People who don’t use RSS don’t know what they are missing out.

RSS is a great piece of technology that people who use the internet today are unaware of or not using. There has not been any significant development in RSS for the last 10 years, and that’s fine.

I was a FeedBurner Google Reader user until Google decided to shut it down. Then I jumped between Feedly, NewsBlur, and a couple of other RSS readers and they were not the same.

Because I was unable to find a good RSS reader that works across all my devices, I gave up using RSS for the last 5-6 years. Then recently I saw a post on HackerNews about NetNewsWire, a free and open-source RSS reader that works across all my devices.

Only after started reading RSS again did I realize how much I was missing, and millions out there are missing a great experience to consume content because they don’t know about RSS or gave up using RSS like me when Google decided to kill FeedBurner GoogleReader.

The user experience of many websites has slowly deteriorated in the last few years, and we have slowly gotten used to these changes, we’ve forgotten how easy it was to read something from a website a decade or so ago.

From cookie consent banners, to ads covering most of the screen, to popups and to various other distractions that keep us away from what we visited the website in the first place, to consume a piece of content.

RSS allows you to just consume content without any of these ads and distractions. However, this is the very thing that content creators want to avoid.

With RSS there is little chance of users seeing any ads, and content creators want to keep a user as long as possible consuming content on their website, as more time spent means more chance for ad revenue.
For this very reason, most websites now don’t maintain an RSS feed.

Compare my experiences in reading an article from a website with and RSS the reader. Which experience would you prefer?

The first example is from NewsWire (a news website) where ads cover around 25%-30% of my screen real estate, and I can’t read anything without scrolling down.

Blue colour boxes show ads. There are more at the bottom if I scroll down.

The second example is from the Washington Post, where I can’t read anything without closing their banner to subscribe.

The WAPO banner covers like 20% of my screen at the bottom

This is how I read an article via RSS.

How I read through RSS using the NetNewsWire

What experience would you prefer?

Once a user discovers how to consume content with RSS, I’m sure there is no going back because the user experience in RSS is so much better than consuming content via a website.

I hope RSS will make a comeback. And I encourage all websites to maintain an RSS feed for the minority who still loves to read through RSS. There may even be an opportunity for a better RSS reader in the market, and maybe publishers and RSS readers come to a balance where both can co exist and benefit from each other.

For the website that I like to consume but does not provide an RSS feed, I started writing a crawler to fetch content and generate an RSS feed for me which I can then use to read via my RSS reader. You can find the project on GitHub – https://github.com/rukshn/dm-feeds

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Comments

  1. pedro

    Penultimate paragraph ends prematurely.

    1. Thank you for pointing it out, fixed it.

    2. Becool

      Pedro pens: Penultimate paragraph punctuates prematurely.

  2. Agreed. I’m using Feedly on both mobile and browser.

    Also, do you mean “Google Reader” instead of “FeedBurner”? The former was the RSS reader.