I am all for expanding the use of RSS, and new things are popping up every day. However, stuffing an entire newsletter inside an RSS feed as listed at Lockergnome (referring to
Barbara Feldman’s “Ezine-Tips” on Using RSS to Deliver Newsletters seems to me a bad trend of stuffing a lot of things into RSS feeds that need not be there.
As an “EZine” maven, Barbara is proposing alternatives to sending electronic newsletters than email, but what she is suggesting is sticking the entire contents in an RSS feed.
Newsletter publishers, however, are just beginning to use RSS as an email-replacement technology to deliver full-content feeds.
Was RSS designed to deliver full-content feeds? No. Is it the perfect technology for delivering such feeds? No. But it is already widely available, and its penetration is increasing. And, being nimble in online publishing is all about seizing the opportunities as they present themselves.
This to me is bastardizing the notion of RSS as Simple Syndication, or providing a synopsis of content with a brief descriptiion, that allows viewers to scan the title and blurb and then choose on their own, to go after the full content.
But what Barbara is doing is pushing out the full content in RSS (why? because she can?), taking away that right for users to browse and click for more, pushing out more bandwidth to aggregators who check feeds hourly. Next stop, spam, porn, and why not pirated movies stuffed inside RSS?
RSS has potential as well for access to content descriptions via PDAs, cell phones, but not if it becomes weighted down with giant feeds.
This is bad. Do not do this. Keep it simple. Please.
Update: August 29, 2003
This has stimulated some interesting dialogue (see comments below), and I must come clean in that when this was written, I was not as aware of the different ways Barbara uses RSS on her site, including feeds for descriptions of her content (see her note below).
And yes, this dog must admit that selection of this newsletter feed is on the user, and completely self selected in.
On the other hand, there is this rising tide of suggestions of “RSS replacing e-mail” and I can swear I hear the sounds of the members of the Direct Marketing Association rubbing their hands, and other internet exploiters trying to figure out how they can make a buck by sleazing something via RSS. Maybe it will not be as bad, but as I noted in a comment below, I can recall a time when e-mail was as pure an open, spam/virus/junk free environment as RSS is today.
So I will take the “bad” dog snide remark back about what Barbara is doing, enjoy nibbling a bit of crow.