Randy Charles Morin blogs about Really Simple Syndication, RDF, FOAF, The Semantic Web and Social Software.
Copyright 2003-5 Randy Charles Morin
My biggest disappointment this year is the apparent non-movement of the FOAF specification. Last year, a lot of people got excited, but it was apparent to me that FOAF wasn't going anywhere unless they removed the half-baked labels. I tried kicking some ass late last year. I failed.
Jason Calacanis: Now, I do my canned technorati searches and I see nothing but items from a year ago and spam. Ugh.
David Sifry: Sorry that you're not happy with results. We're busy building out the infrastructure to make those searches faster and return always correct results, it has been our major infrastructure project of July and August, and should be completed this month.
Randy: David, we've been hearing you say this for more than a year now, but Technorati continues to get worse. I think everybody is tired of the talk.
It's time again for a list of top subscribing RSS clients to my FeedBurner hosted RSS feed.
The most significant change is Google Desktop, which didn't have RSS aggregation last time I reported this list. Overnight, Google Desktop became one of my top subscribing User-Agents. The power of brand.
Randy: More Yahoo! RSS extensions. I really wish they would have looked at what people were already doing, like rssWeather and copied them, rather than inventing new uninteroperable XML vocabularies.
In order to stop comment SPAM, the best technique IMHO is to implement a word blacklist. Here's a sample blocklist that I use for all my blogs. When choosing words to blacklist, don't pick everyday words or you'll end up with zero comments. SocialTwister made exactly this mistake. They block words, like fund, fun, feed, fed and almost everything else. Try commenting on this blog, it's quite funny. I tried for several minutes and wasn't able to even get simple sentences past their comment SPAM filter. Unsubscribed.
Mitcher Keeler: I used to love using ping-o-matic to ping all the different blog directories and services out there. The last few months it never does seem to work for me though. [cut] I'm going to try each one of these out and see which one works the best for me.
Randy: And don't forget Blogomatic.
My sister has a blog on MSN spaces. A few things I noticed...
Philipp Lenssen: 30 bad ones out of 50 overall â that makes it around 60% spam on Blogspot. Google itself shows there are around 7,500,000 pages hosted on Blogspot. If we extrapolate the number, we might estimate Google is hosting 4 million spam pages.
Mark and Nikky: RMail seems to be the best for two reasons: Firstly because it seems on average to send the notification emails more promptly, and secondly because the format looks better and it includes the title of the latest post as the email subject.
Randy: I need an Rmail blog to capture all this great feedback.
Library clips: I love the fact that people play around with the functions of web 2.0 applicationsâ¦.mixing and matching, creating new combinations and ways of doing thingsâ¦very much lateral thinking. Iâve heard about this before but didnât try it till recentlyâ¦using Gmail as your RSS reader.
In the spirit of introducing at least one new syndication format every day, we at The RSS Blog have decided to release our own version, as promised, of RSS. Introducing RSS 4.0. The spec for RSS 4.0 can be found here. This new format deprecates all RSS 0.9x, RSS 1.1, RSS 3.0 and the other RSS 3.0. Producers of RSS 0.9x, 1.1 and 3.0 must immediately upgrade as their format is here-forth considered obsolete.
Following is a list of differences between RSS 2.0 and RSS 4.0.
Attensa for Outlook works inside Microsoft Outlook to bring up-to-the-minute RSS news feed headlines and Podcast content from your favorite Websites and blogs right into neatly organized Outlook folders.
Randy: I'm not a big fan of Outlook, but I know most of you are. Download and enjoy, this looks pretty awesome.
CustomReader is a brandable RSS-reader/news tablet available for any website or company that wish to expand service-offerings.
Randy: They have both a professional paid reader and a free ad-supported version. I created a custom reader that pre-loads The RSS Blog. It wasn't very hard.
Kevin Burton: At the time it really bothered me since while it would in fact punish spammers it would also publish bloggers since legitimate links wouldn't be included within ranking algorithms (which yielded to nofollow).
Here's a very easy way of subscribing over R|mail to a lot of feeds.
This is the Feedster 500, sucked in via OPML and for each item, I add an R|mail chicklet. The first time you click on such a chicklet, it'll ask you for your email address. If you enter the email address, then you are subscribed to the feed. On subsequent clicks of these R|mail chicklets, you don't have to enter your email address. One-click subscribe for R|mail! Hope you like.
Randy: This is one of the best API implementations I've seen. They have clients (NewsGator Outlook and FeedDemon) that are already using it.
