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Goodbye, RSS button in the location bar of Firefox
January 3, 2011 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Do you use RSS? Not many do, apparently. Goodbye, then, RSS button in the location bar of Firefox 4 (Bugzilla entry). “RSS is dying,” a blog hyperbolizes in response, with retort from Asa Dotzler of Mozilla, who states the functionality is being moved to a menu item.
posted by joeclark (98 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is the ugliest fucking blog I have ever seen.
posted by empath at 12:43 PM on January 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


Presumably he's trying to encourage us to use an RSS reader.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:44 PM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I would guess it has to do with Firefox being a web browser. I may be spoiled, but once you start using a RSS Reader, the idea of using Firefox just seems.. silly.. for that?
posted by cavalier at 12:45 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whoa! Commodore 64 flashback! I see colors! And sprites!
posted by LastOfHisKind at 12:46 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I were one of them handy types, I'd write a script that puts the RSS icon back on the toolbar. Guess I'll have to wait the 4 seconds until somebody else does it.
posted by Rykey at 12:52 PM on January 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


I always suspected it wasn't Real Simple enough.
posted by box at 12:52 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


At my non-profit we re-use our RSS feeds via dlvr.it to post new content to our Twitter.
posted by wcfields at 12:53 PM on January 3, 2011


Whoa! Commodore 64 flashback! I see colors! And sprites!

That's "V2" of the Camen Design Forums. Presumably "V3" is black-on-black text that you need to highlight to read and "V4" is Webdings.
posted by theodolite at 12:53 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I hope they don't get rid of those bookmarks to 'About the Mozilla Foundation' and 'Get Involved With Firefox.' I bet people click on those all the freaking time.
posted by box at 12:53 PM on January 3, 2011 [15 favorites]


That is the ugliest fucking blog I have ever seen.

The camendesign one, second link? I like it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:54 PM on January 3, 2011


RSS feeds aren't easy enough for me to use. I like things to be really, really easy.
posted by Summer at 12:54 PM on January 3, 2011


I don't see the big deal. I'm fairly tech-savvy, very comfortable on a computer, and I didn't even know about the existence of the RSS button in the location bar until I'd been using RSS feeds for about a year.

RSS is a very convenient thing that people aren't going to learn about from an orange button on their browser.
posted by girih knot at 12:54 PM on January 3, 2011


I only saw this because it's in Meta's RSS feed...
posted by qcubed at 12:57 PM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think reports of RSS' death have been More »
posted by JHarris at 12:59 PM on January 3, 2011 [63 favorites]


The camendesign one, second link? I like it.

Well just that's a matter of taste. Your taste is simply wrong, that's all.
posted by inedible at 12:59 PM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seems to fit with the streamlining of the browser. Add-ons will have this functionality back in a matter of seconds. I use RSS all the time, I'm not sure why people think it's useless or whatever.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:00 PM on January 3, 2011


Ironic (and pointed out in the comments) that this blog is fucking unreadable unless you re-render as a normal page, which is easiest using the RSS content. Which I found via Google Reader.
posted by clvrmnky at 1:00 PM on January 3, 2011


I just launched a redesign of my site. I put in an ungodly number of hours doing so because basically I don't know what the hell I am doing, but don't have the funds to hire someone that does. I figure it would take me an hour to write an RSS feed, but was thinking, "That's an hour I could be watching reruns of Golden Girls" instead. So I decided to not do it. In three days I've had 2,000 failed accesses to my feed. So I guess it's worth spending that hour implementing it (Sorry, Bea Arthur).
posted by cjorgensen at 1:02 PM on January 3, 2011


FYI the Google Reader app for Android is pretty tops.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:06 PM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Add it back with a Greasemonkey script: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/688 (puts it in the right hand corner of the page). Problem solved.

Oh wait, this isn't ask.
posted by deezil at 1:07 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have never, ever, ever used that button.
posted by Gator at 1:07 PM on January 3, 2011


Your taste is simply wrong, that's all.

But dammit, I got this here piece of paper!!!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:10 PM on January 3, 2011


The argument here is really not for or against RSS, per se, although the blogger does try to make it out that way.

The dispute is really about how the existence of an RSS feed should be advertised and who (or what) should act on that advertisement. There are two ways of handling an RSS feed; you can provide a link to it (e.g. the "Subscribe" link at the top of this page), and you can also put it into the HTML HEAD element where an RSS-aware browser can offer it to the user in place of or in addition to the rendered version.

To be honest, I wasn't even aware that this second route was possible, and certainly not widespread. But it does have a certain technical elegance to it; by putting the RSS link there, lots of automated systems can get to it easily -- and RSS is basically designed for easy machine-parsing. So that's why it makes sense.

And the browser is going to have to do something with RSS at some point. Even if you don't put anything in HEAD and just provide a link for users to click on, then the browser has to decide how to handle the resulting XML file, hopefully in some slightly more-intelligent way than just saving it to the Downloads folder. (Typically the user is given a choice of RSS clients to send the feed URL to.)

