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Of Internet Users, Only 4% Knowingly Use RSS

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the i'll-tell-you-why dept.

Technology 284

yogikoudou writes "Recent research conducted by Yahoo! and Ipsos reveals that while 12% of surveyed Yahoo users know what RSS is, only 4% of surveyed Internet users use it (PDF) (and know they use it). Podcasting is also reviewed, with the conclusion that 2% of surveyed people use it. The increasing number of blogs should go with an increasing number of syndicated readers, as they are now an important part of the web." I've said it before, I'll say it again- if RSS was called SpeedFeed every user would have to have it.

cancel ×

284 comments

different name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374179)

i'd feel like i was on drugs with speedfeed, course firefox rss extensions are as good as drugs :o

First Post?? (1, Troll)

i_like_spam (874080) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374180)

Complements of RSS!

4% is still a lot (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374187)

4% know what the heck RSS is, is a lot.

All these Web2.0 companies thinking they're targetting the general Internet public with their RSS, podcasting etc... mashups are only targetting the high-end users of the Internet, and these are the users that only sign-up once, try it for a min or two, then dump it and move on to the next greatest thing.

Overload. (5, Interesting)

IAAP (937607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374208)

...try it for a min or two, then dump it and move on to the next greatest thing.

I dumped it because I was suffering from information overload. Seeing all the shit happening in the world was just increasing my stress levels. Also, so much of the information is duplicated it just wasn't worth getting. It's amazing how much is plagiarized from AP, Reuters, etc...

Re:Overload. (4, Interesting)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374287)

Same thing for me. Although I like to keep up with what's happening, having the same story duplicated over every news paper you're subscribing too is boring and tedious. I didn't find it any easier than using a good old browser, seriously.

Re:Overload. (4, Funny)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374338)

Although I like to keep up with what's happening, having the same story duplicated over every news paper you're subscribing too is boring and tedious.

Ahhh, so that's why you prefer slashdot, huh? ; )

Why use RSS (4, Insightful)

peragrin (659227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374197)

I hit a couple of dozen news websites daily. Every RSS feed is different, some give titles some give summaries. Why use it.

I have tried I usually find it more cumbersome to read RSS then click on the link to articles i want to read than going to each website doing a much more through san of everything shown and opening what i want to read in tabs. There is nothing RSS provides that can't be had faster with other methods.

Maybe i just haven't found a good RSS reader yet. They all seem to me to be lacking something.

But that is only my opinion. I don't do podcasts either though I can see where those could be useful. Of course I don't listen to portable music so they don't help either.

Re:Why use RSS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374228)

Between Fark.com, bbspot.com, and Slashdot.org, I've already wasted 80% of my day looking at news and interesting webpages. RSS seems great for beginning Newsblogs, but I'm going to have to agree with the parent. "Why?

I figure its because I'm missing the point. Story of my life.

Re:Why use RSS (4, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374255)

I figure its because I'm missing the point.

Perhaps it is they who are missing the point. Perhaps there are so few users of RSS because it is, in fact, pointless.

Just a thought.

KFG

Re:Why use RSS (2, Insightful)

jackb_guppy (204733) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374245)

Amen!

I have NOT even found a use for IM. If I want talk to some one I use the PHONE. If I want to write I use EMAIL. To me IM is the worst mixure of those two worlds.

RSS currently is just another gimick, to waste bandwidth without giving meanful return.

Re:Why use RSS (2, Funny)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374260)

I have NOT even found a use for IM. If I want talk to some one I use the PHONE. If I want to write I use EMAIL. To me IM is the worst mixure of those two worlds.

Ah, yes... we finally know why IM (and, for that matter, RSS) is such a failure. Obviously, because the product doesn't cater to YOU, it must be totally worthless.

Now excuse me while I saddle my horse to fetch some water from the village's well...