Randy: Google Desktop Search now has a sidebar that aggregates a bunch of content, like News, Gmail, photos, and RSS. That's right, GDS is also an RSS aggregator. The feature is called Web Clips (Yet Another Name for RSS). But don't throw away GreatNews or Pluck just yet, as the features of GDS don't compare.
The R|mail servers just went down. Looks like a power outage. Lot's of stormy action in the Toronto area. Anyhow, when things return to normal, I've developed an Rmail bookmarklet. If you are on a Webpage that support RSS autodiscovery, then simply click this bookmarklet and you are subscribed to the RSS feed via R|mail. If you are using Firefox, then you should be able to drag the bookmarklet to your toolbar. If you are using IE, then right-click on the link and select Add to Favorites, then the Links folder. Happy subscribing! Well, not just yet, the servers are still down
Rmail << that's the bookmarklet
Update (Monday): R|mail is still down. The storm on Friday resulted in the Internet connectivity breaking and my provider has not been able to resume the connectivity. Sorry!
I often get asked the question of how many R|mail subs does a particular RSS feed have? I get so many of these questions, that I thought I'd publish the entire list. It's updated whenever my Webserver gets cranky and does a restart. That's often several days and could be several weeks.
Google: We've just introduced the option to require word verification for comments. [cut] Features like comment captcha and flag as objectionable are not complete solutions to the problem of spam. But they are additional tools that can help address it.
Randy: MHO. None of this will help! The Google flag doesn't actually lead to blogs being removed from the blogosphere search engines or from Blogspot hosting. And since their doesn't not appear to be a comment spam problem on Google, a captcha for comments only prevents comments from the visually impaired and my daughter.
I just converted all the data from Rmail 1.0 to 2.0. If you notice anything weird, then please email me. You may receive a duplicate in the next hour. That's ok, it's building a new database. If you wanna test drive the new Rmail 2.0, then put your email address in the Email input field in my right sidebar and click the Subscribe button.
Update: I haven't gotten any severe bug reports yets. A couple minor ones. Thanks all!
Jonathan Avidan, has introduced himself to the world as the author of the RSS 3 specification. So versed in the world of RSS, that he didn't already know that there already is an RSS 3.0. He claims, "The funniest thing, though, is that RSS 3 apparently exists, here. I canvassed the web quite thoroughly, or so I thought, before starting this." I guess he's never heard of Google.
Update: I reviewed the spec and I have one thing to say. ROTFL.
Marc Abramowitz: Itâs not good development practice to silently rev something that is public without changing the version number. [cut] By the way, I say this as someone who got his blog hacked because he was slow to apply one of the 1.5 dot release security upgrades.
Randy: If I were a Wordpress user, then I'd upgrade to something else. The latest stream of problems makes Windows Update look like cake.
Brad Fitzpatrick: An increasing number of companies (large and small) are really insistent that we ping them with all blog updates, for reasons I won't rant about. Just to prove a point, I flooded a couple of them and found that sure enough, nobody can really keep up. It's even more annoying when they don't even support persistent HTTP connections. So --- I decided to turn things on their head and make them get data from us. If they can't keep up, it's their loss.
Prototype: (not its final home)
$ telnet danga.com 8081
GET /atom-stream.xml HTTP/1.0<enter>
And enjoy the never ending XML stream of Atom feeds, each containing one entry. And if you get more than 256k behind (not including your TCP window size), then we start dropping entries to you and you see:
<sorryTooSlow youMissed="23" />
Randy: Wow! Sorry to repost almost the entire entry, but I hung on every word myself. Ping servers go away! This is the future of blog notification services.
Dick Costolo: We confess to not really knowing when it is and isn't ok to use the word "Mashup", so we're a little bit shy about announcing the availability of the complete FeedBurner Feed Management API, lest somebody do something cool with our API and some other 3rd party app and ask us if the result is a mashup.
Randy: These guys are Web 2.0 cool.icio.us.
Andy: OPML is the killer app, not the OPML editor. Thinking that working outside of the OPML editor will hurt the community is foolish, because while the editor is what brought the community together, ithe momentum we're trying putting into OPML is what will make it stronger. All of that is a long-winded way of saying I may be more quiet for a while, because the idea of putting together my own, smaller version of the OPML server/client/thing is starting to nip at my heels.
Randy: Andy gets it!