Why the Firefox people were so hell-bent on getting rid of the icon in the location bar I'm not sure, though. It seems to have been "required" by some UX team rather than by developers, which makes me immediately suspicious.

The Firefox team seems obsessed with making it stupid-easy to use, and if that comes at the cost of features -- particularly features that were subtle and didn't take up screen real estate or even make the user aware of their existence when not relevant -- than I think it says bad things about the direction it's going in as a project. It gives me a whiff of Wikipedia-esque "deletionism," and that's not pleasant.

But I've already moved away from Firefox to Chrome for other reasons, so I suppose if they want to obsessively target users who are so easily distracted that the occasional presence of an RSS icon up there in the location bar is a serious usability issue, at the expense of a neat technology and bad press from people who were attached to it ... it's their ball game.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:11 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


WHOOPS, top LEFT corner of the page.
posted by deezil at 1:12 PM on January 3, 2011


Can't quite distinguish the problem here: why can't the ranter just put an RSS icon on the blog somewhere, anywhere? I see them on sites all the time. And who wrote the rule that "RSS Is the Browser’s Responsibility"? Is that really a rule? If an author wants readers to subscribe to their fabulous and relevant blog then it seems logical that the author is responsible for making that super simple.

Thanks for sharing joeclark, because without this post I would never have noticed the disappearance of that little orange thingamajig.
posted by Ranindaripley at 1:16 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


That is the ugliest fucking blog I have ever seen.

Are you kidding? It's awesome.
posted by delmoi at 1:16 PM on January 3, 2011


If I were one of them handy types, I'd write a script that puts the RSS icon back on the toolbar. Guess I'll have to wait the 4 seconds until somebody else does it.

Add it back with a Greasemonkey script: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/688 (puts it in the right hand corner of the page). Problem solved.


8 minutes... slackers!
posted by Rykey at 1:18 PM on January 3, 2011


Wow, there's an RSS button in the location bar? Wow, I guess there is. I added a little "Subscribe" like to the bar under the location bar, because that's where it was in Firefox 2...
posted by muddgirl at 1:18 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


RSS is the browser’s responsibility. Your feeds are supposed to be linked in LINK (using rel="alternate" [also in HTML5]). It is then up to the rendering device to make the alternate version available via its own UI.

You are not supposed to link to RSS in the BODY of your document. This hardly stops people, of course, and is merely one of a thousand different violations of HTML semantics seen every day.
posted by joeclark at 1:22 PM on January 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I use RSS and google reader, but I'm curious, how do most people actually read their blogs and rotating content web sites these days? Twitter links?
posted by serazin at 1:24 PM on January 3, 2011


Also, the link is just being moved to a menu. And actually if enough people complain I suppose they might just have it be a user option. I do use that button from time to time, but not enough for me to be annoyed if it goes away. On the other hand this is a good point:
HTML is my craft; if Mozilla or Google screw up a feature, I am forced to take my art in a direction I don't want to. For example, there is no RSS text or button on my website; I assume that the browser will do what is appropriate to itself. If no browser comes with a default RSS button, then I may be forced to clutter my website design with RSS links, which I don't want to do.
Hmm. Also, people should use Atom and not RSS. RSS itself is garbage.
posted by delmoi at 1:25 PM on January 3, 2011


I suppose it all makes sense now http://my.netscape.com is down. Luckily a billion half-assed newspaper reimagining apps appeared so now I have the luxury of spending £600 + £10 to get the same functionality, but with the added bonus of treating me like a technotard.

Progress! LET THEM EAT APP!
posted by davemee at 1:26 PM on January 3, 2011


I only want this to be true so Dave Winer will write another one of those "Fuck you! I invented hydroponic farming of snow peas, and I've forgotten more than you'll ever know, you little turd!" rants... Good times, good times...
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 1:27 PM on January 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


well, anyone who cares for client side rss uses opera and its integrated newsreader.
posted by 3mendo at 1:28 PM on January 3, 2011


joeclark: The reason that it's supposed to be linked in the head, and be the browser's responsibility, is consistency, right? The user can always find the RSS feed in the same place and it's easier to use?

That makes sense, and would work well, if RSS was more widely used. At this point, if a website wants people to subscribe, which they should, it still makes a lot of sense for them to link to RSS in the body. People who don't know about RSS being handled by the browser will otherwise never, ever see the little orange button or know what it does.

And honestly, if it consistently makes more sense for people to link to RSS in the body, the HTML semantics will change. The rules only make sense when they really benefit everyone.
posted by girih knot at 1:30 PM on January 3, 2011


Actually I just noticed Chrome doesn't display an RSS Icon, or even have it anywhere in the first few menu items.

So, while I can see the RSS links in the metafilter footer, I would have no way to subscribe to this specific thread using RSS.

