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Is the RSS feed dead?


rssicon Is the RSS feed dead? There has been a public analysis lately claiming that the use of Really Simple Syndication has Really Simply Stopped. This communication application that was once very popular seems to be dying as more social and user friendly ways of getting feeds crop up. It is common knowledge that technology is dynamic and that just like in fashion: an application could be in one day, and dead the next. The question that begs an answer is whether RSS is going through the death phase in its life-cycle, or whether it is an immortal technology that is ageing gracefully.

RSS is the foundation of any news and syndication network?

A lot of analysts have voiced their opinion on the RSS debate and argued that RSS can never die as it is the force behind the technology that is being accused of killing it. These commentators have argued that RSS is the backbone of news feeds from the major social media networks. Applications such as Twitterfeed which are credited with automatically delivering feeds to Twitter is based on the RSS technology. A lot of people use Google Reader, but RSS was the first technology to simplify syndication of information.

RSS powers an array of internet applications 

Others have argued that RSS may power all these applications, but it can never really be compared to them. RSS was isolated and lonely, and it was never friendly to its users. Most people used it simply because they had to, not because they loved to or wanted to. Even today, there are several people who still use this application, but most of them do so for professional purposes.

Technology is supplementing RSS

The technology that has been accused of replacing it however is dynamic and interactive. Technology such as Twitterfeed does not isolate the user, but instead includes them in a community where information is not only syndicated, but it is also shared among friends and family. This difference is what has made people cozy up to such applications and turn away from RSS because these applications appear more ‘alive’. Therefore, these analysts have argued that RSS is not dead because this technology was never really alive.

RSS reader/ browser use has declined 

Statistics have shown that the use of RSS has dropped by more than 68% since its inception, even though this application has been incorporated in all the major browsers.

Therefore, it is not the availability or spread of this application, but rather its usability that has reduced. However, those who are against the notion that RSS can die argue that RSS usability is the same, or that it has increased. Their argument is that syndication is about broadcasting information and not about feeds. Therefore, the numbers of feeders has definitely plummeted, but the use of RSS for what it was actually developed for, which is the broadcast of information in a simplified manner, is yet to decline. The only difference is that the platform has changed and the way that people access and use this application is different as well.

Is RSS phasing out? 

Proponents of the ‘RSS is dead’ mantra argue that all technology goes through a similar phase, and when technology is phased out, the aspects that were good and useful about it are retained and used to develop greater and more user friendly application. Therefore, RSS forms the backbone of some of the main syndication applications nowadays, but this is where the similarities end as one application is very different from the others.

However, one can conclude that RSS is no longer being used as a mainstream application by individuals, but it is still used by several professionals and companies. Although this application was not user friendly, it simplified syndication of information. To this day, there are people who trust it to give them updates on various websites and blogs.

RSS Leachers 

RSS leechers have also affected search results on search engines such as Google in the past – basically stealing the original curators content by importing their RSS onto another website, and this can result in search engine’s algorithms ranking such websites above websites with the original content. This is a concept that Google engineers are trying to deal with, but it would not have been possible if RSS was dead.

Will RSS ever die? 

RSS will never really die, but it will continue to work behind the curtains to power some of the recent syndication applications. It will never be as popular as it was to the public, but they will always use it indirectly whenever they use social media networks or other information sharing networks and websites.


David Cowling : Editor and Founder of SocialMediaNews.com.au. I also run a Social Media Agency where I do consulting work and my boutique Social Media Advisory Service. Connect with me: Twitter | LinkedIn | Google + or contact me here. Alternatively, you can send me an email at david@socialmedianews.com.au

  • https://www.facebook.com/mariahgillespie Mariah Gillespie

    It will always be important for social media integration, such as feeds to twitter and facebook applications! Not to mention blogs. Power to the RSS feed!!!!

  • http://www.socialmedianews.com.au David Cowling

    Hi Mariah,

    I totally agree!

    I am not really using a RSS reader anymore, but as you say – always using the RSS feed to power social applications.