Scott Kingery: GreatNews is a recent entry to the ever growing list of RSS readers and has many features that have won me over. The software is available from http://www.curiostudio.com/ and is designed for Windows 2000 or XP. It comes in either an installable executable (exe) or a zip file (more on that later). [cut] If you want a feed reader that is portable, makes reading much faster and syncs with Bloglines, read on.
Randy: This is a very thorough review of GreatNews. If you're not already using it, run Windows and don't have time for a test drive, then this is required reading.
I haven't seen an announcement anywhere (must have missed it), but I just checked out my PubSub site stats and there it is. Yesterday, my domain was ranked in the upper 1% (426 overall) and my monthly low was 23rd on July 23rd. Congrats to the PubSub team for bringing us some more blogosphere goodness!
If you haven't heard Dave Winer is upset that Microsoft is trying to rebrand RSS as "Web feeds". This has further turned into pissing match that has revealed rather poor reporting over at ComputerWorld. What's new? I'm waiting for the announcement from Microsoft that they have rebranded RSS as CDF and submitted their own version of RSS to the W3C. Oh wait, they did that 8 years ago.
Just a final note on IceRocket (herein referred to as them), I got an email from them yesterday telling me that I'm no longer welcome to meta-aggregate their RSS feeds, partly because of a blog entry I wrote yesterday. As such, I've removed them entirely from kbcafe search. I also removed them from Blogomatic, which pings search engines on behalf of countless blogs. I also noted, that I've been mentionning them about 2 times per day these last few weeks and have 1500+ RSS readers, 1000+ Web readers. That's 5000 free text ads impressions per day. 410 Gone.
Update: Blake Rhodes called me today and we are gonna work out a working relationship. I hope! Thanks Blake!
Nick on Mark Cuban: for an intelligent chap, all that "splog" shite, just makes him sound like a knobhead...
Randy: ROTFL! Me thinks our friends have used up all the karma, they built up over the last month, in less than 24 hours. It's amazing how people just don't get it!
It's time again for a list of top subscribing RSS clients to my FeedBurner hosted RSS feed.
The great news is that after countless months in the number 1 spot, Pluck has been replaced by GreatNews. The result of Scoble linking to GreatNews yesterday.
Mark Cuban: Whats a splog ? A splog is any blog whose creator doesnt add any written value.
Randy: I guess most linkblogs also qualify as splogs. I don't think Mark gets it, but it's good to see someone with visibility talking up the issue of blog SPAM.
Mark Cuban: If blogging is supposed to be a personal medium, I dont know why we cant use an email confirmation for blog posts. We do it for comments to keep out comment spam. Why not do it for blog posts?
Randy: Let me get this straight. When I ping IceRocket, I'm gonna get an email with a link that I need to click to validate the ping. At which point, most of us will stop pinging IceRocket. I'm sure Sifry (the competition) likes this idea!
Update: It would seem our friend Mark Cuban, wasn't impressed with this post. IceRocket informed me that I'm no longer welcome to meta-aggregate their feeds, quoting the above as final reason.
Quote: rss-extensions.org is intended to become a community site for the RSS technology community, for the benefit of everybody, and everybody equally. It originally was the idea of some folks at NetMesh Inc., on whose servers it is still hosted.
Randy: Great idea! Let's help them out and populate those pages.
Mark Evans (Aug 8th): Technorati Update: It works, it really works - After some prodding, Blogware has indeed fixed its "issue" with Technorati so my posts are now being properly spidered and appear in Technorati search results.
Randy (Aug 8th) in Marks' comments: I've heard this one before. I've even been on the phone with Sifry and crew a few times trying to resolve the problems. They were able to fix my problems temporarily. A week or two later and I was back at square one. Report back in two weeks.
Mark Evans (Aug 14th): Odd Technorati Data - My Technorati profile has suddenly gone from 131 links from 101 sources to 30 links from four sources. Seems strange to have fallen out of favor so dramatically. Anyone else running into this situation?
Randy: Where does it end? Can anybody create a blogosphere search engine that actually works?
Yahoo! now has images in their RSS feed. The images are exposed both thru the <description> element and the media RSS elements. Sample.
Michael Heileman: It appears that RSS enclosures should not contain an FTP link.
Randy: According to the spec, url must be http, it cannot be ftp, it cannot be https, nor any other URI scheme. That doesn't prohibit podcatchers from accepting other URI schemes, but for interop, stick with http.