Apparently you need an extension to see RSS/Atom feeds in chrome. Wow.
posted by delmoi at 1:31 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Apparently you need an extension to see RSS/Atom feeds in chrome. Wow.

Google would rather you use its reader while you use your gmail while you use Google Docs.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:32 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


And aside from the things earlier in the thread where I mention how to get it back, seriously all I do is read RSS feeds. If it can't be piped into Google Reader, it doesn't get seen unless someone else sends me a direct link to it. I've used it to condense what used to be a list of 75 bookmarks into one page to go and get everything. Only other thing I add on top is using delicious to store some of my links, but I've been using the tags feature and the Starred items in GReader to do that more and more and used delicious less and less.
posted by deezil at 1:33 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like the button. It removes the hide & seek game of "find the subscribe icon" that sites will ask you to play without it, and it takes zero clicks to discover there are no feeds at all.

Also, the link is just being moved to a menu.
There's already a menu item, they're just improving it and removing the feed presence indicator.
posted by pwnguin at 1:36 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "So, while I can see the RSS links in the metafilter footer, I would have no way to subscribe to this specific thread using RSS. "

And this is why I call it hide and seek. The feed you're looking for is at the top of the page, next to the thread post date.
posted by pwnguin at 1:37 PM on January 3, 2011


Oh, and if you are on Chrome, and want the button in your address bar: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/nlbjncdgjeocebhnmkbbbdekmmmcbfjd
posted by deezil at 1:38 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Apparently you need an extension to see RSS/Atom feeds in chrome. Wow.

Google would rather you use its reader while you use your gmail while you use Google Docs.

But if that were true, wouldn't Chrome try to pass you through to Google Reader when you click on an RSS link? I'm really surprised that it doesn't do anything at all, it just displays the code by default, it seems.
posted by XMLicious at 1:43 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I use RSS and google reader, but I'm curious, how do most people actually read their blogs and rotating content web sites these days?

Um, I bookmark the blogs I'm actually, truly, honestly interested in and go to them at some point in the day. This will be a bit of a shocker to some, but I don't really care to get constant updates about anything throughout the day. There's scant little in this world that necessitates a constant info feed.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:45 PM on January 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


You are not supposed to link to RSS in the BODY of your document. This hardly stops people, of course, and is merely one of a thousand different violations of HTML semantics seen every day.

Eh? How is it a semantic violation to put a href="whatever" in the body? I can sort of see why some might find it redundant to have that and link rel in the head, so people can either let the browser do it or subscribe manually if they don't know how about the browser tools, but I don't see how it's a violation.
posted by Gator at 1:46 PM on January 3, 2011


Ranindaripley: why can't the ranter just put an RSS icon on the blog somewhere, anywhere? I see them on sites all the time.
Some sites do this, of course, but while some sites use the orange RSS icon, some of them use "+Bloglines" style icons, which makes it hard to know what you're looking for. It doesn't help that every site's layout has a different idea about where on the page such indications belong. And none of the icons can be found with a Ctrl-F style search. Even text links to RSS feeds are variously named "subscribe" or "RSS" or "feeds" or what-have-you, making finding them difficult.

From the user's perspective, the orange RSS icon in the address bar (of the better browsers) is, for better or for worse, the clearest and most standardized way of indicating that a web site provides a feed.

I could understand getting rid of the ultra-lite RSS function built into Firefox, "Live Bookmarks," which I don't find useful at all. But I can't understand why you'd change a web browser to prevent it from showing you information that the website author intended visitors to see.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:53 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


That is the AWESOMEST fucking blog I have ever seen.

I FUCKING LOVE TEXT!
posted by PROD_TPSL at 1:53 PM on January 3, 2011


I see I have two places on my own several thousand pages where I link to a feed of my own in body copy. One’s more justifiable than the other.

Nonetheless, RSS goes in HEAD.
posted by joeclark at 1:54 PM on January 3, 2011


That is the ugliest fucking blog I have ever seen.

and

Are you kidding? It's awesome.

These are not contradictory statements.
posted by eriko at 1:55 PM on January 3, 2011


Ranindaripley: "Can't quite distinguish the problem here: why can't the ranter just put an RSS icon on the blog somewhere, anywhere? I see them on sites all the time. "

Well - Have you SEEN what happens when they have 500 little fucking icons all lined up? "HEY GUYZ - REDDIT THIS, DIGG THIS, SIMPY THIS, DELICIOUS THIS, FACEBOOK THIS, UP YOUR ASS THIS..."

it's really ridiculous. Add an orange square in there (and honestly? In a lot of those sites, they do have an RSS feed amongst all the icons usually, already) it just gets even more stupid.