Re:Why use RSS (2, Interesting)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374360)

My use for IM
1. I can take time to think before typing, and the other person won't wonder why I'm not talking to them.
2. If I want to recall exactly what was said (and not what I thought was said, BOOM, it's right there.
I don't use RSS directly, but I use http://www.dailyrotation.com/ [dailyrotation.com] which uses RSS on the back end. (the www is significant though as its use of cookies has proven a little buggy without it).

Re:Why use RSS (4, Interesting)

fimbulvetr (598306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374425)

I prefer IM over the phone. In fact, I regularly demand it instead. IM is so much more convienent because it's not an atomic action, the phone is. I do have to drop what I'm doing to answer my coworkers question. I can finish the last 10 seconds of work on my widget, then alt-tab over to what he asked. I can then reply back, he can finish his widget work and read it. Phone calls demand your immediate attention and go poorly when you can't give it. It's also a bit more convenient than email. No sending or receiving, no waiting for message delays and most importantly, I know everyone on my contact list, so it's probably not spam,I know it's pretty important, etc.

Kopete makes instant messaging especially great. The little conversation bubble is non-intrusive and you can group chats so you only have one window instead of 12 windows for 12 conversations with 12 people.

Re:Why use RSS (3, Insightful)

mchawi (468120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374258)

I feel the same way. A lot of browsing the internet is not doing it as fast as possible so any 'speedfeed' wouldn't make a difference. I like taking a few minutes and going to each website and finding anything interesting. If I'm not in the mood I don't go out and look. This isn't to say RSS is good or bad, just saying that not everyone browses the web by the same methods.

I also only browse about 4-5 sites a day and no blogs, so I don't have the volume of sites I check to make it useful. This might be one of the key differences in RSS being useful or not - the volume of sites you check.

The issue with podcasting is that a lot of checking websites that I do is at work. Text works fine, but if you start using audio you need to wear headphones or you start disturbing people, and if you forward a podcast that is interesting - a lot of people aren't going to 'read it' because they don't have headphones or want to disturb those around them.

Re:Why use RSS (3, Interesting)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374280)

I think the problem lies in RSS as an implentation rather than an idea. Syndication would be great if it truely was syndication and everything was treated equal, but once you have to deal with some people only posting headlines, some headlines + short summaries, some full stories, the lack of reliable timestamps on info, lack of consistent format (plain text? cdatad html? xhtml? etc), it just stops being worth it.

I'd check a lot more sites if they all could be merged into one locally aggrigated portal site, but due to the way RSS works its just not really doable now. The other thing that really needs to be aggregated is site based notifications. Email notification works somewhat if you filter them all to the same place so they dont clutter, but it would be nice to either push or pull them all to one spot to check your messages on slashdot, Talk: on your wiki user page, forum replies/msgs, myspace/xanga/lj/whatever notices, and every other little thing you dont want to go out of your way to check but would like to be informed of.

Re:Why use RSS (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374329)

I considered putting together a service like this, then realised there's not a chance in hell of sites wanting to push user notifications to another site. Hell, fewer and fewer are doing email notification

Re:Why use RSS (1)

BushCheney08 (917605) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374298)

I fully agree with you about using RSS for articles. It seems I can find things I'm interested in faster by hitting 2 or 3 of my regular news aggregator sites and opening tabs. As for podcasts, I was in a similar boat to you. I tend to listen to NPR or music while at work. However, I subscribed to about 10 podcast feeds in iTunes a month or two ago (newsweek on air, world news tonite, quirks and quarks, science friday, kojo nnamdi's tech tuesday, ricky gervais, etc). If they're covering something I'm not interested in on the radio, I'll see what's come up on the podcasts. I don't listen to all of them, but it's definitely an easy way to find moderately interesting stuff to listen to. I tend to view it as the audio counterpart to TiVo suggestions.

Re:Why use RSS (4, Interesting)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374345)

I use the slashboxes on the slashdot page quite extensively.
It allows me to browse slash and keep ontop of the main sites I visit.