B.L. Ochman: Here's a tip I was given this morning from a venture capitalist who is 'heavily invested' in the blogosphere: Technorati is about to be sold to a large search engine company.
Randy: The blogosphere rumours of late have been less than truthful. This one is interesting, but hard to believe.
evhead: I'm proud to say we've acquired some fuel for our little enterprise from a great group of folks.
Debbie Weil: Steve described step-by-step how he publishes Micro Persuasion. Itâs the first time heâs revealed his âblogging playbookâ publicly, he said.
Bloomberg: The Oxford English Dictionary added new words including `podcast' and 'phishing,' saying they are now part of the English language, as it published its second edition today.
David Sifry: Today I will write about some of the darker sides of the blogosphere, including the increase in spam and fake blogs, comment and trackback spam. [cut] Spam blogs are blogs that are created in order to influence results on a search engine by filling the results with spam or fake postings. [cut] Fake Blogs are [cut] actually automated creatures created by programs usually in order to get highly targetting Adsense advertising, or in some cases are built to be become a portal for affiliate systems like the Amazon Associates program. [cut] Modern blogging systems allow for comments and trackbacks as ways of allowing readers or other bloggers to easily add their thoughts and comments to a post. Unfortunately, some spammers have been abusing these systems as well.
Randy: Sifry writes about the darker side of the blogosphere. I like that. Great article, by the way. It's good to see a community leader talking about our biggest problems; blog spam and comment spam.
David Galbraith and Matt Mullenweg have created a new content rich ping mechanism. Currently, most ping mechanisms like Technorati and Ping-O-matic are failing because the back-ends simply can't handle the load of the pings. David and Matt's solution is to add more content into the ping request. Hmmm! WTF?
The Newest Industry is reporting performance issues at Weblogs.com.
Last week, I set out to enumerate where I find new links into my Website.
Pluck Corp. unveiled Version 2.0 of the industryâs #1 browser-based RSS reader for Internet Explorer and extended the product line with RSS readers for Firefox and the web. The product suite is the first in the RSS space to allow users to synchronize important web information, such as RSS web feeds and bookmarks, between different computers, web browsers and operating systems.
Randy: Congrats to the entire Pluck team! This is a major accomplishment, an RSS
reader platform that synchronizes state from IE to Firefox to Web, across OSes and across computers.
Google is offering their news results in RSS.
|Links to Feeds:|
|Top News||RSS | Atom|
|World||RSS | Atom|
|US||RSS | Atom|
|Business||RSS | Atom|
|Sci/Tech||RSS | Atom|
|Health||RSS | Atom|
|Sports||RSS | Atom|
|Entertainment||RSS | Atom|
Example of search results as a feed:
|"Lemurs"||RSS | Atom|
The goliath is rolling over, this might be the beginning of the end of competing RSS based search engines. The first thing I noticed is that the results return much quicker than anything I've ever seen before. Very refreshing after the last two years of Bloglines and Technorati.
Robert Young: Much like Viacomâs CBS decided to use the broadband web to bypass cable and compete against the 24-hour news networks like CNN and FoxNews (see PaidContentâs coverage here), the acquisition of MySpace positions Murdoch to challenge the dominance of MTV in their category.
My friends at pluck just told me that this blog is being featured throughout their new site.
This is the second time Pluck has featured The RSS Blog. A million thanks and much appreciated.
AmberMac: It looks like iTunes doesn't record how many people are actually subscribed to a podcast but rather how many times the button is pressed. [cut] Anyone can change the results in iTunes by simply clicking on the subscribe button 20 or 50 or 100 times.
Randy: Too funny! I'll be #1 by the end of the day
Randy: How I hate SPAM!
MSN: MSN Filter is your one-stop shop for the inside scoop on what's happening across the Web, according to the people who know the most ... YOU! Whether it's music, sports, TV, style or technology, our team of bloggers will filter the best stories, photographs, links and other interesting tidbits that you've sent in, as well as items that they've dug up.
Randy: Sounds like Microsoft wants to create their own Slashdot or Fark-style blogging community. The filters are simply MSN spaces blogs. There are five filter blogs; Tech; Lifestyle; Music, Sports and TV. They seem to be lower quality blogs (no grammar checker?), they've been running for several month and a rip-off of Jason Calacanis' weblogsinc.
Dude: So, with Atom 1.0 all but released, which namespace should the [USM] atom:link element live in?
