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Of Internet Users, Only 4% Knowingly Use RSS 284

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i'll-tell-you-why dept.
yogikoudou writes "Recent research conducted by Yahoo! and Ipsos reveals that while 12% of surveyed Yahoo users know what RSS is, only 4% of surveyed Internet users use it (PDF) (and know they use it). Podcasting is also reviewed, with the conclusion that 2% of surveyed people use it. The increasing number of blogs should go with an increasing number of syndicated readers, as they are now an important part of the web." I've said it before, I'll say it again- if RSS was called SpeedFeed every user would have to have it.
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Of Internet Users, Only 4% Knowingly Use RSS

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  • 4% is still a lot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:05AM (#14374187)
    4% know what the heck RSS is, is a lot.

    All these Web2.0 companies thinking they're targetting the general Internet public with their RSS, podcasting etc... mashups are only targetting the high-end users of the Internet, and these are the users that only sign-up once, try it for a min or two, then dump it and move on to the next greatest thing.
    • Overload. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by IAAP (937607) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:10AM (#14374208)
      ...try it for a min or two, then dump it and move on to the next greatest thing.

      I dumped it because I was suffering from information overload. Seeing all the shit happening in the world was just increasing my stress levels. Also, so much of the information is duplicated it just wasn't worth getting. It's amazing how much is plagiarized from AP, Reuters, etc...

      • Re:Overload. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by MoonFog (586818) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:37AM (#14374287)
        Same thing for me. Although I like to keep up with what's happening, having the same story duplicated over every news paper you're subscribing too is boring and tedious. I didn't find it any easier than using a good old browser, seriously.
      • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @02:09PM (#14374899)

        I set up a feed to the RSS from Slashdot when it was first available. The problem was that so many new articles get posted here, it was immediately a chore to scan all the titles for discussions of interest. I gave up in less than 24 hours, and reverted to scanning the customised home page for new articles and using the message system to check for replies to threads I was interested in. And that was just with one source; try hooking up to the BBC News feed for ten minutes and see if you can keep up! :-)

        On the various bulletin board systems I follow, Slashdot being one, I find a good messaging system is invaluable: they tell me what I really want to know immediately but can't see straight off the home page, which is when someone replies to a comment I've made (ideally, with further options to pick up things like replies-to-replies in subthreads I've participated in, or other replies to comments I've replied to as well). They don't add further clutter I don't want. I doubt any simple "dump every new title to an RSS feed" approach will ever rival the power of a moderately good messaging system.

      • Re:Overload. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mcubed (556032) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @02:13PM (#14374920) Homepage

        It's amazing how much is plagiarized from AP, Reuters, etc...

        It also amazes me how so many self-important bloggers can talk about "replacing the MSM" with a straight face. This goes especially for political bloggers on the left and right. A casual perusal of Technorati or memeorandum on any given day is enough to see how much blog content is editorializing on stories published in the MSM. What the hell do they think they'd have to talk about without the MSM?

        That's not to say I haven't found blogs worth keeping tabs on, nor to suggest that I don't think there's anything valuable about the blogosphere. But we are a long way off from so-called "citizen journalists" being anywhere close to the league of professional journalism.

        Michael

        • Bloging could replace MSM, but only with the silver bullet of some kind of agrrigation and filtration device.

          In short - if there existed some program that would scan all those RSS feeds and deliver only the stories I gave a shit about - then they might have a chance.

          More realisticaly, blogging serves to provide a democritizing influence to the oligarchical strictures of the MSM. The two can work quite effectively together, as we saw in the 2004 election cycle.
      • I agree here. Personally I find it relaxing to click through the websites that interest me. I don't need some RSS aggregator to bring all of the headlines into one location. I think where RSS is going to be useful is taking content from one site and displaying it on another. Podcasting uses RSS effectively as well. I think once they get away from the idea of viewing RSS feeds directly we might see some really interesting things happen.
    • Re:4% is still a lot (Score:4, Interesting)

      by rosewood (99925) <rosewood AT chat DOT ru> on Sunday January 01, 2006 @02:38PM (#14375033) Homepage Journal
      Maybe I missed it but RSS (or whatever you want to call it) seems like a bad idea for everyone. I personally don't use it.