RSS works for me in this context and I haven't ever seen the need to get a dedicated reader or investigate RSS further.

Re:Why use RSS (5, Informative)

Hackeron (704093) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374303)

>> Maybe i just haven't found a good RSS reader yet. They all seem to me to be lacking something.

Thats right, the built in crap or even standalone readers just show you whats recent. Get a reader like aKregator [sourceforge.net]

1) Integrates with Kontact and Konqueror showing articles next to your todo list and emails
2) Manages articles as read/unread as apposed to just whats "current"
3) Allows advanced searching through indexed articles (hate searching slashdot for that article?)
4) Allows a convenient way to archive articles for later read on many websites without having to visit the websites

I do agree the RSS built into firefox and ie7 and even many standalone readers are just useless, they just show you whats currently on the site. aKregator allows you to catch up on news any time.

Re:Why use RSS (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374455)

You're still thinking inside of the "box" (i.e. PC).

RSS is a little ahead of its time, but imagine a completely wireless world filled with all sorts of small mobile devices. RSS is a great way to deliver content to these devices.

Hell, where I live I see people interfacing with 2D bar codes (via cells w/ cams) to jump on the web to grab info.

Re:Why use RSS (2, Insightful)

manavendra (688020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374575)

Maybe the solution isn't RSS. The one big innovation/change in the way we use the Internet, over the last few years has been google, which identifies relevance based on ranking and cross-linking (in the belief others know this is good content).

Maybe just publishing content isn't enough. Maybe we need something that has content source indexed by subject/category *and* relevance? Where relevance grows based upon the number of readers who read it...

Re:Why use RSS (1)

Upsilon Andromedea (835075) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374590)

I used to use RSS Bandit until Firefox came out with "live bookmarks."

Now I do all my RSS browsing in conjunction with my regular browsing.

There are no summaries with live bookmarks, however I find that intuition works enough of the time.

Why? (4, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374198)

I've said it before, I'll say it again- if RSS was called SpeedFeed every user would have to have it.

There are a number of acronyms that can be just as "sexy" as marketdroid made-up name. Think MP3, PC or IBM. Maybe the truth is that much of RSS is hype? Either that or there's SS in the name and it's too nazi, but I won't say it because I fear Godwin's wrath.

I've always wondered why CSS never took off... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374348)

Now I know. Cause it has an SS in it. And this is also why I won't, and no one ever will, call you an ASS.

Re:Why? (1)

Simon Garlick (104721) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374506)

Hey, I've got a couple of ideas. Let's call it... "Active Desktop"!

No? OK, how about... "Pointcast"!

It can't possibly fail!

uh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374199)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, you are a moron.

It's like I've always said... (5, Funny)

Channard (693317) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374200)

... most people don't know their RSS from their elbow.

Re:It's like I've always said... (1)

vettemph (540399) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374559)

...Couldn't find their own RSS if there hands where tied behind their back?

RSS wouldn't exist it if weren't for e-mail spam (3, Interesting)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374207)

In the old days (c. 2000), website updates were promulgated through e-mail newsletters. But those e-mails confused spam filters. So RSS came along.

Why isn't RSS subject to spam? Because in RSS, the recipient pulls the information from a known server, whereas in e-mail an arbitrary sender sends the information to a known recipient.

Now in the era of RSS, recipients have to check two places: e-mail and RSS. Thanks to e-mail spam.

Dear Slashdot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374232)

Please ban my ip. I think Taco eats hot lunches and Cowboy Neal is a fag. Also, many of your users are atheists and suck major ass. Please ban my ip like the fagboys you are. Truth hurts, so please ban my ip from posting to your heavily homosexual and darwinist biased site. In closing, fuck off and suck my wang.

Re:RSS wouldn't exist it if weren't for e-mail spa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374321)

What the hell are you talking about? No website I've ever used has sent out updates via email. I don't know what you're smoking, but it ain't tobacco.

