Standard Naming Convention Would Speed RSS Adoption

    February 22, 2005

Recently there was some chatter from Dave Winer, founder of RSS, about the difficulty of RSS in penetrating the public’s attention.

He wondered if it wouldn’t make sense for a central syndication source. Others retorted that, no, that idea runs contrary to the spirit of RSS, which is decentralized by nature.

Regardless of how that debate plays out, one thing is for sure. Many people probably don’t understand RSS for the simple reason that plagues the English language — too many synonyms (aka TMS).

Words that describe syndication technologies include RDF, RSS, XML and Atom (which itself is the name of an independent film website and a provider of internal site search engines and e-commerce technology!).

The acronym RSS itself stands for at least two different phrases: rich site summary and really simple syndication. Most articles that give an overview of RSS usually point out that the proper acronym depends on “who you ask.”

Then there are the generic phrases used to describe this technology: syndication, subscription, news feeds, RSS feeds and XML feeds!

Not surprisingly, the software used to read RSS feeds is alternately called: news readers, feed reader and RSS aggegators.

There’s little doubt that RSS will lead to a signifcant change in how content is published, distributed and conusmed online. And there’s also little doubt that it will benefit (almost) everyone.

But, due to the confusion in naming conventions and the lack of agreement among the major RSS players, as evidenced by Blogger endorsing Atom over RSS, that process will be slowed considerably.

Can’t we all just get along and agree on naming standards?

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Cory Kleinschmidt is co-founder of, which offers a unique analysis of search engine and eBusiness trends. As Webmaster of Traffick, he designed the site, and continues to maintains it and contributes informative articles for webmasters and internet professionals.