I don't understand what the problem is. I never heard anyone complain, not even my parents who aren't uber savvy. Leave it be.
posted by symbioid at 1:56 PM on January 3, 2011


I hope RSS survives. It's handy for the screenreader users of my WebbIE accessible applications, (self-link!). You can use it to get a simple and text-only (though funky formatting is creeping along) "index" to the site with latest updates. Particularly useful for newspaper sites, which often have "funky" and horrible front pages, but lots and lots of great and frequently-updated content.

But, yeah, I don't think my users go to the RSS feed from the browser, which is Mozilla's point. They go from a dedicated RSS News Reader, and search the provided directory of RSS feeds. Like Google News, I believe?

Really, as joeclark says, in an ideal world semantic things like RSS and geotags and suchlike would provide a richer, simpler and more user-friendly world than the Everything Must Be HTML Plus Javascript hell towards which we are moving. Sigh.
posted by alasdair at 2:00 PM on January 3, 2011


Wait, "semantic violation"? Is there some kind of penalty for putting an RSS link in the "wrong" place? I think we need TRON to step in and defend the user here. (and blog authors) Applets like the RSS button should be able to go where it's best for the user to find and use it. Who writes these rules anyway?
posted by Ranindaripley at 2:02 PM on January 3, 2011


This will be a bit of a shocker to some, but I don't really care to get constant updates about anything throughout the day. There's scant little in this world that necessitates a constant info feed.

For me, it's not an issue of getting a constant stream throughout the day - some days I only check Google Reader once or twice! On vacations I don't check it at all.

Some of my blogs update A. Lot. Some only update once in a great while. Lots of online comics update on a regular schedule, but sometimes their authors go on break. I used to go through and load all those bookmarks every morning, trying to remember what updates when... I suppose it was a bit soothing, and a great time-waster. But with a feed reader, I'm notified what has updated and what hasn't. Even those blogs that update once a year a tracked for me, so I don't get discouraged and stop checking them.

And when I return from a vacation with thousands of new things to digest at my own pace, my feed reader lets me know where I left off, so I don't miss anything. I can even put it in headline mode and just skim the more active blogs like Metafilter, without having to constantly click "Older Posts" over and over.
posted by muddgirl at 2:02 PM on January 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


how do most people actually read their blogs and rotating content web sites these days?

I like the idea of an RSS feed, but in reality I found it overwhelming. I miss out on a lot of stuff because I stopped using Google Reader, but I don't really care. The internet is here to entertain and inform me, not to create obligations for me to keep up with.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:13 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


alasdair: But, yeah, I don't think my users go to the RSS feed from the browser, which is Mozilla's point. They go from a dedicated RSS News Reader, and search the provided directory of RSS feeds. Like Google News, I believe?
That may be, but that's the hard way; the current Firefox button offers the option to subscribe to feeds through Bloglines/Google News/My Yahoo, directly, in just a couple of clicks, without manually visiting another site and without any typing or searching.

The more I think about this, the less sense it makes to me. Google is a major source of Mozilla financing, and Mozilla is apparently planning to eliminate this super-easy pathway to one of Google's better web apps from its flagship product.
posted by Western Infidels at 2:16 PM on January 3, 2011


some days I only check Google Reader once or twice!

Yeah, me too. In the past year I started following dozens of webcomics and a handful of other blogs, and my regular old bookmarks became just too overwhelming for me to check, so I started subscribing using Google Reader. I check it first thing in the morning and sometimes one or two more times throughout the day, which is WAY easier than checking ALL of my bookmarks even once a day.
posted by Gator at 2:17 PM on January 3, 2011


I use Google Reader, and when I want to add a feed, which is rare, I copy the URL and paste it into the box that comes up when I click 'add subscription' on Reader. I didn't know there was another way to do it.

I say this because everyone cares how I do things, so you're welcome.
posted by monkeymadness at 2:41 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think that this is one case of Firefox trying to compete with Chrome, which strips away a whole bunch of icons that had become normal in browsers and became something of a success. That doesn't get them off the hook, as showing nothing but a bunch of text for an RSS link is kinda pathetic, but I don't need RSS showing up all the time to know it's there.

I still use RSS, but less so than in the past. Stuff just kept piling up so quickly in my old Net News Wire that it became way too imposing. I use Fever now and love it. Fever's big feature is that is analyzes the feeds and takes out the things everyone is linking to.

RSS Is the Browser’s Responsibility

This is bullshit. As long as sites keep publishing them, tools like Fever, Pipes and Google Reader will still be useful.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 2:41 PM on January 3, 2011


This guy seems to think that the only way to access an RSS feed is through the browser. The only thing I use my browser for in relation to RSS is to grab a feed URL to pass to NetNewsWire/Google Reader.
posted by mrbill at 2:45 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some of those Bugzilla comments are awesome:

> All of our usage metrics point to the fact that this control isn't used enough to warrant inclusion in primary UI.

Your usage metrics aren't accurate.. I use the icon as a visual reference to rss feeds.. yet I don't click on the icon.. I didn't know it was a button.


