Yahoo recently added a new feature to enable readers the option to add RSS feeds to their MyYahoo page. Jeremy Zawodny is right: “It makes My Yahoo better. No longer are you restricted to the content that Yahoo has traditionally provided. It’s the next logical step.” But it may be a little to late. RSS is likely to spell the end to pages like MyYahoo.
We’ve been avid MyYahoo for 6+ years. But since adopting an RSS news reader about 3 years ago, along with increasingly more weblogs and traditional media outlets providing RSS feeds, our MyYahoo readership has dropped to roughly once a week, from a previous 2x per day. In fact, our web surfing of news pages has dropped significantly. By that we mean, it’s hardly necessary to go through the hassle of browsing through home pages and sections pages of a news site, when you can scan hundreds of RSS feeds in a matter of minutes. The time saved alone is worth it. But we no longer do we have to suffer through:
• slow downloading of web pages
• crappy design of web pages
• bad browser rendering
• annoying, blinking, animated and increasingly huge ads
As a Forbes article, The Coming RSS Revolution, recently noted: “If you’re a heavy Web reader who makes daily stops at 25 different Web sites, you can spend the first half of your day just typing in the Web addresses into a browser, loading the page, and seeing if there’s anything interesting to read. With NetNewsWire, we used a single window to keep track of 60 different Web sites at a glance, and in a few cases several individual sections of certain Web sites.”
We still read plenty of news. But RSS feeds get us to more personally relevant news faster. We can even subscribe to feeds of commentary about news articles. And we can determine how frequently we want our news feeds to be updated. We could go on and on espousing the values of RSS.
But what we’ve noticed is perhaps a more important, simple fact: Sites that do not offer RSS feeds do not get the same attention from us anymore. We visit Smart Mobs, BBC News and Wired a couple times a day via RSS. But ESPN, CNN and weblogs like E-Media Tidbits, without RSS feeds, require a special effort to remember and navigate to. They might offer e-mail news alerts or newsletters, but we increasingly find those more time consuming to scan than RSS feeds. As a result, we read those e-mail newsletters less (like I Want Media) or end up cancelling them. (edited for clarity: 2.28.04)
It’s only sites that offer one-of-a-kind, unique, obsession-related content that we must have, do we spend the additional time to traditionally surf through. Forbes’ article was right, the RSS revolution is coming to mass media and the masses. If you are running a news organization (or an e-commerce site for that matter), you should seriously think about jumping on this bandwagon. It will be well worth your while.
Recent RSS Recommended Reading, Tools
• Ads by RSS: It’s Starting: “Remember that the proliferation of spam is a big factor driving people to RSS. If you run too many ads on your feed, it’ll start to smell like spam.” Post refers to: IndustryBrains Launches RSS Paid Listings.
• Share your OPML: People Like Me: A new feature on the Share Your OPML site, an Andrew-Dave collaboration, it lists people whose subscription lists are most like yours. Think of it as your personal echo chamber. It’s an interesting way to discover new feeds you aren’t subscribed to.
• AmphetaRate API: Aims to be used by all news aggregators in order for users to collaborate on finding the best personalized RSS content.
• Feedburner: Enhance your current RSS or Atom feeds in a variety of ways, while simultaneously providing personalized usage and trend statistics that describe how your feed is being used.
• Rollup: Track what is going on across a number of different sites by aggregating all the RSS feeds and displaying them on one page.
• Bloggo is an RSS feed reader for WAP 2.0-capable phones.
• Feedster: The RSS Search Engine
• TrackBack-based Topic Exchange
• Shrook: RSS reader for Mac OS X: While we’ve always loved NetNewsWire and remain avid users, Shrook is fast becoming one of our new favorite RSS readers. Plus, it’s only half the price.
• New Feed: Featured News on KeepMedia: Breaking news and related articles from their library of current and archived publications.
• According to a comment by Mike, ESPN does have RSS feeds. They just don’t publicize them. You have to view source on some pages to find out if feeds are available. So here are links to the feeds we could find:
- ESPN News Headlines
- NHL Headlines
- NBA Headlines
- MLB Headlines
- NFL Headlines
There may be more, we just couldn’t find them.
• Steve Outing responds on E-Media Tidbits: No RSS, No Read. He’s noticed the same pattern in his reading habits, and explains why their CMS makes it tough to produce RSS. Vin Crosbie slams our point of view in feedback to Steve’s post. But really, the point of this post was to share how our reading habits have changed over time. And as RSS gains wider adoption, we believe that mainstream readers will share our point of view. As Steve Outing responds in the forum, “So e-publishers should not bother until (RSS) really becomes mainstream and then race to catch up? That doesn’t strike me as sound advice. How about anticipating what’s coming and planning for it?”
Also see: In January, Vin warned publishers against being “mesmerized by RSS”: A Case Made Against RSS, citing Dylan Greene’s 10 reasons why RSS is not ready for prime time.
• Vin also makes a valid point that we do not back up our thought with anything more than anecdotes. We believe Jeremy Zawodny when he says RSS is big at Yahoo!. Perhaps, he can shed some enlightening details with us. Here’s what we can share: So far this year, 45.1% (up from 38.5% in 2003) of our site traffic comes from our RSS file.
• Enthusiasts Call Web Feed Next Big Thing: Today, AP writer Frank Bajak writes about RSS: “E-mail is crippled, concussed by an irrepressible spam stream. Web surfing can be equally confounding, a wobbly wade through bursts of pop-ups and loudmouthed video ads. And that may explain the excitement these days over a somewhat crude but nifty software tool that automatically delivers updated information to your computer directly from your favorite Web sites.”
Then goes on to later write: “RSS has been called the TiVo of the Web, the first “killer app” of the anticipated automation of social and commercial transactions online using the Web’s second-generation XML (extensible markup language) standard.”
Update: Slashdot discussion on this AP RSS article
Just a minor correction. We do offer RSS feeds at ESPN.
They are still an unofficial feature until we begin to use them to their fullest, but with a little Viewage-of-Source around some key pages on the site, you’ll find them. Or, you could just search for “ESPN RSS feeds” in any search engine.
You’ll eventually see more publicity for features like this… just not quite yet. In the meantime, enjoy the feeds…
Out of curiosity: Do you prefer RSS feeds containing entire blog entries, or just short teasers? Would you stop reading a feed if its format changed from the former to the latter?
I ask because my feed currently includes entire entries, and I’m thinking of changing it to include only teases.
I really don’t have a preference. Most of the feeds I get have a summary (teaser) only, which is fine. As long as the summary is enough to give me an idea what the story is about.
The interface on a lot of news readers isn’t really ideal for reading the entire entry. But that will probably change as news readers improve. For example, here’s a screenshot from a Mac OS X RSS news reader called Shrook. I use it to browse through summaries, then when I want to read more I just hit the web page tab, and it all flows into the same window.
What I can’t stand is RSS feeds that are headlines only, with little or no summary. I usually find that the headline is not enough, and has to be somewhat compelling for me to click over and read the story.
I think the type of feeds folks offer is somewhat limited by their blogware. For example, we would like to offer one feed that is headline and summary; and separate feed that is headline; one that is the complete post and another that is a complete post with comments. Then we’d let readers decide which is better for them. Unfortunately, our software (pMachine) doesn’t allow for this option.
Despite my frequent use of Bloglines, I still have My Yahoo as my homepage.
Why? It’s the only place I get “new email” notifications.