      For example, if I take slashdot's RSS feed, often I find that the headlines aren't descriptive and I ended up clicking the link and just reading the story. Im not sure how that saved me any time then just going to slashdot.org and scrolling down and scanning the site.

      Now, some sites get past that by including some (or all) of the text of an article in the RSS feed. ... ... Well I would hope and pray that anyone who has ever tried to make $1 on the internet would see how stupid that is. Giving away content went out in 99 I think.

      RSS feeds for ars, slashdot, digg, anandtech, hardocp, shacknews, etc. just seem silly when I can just open those sites in tabs, scroll through and get the full site and everything that goes along with that.

      BUT CONVINCE ME! Say "this is where RSS really shines, not that..."
      • RSS is lost on text - because it is text itself.

        RSS might be better used with other technologies to provide automated distribution of video and audio content. Right - so that's XML really, as opposed to RSS in the strictest sense -- but then 99% of the planet seems convinced that the world wide web is the Internet.

  • Why use RSS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peragrin (659227) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:07AM (#14374197)
    I hit a couple of dozen news websites daily. Every RSS feed is different, some give titles some give summaries. Why use it.

    I have tried I usually find it more cumbersome to read RSS then click on the link to articles i want to read than going to each website doing a much more through san of everything shown and opening what i want to read in tabs. There is nothing RSS provides that can't be had faster with other methods.

    Maybe i just haven't found a good RSS reader yet. They all seem to me to be lacking something.

    But that is only my opinion. I don't do podcasts either though I can see where those could be useful. Of course I don't listen to portable music so they don't help either.
    • Re:Why use RSS (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jackb_guppy (204733)
      Amen!

      I have NOT even found a use for IM. If I want talk to some one I use the PHONE. If I want to write I use EMAIL. To me IM is the worst mixure of those two worlds.

      RSS currently is just another gimick, to waste bandwidth without giving meanful return.
      • I have NOT even found a use for IM. If I want talk to some one I use the PHONE. If I want to write I use EMAIL. To me IM is the worst mixure of those two worlds.

        Ah, yes... we finally know why IM (and, for that matter, RSS) is such a failure. Obviously, because the product doesn't cater to YOU, it must be totally worthless.

        Now excuse me while I saddle my horse to fetch some water from the village's well...

      • Re:Why use RSS (Score:2, Interesting)

        by hackwrench (573697)
        My use for IM
        1. I can take time to think before typing, and the other person won't wonder why I'm not talking to them.
        2. If I want to recall exactly what was said (and not what I thought was said, BOOM, it's right there.
        I don't use RSS directly, but I use http://www.dailyrotation.com/ [dailyrotation.com] which uses RSS on the back end. (the www is significant though as its use of cookies has proven a little buggy without it).
      • Re:Why use RSS (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fimbulvetr (598306) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @12:10PM (#14374425)
        I prefer IM over the phone. In fact, I regularly demand it instead. IM is so much more convienent because it's not an atomic action, the phone is. I do have to drop what I'm doing to answer my coworkers question. I can finish the last 10 seconds of work on my widget, then alt-tab over to what he asked. I can then reply back, he can finish his widget work and read it. Phone calls demand your immediate attention and go poorly when you can't give it. It's also a bit more convenient than email. No sending or receiving, no waiting for message delays and most importantly, I know everyone on my contact list, so it's probably not spam,I know it's pretty important, etc.

        Kopete makes instant messaging especially great. The little conversation bubble is non-intrusive and you can group chats so you only have one window instead of 12 windows for 12 conversations with 12 people.
    • Re:Why use RSS (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mchawi (468120) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:26AM (#14374258)
      I feel the same way. A lot of browsing the internet is not doing it as fast as possible so any 'speedfeed' wouldn't make a difference. I like taking a few minutes and going to each website and finding anything interesting. If I'm not in the mood I don't go out and look. This isn't to say RSS is good or bad, just saying that not everyone browses the web by the same methods.

      I also only browse about 4-5 sites a day and no blogs, so I don't have the volume of sites I check to make it useful. This might be one of the key differences in RSS being useful or not - the volume of sites you check.

      The issue with podcasting is that a lot of checking websites that I do is at work. Text works fine, but if you start using audio you need to wear headphones or you start disturbing people, and if you forward a podcast that is interesting - a lot of people aren't going to 'read it' because they don't have headphones or want to disturb those around them.

