Good News: Google News and custom searches are available as RSS/Atom Feeds.

Bad News: Has anyone at Google actually googled the RSS 2.0 formats? They have taken a weird approach to the format, double listing the title and publication date items inside the description! Okay, technically it meets RSS 2.0 rules, but functionally, it is doing things differently from feeds than we expect.

Let’s say I am keep tabs on news about squirrels, I get these results. Good enough. But if you look at the actual RSS 2.0 feed content, you see:

It makes no XMl sense to me that information stored in one element (the <title>) is repeated inside the <description>!

And what is with that clunky non-web-standard HTML inside the description? They are syndicating formatted content not content. I only got window of this when someone using Feed2JS emailed and asked why Google News RSS feeds are rendered via our site with the title written twice… If they want to render it, apply some XLST to the feed, but do not stuff crufty old HTML inside the feed.

Something is squirrelly at Google, indeed.

And while I am at the ranting, why did Google search switch the output of search results so that matching web site titles now are linked not to the site itself, but run through a Google script that redirects. So if I run a web search on squirrel, the top lik is for the ever popular scary squirrel world, and a mouse hover on the link suggests the link goes to http://www.scarysqurrel.org/ — but if you view source, or try to control-right click to copy that URL, what you get is:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=1&url=http%3A//www.scarysquirrel.org
&ei=G1D9QpiaDr6CYarrpfsM

which is in no way suggested via the output

Google-Squirrel

nor is really the URL I want associated with my link to the home of scary squirrels.

So I am guessing they are gathering yet more data on people’s tracks away from Google.

It’s a pain because when I blog and build web sites, I rely heavily on Google to find the correct hyperlinks for people, places and things, so I can provide hyperlinked references in my writing… but now, the links do not copy easily– I have to either follow the redirect links, or reach in and copy the green URL text (and remember to ad an “http://” in front. Maybe this sounds picky, but someone is tinkering with the output, and maiking my web work less efficient.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

Comments

  1. Alan,

    I don’t know if it’s soley a product of the RSS search, but I find that every once in a while, google returns search results that are a redirect through google. I imagine this is data collection on what links people choose to click.

    Regards

    David

  2. Yeah, the redirects got to be all about user tracking.
    All of Google’s other tools are there more for tracking what people are upto and data collection than being useful tools.
    The toolbar tracks, the desktop search tracks, Gmail is doing tracking, Goole bought a web analytics company a little while ago….

    Google’s got a huge amount of data on Internet usage.

Comments are closed.