Re:RSS wouldn't exist it if weren't for e-mail spa (1)

FinestLittleSpace (719663) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374604)

As he/she said. 5 years ago it was the norm. I used to run a pretty popular site 5 years ago and was met by torrents of requests for an email newsletter, and obliged. It was a powerful marketing tool, as you could have a stale database of 10,000 users who may have forgotten about your site, but would get reminded weekly that you were still around.

As grandparent said, spam filtering caught it by it's tail and it died. I sort of liked it at the time.

Push pull (3, Insightful)

MadFarmAnimalz (460972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374209)

In my opinion, the problem with RSS adoption is not the name. It is the fact that employing RSS is really a pretty fundamental change to the way people use the internet.

Most people are used, I think, to giong online and surfing over to their usual bouquet of sites and checking those. The content provider effectively has to "pull" the content consumers in to the content.

RSS on the other hand, is "pushed" out to the recipients. Sure, people still have to surf to the site to get the feed URL, but it's still broadly a push content strategy.

I realize this doesn't sound like much of a change, but for many less sophisticated internet users, the concept of having the news come to you rather than having to go to the news is not familiar.

As an additional point, I suspect that dedicated RSS users will tend to have tens and often hundreds of feeds to sift through. Most people just don't want or can't handle that much information. As a consequence, it is not al that attractive to them.

Re:Push pull (1, Insightful)

Moderator (189749) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374221)

Most people are used, I think, to giong online and surfing over to their usual bouquet of sites and checking those. The content provider effectively has to "pull" the content consumers in to the content.

RSS on the other hand, is "pushed" out to the recipients. Sure, people still have to surf to the site to get the feed URL, but it's still broadly a push content strategy.


You hit the nail on the head. For those who don't remember, the first time around, "push technology" was embedded in Windows 98 as Active Desktop. "Push" failed the first time around, and now it's popped up redisguised as "RSS." It's not a problem with the consumer; it's a problem with people trying to force a new technology on consumers which they don't want.

Re:Push pull (1)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374275)

RSS on the other hand, is "pushed" out to the recipients. Sure, people still have to surf to the site to get the feed URL, but it's still broadly a push content strategy.

IT'S NOT PUSH!!!! When they were calling it "push" in the '90s it wasn't push and it isn't now. If you subscribe to a feed, you still have to go retrieve that feed. Whether that retrieval is automated or on-demand, it's still retrieved, which is PULLING the data.

You can't forcibly update someone's RSS reader with your latest content. That is the most important reason it's not "push". It's why Pointcast and IE 4's "Channels" were not "push". Push is a bullshit misnomer that needs to be put to rest.

- Greg

Re:Push pull (1)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374372)

Exactly. You said it, brother!

Re:Push pull (2, Informative)

nateziarek (904476) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374380)

I think you're missing the point.

You are right. It is not technically a "push" technology. However, since most RSs aggregators are set, by default, to update every so often, the appearance is that information is being pushed to you.

It doesn't really matter what the actual technology is. All that matters is perception. The parent was saying "it is disconcerting for non-geek members of the internet community to have this news delivered instead of going out and browsing for it." In every sense except the technical one, this is how it appears to the end user. Push technology or not, the parent's post was a valid one.

Re:Push pull (2, Interesting)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374446)

"The parent was saying "it is disconcerting for non-geek members of the internet community to have this news delivered instead of going out and browsing for it."

Then perhaps a better description of RSS is like an e-mail reader where people give you their addresses, but you don't give them yours. Each time it updates, it asks just those people you've selected "do you have any new public mail for me to read"? If the answer is yes, it downloads it and you can read it.

- Greg

Re:Push pull (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374508)

Nothing is pushed with RSS. You have to pull a RSS file like an ordinary web page. Email newsletters are pushed to you. The fact you're using RSS tags instead of HTML tags doesn't make any difference. Even the news junkie channels on IRC, which push news headlines to you in realtime, do RSS's job better.

