Saturday 2 April 2005
WHERE IS YOUR FEED? Syndication feeds have become a predictable blog feature. But finding them on a site can be a bit unpredictable.
Digging around in my blogroll today, I began to notice that syndication feeds on blogs tend to have inconsistent naming and design approaches, and that this was a potential problem.
So, I decided to compare the location and type of syndication links on over sixty blogs. You can view a complete table of the results here. Yours might be one of them!
When in Doubt, Default
This is what occurs when the blog author never changes the syndication link from the original blog template. What’s humorous about this is that you can pretty much tell which blogging software a person is using based on the naming of the links.
What’s not so funny here is that to someone unfamiliar with blog technologies these words carry no meaning whatsoever. My folks have been known to drop by my site and I can guarantee you that none of this terminology makes sense to them. It’s too bad, they might find using a feed helpful, if only they could figure out what a feed actually is. Are we leaving potential readers out by not using clearer, more consistent terms?
Button Button Who’s Got the Button?
Some people forsake the use of text links, or use them in conjunction with buttons and badges. Some common examples of titles you’ll see on buttons n’ badges include:
- RSS Valid
These buttons and badges always seem to contain the color orange. There’s a convention for you! But again, what do these things signify to the non-blogger? Not much.
Then you’ve got the sophisticated folks who are separating out their feeds into intelligent groupings. In these cases, a link within the navigation scheme of the site will take you to a complete page with helpful information about what feeds are, why they are useful, and how to subscribe. Some folks that do this are Eric Meyer, Jonas Luster, Durstan Orchard, Matt Mullenweg and Shirley Kaiser.
This is an awesome approach! It puts the entire technology in context for anyone. However, there’s still a nomenclature problem in that no convention for naming exists. Some people use “Feed,” others use “Syndication,” still others are using “Subscribe.”
I do think “Subscribe” is likely the most globally understood of the three.
Location, Location, Location
The location choices of syndication links within a given blog is definitely problematic. They’re showing up in every conceivable location within the blog: at the top of the page, in a left column, a right column, a center column, at the bottom. There’s no consistency in placement, and what’s worse, sometimes a person will have numerous links to the same feeds in random locations.
We might want to talk a bit about where we’re placing our feed information. We can do this better.
When Hunger Strikes
Feeds are useful, and I am always hungry to follow certain blog discussions. There have been many debates about feed technologies and standards, but addressing the nomenclature and design issues are also a part of how we’ll move the practical use of feeds forward.