RSS, OPML and the XML platform.
Copyright 2003-5 Randy Charles Morin
Dave Winer: This release is significant for publishers who provide RSS 2.0 feeds for their content because this is the first Microsoft release that includes comprehensive support for RSS
Randy: Download, install, play.
Initial Thoughts: Hung and crashed after about 1 minute. Definately has Web 2.0 attributes.
The latest blogosphere marketing blitz by NBC has a BlogAds employee emailing bloggers who have NBC BlogAds ads running on their blogs asking them to link to a blog run by NBC on the subject of child predators. I think this is a great idea! Now, add "MSNBC is spending about a $1 million dollars in advertising on the following: [cut] 800 blogs (largest blogad buy in history)" and you have a company that is serious about using the blogosphere to create buzz!
Rogers Cadenhead: A new era begins today for the RSS Advisory Board, an independent organization formed in 2003 that publishes the Really Simple Syndication (RSS) specification, helps developers create RSS applications and broadens public understanding of the format. The board is taking on eight new members: Meg Hourihan, LoÃ¯c Le Meur, Eric Lunt, Ross Mayfield, Jenny Levine, Randy Charles Morin, Greg Reinacker and Dave Sifry.
Randy: Heh, that's me! Thanks Rogers for the opportunity and for moving the RSS Advisory Board forward. This looks like an awesome team!
Darren Rowse: I still have not heard from Technoratiâs customer service department despite emailing them a number of times over the past few months. ProBlogger is listed by them as not having updated for 222 days. [cut] ProBlogger continues to have a ranking in the top 100 (97 today) yet continues to be left out of the Top 100 list. [cut] Looks like the only way Iâll get featured on the Top 100 Blogs page is if I pay for it. Maybe I should take out an Ad that says that ;-)
Randy: Technorati and blogosphere search in general continue there slow degrade.
Dare Obasanjo: I'll continue to pay attention to this discussion but for now microformats will remain in the "gross hack" bucket for me.
Randy: Dare doesn't pull punches and I have to admit I agree with him.
Mihai Parparita: Blogs hosted on MSDN seem to have started to generate Atom 1.0 recently.
Quinn Norton: Even though Joshua Schachter was rumoured to be about $30m richer, this was far from his best Christmas. Just nine days after Yahoo bought his company, Delicious (http://del.icio.us), and at a time when all eyes were on it, the power failed - leading to a service outage that meant 31-year-old Schachter had to work all hours to fix the site's technical emergencies.
Craig Barnes: So what are we releasing next week? Attensa Outlook 1.0 and Attensa Online. What users won't see is anything visible around our AttentionStreams in the recommendation and auto-prioritization area.[cut] Yes APIs are forthcoming, so please stay tuned on that too.
Phil Wainewright: It's all too plain that RSS as currently delivered is fatally flawed. [cut] RSS reading remains stubbornly mired in a client-server, cubicled-user metaphor that locks out any scope for the kind of network effects that we're supposed to be reaping in the Web 2.0 era.
Randy: RSS is dead once again. Must be the tenth time. Obviously, RSS has more lives than your average house cat. Two years ago, I introduced Dude, Check This Out! to the world. The Dude had those network effects. Unfortunately, it was far too early. Maybe it's time for a restart.
Sam Ruby: I decided to do something productive. Like adopting the feed icon as the favicon for the Feed Validator.
Randy: I sense a tipping point. Get the feed icon at FeedIcons.com. I'll update my blogs in the next week.
Kevin Burton is reporting that Yahoo! will buy Digg and the announcement is next week. I have to wonder about Yahoo!'s acquisition strategy. They seem to be buying every Web 2.0 startup that gets popular (i.e. Flickr, del.icio.us). Is YouTube next? At what point does Yahoo! run out of money? There'll always be new popular social Websites and many of them will fail before they find a business model.
A reporter ask me via e-mail...
Do you think there is any danger behind these sites --- there is lots of hype about cyberstalking and kids getting busted for nudity and underage drinking/drugs on their pages?
I replied to him, but I thought I would copy my statements here. My reply follows.