RSS is stripped down web pages without any kind of standardization. A new RSS XML schema is introduced almost twice a year. Web site authors refuse to follow any data formatting conventions. Article subjects and timestamps are often omitted or broken, making the use of RSS pointless.

Hopefully IPv6 and its anti-NAT troops bring us a direct server->client push delivery system. Until then, why use a structured file format, when its structure is not really used at all?

RSS (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374210)

To me it seems just as bothersome to load an rss reader as it is to load the websites in a browser, ive never understood the massive hype surounding RSS. Granted its slightly quicker to load slashdot articles from the Live bookmark in firefox, and having news headlines popup in evolution or on my xbox media center is kind of nifty but pointless.

Re:RSS (4, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374242)

To me it seems just as bothersome to load an rss reader as it is to load the websites in a browser, ive never understood the massive hype surounding RSS.

Exactly. For example, there's a /. RSS feed, but most people read it from the front page. Why? because they can't be bothered with RSS and a regular web page works just as well.

But I think the real flaw in RSS is the very concept it implements, the "push technology". People don't like information to be pushed at them. They want to retrieve (pull) it themselves. That's the same behaviour that explains why people don't like ads shoved in their mailboxes, and prefer to ask the salesmen about this or that product: the pitch is the same, but in one case, the information is asked by the customer first. That's also why /. readers prefer to reload the front page every 30 seconds, instead of waiting for the RSS feed to get updated, despite that the RSS version should theorically bring them new stories faster.

Re:RSS (2, Insightful)

wfberg (24378) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374267)

RSS is no more push than pressing F5 on the homepage; it's just that the RSS reader presses F5 again and again for you. If you hit the slashdot RSS url too often, you even get blocked. One of the reasons RSS isn't really that sexy is that you still have to go through a list to see of any of it is interesting, and for the full "push" effect (even though it's just automated pull) you'd have to keep your PC on all the time. RSS readers on mobile phones might change this (which makes a bit more sense since an RSS XML document will be easier to display on there than a fully fledged homepage), but only if you don't have to pay for data by the byte.

Re:RSS (4, Interesting)

zhiwenchong (155773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374386)

RSS is useful if you hit a lot of webpages every day. It's an efficient way of being alerted to new articles or such. Instead of spending 2 hours loading up websites and glancing at them to see if there's anything new (assuming your memory is that great to start with, otherwise you'd feel a lot of deja vu), RSS readers aggregate all the new items for you to chug through in 5 minutes.

Reading feeds is analoguous to glancing at the headlines when reading the newspaper -- you only read the article if the headline sounds interesting. It cuts down your web surfing time significantly, or if you like, allows you to get more news in the same amount of time.

The major of advantages of RSS are *aggregation* and *push*. Push works if one has the correct expectations of it.

For instance, I have keyword searches on engineeringvillage2.org (a journal search engine) that return results in RSS format. I use it to track new journal publications in my area of research -- very useful for checking up on competitors too.

The only reason I don't use Slashdot's feed is because:
1) It takes a while for it to be updated. (there's a fairly SIGNIFICANT delay between something appearing on the front page and it appearing in the feed)
2) it doesn't have the topic icons (which are great visual cues for filtering out articles of interest)

Re:RSS (1)

SandSpider (60727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374407)

Actually, I don't use slashdot's RSS implementation because it doesn't conform to my customized homepage choices. If I didn't have a lot of customization there, slashdot's RSS feed would be great. As it is, it's not worth having for me.

