Friday, August 30, 2002
Chatting with Brent
I had a good iChat yesterday with Brent Simmons, creator of the excellent NetNewsWire Lite. I gave him some feedback on his software, and he solved two problems for me, both of which were my own fault for not digging deep enough into the interface. We commiserated over a bug in Apple's HTML renderer that screws up how images appear, but that's beyond Brent's power to fix. He said that it'd take $50,000 for him to make a Windows version. Darn, I don't have that much. Maybe I'll have to buy myself a copy of Visual Basic for Dummies and become a programmer.
We also discussed the annoying ways in which sites screw up their RSS XML feeds. Slashdot, for example, only provides the headlines of their stories, nothing else. This would be adequate if the headlines are descriptive, but often they are not, making that RSS channel almost worthless for anything other than product annoucements.
On the other end of the spectrum is my RSS feed, amongst many others, who provide the entire story in XML. I understand why the big publications don't do that, they want to drive browser traffic to their sites to generate ad revenue, but there's no reason for the little independent weblogger not to syndicate their entire stories. I'm not concerned over the number of people visiting this site, I just want people to read my little rantings, so I can feel self important and think I'm reaching an audience. Obviously, from looking at the lack of comments on what I write, I'm not reaching a large audience, but you have to start somewhere.
So here, in no particular order, are my tips/demands of web sites that publish in RSS, to make life easier for the reader who is using NetNewsWire, AmphetaDesk, or Radio Userland to aggregate their news:
Now, I'm sure that there are technical, stylistic, and monetary reasons why many people don't want to publish following the way that I think it should be done. And I'll admit right now that I'm not an expert in this field, I'm just an end-user who wants to maximize the efficiency of this publishing method. But keep in mind, that all of these demands are made from the point of view of the reader of your weblogs, and following them will definitely result in more people reading your rants.