Randy: Interesting question. Readers should support both. Publishers should use Atom 0.3 for now and move to Atom 1.0 when the timing is appropriate. Except of course, if you have an Atom 1.0 feed, which should obviously use the Atom 1.0 namespace and an Atom 0.3 feed, which uses the Atom 0.3 namespace. This should ensure maximum workiness.
More and more, I see people reporting how many total links Technorati, IceRocket, PubSub and BlogPulse have found that point to their blog. These numbers are utterly meaningless. The important number is how many new links you are finding with these tools. Technorati, for instance, is always finding 2 month old links for me. That's just great! PubSub, on the other hand, is great at finding false positive links. BlogPulse is really good at finding links from and to my own blog. And they are all counting a lot of duplicates when those numbers are tallied. I've decided, a new experiment is in order. I'm gonna write down how I find new links. So, please link to this article, so I can write them down
List of finds
I've updated the USM specification to reflect the new Atom 1.0 namespace. I also added a note that clients may want to check for Atom's legacy namespace. I almost changed the Status of the document from Draft to Stable, but I'll give the latest change a month or two before I commit to that.
Over the last week, I've completely rewritten the KBCafe search engine. I found that everybody was using the default search and that I wasn't getting any results on the alternate search engines. I think the reason was that the number of search engines was simply overwhelming. In place, I grouped all the searches into 9 buckets, which can each be searched independently.
The search results are grouped together for each search type. This is more inline with traditional meta-search engines. Hope you like!
Om Malik: I checked out other tags like VoIP, Broadband, DSL, Cable, Vioxx and what not. (I did not check all the popular tags, but I hope you do!) The entries were highly dominated by spam links.
I get this question a lot, so here's my formal answer. Point everybody here, from now on. Let me elaborate on the question first. The question arises from the fact that USM uses an Atom element in RSS to enable one-click subscriptions to RSS feeds.
The short answer is Why Not?
The long answer is What's the alternate? There is no equivalent RSS element, so it's not funky. This seems to fall into the category of extending RSS thru namespaces. I could have re-used the RSS Link module, but I've been told by a member of the RSS working group that it's deprecated. I could have created my own vocabulary, but why create another wheel when I can simply re-use Atom? I would be the ultimate hypocrit to criticize Atom, iTunes RSS and mRSS for not re-using, instead of re-inventing and do the same mistake myself. Last, shortly after I released USM, the Atom working group implemented the same element in their format, which give us the added benefit of one solution to both Atom and RSS one-click subscription.
Randy: Thanks Nathan!
Tonight, I attended the Toronto OPML editor roadshow. Attending the roadshow was Dave Winer, Calvin Ouyang (a good friend), Albert (x-boss and good friend), Joey de Villa (was-OC) and many other great people (sorry I can't name y'all). This was the first time I met Dave. Our introduction went like this (not exact words).
Dave: Are you Randy?
Dave: Thanks for not bringing up the RSS/Atom format thing.
I think Dave was truly afraid that I might do the format flame war thing. Dave, I appreciate the thanks, but I'm gonna do you worse. I'm gonna tell everybody your secret formula.
I don't know how many times Albert and I have discussed how important passion is in creation. For all you David-Winer-wannabees out there, I've told you his secret before and I'm telling you again.
OPML is the next podcast/RSS/SOAP/XML-RPC thing and MetaWeblogAPI might be on the coat tails.
By the way, Murphy willing, I should be on Dave's next podcast. A new forum, where I can make an ass of myself </BOGU>
Notes (no exact quotes):
CNN: In its latest State of the Blogosphere report, it said the number of blogs it was tracking now stood at more than 14.2m blogs, up from 7.8m in March.
Randy: Maybe we should buy CNN a calculator and a research assistant.
5 months * 30 days * 24 hours * 60 minutes * 60 seconds / (14.2m - 7.8m) = 1 new blog every two seconds
I assume they forgot the -7.8mIf you consider that Technorati is tracking only 20% of the blogosphere, then truly we are growing at 2.5 blogs per second.
Dave Sifry: Well, it is that time again! It has been almost 6 months since the last State of the Blogosphere, and so the team at Technorati and I have put together some high level information on what we've been tracking. [cut] As of the end of July 2005, Technorati was tracking over 14.2 Million weblogs, and over 1.3 billion links. Interestingly, this is just about double the number of blogs that we were tracking 5 months ago.
Randy: It's getting hard to believe the Technorati extrapolations are meaningful, since they are now tracking less than 20% of the 70+ millions blogs. The blogosphere may have tripled over the last 5 months.