      • Re:Why use RSS (Score:4, Interesting)

        by irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:34AM (#14374280) Journal
        I think the problem lies in RSS as an implentation rather than an idea. Syndication would be great if it truely was syndication and everything was treated equal, but once you have to deal with some people only posting headlines, some headlines + short summaries, some full stories, the lack of reliable timestamps on info, lack of consistent format (plain text? cdatad html? xhtml? etc), it just stops being worth it.

        I'd check a lot more sites if they all could be merged into one locally aggrigated portal site, but due to the way RSS works its just not really doable now. The other thing that really needs to be aggregated is site based notifications. Email notification works somewhat if you filter them all to the same place so they dont clutter, but it would be nice to either push or pull them all to one spot to check your messages on slashdot, Talk: on your wiki user page, forum replies/msgs, myspace/xanga/lj/whatever notices, and every other little thing you dont want to go out of your way to check but would like to be informed of.
        • I considered putting together a service like this, then realised there's not a chance in hell of sites wanting to push user notifications to another site. Hell, fewer and fewer are doing email notification
    • I fully agree with you about using RSS for articles. It seems I can find things I'm interested in faster by hitting 2 or 3 of my regular news aggregator sites and opening tabs. As for podcasts, I was in a similar boat to you. I tend to listen to NPR or music while at work. However, I subscribed to about 10 podcast feeds in iTunes a month or two ago (newsweek on air, world news tonite, quirks and quarks, science friday, kojo nnamdi's tech tuesday, ricky gervais, etc). If they're covering something I'm not in
      • Re:Why use RSS (Score:4, Interesting)

        by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:54AM (#14374345) Homepage Journal
        I use the slashboxes on the slashdot page quite extensively.
        It allows me to browse slash and keep ontop of the main sites I visit.

        RSS works for me in this context and I haven't ever seen the need to get a dedicated reader or investigate RSS further.
      • I fully agree with you about using RSS for articles. It seems I can find things I'm interested in faster by hitting 2 or 3 of my regular news aggregator sites and opening tabs.

        <sigh/>
        <fx action="beats desktop in despair"/>

        and where did you think the aggregators got their news from? 'I don't use RSS because I can find things faster using RSS'? There was a day, far back in the mists of history, when Slashdot was a place the cluefull hung out. Not any more, it seems.

    • Re:Why use RSS (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hackeron (704093) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:42AM (#14374303) Journal
      >> Maybe i just haven't found a good RSS reader yet. They all seem to me to be lacking something.

      Thats right, the built in crap or even standalone readers just show you whats recent. Get a reader like aKregator [sourceforge.net]

      1) Integrates with Kontact and Konqueror showing articles next to your todo list and emails
      2) Manages articles as read/unread as apposed to just whats "current"
      3) Allows advanced searching through indexed articles (hate searching slashdot for that article?)
      4) Allows a convenient way to archive articles for later read on many websites without having to visit the websites

      I do agree the RSS built into firefox and ie7 and even many standalone readers are just useless, they just show you whats currently on the site. aKregator allows you to catch up on news any time.
      • Re:Why use RSS (Score:4, Interesting)

        by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Sunday January 01, 2006 @01:25PM (#14374712) Homepage Journal
        I like http://www.google.com/reader [google.com]
        Keeping all my subscriptions on a server makes a lot of sense--I can view the same content at work or at home.
        Plus, we're talking RSS on AJAX: double your buzzword pleasure!
        The interface may be simpler than some, but I call that a feature.
      • I disagree. The Sage extension for Firefox is excellent. It works off bookmarks to RSS URLs, and does exactly what I need, namely show me headlines from various sites in an unobtrusive and integrated way. I've used RSS Owl and other standalone clients and frankly none of them does anything so compelling that I would think of using them over Sage.
      • the RSS built into firefox and ie7 and even many standalone readers are just useless, they just show you whats currently on the site.
        But if that's all you want, then they work great. I use Firefox's built-in RSS for Slashdot - if I miss doing it one day, big deal, I'll just catch the dupes later :)
    • Re:Why use RSS (Score:2, Insightful)

      by manavendra (688020)
      Maybe the solution isn't RSS. The one big innovation/change in the way we use the Internet, over the last few years has been google, which identifies relevance based on ranking and cross-linking (in the belief others know this is good content).

