The RSS Blog
RSS, OPML and the XML platform.
Copyright 2003-5 Randy Charles Morin
The RSS Blog
Thu, 31 Aug 2006 17:29:21 GMT
Cache This!

Most every conversation reguarding Web bandwidth issues will eventually lead the conversation into a discussion about caching. Cool! Web caching. And you know what I know about cool? It rarely works. If it worked, then it would be uncool. Here's an argument presented by Sam Ruby on the RSS advisory board public mailing list.

the fact that the HTTP expires header (which *is* widely implemented) may make this value irrelevant - i.e., if you are behind a caching proxy, you can attempt to fetch as often as you like, but you will simply get back the same data

Sam is not the only person making this argument. It's a very popular argument on technical mailing list. What is wrong with this argument? It's the words MAY and IF. How many of you put a caching proxy between your Web server and the Internet? How many of you put caching proxy between your home computer and the Internet? Please lift up your hand. Anybody? Hello? Is this on? Web caching is cool!

Tue, 29 Aug 2006 16:34:40 GMT
Feeds That Matter

Some smart people from the University of Maryland created a site called Feeds That Matter that use an algorigthm to determine the top blogs in various categories. They also wrote a research paper on the algorithm, which uses Bloglines data. The paper itself is the most interesting part of this project.

There research indicates that nearly half of the feeds in Bloglines are from the domain. In contrast nearly half of the feeds in Blogpulse are from the domain and ranks only 4th. Different datasets indeed.

Looking more closely at the Feeds That Matter website, I selected the RSS category to determine how well their algorighm actually ranks blogs. The top two feeds in RSS were Lockergnome's RSS and Atom tips and Webloginc's The RSS Weblog. Lockergnome's site is an ad infested blog with little original content, mostly quoted content from other blogs, few reader comments, few inbound links and sporadic life. The Webloginc blog was recently shutdown and has been dormant for six months.  Bloglines homepage ranks 4, which doesn't make much sense at all. Dave Winer's RSS Blog ranks 6 and has been offline for many months. Many of the other top feeds are also barely active or dormant. They should add a component to their algorithm that includes recent activity.

Thanks to Scott Kingery for the link and for playing tag with me.

Mon, 28 Aug 2006 21:22:31 GMT
Tribe Shake Up was one of the original popular social networks, but has failed to really grow with the rest. On Thursday, Mark Pincus, the founder, announced...

hey, this is an informal announcement that as of today jan and the board are gone. i've taken over tribe and you're going to see big changes fast like getting rid of this big stupid masthead and returning tribe to the users where it belongs.
Mon, 28 Aug 2006 02:56:51 GMT
iM Obseseed with Incoming Links?

Chad Perrin thinks I'm obsessed with tracking incoming linkers. Smart guy! Subscribed. But there are reasons behind my madness.

  1. I really want to know what people are saying about what I'm saying. Trackpacks or pingbacks are not enough as they only capture a small fraction of the conversation.
  2. I like to gauge how various blog search engines are doing and incoming link tracking is one of my favorite tests. Today, IceRocket is giving me the best results. Google Blog Search's top three results are spam. Technorati is nothing but spam. Bloglines is not finding much at all. Of course, next week, that'll change.
  3. I like to send 2+ links back for every link received. Sort of an encouragement for people to link to me.
Thu, 24 Aug 2006 15:29:25 GMT
Google Reader rejects
For more than a month now, Google Reader rejects all subscriptions from (owned by Yahoo!, a competitor).
Thu, 24 Aug 2006 14:35:03 GMT
Anybody Can Edit?

Nate Anderson: The German-language version of Wikipedia will get an experimental overhaul in the next few weeks designed to cut down on vandalism, edit wars, and misinformation. How will it work? Through the magical power of trust. In the German system, any user will still be allowed to make edits to any article. Those edits won't show up in the live version of the site, though, until a registered user with a certain level of time and experience approves the changes.

Randy: Anybody can edit. Anybody can edit. Anybody can edit, but only the elite can publish. All animals are equal. All animals are equal. All animals are equal, but...

Thu, 24 Aug 2006 12:00:25 GMT
Amazon EC2

I was invited to a limited beta of Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud). Sounds pretty cool. Like the storage service, it costs a minimal amount of money.