MySpace is a social Website where people can meet, chat and generally entertain themselves. People in general (but teenagers in particular) are extremely bored and are looking for ways to entertain and express themselves. Teenagers and young adults have found MySpace to be a very good outlet for their boredom.
There is no danger behind MySpace. What MySpace does is occupy people who would likely be doing something much worse if they didn't have that vent. There's cyberstalking, nudity and drug talk. But, at least it's online where real physical damage is rare. The alternative is gangs, sex and drug usage. Which would you prefer?
What do you think?
Russell Beattie let's the CAT out of the bag and NAILS it to the cross!!! A great article about how bloggers seem to say THE SKY IS FALLING after every sentence.
Official Google Blog: When you're signed in to your Google Account, you'll receive recommended news stories based on the previous stories you've read. These recommendations will be highlighted just below the top news stories on the page, in a clearly marked section. You can also get a full page of recommended stories by clicking on the section. All of this is done automatically using algorithms.
Judging simply by the number of referrers I'm getting, MySpace is the fastest growing thing on the Web. In an effort to understand it, I've been playing with it. The first thing I wanted TODO is change my layout. I did a quick search on Google for MySpace Layouts. There's a lot of information out there on how to customize the layouts, but the instructions for modifying your layout were incomplete. The instructions were usually, paste this into your About Me. I had a hard time at first, trying to find the About Me. In the end, I figured it out, but thought I'd write up my own instructions.
I hope this helps somebody else from wasting 15 minutes, like I did, trying to find the About Me.
Eric Bangeman: As an early invitee, he was able to register "ryan.coleman." Another later invitee named Ryan Coleman found that address taken, so he settled for the username "ryancoleman." So far so good. Then Ryan the first started getting the e-mail of Ryan the second.
Randy: Ooop! It appears Gmail has had a big hole for an even longer time.
WashingtonPost: As of 4:15 p.m. ET today, we have shut off comments on this blog indefinitely. [cut] But there are things that we said we would not allow, including personal attacks, the use of profanity and hate speech. Because a significant number of folks who have posted in this blog have refused to follow any of those relatively simple rules, we've decided not to allow comments for the time being.
Randy: This is a perfect case where registration could be used to help self moderate a blog. Registration is not always the right fit, but for high volume blogs, it's the only way to go. The reason it works, is that users who can't keep a conversation civil are usually posting anonymously, fearing damage to their name. Requiring registration discourages non-civil behavior. It will discourage legitimate comments as well, but that's the price you pay and it's better than no comments at all.
Chris Nolan: Two of my projects have launched today. See my Shortest Alpha Ever post about the launch of Kweschun. And see my post on Kekova about the launch of the Canadian Election Mashup where you can see a google map of all the ridings in Canada, do a quick lookup to find out where you need to go to vote, and link over to a series of kweschuns so you can try and predict the future along with everyone else in terms of the outcome of the elections.
Randy: Kweschun is a community Q&A forum. Provide a couple suggested answers to your question and you can follow which answer the community favors. Very cool!
Susan Mernit: Without some share in the revenue, it's not right to make $$ from anything more than a headline and a digest, unless the blogger has specifically given permission for a great depth to be published off site.
Randy: John replies with two examples.
Randy: This makes perfect sense to me and I think pretty much any honest person would agree. Unfortunately, we're not all honest.
Matt Walters: So â¦ on December 20th I submitted a question to Technorati given the email address they provide and they have yet to answer, even though I have followed up on the email 5 times now. What does it take to get an answer guys?
Randy: Hello? Is this thing on? 2600+ subscribers and not one from Technorati? Either that, or it's not sinking in.
John Palfrey has a great discussion on how to properly aggregate RSS feeds and offer that aggregated view without stomping on your source and violating his copyrights. John runs an aggregation service called Top10Sources.
Here's the important points he makes.
I would also add that Top10Sources doesn't not actually make a permanent copy of the RSS data. Rather, it simply lists the most recent items in the source RSS feed. He truly is aggregating feeds, not copying the content within.
