So, I’ve come to your Web site. Looks interesting. No, I’m not going to bookmark it, because then I’d have to remember (1) where I bookmarked it and (2) to click on the bookmark. What I’d love to do is add your RSS feed to my news aggregator of choice. But why do so many news sites make that a daunting prospect?
For example, I’ve heard good things about the pro-am/citizen journalism Web site, Chi-Town Daily News. But check out the RSS page. There are more than 20 feed options, and not a one of them is a general site feed or “top news” or “top headlines” or “front page” or whatever. And worse, many of the feeds carry vague titles such as “Thesis 11” and “Reality of my surroundings.” So, which feed do I subscribe to?
Gapers Block is another Chicago news site guilty of the same sin. No general or “top news” or “main” feed. And would you have guessed the “Mechanics” feed covers politics, not auto repair? Yeah, me neither. (That should not be confused, of course, with “Transmission,” which covers music.) Site editor Andrew Huff says there is some sort of technical hurdle to providing a general site feed. I take him at his word, but that doesn’t make it any less irritating.
Don’t get me wrong: I love the fact that I can subscribe to the Boston Globe’s Celtics and Red Sox coverage without getting the rest of its news content. But check out how logical the Globe’s RSS feeds page is. There are ways of doing this well.
Sites should make syndication quick, easy and intuitive. Is that too much to ask?
By the way, Russ Smith’s new Web site, Splice Today, does something I find odd for this Web day and age. It prominently asks users to “make Splice your home page.” Isn’t that awfully presumptuous for a brand new Web site? Most users are already attached to a page that’s been their starting site for a while, often years. It’s sort of like someone proposing marriage on the first date.
Update: Chi-Town Daily News head honcho Geoff Dougherty tells me the all-news feed shows up in the “subscribe to this page” option now available in many Web browsers’ URL bars (not mine, however). Nevertheless, the RSS feeds page still could use some clarity given that many users are interested in drilling down to more specific syndication options.