Just as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) enables storage in the cloud, Amazon EC2 enables "compute" in the cloud.

Tue, 22 Aug 2006 23:29:26 GMT
Hullo Anybody There?

Alec Saunders wrote a review of a cool VOIP service called Hullo.

Tue, 22 Aug 2006 21:49:06 GMT Moved

Reading my RSS today, I discovered that changed the keyformat of their private feeds. Don't they know I'm lazy and highly likely not to re-sub?

this private feed needs a key to unlock its contents. we have recently changed our key format. please get a new link to this feed with the new key
Tue, 22 Aug 2006 04:23:46 GMT
Top 10 Mistakes Made by My Blogging Friends

OK, I'm gonna make one or two friends a little upset here, but I keep seeing them make some very critical blogging mistakes and I wanted to enumerate them before I'm the only blogger left with any readers and Google juice [yes I'm stupid, check my last name]. Let's jump right in...

  1. Forfeiting Google Juice
    The worst mistake you can make is to forfeit your Google juice. Remember all those people linking to you? Well, you move your blog entries and don't properly redirect the Google juice to your new blog, then oops, you lose. Admittedly, I once did exactly this big mistake, but that was three years ago and before I knew what Google juice was or that it was valuable. I've had countless friends on my blogroll make that same mistake since. Let's hope this prevents any future recurrence. There are many ways of properly redirecting your Google juice; you could simply leave your old posts in place and put an h1 link back to your new blogsite with the text My New Blog is Over Here or something like that. And don't forget to point all your autodiscovery code and RSS feeds to the new blog. A more advanced technique for moving blog entries involves an HTTP 301 permanent redirect. If you don't understand what I mean by 301, then don't bother trying it, you're likely to cause more damage than good.
  2. Forfeiting Your RSS Feed
    An all too often mistake is forfeiting your RSS feed. It's very likely that someday you will move your blog. Redirecting the RSS feed is often a nightmare, if not impossible. Your best bet is to use FeedBurner from day one.This way you can move your RSS feed with you, wherever you blog.
  3. Invalid RSS Feeds
    I've known quite a few bloggers who's RSS feeds were broken for months on end. Now, don't get me wrong, even my RSS feed is broken from time-to-time. Software has bugs. You can prevent your feeds from breaking by simply subscribing to your feed in various RSS readers (especially the one you use) and double checking from time-to-time that you are getting stuff.
  4. Making it Difficult to Subscribe
    Many bloggers don't make it easy enough for their readers to subscribe to their RSS feeds. If you don't have RSS auto-discovery, then you are losing readers. If you don't have an visible and obvious link to your RSS feed, then you are losing readers. If you don't have an email subscription form like Rmail, FeedBurner or FeedBlitz, then you are losing readers. Also, make certain your email subscription form is working. Subscribe to your own feed and double check that you are getting a regular email. Most RSS to email services don't work reliably.
  5. Blocking Your Readers
    With the advent of splogs, I've seen an increasing number of users who are actually blocking content from been served. A very common instance of late is blocking images when the referrer is not your website. This means you are blocking all kinds of Web-based RSS reader, including email-based RSS reading. I've heard a couple excuses for why people do this and I don't buy any of them. The best excuse is that you don't want another site hotlinking to your images. My response is to upload them to Flickr. But then you don't control your images? Unless you are the next Picasso, I don't think that should be a problem.
  6. Sucking Up to A-listers
    This is likely the biggest problem most new bloggers face. The thought is that if you link to a lot of a-listers, that you'll accumulate a lot of referrers and readers. Well, it's true if they actually link back to you, but most a-listers have 100 people linking to them daily and it's highly unlikely your post will catch their eye. Instead, try linking to a broader range of bloggers. When you link to a d-list blogger, you're likely to gain a reader for life and several dozen links in return. I'm the ultimate d-lister and I make certain to return all Google juice in spades.
  7. Not Reading Your Readers
    If a reader is leaving regular comments on your blog, then subscribe to his blog, find out more about him, so you can engage with him more completely. If you comment on your readers blog, then there's a greater likelihood you are getting a reader for life.
  8. Accepting Trolls
    If you have a belligerent troll, then your best bet is to encourage him to leave. In fact, I recommend deleting his comments to discourage him. I've even played with some trolls, discovering their IP address and forwarding their requests to other rather nasty websites. After one or two visits, they got the hint.
  9. Putting Yourself on a Pedestal
    This problem doesn't happen too often, but from time-to-time a-list and b-list bloggers lose control to their egos. They start posting about how great they are and commenting negatively about their own readers. I'm not sure if that works for other people, but I'm pretty quick to unsubscribe when a bloggers puts himself on a pedestal. If you are already heading down this path, then simply posts a few entries that make fun of yourself on a regular basis to keep yourself grounded and off that pedestal
  10. Partial Feeds
    Full versus partial feeds has become a religious issue in the blogosphere. My argument is simple; the more words you inject into an RSS search engine, the more referrers you'll get. Some of those referrers will become readers and/or link back to you. End of story.