"Your stats are wrong! I use this feature! Only I don't really use it because I didn't know what it was for!"
posted by Gator at 2:52 PM on January 3, 2011


I use the location bar icon to add feeds to Google Reader. I forget if it came installed as a content handler or if I added it in about:config manually. On most sites with proper meta tags, it's as easy as a couple clicks to subscribe to feeds I find interesting.

This will be a bit of a shocker to some, but I don't really care to get constant updates about anything throughout the day. There's scant little in this world that necessitates a constant info feed.

To me, RSS feeds long ago became more like how a lot of people use Twitter. It's not like I read every feed item or title every day. Occasionally I dive into the fire hose. I use Google's brilliant "magic" sorting to read through my hundreds of feeds. There are over a thousand new items in my Reader every day, and this is the only sane way of reading through them. I'm unsure the exact algorithm they use, but most likely it's a combination of recommender system based on feeds you subscribe to, items your social network likes and finds interesting, and other relevant info.

Going forward, this makes sense. Harness the power of your social network and implicit and explicit cues about what you find interesting. As a geek, I'd like more knobs and sliders to control the weights, but keeping it simple works for the most number of people.
posted by formless at 3:08 PM on January 3, 2011


Wait, "semantic violation"? Is there some kind of penalty for putting an RSS link in the "wrong" place? I think we need TRON to step in and defend the user here. (and blog authors) Applets like the RSS button should be able to go where it's best for the user to find and use it. Who writes these rules anyway?

W3

And they have a big fat RSS link in the body of that page, so I think whoever said that putting RSS in the body of the page is a semantic violation pulled that straight out of their ass.
posted by empath at 3:30 PM on January 3, 2011


And they have a big fat RSS link in the body of that page
That's an Atom feed. And obviously it's not a problem to put an <a> tag link to the RSS/Atom file in an HTML document. It would be a semantic violation to put the <link> link in the body.
posted by delmoi at 4:00 PM on January 3, 2011


RSS Is the Browser’s Responsibility
This is bullshit. As long as sites keep publishing them, tools like Fever, Pipes and Google Reader will still be useful...
-- The Devil Tesla

This guy seems to think that the only way to access an RSS feed is through the browser. The only thing I use my browser for in relation to RSS is to grab a feed URL to pass to NetNewsWire/Google Reader. -- mrbill
They are talking about discovering feeds. If you do use an RSS reader, how do you know where to get the feeds? I do use the RSS button if I want to get the URL for a feed to add it to google reader. With out the icon, I would have no way of knowing if a page had an RSS feed - and while the page might have an RSS link, I wouldn't necessarily notice it.

That's what they mean they say RSS is the browser's responsibility. It's supposed to notify you if RSS is available.
posted by delmoi at 4:05 PM on January 3, 2011


Also what the hell is the deal with chrome extension URLs?
https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/nlbjncdgjeocebhnmkbbbdekmmmcbfjd
It's almost like a sarcastic parody of the random IDs that have been showing up in the file path part of the URLs lately
posted by delmoi at 4:14 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


This guy seems to think that the only way to access an RSS feed is through the browser. The only thing I use my browser for in relation to RSS is to grab a feed URL to pass to NetNewsWire/Google Reader.

Same for me, except that I use my own open source project rss2email to send new items to my always-on email client instead of some other app or website that I don't pay very close attention to.
posted by turbodog at 4:23 PM on January 3, 2011


Wow. I have ~100 feeds in Google Reader, and use Firefox for all my non-phone-based browsing, and I never noticed the RSS icon in the address bar before. In my defence, you can throw pretty much anything into the 'add feed' field in Google Reader, and it'll figure out what you're trying to do.
posted by kersplunk at 4:39 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't quite get the whole RSS thing...

Primarily, "why"? I can get to a real browser on just about every screen-bearing network-enabled device to which I have access. Typically, I never go more than 45 minutes (not coincidentally, the length of my commute to/from work) that I couldn't, if I wanted to, get online from an actual PC (and the times when I find myself away from tech for longer than that, I do so to get away from tech, by choice).

I mean, okay, I once set up a notification thing that would alert me when the sites I frequent post new content. But after a week, I found that when I have the time to check them, I do; When I don't have the time, having a message pop up telling me about it doesn't in any way help me.

Perhaps this just comes down to the old-media issue of push vs on-demand content... As much as I enjoy a wide variety of entertainment and information, I have no interest whatsoever in having others tell me when/where/how I can have it.
posted by pla at 4:42 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


How long is 2005 to 2010 in internet years?
posted by infini at 4:43 PM on January 3, 2011


delmoi: there are 32 characters all in the range a-p, the first 16 letters of the alphabet. It's just a transformation or representation of a 128-bit value, such as a UUID.
posted by jepler at 4:48 PM on January 3, 2011


I can get to a real browser on just about every screen-bearing network-enabled device to which I have access.