And the point is not that RSS would bring stories faster, which it won't, as it's pull and limited by convention to twice an hour automatic checks. The point it that it's far easier to keep track of a large number of sites that are on different and sometimes obscure update schedules. For the people who only check a couple of sites per day, of course they don't get RSS, because it makes no sense for them. On the other hand, I have hundreds of sites that I can check for changes every half an hour with no work on my part. I scan the headlines of all the new stories, and the things that interest me I read the synopsis. Of the remaining, the things that interest me I read the full story. This lets me keep up on what's happening without overloading myself on things I'm disinterested in.

=Brian

Re:RSS (1)

Slashdot Junky (265039) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374251)

Yeah, I'm kind of in the same boat as you. I haven't jumped on the RSS bandwagon and wouldn't unless it became necessary. Although RSS has it's place and usefulness, mainstream users are perfectly content with making use of the net by way of a web browser. This method works just fine for me.

Later,
-Slashdot Junky

Re:RSS (2, Insightful)

edgr (781723) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374252)

The reason I don't use RSS is because the sites I visit I tend to read every story. I visit a fairly small number of blogs/newsites that I know have quality content. I tend to get most of my news from the (hardcopy) newspaper, though, so on the web I'm mainly looking at blogs. RSS is usefull if you want to sift through a lot of content (i.e. the user should have several tens of feeds for RSS to be usefull, and not read all the stories in all the feeds).

Knowingly? (2, Funny)

SmasKenS (104811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374216)

How many are unknowingly using it?

Re:Knowingly? (2, Informative)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374292)

Well, Firefox comes with a feed on by default. Even though people have realised they should use alternative browsers people still struggle to use the update function, let alone the RSS function. I'd say there's a good chance of some people "using" it unknowingly.

Google Desktop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374422)

It collects "Web Clips" from sites you visit, so you can subscribe without ever knowing thing about RSS.

Re:Knowingly? (1)

Kasis (918962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374461)

Not sure why you were modded funny, it's a good point.

A lot of people could be using RSS without knowing that it's called RSS. If you asked the general population whether they own a cathode ray tube, I bet most of them would say no.
Alternative, and possibly more well-known names include Newsfeeds and Live Bookmarks.

My yahoo, custom google homepage etc... (1)

heavy snowfall (847023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374218)

A lot of newbies/non-tech users unknowingly use RSS though, which is what I guess yahoo was hinting at. All the big portal/search companies have their own blog/news syndication scheme that makes it easy to subscribe to sites. (Example [sudokuist.com] )

Surprise? (1, Insightful)

Krommenaas (726204) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374219)

Why is this surprising? Everyone knows where to find the news they're interested in, and blogs are only read by people who blog themselves, i.e. a *very small* percentage of internet users. Noone else finds blogs important; bloggers hyping blogging is just one big circle jerk. For anyone who is not either a blogger or a news junkie, RSS has little to no use.

Re:Surprise? (1)

Slashdot Junky (265039) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374284)

Yeah, I've always thought that blogging is much smaller than the media makes it seem. To me, a blog is nothing more than a way for a person to publish to the web comments on a given subject. It is simply a page format or layout, not a society advancing technical phenomenon. RSS just happens to make getting content such as blogs a little easier and isn't going to save the world either. Now, that blog has become a buzzword, everyone company seems to think that it is the only way to reach the public. I hate buzzwords!

Later,
-Slashdot Junky

Re:Surprise? (1)

kv9 (697238) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374572)

For anyone who is not either a blogger or a news junkie, RSS has little to no use.

nice generalization. i use rss for keeping up to date with warez, product lists, security patches, version updates, weather and visitor spying for my sites. and news yes, but thats a low percent of my feeds. also, with one click i can get a birds eye view on 16 sources of information.

if you automatically associate rss with blogs and news sites, maybe you should take a closer look on `teh interwebs'. because theres a lot more stuff there.

just my 0.02 RON

RSS is still not user friendly enough (1)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374225)

I know a lot about technology, having started with Fortran and PL/1 in 1969 and PCs before IBM broke open the current era. But RSS is still not easy enough to use. I use 3 browsers (IE, Firefox and Opera) and unless RSS is integrated intelligently into the browser interface, I won't use it.