Bonus: This one I fail todo all the time. Not using a spellchecker and a grammar checker. In fact, I did it again. Ascribe it to laziness.

Tue, 22 Aug 2006 02:41:24 GMT
Honorable Mention

Mike Sansone gave The RSS Blog an honorable mention along with RSS Applied in his Blue Ribbon category for Feeds, RSS and OPML. The winner was Mark Woodman's inkBlots. That's some pretty cool company I'm hanging with. Thanks Mike! Mike also names winners in 10 other categories. He mentions a lot of pretty cool blogs. Worth checking them out to build out your reading list.

Mon, 21 Aug 2006 21:33:16 GMT
BOGU Killed the Elephant

In a recent post, Robert Scoble stepped out of his Microsoft BOGU shadow and landed a knockout punch on Microsoft and Dare Obasanjo. The Scobleizer pointed to a list of's most recently updated Spaces to note that most of them have no public blog entries. Robert may have been wrong on some points, but fact is, he revealed a major failing of Spaces, which is that their blogs contain mostly non-public posts or no posts at all. He was also, not the first to point out of the weakness of Dare's counter arguments. Dare doesn't pull punches, but name calling doesn't make an argument. You have to wonder about Microsoft's face to the blogosphere with Scoble and Niall 404, as Dare's argumentative style may re-unearth the darker side of Microsoft.

Mon, 21 Aug 2006 21:21:23 GMT
Jason Goldman Leaves Blogger

Jason Goldman: This release of Blogger will also be the last I work on as I am leaving Google at the end of next week.

Randy: Jason was product manager of Google's Blogger and Google Blog Search and is a member of the RSS Advisory Board. I'm sensing another great Web 2.0 startup in his future.

Update: Sorry, I incorrectly reported Jason Goldman as a member of the RSS Advisory Board. It's Jason Shellen of Google who is on the RSS Advisory Board.

Mon, 21 Aug 2006 20:50:43 GMT
Atom API on

David M. Johnson says that Google is getting ready to roll out Atom Publishing Protocol (APP) support for

Fri, 18 Aug 2006 18:53:31 GMT
Ultimate Rmail Mashup

John Tropea now claims the ultimate Rmail mashup. Send a message via Gtalk and get it in Gmail via Rmail and Sabifoo.

Fri, 18 Aug 2006 16:06:53 GMT
How Many Blog Are There?

Dave Sifry:  On July 31, 2006, Technorati tracked its 50 millionth blog.

Kevin Burton: There might have been 50 million blogs that have ever been created but there aren't 50 million blogs in active use.

Randy: Kevin is disputing David Sifry's claim that there are 50 million blogs. Unfortunately Kevin made four mistakes in his arguments.