And? My rss-feed reader is accessed via web browser. It's not an issue of accessing the internet, it's an issue of accessing content.

I once set up a notification thing that would alert me when the sites I frequent post new content.

I can see why this is annoying. Most feed readers, AFAIK, don't do this. It's just a site or a program that you access. Practically the definition of "on-demand".

I have no interest whatsoever in having others tell me when/where/how I can have it.

Which is another reason I love using a feed reader - I'm not tied to the aesthetic (but usually unnecessary) design choices of the blog author.
posted by muddgirl at 5:14 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


infini: it's about 12, from what I can figure. The unit of time is called internets, and the micro-unit is tubes. Think about it like minutes and seconds.
posted by deezil at 5:24 PM on January 3, 2011


Also, the link is just being moved to a menu.

That's not an equivalent substitution.

The feed icon isn't just a button; it's an indicator that, by its appearance says "you may subscribe to this site". Hide it in a menu and you hide the indicator; I have to pull down the menu simply to see if I may subscribe.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:28 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Put me down as one of the (apparently few) people who are amazed that RSS is not used much. I find it so very convenient to quickly subscribe to a feed that I may be interested and check up on all my feeds when I have the time to do so. It would drive me insane to have to take the time to check back at all the blogs and news sites I follow (many of them for professional development). It's pretty easy to skim through a feed reader to find the stuff that's interesting, including MetaFilter posts like this one. And when it gets overwhelming I can also just mark read everything and move on. I'm also surprised that many people aren't aware that the little colander-looking thing in the address bar is the symbol for RSS feed because I don't really consider myself all that tech-savvy.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 6:51 PM on January 3, 2011


Primarily, "why"? I can get to a real browser on just about every screen-bearing network-enabled device to which I have access. Typically, I never go more than 45 minutes (not coincidentally, the length of my commute to/from work) that I couldn't, if I wanted to, get online from an actual PC
Uh, what? What do you think people use to read RSS feeds? Typically it's browsers on PCs. Also, I don't know how many sites you keep up on, but with google reader it's easy to keep up with hundreds if you want too, you can categorize them so if you're in the mood for a particular topic, you can check to see if any blogs got updated.
delmoi: there are 32 characters all in the range a-p, the first 16 letters of the alphabet. It's just a transformation or representation of a 128-bit value, such as a UUID.
Why not use normal hex? Or Base64? And why do they need 128 bits? Youtube does fine with its short IDs, Bitly and imgur use even shorter strings. If you have massive generating ids, you can't use a straight-up sequence number easily, but you can distribute key ranges to each node.

(Did someone at google discover that a-p is more 'useable' then 0-f?)
The feed icon isn't just a button; it's an indicator that, by its appearance says "you may subscribe to this site". Hide it in a menu and you hide the indicator; I have to pull down the menu simply to see if I may subscribe.
Yeah I realized that a little later on. Kind of an annoying change for people who use RSS. But, I'm sure plugins will be available.
posted by delmoi at 7:38 PM on January 3, 2011


Primarily, "why"?

Because Google Reader (or any other decent RSS reader) keeps track of what I've read and what I haven't across all the sites I'm interested in, and lets me access it all in a single place instead of making me check all the individual sites one by one.

It's like web forums vs. Usenet—back in the day, I was able to actively participate in dozens of newsgroups because everything went through a single interface and the software kept track of everything for me. I would love to participate in more web forums—I have dozens bookmarked that I pop into occasionally—but can really only actively participate in a handful of them because the logistics of remembering to check them regularly, manually clicking through to every subforum and thread, figuring out where I left off on the many systems that don't track last-message-read very well, etc. gets tedious very, very quickly. Especially compared to just using the damned spacebar.
posted by Lazlo at 7:57 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


As much as I enjoy a wide variety of entertainment and information, I have no interest whatsoever in having others tell me when/where/how I can have it.

This is pretty much why I use RSS feeds. It shows up in my news reader and I read all my feeds when I want to, at my own pace. The secret is that I pick which feeds I subscribe to carefully and purge ruthlessly when I feel like I have too many feeds or items.
posted by immlass at 8:46 PM on January 3, 2011


Thanks deezil

So its the rise and fall of the "blogosphere" in 12 units?
posted by infini at 8:52 PM on January 3, 2011


Oh and since we're on topic, I hate the new dashboard on bloglines. Its been murdered.
posted by infini at 8:53 PM on January 3, 2011


A complication is making a viable UI for a page that has RSS feeds for e.g. the entire site, categories, tags, comments for that page, and users, all of them correctly called in HEAD. Or for any number greater than one of divergent feeds on a single page (i.e., something other than the case of offering Atom and RSS, which mirror each other).