For most news I use the Chicago Tribune, radio (NPR and local all-news station) and a little bit of television. I love the idea of podcasting but have not actively used it. Blogging seems lame--the signal to noise ratio is poor unless I know the writer in another arena.

I am white, male, 55, married with grown kids, lower middle class h.s. chemistry teacher, evangelical Christian who is not a Republican.

Was this an expanded A/S/L post? (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374271)

I am white, male, 55, married with grown kids, lower middle class h.s. chemistry teacher, evangelical Christian who is not a Republican.

I am a pink, male, 30, too smart to be suckered into marriage and reproduction, upper middle class, self employed, keeps to my self dedicated atheist, who is conservative, but not Republican.

Re:Was this an expanded A/S/L post? (1)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374330)

No. Slashdot and the Internet seem too anonymous and impersonal, just trying to do my part.

BTW we need more smart people to reproduce regardless of color, but only if you care to properly raise your children.

Apathy on my part but... (2, Interesting)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374237)

I know about it but don't use it because I'm not prepared to hunt down another application in order to use it. I also didn't upgrade my mac to tiger just to use Safari RSS.

Not suprised (4, Interesting)

lamasquerade (172547) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374247)

Am I the only one who doesn't get the (great) appeal of RSS? I've tried it in various forms (Firefox Live Bookmarks, Google Homepage, RSS plugin for Firefox...) serveral times and I always end up forgetting about it. I really only read three web-pages every day and I like to scan the entire pages, so RSS is a waste of time in those cases as the various methods of using RSS only let you see, say, 20 headlines at once and my main news page, for example, has hundreds well organised in various sections.

The new Gmail implementation is vaugely interesting as I sometimes see something I wouldn't have otherwise seen (such as Google blog entries and stuff from other news sites I wouldn't normally visit) so I guess as a random selection it makes some sense, but not as a dedicated homepage/plugin etc. that I would deliberately load up frequently.

So I really am not suprised by the 4% figure, the only thing that is suprising is that anybody else is suprised:)

Re:Not suprised (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374278)

RSS, XML, CSS...

I guess people weren't happy with delivering basic information through html, email, ytalk, finger, and usenet news.

Re:Not suprised (4, Informative)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374449)

I read the slashdot from page. However, I have RSS subscriptions to some of the craigslist categories (jobs, gigs, and for sale) of my locality and also digg. For these sites, I don't acutally want to read their front page. In the case of craigslist, the 'front page' doesn't actually have any more information than the RSS feed itself, so the RSS feed is more effecient. In the case of Digg, they have inane summaries and commentaries. Don't need 'em.

At other times, I had subscriptions to hack-a-day and freshmeat. Freshmeat was information overload, and hack-a-day didn't really warrant an RSS to read a new item once in a day.

So I think there is a 'right amount' of information that make a good RSS feed.

What is the motive for trying out RSS ? (1)

ravee (201020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374248)

When there is high speed internet connection and an excellent set of web browsers, why would some one use RSS ?

RSS has its advantages in places where people access the net using dial up connection. It loses its purpose where people jump on the net for pure entertainment and killing time.

Re:What is the motive for trying out RSS ? (1)

88NoSoup4U88 (721233) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374306)

When there is high speed internet connection and an excellent set of web browsers, why would some one use RSS ?

Er, mobile phones ?

Re:What is the motive for trying out RSS ? (1)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374322)

Because not all of us have the ability to remember everything we read? Because not all of us have the time to visit 100 or more Web sites, work out what we read, and then read the new stuff that interests us?

With my RSS reader I can get the 100 or so new stories I haven't seen on the sites I like each day, and load up the ones that interest me or that I haven't read yet. No browser can do that.

Instead I take a couple of minutes to find everything I need to read rather than visiting 100 sites.