      Maybe just publishing content isn't enough. Maybe we need something that has content source indexed by subject/category *and* relevance? Where relevance grows based upon the number of readers who read it...

    • Re:Why use RSS (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Simon Brooke (45012) *

      You're missing the point. If you go to my blog [jasmine.org.uk], as well as my content, you'll see current headlines from other sites I find interesting. How do you think they get there? Do you imagine I sit up every night carefully editing my pages and putting in new links? Hint: I don't. A little fragment of XSL [w3.org] pulls the current RSS from the sites I'm interested in, and integrates it into the page as it rebuilds it. And guess what? Those sidebars on Slashdot are just the same.

      RSS may not be interesting to you on your b

  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:08AM (#14374198)
    I've said it before, I'll say it again- if RSS was called SpeedFeed every user would have to have it.

    There are a number of acronyms that can be just as "sexy" as marketdroid made-up name. Think MP3, PC or IBM. Maybe the truth is that much of RSS is hype? Either that or there's SS in the name and it's too nazi, but I won't say it because I fear Godwin's wrath.
    • Hey, I've got a couple of ideas. Let's call it... "Active Desktop"!

      No? OK, how about... "Pointcast"!

      It can't possibly fail!
  • by Channard (693317) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:08AM (#14374200) Journal
    ... most people don't know their RSS from their elbow.
  • In the old days (c. 2000), website updates were promulgated through e-mail newsletters. But those e-mails confused spam filters. So RSS came along.

    Why isn't RSS subject to spam? Because in RSS, the recipient pulls the information from a known server, whereas in e-mail an arbitrary sender sends the information to a known recipient.

    Now in the era of RSS, recipients have to check two places: e-mail and RSS. Thanks to e-mail spam.

  • Push pull (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MadFarmAnimalz (460972) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:10AM (#14374209) Homepage
    In my opinion, the problem with RSS adoption is not the name. It is the fact that employing RSS is really a pretty fundamental change to the way people use the internet.

    Most people are used, I think, to giong online and surfing over to their usual bouquet of sites and checking those. The content provider effectively has to "pull" the content consumers in to the content.

    RSS on the other hand, is "pushed" out to the recipients. Sure, people still have to surf to the site to get the feed URL, but it's still broadly a push content strategy.

    I realize this doesn't sound like much of a change, but for many less sophisticated internet users, the concept of having the news come to you rather than having to go to the news is not familiar.

    As an additional point, I suspect that dedicated RSS users will tend to have tens and often hundreds of feeds to sift through. Most people just don't want or can't handle that much information. As a consequence, it is not al that attractive to them.
    • RSS on the other hand, is "pushed" out to the recipients. Sure, people still have to surf to the site to get the feed URL, but it's still broadly a push content strategy.

      IT'S NOT PUSH!!!! When they were calling it "push" in the '90s it wasn't push and it isn't now. If you subscribe to a feed, you still have to go retrieve that feed. Whether that retrieval is automated or on-demand, it's still retrieved, which is PULLING the data.

      You can't forcibly update someone's RSS reader with your latest content

      • Re:Push pull (Score:2, Informative)

        by nateziarek (904476)
        I think you're missing the point.

        You are right. It is not technically a "push" technology. However, since most RSs aggregators are set, by default, to update every so often, the appearance is that information is being pushed to you.

        It doesn't really matter what the actual technology is. All that matters is perception. The parent was saying "it is disconcerting for non-geek members of the internet community to have this news delivered instead of going out and browsing for it." In every sense except the techn
        • Re:Push pull (Score:3, Interesting)

          by gbulmash (688770) *
          "The parent was saying "it is disconcerting for non-geek members of the internet community to have this news delivered instead of going out and browsing for it."

          Then perhaps a better description of RSS is like an e-mail reader where people give you their addresses, but you don't give them yours. Each time it updates, it asks just those people you've selected "do you have any new public mail for me to read"? If the answer is yes, it downloads it and you can read it.

          - Greg

    • What in the hell does this have to do with the sophistication or, as you probably meant, "leetness", of the user? I'm thoroughly familiar and interested in all the latest technology (why would I be reading Slashdot otherwise?). I've known about RSS for a long time. I've tried out several RSS readers. You know what I found? This technology is worthless to me. Sure, you may like it, but I don't. It has nothing to do with sophistication.