Feed discovery has been a particular issue of mine with WordPress, where essentially everything becomes a feed if you change the URL so it ends in /feed/. I gave up and left explicit instructions, but then again, I have technically sophisticated readers.
posted by joeclark at 9:22 PM on January 3, 2011


I gather the consensus is that Thorzdad simply does not know what RSS is and how newsreaders behave. They aren’t sitting there all day tapping you on the shoulder.
posted by joeclark at 9:29 PM on January 3, 2011


If you do use an RSS reader, how do you know where to get the feeds?

If there's not a link or an icon, "view source" of a page will usually have a link in the header. I never NOTICED the RSS icon in the address bar until this thread brought it up. Maybe I'm just too old-school or stuck in my ways.
posted by mrbill at 10:22 PM on January 3, 2011


Yeah, if you're reading this and wondering why anyone would use RSS when they could just go and check their regular sites, maybe check out the Common Craft explanation. It's dated (Technorati was still useful in 2007?) but explains the concept very well.
posted by harriet vane at 10:49 PM on January 3, 2011


Your usage metrics aren't accurate.. I use the icon as a visual reference to rss feeds.. yet I don't click on the icon.. I didn't know it was a button.

"Your stats are wrong! I use this feature! Only I don't really use it because I didn't know what it was for!"


That's not mock-worthy. A user is telling the developers that their metrics are bad, because they don't capture or account for what may be a common use case. (So not only are the metrics bad, but the underlying use cases are probably bad too.) That's important information to know, and the developers or whoever is running the show at Mozilla would do well to take it into consideration rather than dismiss it with extreme prejudice, which is what they seem to do with most criticism.

A car analogy: the car manufacturer is considering getting rid of the little doohickey that pops up out of the door that you can pull on to unlock the door or push down to lock it. They build something to measure the number of times that a typical driver touches it. After several weeks they might conclude, looking over the numbers, that nobody uses the doohickey -- everybody uses their keychain remotes, or some other method, or maybe they just don't give a shit about door locks in general, who knows. But then, after they announce they're going to get rid of the things, somebody steps forward and says "your usage metrics aren't accurate ... I use the doohickey as a visual reference to tell whether the door is locked, but I never use it to lock or unlock the door." That would be a pretty darn important piece of information. If the car manufacturer just neglects it and continues on with their plan to remove the doohickey, a bunch of users — who may have been totally neglected by their use case and resulting metrics effort — are going to get inconvenienced.

That basically seems to be what's going on. A bunch of people are coming forward to say (admittedly with a certain amount of passion that may not be warranted) "this feature is pretty neat and can't possibly be hurting anything, and I find it useful" and Mozilla seems to be driving blindly on rather than stopping and considering that maybe their UX people don't have a perfect grasp of how users interact with the product and this feature in particular. Unless this indicator is really horribly offensive and distracting, they're probably doing some harm overall, since removing the indicator is obviously seen as very negative by some users.

But as I said earlier, I don't really have a horse in this race; Chrome killed Firefox as my day to day browser on performance grounds and so far I haven't seen a compelling reason to switch back. Taking out interesting features certainly isn't helping, though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:57 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Disclosure: I work for Mozilla.

Part of Chrome's appeal is its' streamlined and clean interface. One of the biggest challenges software (particularly open-source software) faces is the ever-larger accumulation of features and "cruft" without ever simplifying. It's a fact of reality that people dislike losing features they had (myself included), but Firefox's current interface is, by any admission, a bit cluttered. Our UX team has taken great lengths to ensure that in the redesign of Firefox's interface, the changes being made are informed by data, and that we are doing things for the right reasons. One of the wonderful things about the modern browsers is their extensibility. I have no doubt that extensions will be written to allow the RSS icon (an icon I use rather frequently myself) to re-appear in its original capacity, or better yet, in a much more intuitive form of UI.

I encourage anyone who's curious to try out a beta of the next version of Firefox. It's a huge leap forward for the browser, and a project I am proud to be associated with.

box: I know the boilerplate "join Firefox" links seem tedious, but keep in mind that Mozilla as a (non-profit) company is less than 400 people, and we truly rely on a community of users and developers to help us hang with the megacorporations that make other browsers.

Kadin2048: As others have pointed out, Chrome doesn't detect or even offer up RSS as an option in the UI in its out-of-the-box experience.
posted by potch at 11:13 PM on January 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


porch: Forgive me if I have missed it, but it would be much easier to try with either Linux 64 bit binaries or (if I could be forgiven a moment of optimism) a Debian/Ubuntu repository (as Google manage). Any change of it?
posted by jaduncan at 1:05 AM on January 4, 2011


That should read chance, obviously.
posted by jaduncan at 1:06 AM on January 4, 2011


I would guess it has to do with Firefox being a web browser. I may be spoiled, but once you start using a RSS Reader, the idea of using Firefox just seems.. silly.. for that?

I sometimes feel like the only person that can't stand RSS readers. I got used to Firefox's LiveBookmarks, and couldn't use Chrome comfortably until the awesome RSS Live Links extension was made.