  1. Dave never claimed there are 50 million active blogs or even 50 million blogs. He said, Technorati is tracking 50 million blogs. 
  2. Kevin believes Dave when he makes the leap to suggest that the size of Technorati's index is the size of the blogosphere. It isn't. The blogosphere is not constrained by the size of Technorati's index. But even worse, the KBCafe search blog is ranked 601 in the Technorati index. There is no KBCafe search blog. Never was. Technorati does not track blogs at all, but rather it tracks stuff.
  3. Kevin suggests that an active blog is one that is posted to daily. I'm subscribed to some blogs and author other blogs, which I consider active, but only receive a weekly or monthly post. These blogs receive little attention, but are a rather large part of the blogosphere.
  4. Technorati is only counting blogs in their index. The truth is, there are countless more than 50 million blogs. It's much closer to 100-200 million.
Fri, 18 Aug 2006 15:29:48 GMT
RSS Duplicate Detection

James Holderness blogged his typically brilliant analysis of how aggregators detect duplicate RSS items. Must read for all RSS tool developers.

Thu, 17 Aug 2006 22:44:40 GMT
Another Web 2.0 Business Model

OK, so you buy a domain and web service hosting for one year ($200?). Then you quickly throw a webpage together that renders some XML as HTML. Put it on eBay and pocket $4,000? Repeat weekly and you are making $200,000 per year.

Thu, 17 Aug 2006 15:37:10 GMT
Chris Pirillo on .INFO Domains

Chris Pirillo: If you’re a .INFO owner, sell it to a spammer and rebrand yourself - please. For goodness sake, let’s take a mulligan and pretend this whole .INFO thing never happened.

Thu, 17 Aug 2006 03:17:05 GMT
PubSub, The Movie

Forbes has written the screenplay to the up-coming Web 2.0 movie on PubSub. It's a good read and confirms most of what I've heard independently. I've had a few dealings with Bob Wyman (exchanged emails and blog posts) and Salim Ismail (met twice), the founders. Bob was very standoffish and denied a problem with the blogosphere ping even though the PubSub website, which relied on the ping, was mostly unfunctional. I can't wait for Salim's tell-all book.

Morale of the movie: Sometimes... ping is better than push.

Wed, 16 Aug 2006 20:31:42 GMT
Web 2.0 Funnies

Ken Yarmosh, editor of the Corante Web Hub, has started yet another Web 2.0 cartoon thingy. This one has the added benefit of giving re-bloggers affiliate sales potential. Click on the toon and you can buy a mug or t-shirt.

DotCom Meets Web 2.0 Buy Now 
Show me the money!

Tue, 15 Aug 2006 14:30:37 GMT
Blogger Beta

Google has released a new version of their popular blogging platform; Blogger. The new release is available at

Reviews from the blogosphere.

Tue, 15 Aug 2006 14:12:57 GMT
Windows Live Writer

Microsoft released a client-side blogging tool called Windows Live Writer. It's well integrated into Windows spaces. And they have a blogSubscribed!D85741BB5E0BE8AA!174.entry

More reviews...

Mon, 14 Aug 2006 20:06:54 GMT
Funding Rmail

All month, I've been quietly advertising the fact that I've been approaching angel investors in the Toronto area about funding Rmail, my little project that now has 20,000 users. Rick Segal and Mark Evans were kind enough to write up Rmail. Thanks guys!

Update: Jeff Nolan joins the fun!

Mon, 14 Aug 2006 18:06:26 GMT
Small, but Important Changes to RSS

Rogers Cadenhead: The proposal to revise the RSS specification has passed 7-0 with RSS Advisory Board members Matthew Bookspan, Rogers Cadenhead, Randy Charles Morin, Greg Smith, Loïc Le Meur, Jenny Levine and Eric Lunt voting in favor.

1. The docs element refers to an outdated URL for the specification instead of the current URL.
For as long as the board operates, will be the permanent URL of the current version of the spec. The domain name is the property of the board, so it can move to a new host as needed in the future.
John Palfrey at Harvard told me that the URL is going to become the permanent URL of the original Harvard spec published in 2003 (not any of the board's subsequent derivations). You can find a copy of the original Harvard spec here.
2. The spec encourages people with questions about RSS to post them on the RSS2-Support mail list hosted by Sjoerd Visscher.
This list is no longer active, receiving more spam than RSS-related posts. Our own RSS-Public mailing list is a better place to seek help.

Thu, 10 Aug 2006 04:50:37 GMT
Malicious RSS Tests

Mark Woodman has a list of 7 RSS Javascript tests that you should be checking against your RSS Reader. Or maybe not, Mark managed to break his RSS reader with them. James Holderness also has some tests (85), but they are not public yet. James Snell has 1397. The tests demonstrate the hacking feeds vulnerability that I mentioned earlier this week.

