A while back, I wrote about how confusing web syndication is. Things have improved somewhat since then, with the adoption of the feed icon by many sites, things have gotten better. Yet, confusion remains.

I now go to sites where I see the feed icon followed by two or three choices: RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, and Atom 1.0. So now you’re asking the user to determine which format they want their syndicated data in? Talk about not being user friendly.

To the end user, there is no difference between the three of these, they all deliver the same data. Why are you forcing the user to figure out which one to download? It’s akin to those horrid sites that ask if you want to view the HTML or Flash version…the user doesn’t have enough information to determine which format they want to view.

So this is my suggestion to everyone: pick one syndication format and stick with it. Let’s not make the users more confused than they already are. Most feed readers support all three formats, so choose the one you want to use and stick with it. Make that feed icon mean the same thing everywhere.

Disclaimer: Any viewpoints and opinions expressed in this article are those of Nicholas C. Zakas and do not, in any way, reflect those of my employer, my colleagues, Wrox Publishing, O'Reilly Publishing, or anyone else. I speak only for myself, not for them.

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