This month, I have a new top referrer. The referrer is quite amazing. 1000 visitors from this site have clicked thru to my Website. The amazing thing is that not one of those referrers hit any of my preset Google Analytics goals. Websites that click-thru to similar pages have goals hits around 5%. I wonder how they convince their users not to click on my ads or subscription buttons?
Ask Jeeves Blog: With the system and hardware upgrades now in place, Bloglines users are experiencing across-the-board performance improvements, including increased freshness and faster page loads.
Randy: Boy, this makes me laugh. Let me just drop a couple screen dumps and explain. This is the most common result I get from Bloglines now.
It doesn't hang as long before I get there, so in-a-way, they are correct, "faster page loads." Occasionally, I actually get results returned.
Note in these results that none of the blog entries actually meet my criteria. The results are 100% bogus. Yes, "faster page loads" of absolute crapulence. And don't get me wrong, I'm not the only user struggling with Bloglines.
I'm the Bloglines Plumber. We've had a database multiple hardware failure. We'll update this when we have more information.
Niall Kennedy: Technorati is planning lots of exiting new features for 2006 and we would like to know more about you, your reading and blogging habits, and the features you would most like to see implemented by Technorati this year.
Randy: I'm asking for zero new features. All I want is the existing features to actually work. Without my results being infested with splogs. Without bogus results from months past. You know, current non-spammy results.
Many months ago, I wrote an article title State of the Splogosphere. It was generally a knock on the Blogosphere search engines which have had a hard time dealing with splogs; spam blogs. In the meanwhile, I started writing more in-depth articles on the Blogosphere Search, with a minor in the Splogosphere. What I notice this month was an overall improvement in the quality of blogosphere search results. I think I might of JINXed the blogosphere. I woke up this morning to a classic splogosphere attack with a big bulls-eye on Blogspot. My refers at Technorati, mostly Blogspot splogs and lots of them. Where is all the progress? This is what we were seeing in October 2005. I really have to wonder what the engineers at Blogspot and Technorati have been doing for the last six months. Not that the problem only lies with them, I got some horrible porn splog referrer SPAM from PubSub too.
And I'm not obviating Bloglines either. You see, Bloglines is complete borked. When I looked for citations using Bloglines, I get referrers to someone else's domain, not mine. It makes me wonder, what is better, porn referrers, splogs or complete irrelevance. In my State of Blogosphere Search article, I gave Technorati a grade of B. Let me deprecate that for a C-. And I gave PubSub a D. Turn that into a D-. Bloglines already had an F- and believe it or not, it's actually worse.
Dave Winer discovered a sample RSS file with Apple's Wallpapers extension. The file returns an error in IE, Firefox and other non-Apple HTTP clients. Can you say vendor lock-in? You can see the underlying data over here. Note the extensions are invalid. The extension looks a lot like Yahoo!'s Media RSS. Yet another RSS extension not worth supporting.
Staci D. Karmer: Because of the other, unidentified company's serious interest, Viacom made a non-binding offer to get to the next step -- due diligence. That offer was at or about $20 million -- already a deep discount from the $50-100 million being tossed about late last year, which was already a deep discount from the $200 million ballpark that cropped up in early 2005. [cut] I have been told by multiple sources that later Viacom was offered the chance to acquire Friendster for $5 million -- less than the $11 million to $15 million we estimated last year so far had been invested in the company. The word Viacom got was that Friendster's VCs no longer wanted to fund the company. [cut] (Friendster's lead backers are Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Battery Ventures and Benchmark Capital, each of which has seats on the board.) When I asked one person familiar with the situation why not just buy it for that price, the response was it costs more than that a year to operate.
Randy: I can't wait to read the book; The Rise and Fall of Friendster. Sounds like a best seller.
Jason Lee Miller: With the backing of Feedster co-founder and former Chief Technical Officer Scott Johnson, then Vice President of Sales and Marketing Chris Redlitz was promoted to president of the company on November 7th. By December 14th, Johnson was not only given his walking papers, but also was voted off the board of directors. Redlitz was voted onto the board in his place. [cut] Redlitz calls the change part of Feedster's "natural evolution." [cut] Johnson continues to have no comment on the situation and is moving on to his next project, Ookles.com.
Randy: As the Feed Turns.
