at this point, compared to the thousands of self-hosted RSS feed readers.


Main article: feed#Shutdowns

This section specifically documents shutdowns or dropping of support for RSS feed files on sites, whether indieweb, corporate, and/or silos.


More shutdowns are documented in feed shutdowns.


See the Wikipedia article on RSS for a more thorough history.

This section is a stub, please add to it to expand it to include notable events in the development of RSS.

See Also

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