      Know how I browse the internet? I open up Firefox, and have it start up wi
  • Knowingly? (Score:2, Funny)

    by SmasKenS (104811)
    How many are unknowingly using it?
    • Re:Knowingly? (Score:3, Informative)

      by MoonFog (586818)
      Well, Firefox comes with a feed on by default. Even though people have realised they should use alternative browsers people still struggle to use the update function, let alone the RSS function. I'd say there's a good chance of some people "using" it unknowingly.
  • A lot of newbies/non-tech users unknowingly use RSS though, which is what I guess yahoo was hinting at. All the big portal/search companies have their own blog/news syndication scheme that makes it easy to subscribe to sites. (Example [sudokuist.com])
  • by CrackedButter (646746) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:18AM (#14374237) Homepage Journal
    I know about it but don't use it because I'm not prepared to hunt down another application in order to use it. I also didn't upgrade my mac to tiger just to use Safari RSS.
  • Not suprised (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lamasquerade (172547) * on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:23AM (#14374247)
    Am I the only one who doesn't get the (great) appeal of RSS? I've tried it in various forms (Firefox Live Bookmarks, Google Homepage, RSS plugin for Firefox...) serveral times and I always end up forgetting about it. I really only read three web-pages every day and I like to scan the entire pages, so RSS is a waste of time in those cases as the various methods of using RSS only let you see, say, 20 headlines at once and my main news page, for example, has hundreds well organised in various sections.

    The new Gmail implementation is vaugely interesting as I sometimes see something I wouldn't have otherwise seen (such as Google blog entries and stuff from other news sites I wouldn't normally visit) so I guess as a random selection it makes some sense, but not as a dedicated homepage/plugin etc. that I would deliberately load up frequently.

    So I really am not suprised by the 4% figure, the only thing that is suprising is that anybody else is suprised:)

    • RSS, XML, CSS...

      I guess people weren't happy with delivering basic information through html, email, ytalk, finger, and usenet news.
    • Re:Not suprised (Score:5, Informative)

      by lawpoop (604919) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @12:17PM (#14374449) Homepage Journal
      I read the slashdot from page. However, I have RSS subscriptions to some of the craigslist categories (jobs, gigs, and for sale) of my locality and also digg. For these sites, I don't acutally want to read their front page. In the case of craigslist, the 'front page' doesn't actually have any more information than the RSS feed itself, so the RSS feed is more effecient. In the case of Digg, they have inane summaries and commentaries. Don't need 'em.

      At other times, I had subscriptions to hack-a-day and freshmeat. Freshmeat was information overload, and hack-a-day didn't really warrant an RSS to read a new item once in a day.

      So I think there is a 'right amount' of information that make a good RSS feed.
      • Re:Not suprised (Score:2, Interesting)

        by bbtom (581232)
        In fact once a day is absolutely perfect for RSS. Once a month is even better. I read blogs that have updates a couple of times a week. RSS saves me from going to the site when they haven't updated.

        As for Freshmeat and sites like that, what would be useful is if they could publish a personalised RSS feed. Exclude stuff you're not interested in (for instance, if you never listen to MP3s on Linux, there's no point it showing you new MP3 players).
    • > Am I the only one who doesn't get the (great) appeal of RSS?

      No.
  • There are a wide variety of applications that support RSS (Firefox and Thunderbird come immediately to mind) and with RSS support due in IE 7, it's coming along. But in many ways, RSS is like the old "push" hype of the late mid-90s, and push died.

    Pointcast got hot, then Microsoft and Netscape both brought out their variants on it, built into their 4.0 editions. Everyone in Internet marketing was talking about "push" (I tech edited "Marketing Online For Dummies" which came out in 1998), but it died.

    Now, this could probably be due to the fact that it was not based on XML, but had a few semi-HTML markup language variants depending on whether you were producing your content for Pointcast, IE, Netscape, etc. The people I've talked to who are hot on RSS claim that the XML and standardization of the RSS specs make this a different ballgame.

    I don't know. I'm still expecting Microsoft to "embrace and extend" so that RSS forks and RSS reader makers are scrambling to adapt to all the tags Microsoft introduces.