Declan McCullagh: Annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime. It's no joke. Last Thursday, President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity.
Whoever...utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person...who receives the communications...shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
Randy: Now what do I do with the 2 hours I spent daily leaving annoying anonymous blog comments across the blogosphere? Maybe I'll take up spamming. I heard that's legal :-)
Today, I stumbed across a very blatant blogiarism. The author is copying posts word-for-word without even a link-back. I've even found (with the help of a friend) comments where the victimized authors complained to him. The complaints went unanswered. The blog is hosted on blogspot and the 3-level domain is ambiraj. He also has a FeedBurner feed. I've forwarded emails to Google and FeedBurner to shut him down. Check it out if you want and don't forget to flag him while you are there. BTW, the best way to defeat blogiarism is to talk about it. If you find any others, then feel free to send me an email and I'll try to get them kicked out of the blogosphere.
Update: Within 6 hours of this post, the blog was 404, no longer present on Blogspot.
Two and a half months ago, My Yahoo! stopped reporting subscriber numbers to FeedBurner. At the time, we were reassured they were working on a fix. Hopefully somebody at Yahoo! will see this as a kick in the pants. Right now, neither Yahoo! nor Google, likely the two largest Web-based RSS aggregators, are not reporting any feed stats to FeedBurner. Here's a challenge. Whomever gets this done first (Yahoo! or Google), gets a dozen bonus blog posts about their products.
Readers, please add your name and the number of posts you're willing to give, in exchange for this public service. Thanks!
Update: A friend at Yahoo! says this was fixed a month ago. Unfortunately, My Yahoo! subscribers to The RSS Blog remain at 1. Before the outage, I believe the count was more than 300. I'm investigating.
Update II: Don Loeb sent me an e-mail indicating that another problem that was preventing some subscribers from getting their My Yahoo! subscriber numbers. Some would include me. The other problem should be fixed tomorrow morning. Thanks Don!
Update II (Jan 11): The problem is still not fixed.
Jeremy Zawodny: Is it just me, or has Feedster been completely useless for over 6 months now? I have no idea if it's related to the recent departure of Scott Rafer (former CEO) and Scott Johnson (former co-founder), but I'm amazed at how bad it is.
Chris Redlitz, President of Feedster: Yes, Jeremy, we have been in transition over the past several months. To those of us working at Feedster every day, it is definitely a transition for the better. Feedster has been in the midst of the explosive growth of RSS and we have outgrown a lot of legacy front-end code. [cut] We will be operating in 2006 and beyond. Some of the old Feedster may be gone, but the new Feedster is alive and well.
Last year, I wrote a piece called best of 2004, where I enumerated the top 10 blogosphere events of the previous year. Following on the same theme, here's my 10 best blogosphere events of 2005.
In my last report, I noted that many of the blogosphere search engines were failing to pick up new posts via the pinging infrastructure. With a little help from FeedBurner, I was able to better Technorati's response time in indexing my posts. The problem related to Ping-o-matic. When PingShot was configured to ping Ping-o-matic, it would withhold its ping of Technorati, assuming that Ping-o-matic was pinging Technorati on its behalf. Unfortunately, Ping-o-matic does not appear to work. By removing Ping-o-matic from the list of ping services that PingShot would hit, FeedBurner began pinging Technorati and my posts are now picked up in reasonable time. In other words, Technorati pings work for me, because I was able to figure out what I was doing wrong with the help of some friends. Unfortunately, most bloggers wouldn't know what's broke and what to fix.
I still have little luck with PubSub, which seems to miss the vast majority of my posts, even though PingShot pings PubSub with every post. Google blog search is now picking up most all, if not all of my blog posts in reasonable time. Blogdigger is falling behind one or more days at a time. BlogPulse is usually behind, but not more than 24 hours. Most of Feedster's functionality was recently broken, then temporarily dropped, so I don't know how their index is doing anymore.
Overall, the blogosphere ping has improved and the improvements lie with FeedBurner and Google blog search. Everybody else has stagnated. On the downside, 75% of all blogosphere pings are now spings (a.k.a. pings from splogs). Which brings us to our second topic; splogs.