I tried Google Reader for a bit but was so meh about it, I don't want to sift through full articles in a separate RSS window/tab, I want quick and easy and accessible RSS updates and headlines whichever tab I'm in. It really stumps me how more people don't feel the same about it.
posted by xqwzts at 2:29 AM on January 4, 2011


The thing about RSS is it's an easy, simple, open, data interchange format. So it can be used by people who want their content in a bookmark-like menu, people who want it all consolidated like in Google Reader, people who want their desktop/phone/watch/whatever to "ding" at them. That's the key, in my mind at least - it's extremely flexible, and leaves it up the end user to decide how they want their content delivered (often without the ads).

Hell, you could write a shell script to suck out RSS feeds and project them onto the side of your house.

For the record, I am a relatively heavy RSS user, via Google Reader. I check it about 3 times a day, usually.

I also use Firefox, but have never once clicked that little orange icon in the address bar, and I couldn't care less whether it's removed or not.
posted by Diag at 3:23 AM on January 4, 2011


For me, a dedicated feed aggregator (NetNewsWire) offers the following features that I've come to depend on:

1) A headline view for browsing feeds like AskMetafilter and local Google News searches which deliver dozens of items ever day.

2) One-stop collection of items from sites that update irregularly or weekly.

3) Grouping of related feeds together.

4) A fair reduction in advertising and graphical noise.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:41 AM on January 4, 2011


I use Google Reader on my iPhone. I subscribe to everything I'd read normally, plus a few less frequently read blogs, and I bring that up when I'm in an egregiously long line at the post office or something. It's definitely not the primary way I read blogs, but I would be sad if it went away.

That said, I've tried out Firefox as an RSS reader, and I just kept thinking, "But why wouldn't I go to the blog itself?" So unless you are using some kind of aggregator like Reader or NetNewsWire, I don't really get the appeal.
posted by traversionischaracter at 7:30 AM on January 4, 2011


box: I know the boilerplate "join Firefox" links seem tedious, but keep in mind that Mozilla as a (non-profit) company is less than 400 people, and we truly rely on a community of users and developers to help us hang with the megacorporations that make other browsers.

Man, now I feel bad. Firefox has been my favorite browser since it was Phoenix (though back in the day, I liked Opera 3.62), and Firefox's built-in bookmarks are, just like everything else about Firefox, better than pretty much anybody else's. I'm going to go click on 'Get Involved' now.
posted by box at 7:32 AM on January 4, 2011


Potch, people are questioning the data, here and on the Bugzilla page. Please don’t use “data” as an overarching justification.
posted by joeclark at 9:55 AM on January 4, 2011


A user is telling the developers that their metrics are bad, because they don't capture or account for what may be a common use case.

The "percentage of clicks" metric is bad, for sure, because it doesn't capture the indicator use case. The Bugzilla discussion also repeatedly mentions heatmap data, and I'm not sure whether that's valid or not -- depends on whether they're tracking eyeball or cursor movement.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:11 AM on January 4, 2011


To me, this is a tempest in a teapot. They're replacing an ambiguous icon with a more verbose menu item. As with everything on the FF interface, it's something that can be trivially replaced with an add-on. Concerns that Mozilla is abandoning support for RSS strike me as needlessly alarmist.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:22 AM on January 4, 2011


it's something that can be trivially replaced with an add-on

True, but there's something of a whiff in the Bugzilla discussion that the devs are using that as a justification for a marginal decision -- a sense that it's OK if they get this wrong because the community'll fix it for them by writing an add-on to revert it.

Not sure if that's dangerous or liberating or both.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:36 AM on January 4, 2011


I don't remember how I learned that the orange icon in the address bar was an RSS-subscribe button, but ever since, I've used it quite a lot. It is far, far easier to just look up and see "is the icon there or not?" than to hunt all over a webpage to see if the designers decided to put one on the page itself. (Is it up top? Down at the bottom? In a menu section? Buried among a confetti of little Twitter/Facebook/etc buttons? Who knows!)

I'd say something like 80-90% of my web browsing these days is driven by Google Reader. I scan Reader for headlines that look interesting, start reading the article there and if it's interesting enough will then go to the real page.

If Firefox takes away the icon button, I'll clearly have to Greasemonkey it back in, but that seems very stupid to me. I shouldn't have to install yet another add-on. Sure, the function is there but buried in a menu item that requires clicking, which I probably won't ever do.

(Perhaps it's time I explored the world of Safari....)
posted by dnash at 11:50 AM on January 4, 2011


After looking at the latest build of Firefox 4, you can drag a "Subscribe" button onto the toolbar that a) indicates whether RSS is detected on the page and b) provides the same interface as the locationbar icon does. Just right click on any toolbar and select "Customize".

I think that's a pretty darn adequate solution, so the really pertinent debate point is whether it should be there by default.
posted by potch at 2:52 PM on January 4, 2011


Well, this post inspired me to at least create a feed.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:06 PM on January 4, 2011


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