57 varieties

Apparently, 2.0 is going to ship with an invalid feed on account of Atom 0.3 is no longer a valid or supported spec and Matt is refusing to support the new spec in the next release, or explain his reasons for this decision.

I was all ready to get, like, totally outraged about this but then I saw that Matt’s proposed solution when the demise of 0.3 was announced back in July (yes, July) was to provide an Atom 1.0 feed alongside all the others.

I have never understand why any blogging tool needs to provide four different types of feed, though I understand that this field is deeply deeply political and if you only had one variety then pointy-headed supporters of the others would probably come and burn your house down. Whatever. I certainly don’t understand why any blogging tool needs five types of feed.

Most WordPress users don’t know the difference between them or are even aware that they have them. They don’t know, for example, that they can easily be used to re-spew your original content on to splogs without so much as a by-your-leave, let alone a credit to the author. It could end up on livejournal. You might be really happy about that, or you might not be. The point is that your average non-geek is woefully underinformed about RSS, and having five different formats does not help. Really does not help. You cannot give them an explanation of why all these different formats coexist without involving pointy-headed fanatics, and once you introduce pointy-headed fanatics into the equation your user says ‘right, too advanced for me, I’ll just leave that’.

You don’t make people choose between different versions of the same theme written in HTML 3.2, HTML 4.0 and XHTML 1.0 Strict, do you? You pick a standard and you move to the latest official version. That is what the web standards movement is about. The only feed I used to offer on my main blog was an Atom one, because I don’t like unnecessary files clogging up the place and I don’t like Dave Winer. This may not have been the most informed decision ever, but I didn’t get any complaints. People geeky enough to care what types of feed get offered are geeky enough to download plugins that’ll give them the infinite amount they want.

(As usual, Shelley Powers makes more sense than anyone.)

1 Comment »

  1. […] maybe they remembered Matt’s reluctance to support Atom 1.0? Or took note of his failure to provide any specs for the WXR export format and assumed he […]

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