    But in the end, RSS is basically the evolution of "push". I don't understand what's going to drive consumers to adopt it any more than they adopted the channels concept in IE4 and Netscape 4. Perhaps growing adoption by publishers will help push consumer adoption. But after watching all the hype rise, hit a crescendo, and then drop off into a whimper with push, I'm still not going to pin my hopes on RSS achieving widespread consumer adoption.

    - Greg

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The whole thing just confuses the crap out of me. If I want to see what's on a site, why wouldn't I just GO to the site and see?

    I hate when I hear people talking about how great RSS is because frankly, it's nonsensical as far as I'm concerned. My own web site uses RSS because it's part of the package. If I had to put any thought into making it work though it'd be off. Fortunately for whatever fraction of that 4% of Internet users who understand and use RSS who actually read my site (both of you) it's all au
  • But how many uses Firefox' features for RSS, knowing it as a live bookmark, not as RSS? FF comes with RSS feeds preinstalled, so I guess alot use them, if unknowindly.

    That's the interesting point, and as I've heard ff has ~10% market share, I'd bet at least 10% of users use it in some way. Granted, it is mainly the more skillfull users, but neverthless.

    How is this for slashdot? How many people uses slashdots feeds? How many % of the hits on slashdot.org comes from the feed?

  • by hostingreviews (941757) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:28AM (#14374263) Homepage
    Poor RSS. They mean well. It's almost too bad that there's no need for it. It's a rehash of that "push vs. pull" tech we heard so much about. It's obviously going nowhere, few people understand how to utilize it, fewer people use it, nobody needs it. Unless the RSS feed is from my bank account, showing me withdraws in real time on my cellphone, I don't see myself using it either.
    • Unless the RSS feed is from my bank account, showing me withdraws in real time on my cellphone, I don't see myself using it either.

      Do you really have that many people with access to your bank account that you need a live feed?

      You should change your PIN.

    • It's almost too bad that there's no need for it.

      We use it a lot for actual syndication. I work for a newspaper, and all of our sections have an RSS feed. Our partners can use that RSS feed to put our headlines on their page, and vice-versa. The AP provides hundreds of RSS feeds. Our pages are assembled with RSS and XSLT.

      RSS works rather well as a back-end syndication format.

      If the partner wants the full story (like Yahoo and MSNBC's local news wires), we provide an NITF.
  • Ironing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blackjackshellac (849713) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:32AM (#14374273)
    It's ironic that this article is not in the rss feed yet. Try and find the rss link on the slashdot site. I knew it was there, and with this new setup I had to add it again. The idea behind rss is very cool, very cool indeed. But in practice it is not quite yet ready for prime time.

    For example, what the hell is up with firefox's use of LiveBookmark? Why is it such an unmitigated pain in the ass to add an rss feed to firefox? What is the problem with firefox's current (1.0.7) implementation of bookmarks? Okay, I guess I'm bitching here a bit about firefox, but its default implementation of rss is not yet there yet. That, and that alone, is the reason why only 2% of users are doing the rss thing.

    Besides that, for some sites, clicking on a feed displays a menu with very little information. Slashdot is a good example, I can read a list of article titles via the rss feed (this article still not available), but you know, as with slashdot, I go there and scan the list and read the articles that I'm interested in, increasingly very few.

    I don't know how to implement these things to improve the experience for the user, including myself. Someone with more experience in user interface design will surely have more to offer than this.

    ps. The article is still not there.

    • firefox's current (1.0.7)

      Nope: 1.5. Upgrade already, becauuuuse...

      Try and find the rss link on the slashdot site.

      It's right there at the end of the adress line.
  • Where RSS shines (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bluelive (608914) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:32AM (#14374276)
    RSS just isn't handy for news sites, but it becomes really handy for tracking for very good blogs that update seldom and/or irregularly.
    • I agree with the irregular thing. For sites like Slashdot that are updated every day though I find it's usually easier just to put a button in my bookmark toolbar. RSS is really handy though for things like the mac rumors sites and all the different sections of NPR.
  • by rtphokie (518490) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:37AM (#14374286)
    and people still wouldnt use it widely. I'd venture a guess that those who do use it only have a couple of well chosen feeds.

    Personally I use it for anything but news or website update notifications. I use it to monitor bug lists and trouble ticket lists. The integration with Firefox makes it nice.
    • As a matter of fact, after Safari added RSS support, my blog-reading has increased.