Wed, 09 Aug 2006 17:20:09 GMT
Rmail, the RSS Reader

An Rmail user showed me how he uses an Rmail-Gmail mashup as the ultimate lightweight RSS reader.

Wed, 09 Aug 2006 14:47:51 GMT
RSS Generators

Based on the 17,000+ RSS 2.0 feeds in Rmail. Here are the top 100 RSS generators as reported in the RSS generator tag. The number on the left, is the number of feeds reporting that generator.

466  LiveJournal /
461  Microsoft Spaces v1.1
338  Blogger
198  CommunityServer 2.0 (Build: 60209.2598)
188  NFE/1.0

The rest of the list is published on the Rmail blog.

Wed, 09 Aug 2006 04:32:29 GMT
Niall left Microsoft

Niall Kennedy: I am leaving Microsoft to start my own company.

Randy: Scoble gone. Niall gone. Someone at Microsoft has to step up and be the corporate face to the blogosphere. Who will it be? A great opportunity for some existing Microsoft bloggers.


Tue, 08 Aug 2006 21:05:39 GMT
Blog feeds may carry security risk

Looking for help over on the Destroy All Malware blog. A recent article has pointed out potential Javascript vulnerabilities in RSS. I don't see how RSS could present additional vulnerabilities that are not already in HTML.

Tue, 08 Aug 2006 16:07:26 GMT

It seems Michael Arrington is back to his old tricks. As I've mentioned before, I don't subscribe to TechCrunch, because Michael's opinion is blatantly tainted. Here's another example. Recently Michael wrote a review of Hubpages. In the comments, Jim Woolley points out that Hubpages has the same issues that caused Michael Arrington to say Feedpass Does Absolutely Nothing. Michael's response? "Ordinarily I’d engage with you on it but the combination of verbal attacks from you and Randy was just too much." In other words, Michael's allowed to initiate an attack with blatant lies like Feedpass Does Absolutely Nothing, but when Jim disagrees with Michael, Michael blacklists Jim's business and Jim's opinions.

I'd also like to point out that Michael has agreed that the previous criticism of him were fair, but has never apoligized publicly for his Feedpass comments and now he says they were just too much.

Tue, 08 Aug 2006 14:50:32 GMT
RSS Expert

Marjolein Hoekstra was named the RSS expert on BlogBridge. Here's her initial OPML list.

Subscribe to all the feeds in her OPML list
Tue, 08 Aug 2006 14:42:30 GMT
Feed Access Control Case Study

Marjolein Hoekstra of CleverClogs passes along a very interesting link that shows a weakness in the RSS infrastructure that would be solved by the new Bloglines' Feed Access Control. Now, I'm unsure how this feed got into FeedShow, I don't seem to have an account with them. I assume they are pulling information from otherplace to seed there database, but I'm just guessing. Maybe I've subscribed to this private feed in another aggregator and since the authentication data is contained within the subscription URL, the credentials are made public somewhere along the route from to FeedShow. Unfortunately, since Feed Access Control is an extension of RSS, few providers are gonna implement this and the solution is not perfect, but it's better than nothing. This is far from the first time where private feeds become public via an online RSS aggregator, you may remember the Gmail/Bloglines problems.

Previous entries on Bloglines's Feed Access Control.

Fri, 04 Aug 2006 03:55:16 GMT
RSS Namespace Extensions

Google has prepared a cool list of the most common RSS extentions used in feeds they are tracking for Google Reader. I'll publish the same data for Rmail tomorrow.

Update: Here's a list of common extensions in Rmail's 17166 RSS 2.0 feeds.

  1. dc:creator 4137
  2. atom:* 2306 << atom:link[@self]
  3. atom:link[@self] 2214 << FeedBurner
  4. content:encoded 2107
  5. slash:* 1230
  6. dc:date 968
  7. trackback:* 587
  8. itunes:* 493
  9. sle:* 480
  10. cc:* 472
  11. mrss:* 204
  12. xhtml:* 52
  13. blogChannel:* 35

Thu, 03 Aug 2006 22:08:00 GMT
3D FeedIcon

Marjolein Hoekstra: I discovered a cool announcement on the FeedForAll discussion forums today: RSS Feed Icon with 3D look by Dirceu Veiga.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Thu, 03 Aug 2006 17:20:20 GMT
Subscribers by User-Agent

It's been almost a year since I last reported my top User-Agents as reported by FeedBurner. Here goes.