Searching almost any blogosphere search engine returns splogs. Although a lot of progress has been made, the increasing number of splogs is making this difficult. Blogspot has been able to reduce the amount of splogs, but the sploggers have moved to other platforms, including self hosted, which allow them to stay in business, even when caught. Fortunately, when caught, they're quickly removed from the blogosphere search indexes.
I've noticed a considerable improvement at PubSub and Technorati which were splog infested two months ago. Now the results compare with the rest of the industry. Google blog search, IceRocket and BlogPulse, which were already good at handling splogs, are now even better. Blogdigger also seems to return few splogs.
Now, let me finish with a summary of who's best at blogosphere search.
IceRocket remains the #1 blogosphere search engine. The response time is sub-second, it always works, good splog filtering, index is timely and complete, has tag and link search and has ah-hoc RSS results. Missing is blog profiles. Grade: A.
Google Blog Search
Google blog search compares to IceRocket in every category, but does not provide a tag search. Grade: A-.
Technorati has the most complete feature set, but their are too many problems. Response time is mostly sub-second, but not always, getting indexed requires too much effort and the results are often untimely. Grade: B.
The BlogPulse profiles are their one plus. Other than that, the response is slowing, it often doesn't work, the index is not current, nor is it complete. They don't provide tag search. Grade: C.
Blogdigger is better than I reported 2 months ago, but it still has a lot of failings. The first of which is that it lacks in functionality and some of the functionality lacks public documentation. Grade D+.
PubSub's index is quite incomplete and it remains very difficult (geeky) to use. Grade: D.
Bloglines citations has been broken for quite awhile now and the keyword search is unusable. Grade: F-.
Yahoo! Blog Search
Yahoo!'s blog search remains in Beta and still doesn't have a clean entry point. I'll refrain from grading it until they provide a clean entry point. Without a clean entry point, it's pretty much useless to the average blogger.
Note, these ratings are my opinion and thus may be incorrect because of my lack of omnipotence. If you have an opinion, then feel free to express it in my comments or link to this blog entry and I'll find you.
Believe it or not, I get hundreds of visitors from young adults looking for help by-passing their schools filtering of the MySpace domain. These hits come from a popular query on Google; MySpace Blocked. Anyhow, I thought I'd try to enumerate a few of the methods of by-passing a school's domain block filter, maybe it'll help a few kids survived the school day while failing all their exams. Further instructions are here.Unblock Myspace
Richard MacManus: LA Times has fun with several outlandish acquisition theories for Microsoft. First they say that Microsoft may offer to buy Yahoo for $80-90 billion. [cut] Later in the article there's a suggestion that Microsoft may pursue "a jewel like Time Warner".
Randy: I don't think there's an acquisition in the plans, but rather a partnership and it's with the mother ship; GE/NBC.
Randy: Here we go again. RSS is broken for the millionth time. Does this ever get boring? Very!
Phil: RSS reading remains stubbornly mired in a client-server, cubicled-user metaphor that locks out any scope for the kind of network effects that we're supposed to be reaping in the Web 2.0 era.
Randy: Network effects? Like Bloglines? del.icio.us? Google blog search? IceRocket? Technorati? What is Phil missing? I can search for all new referrers across almost the entire blogosphere. Follow specific topics. Track conversations. Of course, his answer is gonna be that he wants something more that RSS doesn't provide. The truth is, buzzwords like network effects are most often used as a form of intellectual violence. Don't give me network effects, tell me what you want in plain English.
The average is for all visitors to my site (includes Memeorandum referrers). I did get a lot of new referrers, which I assume were via Memeorandum. I also got a lot of referrers from BusinessWeek, which I think can be used as a benchmark.
The sample is too small to make any conclusive arguments, but I find it interesting that Memeorandum creates a large amount of new referrers, but the visitors are not as sticky as other sources. I suspect this is caused by the Memeorandum bloggers; those that blog all day on the subjects suggested by Memeorandum.
Yahoo Report: 27% of Internet users consume RSS syndicated content on personalized start pages (e.g., My Yahoo!, My MSN) without knowing that RSS is the enabling technology.