      I used to have roughly 20 sites I checked daily, including comics. Many of these were updated relatively rarely, perhaps even once a month. After I started to experiment with RSS and blogs, I'm now able to keep track of many more sites, just because I don't have to remember the state of each blog. I now have over 50 blogs and other sites in my list.

      So yes, they are well-chosen, but "few"? Not very likely.

      I still read /. as a
  • I subscribe to some RSS feeds from CM Crossroads. The list of articles gets so long that it extends "above" and "below" the screen, especially on my laptop. I get these tiny up and down arrows at the top & bottom to scroll the list. There are several problems with this:
    1. The arrows that allow me to scroll the list up/down are not very big. This makes them harder to "hit" when using a laptop touchpad.
    2. The "scrolling via hovering over arrow" paradigm feels dated. IMHO. No, I don't have an alternat
  • Too technical (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jesus IS the Devil (317662) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:46AM (#14374313)
    RSS is just too technical for the average Joe to understand, much less care to use it.

    Second, the majority of RSS feeds are junk. Most give you a really short headline with nothing in the way of content. You still have to click to read the full story, so there isn't much draw to it.
  • They should have surveyed on a slashdot poll, then it would have either been overwhelmingly in the other direction


    (or towards Cowboy Neal)
  • In other news.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by brunes69 (86786) <slashdot&keirstead,org> on Sunday January 01, 2006 @12:25PM (#14374480) Homepage

    ...of Internet users, only 4% knowingly use ARP. However, 99.99% of Internet users do use it.

    Seriously, WTF is with that "knowingly" in there, the majority of "Internet users" wouldn't know their ass from their elbow, let alone whar RSS is or what it stands for.

  • When I was designing geostats.info, I thought it would be very cool to include Amazon.com Purchase Circle data, but they don't offer it via RSS or the Amazon Web Services API, plus the screen scraping program from O'Reilly's 2003 Amazon Hacks book didn't work when I tried it.

    After some digging via Google, I found a little-known way of coding their Purchase Circle URL's so the data is delivered as CSV (comma separated values). I wrote a script that translates that data into an RSS feed (with my Amazon Ass

  • I started using Bloglines [bloglines.com] several months ago, and it's saved me so much time. For those that don't understand why it would be helpful, picture 40-50 sites that you read. Instead of visiting each site to see if there are updates, Bloglines just shows you the newest headlines from the last time you went to Bloglines. You can then see the headlines (and articles, depending on the site) and decide whether you want to visit the site to read the article. No more constantly visiting Slashdot or Digg, I just check
  • by rheotaxis (528103) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @12:31PM (#14374496) Homepage
    Some comments here wonder what value RSS provides? RSS offers much more than syndicated news feeds, it helps control your information overload. Two examples follow. First, Dr. Dobbs [ddj.com] article shows how to build your own RSS with Ruby to track information when certain events occur. Dave Thomas [pragmaticprogrammer.com] writes artcles and books about Ruby. He says "You can use RSS to collect and summarize information from your projects and from your life" in the Dr. Dobbs article.

    Second, Yahoo maps documentation [yahoo.net] says, "The XML used by the Yahoo! Maps Simple API is based on geoRSS 2.0." Here is another link [brainoff.com] about GeoRSS and worldKit, a map built using shockwave flash. You publish your map content, and GeoRSS for every point you want on the map.

    IMHO, GeoRSS [georss.org] is becoming a de facto standard, becoming part of many blogs, and content managment systems, like Plone [sterngasse.at]. and, BTW, Good luck with all your adventures this New Year.

  • It's not important. A related example: Of all the people who use SSL (or even TLS), what percent do so "knowingly"? Not alot, and who cares?
  • Which, after all, is what it is. Remember push technology? Remember what happened to push technology? All the interest was from the pushers, not the pushees. "Now, you can shove your crap right onto user's machines, when you want to." It's about making the Web into a broadcast medium.

    And, actually, the old Netnews protocol does the same job. More efficiently, using less bandwidth. Netnews is even a true peer to peer distributed system.

    • I don't understand hostility to RSS. To me it's one of the best things that ever happened to the Internet. Setting up RSS feeds is not difficult, and obtaining them isn't either. If most people don't use RSS feeds, is that really such a big deal?

      And, actually, the old Netnews protocol does the same job. More efficiently, using less bandwidth.