  1. GreatNews
  2. Rmail
  3. Bloglines
  4. NewsGator online
  5. My Yahoo
  6. Rojo
  7. Pluck (IE)
  8. Firefox
  9. Netvibes
  10. News Alloy
  11. Custom Demo Reader
  12. FeedDemon
  13. Windows RSS Platform
  14. NetNewswire
  15. BlogBridge
  16. FeedReader
  17. MagpieRSS
  18. SharpReader
  19. Omea Reader
  20. Pageflakes
  21. Attensa for Outlook
  22. Google Desktop
  23. Onfolio
  24. RssReader
  25. Safari RSS
  26. Sage
  27. Thunderbird
  28. Liferea
  29. Opera RSS Reader
  30. livedoor

I limited the list of readers to those reporting 6 or more subscribers.

Thu, 03 Aug 2006 16:50:06 GMT
Rmail Stats

I pulled a list of feed URLs out of Rmail and ran some stats on them. There was 26,418 unique feed URLs. This is significantly higher than the number I report on the Rmail stats webpage, because it includes feeds that have been subscribed too, but are not currently subscribed too.

  • 27 of the feed URLs are invalid URLs
  • 2358 of the feeds reported HTTP level errors when polled
  • 1898 of the feeds were not valid XML
  • 11 of the feeds had other errors, which I was not specifically tracking

Now let's move onto feed type.

  1. 17166 were RSS 2.0 (includes 0.9x)
  2. 2671 were RSS 1.0
  3. 1871 were Atom 0.3 (mostly Blogger)
  4. 236 were Atom 1.0
  5. 171 were another XML file type. These might be RSS 0.9, RSS 1.1 and other.
Wed, 02 Aug 2006 15:14:47 GMT
Feedback on RSS Feed Access Control

The blogosphere is buzzing about Bloglines new RSS extension.

Alex Barnett: The priorities seem wrong here - I don't see this step getting us any closer to getting better services when there are other much more fundamental issues that need solving.

Marshall Kirkpatrick: This is a great idea for which the time has come.

Scott Johnson: Its a fine gesture but that’s all it is — a gesture — and like many gestures it won’t actually solve anything. 

Danny Ayers: I can't see any problem with this proposal on technical grounds, the fact that its capability is likely to be misunderstood probably outweighs its potential benefit.

Randy: That's a lot of negativity. As someone who runs a search engine, I think I know the motivation here. Every few days, I get an email from somebody who is concerned that I'm reposting in my search results fragments from their blogs, journals, etc. I assume Bloglines gets a lot more than I. This extension gives Bloglines a way of responding to these complaints without having to create and maintain a blacklist of RSS feeds. It solves a concrete problem. Well done.

Wed, 02 Aug 2006 03:54:31 GMT
Windows Live Spaces launches

Niall Kennedy: Windows Live Spaces has just launched.

Randy: And it's even slower than :-(. All existing MSN Spaces blogs, like mine, have been redirected over and are effectively inaccessible at the moment, because of the slowness.

Wed, 02 Aug 2006 03:39:33 GMT
Feed Access Control RSS

The engineers at Bloglines have created an RSS extension that allows publishers to specifically opt-out of republication, by simply adding the element as a child of the root <rss> node.

<rss version="2.0" 
  <access:restriction relationship="deny" />

Tue, 01 Aug 2006 20:17:28 GMT
The Long Tail, The Tailer

Tue, 01 Aug 2006 13:11:21 GMT
The RSS Profile

Rogers Cadenhead is making a final push to clean up the RSS Profile, before presenting it to the RSS Advisory Board. Please leave him feedback on the RSS public mailing list.

Tue, 01 Aug 2006 12:46:55 GMT
Coladia's Postino

Coladia's Postino looks like a great RSS reader for the Mac. Check it out!

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