No, RSS is not dead

Lately there has been a lot of talk about RSS being dead, doomed, dying, a thing of the past, etc, etc, etc. (The latest wave seems to have been triggered by this article by Sam Diaz over at ZDNet.)

The arguments we’ve seen range from “these days I only use Twitter” to “I don’t use Google Reader anymore”. That last one seems to be a major gripe.

Come on, people.

RSS is a data syndication mechanism. RSS reader applications (such as the Google Reader) may or may not be losing some popularity, but that is an application issue and to go from there to saying that RSS itself is dead is just nonsense. That’s similar to saying that HTML is dead.

Here is the truth: RSS is and remains an important way to publish and receive data on the Internet and is used by millions of sites. It powers a lot more behind the scenes than we tend to think about.

Ways RSS is used today:

  • Publication of blog posts and news articles from all over the Web
  • Lots of sites and applications get their data via RSS (TechMeme, Google News, anyone?)
  • And a huge number of different data feeds

So, RSS is dead. Ok, bloggers, discontinue your RSS feeds and rely on Twitter alone. And all you news sites, shut down your RSS feeds as well. RSS is dead anyway, right? Abandon ship!

And of course you won’t do that. Because thinking about what the Web would be without RSS makes you realize how widely used it actually is. It’s not all about Google Reader.


  1. Don’t discontinue your RSS feeds. If you do, I, and many others, won’t read your blog. Twitter is a much less reliable medium for receiving news. In my (desktop) RSS reader, I can see every unread item on a blog, and then decide whether I want to read it or not. With Twitter, I only see what has been posted in the last 2-4 hours. I miss everything that was published while I was asleep (often in another timezone).

    I subscribe to the Royal Pingdom feed, but ironically I found this article through Twitter first. (I skim through Twitter before reading my feeds.)

  2. Well said. Twitter can be used as a simple RSS ‘headline’ reader for the small minority that uses it at this time. It has huge disadvantages, particularly as it won’t scale well – both in terms of how many feeds you follow and in terms of the Twitter infrastructure.

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