      That's great, but if you're arguing that nobody uses RSS because the demand is artificially being driven by content producers, what makes you think netnews is bet

  • ...what you get if you leave in a tampon too long?
  • Up until recently (well, the introduction of the iPod is still in the realm of what used to be considered 'recent') the term 'Pod' has had nothing but negative connotations. Think about it:

    In traditional geek lingo, a 'pod' is a term for a person who is devoid of intelligence or basic humanity (comes from Invasion of the Body Snatchers - a great yet campy cold-war era horror/thriller). Pods, Pod People, "he seems like some kind of pod", and so forth. When I hear the term 'podcast', it immediately evokes t

  • My use (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shish (588640) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @02:03PM (#14374872) Homepage
    So many people saying it's useless... Sure, I *could* check 200 odd webcomics, blogs, podcasts, forums, and news sites every day only to find that only one or two have updated -- but it's *much* easier to have them all merged with a single "unread items" list.
  • There are a lot of barriers to using RSS for 'normal' people since so few even know how to use email. Primarily you have to see the outcome first, which is the efficiency of a feedreader, then work backward learning how to gather, populate, etc etc.

    180n [180n.com] is an example of something I call WebRSS using big M news media sources. Basically it's skipping the learning and going straight to the presentation. Removing and adding sources is still on the agenda, but you can see what I'm getting at.

  • by t_allardyce (48447) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @02:20PM (#14374954) Journal
    RSS and sites like Google news, realistically make the concept of separate websites redundant. There's not really much point in slash code anymore, slashdot, fark, digg, etc etc might as well be just another blog and all blogs might as well just be one big RSS feed. All news sites might as well join in too and that goes for pretty much any site out there thats news based in any way. Pretty much everything else can go on Wikipedia and the rest can go on AmazonBay. we can make do with three websites for the entire world: one giant categorised RSS feed, one encyclopedia and one online auction and shop.

    So why haven't we? (not that I want to).
  • They like hearing the sound of their own voice.
    Podcasting is also reviewed, with the conclusion that 2% of surveyed people use it.
    In Canada, we here far too much drivel about this podcast and that podcast being pimped by the CBC.
    Fact is, many reporters use their Podcasts as a tool to syndicate their content to other media properties.
    The trouble with this is, it is just more of the same stuff; nothing new.
  • by FhnuZoag (875558) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @02:36PM (#14375026)
    Do we have stats on how many users don't know what RSS is, but use it nevertheless? How many know RSS not by name or technical function, but by the idea of I want to do X, and if I click on button Y, I can do it?

    It's probably not true in this case, but a technology only reaches it's maximum exposure when most people use it without knowing it. When it just becomes something to be taken for granted.
  • by XO (250276) <blade,eric&gmail,com> on Sunday January 01, 2006 @04:47PM (#14375507) Homepage Journal
    ...RSS isn't really all that useful, except for monitoring people's web pages that are hardly ever updated. And if they are hardly ever updated, then why do you want to monitor them, anyway?

      RSS/ATOM gives you a wide range of crap, ranging from "nothing but an HTML link to something", to "the entire article dropped in in an easy to read format, causing you to never, ever have to visit the site that it came from".. depending on what site you subscribe to.

      I have slashdot and fark subscribed on one computer.. and I realised.. why even bother? Slashdot and Fark are updated 10-15 times per day, and their RSS feeds are completely and totally useless. About the only thing I actually -use- RSS for is to monitor two of my friends sites that are hardly ever updated.

      This is why RSS/Atom isn't being used, because it doesn't HAVE much use.
  • infrequent blogs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sdedeo (683762) on Sunday January 01, 2006 @11:35PM (#14376777) Homepage Journal
    Actually, I believe the best use of RSS is for infrequently-updated blogs. My own blog I update once a week or so; I estimate -- from anecdotal reports alone! -- that about a quarter or more of my traffic comes from people using RSS-like systems. And this is for a lit-related blog, hardly a domain of super-tech-guru knowledge -- people use things like my.yahoo, I don't believe many use a local machine application.

    It seems silly to use RSS for sites like slashdot or people who write a post or more a day. You can't keep up with that, so you end up having to "manage" your RSS inbox rather heavily. On the other hand, it's a great way to keep track of the less updated blogs; instead of having to load up a whole bunch of sites over and over waiting for new content, you can just be alerted when something new comes up.

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