Every news publisher should support RSS
I’m disproportionately frustrated by news websites that don’t provide an RSS feed. Sure, most provide an email newsletter these days, and that will suit many users. (It also suits the publisher just fine, because now they know exactly who is subscribing.) But while it’s been around for a long time, RSS isn’t the niche technology many people seem to think it is.
I start every day by reading my feeds in Reeder: a popular way for Apple users to keep on top of new content from their favorite sites. There are plenty of alternatives for every platform you can think of. On top of all the easy-to-use open news readers that are available, apps like Apple News also use a dialect of RSS behind the scenes. It is the standard way for websites to let people read updates.
It’s also a way for publishers to free themselves just a little bit more from the proprietary social media ecosystem. If most users learn about content they’re interested in from Facebook, publishers are beholden to Facebook. If most users learn about new stories from open web standards like RSS, publishers aren’t beholden to anybody. They have full control — no engagement from the partnerships team required.
It’s very cheap to support. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, it comes free out of the box; there’s no email inbox to clog up; and not allowing people to subscribe directly is hostile to both the user and the publisher. Hell, if you really want to, you can even run ads in the feed.
So, please: I want to read your articles. Spend half a day of developer time and set up a feed for every site you run.
The fediverse and the AT Protocol
Ryan discusses the differences between the fediverse and the AT Protocol:
One core difference between the fediverse and the AT Protocol seems to be that AT decouples many key building blocks – identity, moderation, ranking algorithms, even your own data to some degree – from your server. The fediverse, on the other hand, ties them all to your server and sees that as a desirable feature.
I’m probably being a bit presumptuous, but I think there’s actually a difference between a European and American mindset here. (Mastodon is headquartered in Germany while Bluesky is rooted in San Francisco and Austin.)
The fediverse prioritizes communities: each community instance has its own rules, culture, and potentially user interface. You find a community that you’re aligned with first and foremost, and your activity is dictated by that.
The AT Protocol is much more individualistic. You bring your own identity support, moderation, ranking algorithms, interface, etc. You’re using someone’s space to be able to access the network, but ultimately your choices are yours rather than an outcome of which collaborative community you’ve opted to join.
I think both models are good. I like the fediverse’s emphasis on community. I also think by not emphasizing granular community rules early on, Bluesky has the luxury of being able to build community across the whole network more cohesively. I’m glad both exist.
Blue checks for email are a bad idea
Google is adding to Brand Indicators for Message Identification:
Building upon that feature, users will now see a checkmark icon for senders that have adopted BIMI. This will help users identify messages from legitimate senders versus impersonators.
So in other words, Gmail will show a blue checkmark for email domains that have logged a registered trademark, bought a Verified Mark Certificate, and set up DMARC.
I hate this!
Although this method avoids Google itself from being a central authority, it demands that senders (1) have a verifiable registered trademark, (2) pay well over a thousand dollars for a Verified Mark Certificate.
This heavily disadvantages small vendors, sole operators, and anyone who can’t afford to drop a couple of thousand dollars on their email domain. The effect is to create an aura of legitimacy for larger organizations at the expense of individuals and smaller shops. It also heavily advantages certificate vendors, who are already running what amounts to be shakedown scam across the whole internet.
It’s an unequal, annoying policy, made worse by the realization that Gmail is likely to add routing rules that advantage BIMI-enabled messages in the future. Bah, humbug.