They used to call it Pointcast & Channels (4, Interesting)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374253)

There are a wide variety of applications that support RSS (Firefox and Thunderbird come immediately to mind) and with RSS support due in IE 7, it's coming along. But in many ways, RSS is like the old "push" hype of the late mid-90s, and push died.

Pointcast got hot, then Microsoft and Netscape both brought out their variants on it, built into their 4.0 editions. Everyone in Internet marketing was talking about "push" (I tech edited "Marketing Online For Dummies" which came out in 1998), but it died.

Now, this could probably be due to the fact that it was not based on XML, but had a few semi-HTML markup language variants depending on whether you were producing your content for Pointcast, IE, Netscape, etc. The people I've talked to who are hot on RSS claim that the XML and standardization of the RSS specs make this a different ballgame.

I don't know. I'm still expecting Microsoft to "embrace and extend" so that RSS forks and RSS reader makers are scrambling to adapt to all the tags Microsoft introduces.

But in the end, RSS is basically the evolution of "push". I don't understand what's going to drive consumers to adopt it any more than they adopted the channels concept in IE4 and Netscape 4. Perhaps growing adoption by publishers will help push consumer adoption. But after watching all the hype rise, hit a crescendo, and then drop off into a whimper with push, I'm still not going to pin my hopes on RSS achieving widespread consumer adoption.

- Greg

Re:They used to call it Pointcast & Channels (2, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374558)

I'm still expecting Microsoft to "embrace and extend" so that RSS forks and RSS reader makers are scrambling to adapt to all the tags Microsoft introduces.

Already happened. "Another part of Microsoft's RSS plans seemed to draw the most criticism. Microsoft also released a specification for an extension to one format of syndication feeds, RSS 2.0, for handling ordered lists." [eweek.com]

I'll cop to ignorance (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374254)

The whole thing just confuses the crap out of me. If I want to see what's on a site, why wouldn't I just GO to the site and see?

I hate when I hear people talking about how great RSS is because frankly, it's nonsensical as far as I'm concerned. My own web site uses RSS because it's part of the package. If I had to put any thought into making it work though it'd be off. Fortunately for whatever fraction of that 4% of Internet users who understand and use RSS who actually read my site (both of you) it's all automatic.

And 4% of a billion is still a number I'd like to see on my next paycheque. I hate when people use percentages to make numbers seem artificially low.

Google RSS (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374257)

Happy New Year!

Since I've added "Add to Google" to my blog, I've seen the number of RSS users go up dramatically. We'll see if it lasts, but it seems Google will be one of the main ways users learn what RSS is.

My Google "custom homepage" offers blank feeds about 50% of the time, though, so I'm not sure if it is the best solution, but it is definitely a start.

Know they use it... (1)

vidarlo (134906) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374261)

But how many uses Firefox' features for RSS, knowing it as a live bookmark, not as RSS? FF comes with RSS feeds preinstalled, so I guess alot use them, if unknowindly.

That's the interesting point, and as I've heard ff has ~10% market share, I'd bet at least 10% of users use it in some way. Granted, it is mainly the more skillfull users, but neverthless.

How is this for slashdot? How many people uses slashdots feeds? How many % of the hits on slashdot.org comes from the feed?

nail the RSS coffin shut (4, Insightful)

hostingreviews (941757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374263)

Poor RSS. They mean well. It's almost too bad that there's no need for it. It's a rehash of that "push vs. pull" tech we heard so much about. It's obviously going nowhere, few people understand how to utilize it, fewer people use it, nobody needs it. Unless the RSS feed is from my bank account, showing me withdraws in real time on my cellphone, I don't see myself using it either.

Re:nail the RSS coffin shut (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374499)

Unless the RSS feed is from my bank account, showing me withdraws in real time on my cellphone, I don't see myself using it either.

Do you really have that many people with access to your bank account that you need a live feed?

You should change your PIN.

Re:nail the RSS coffin shut (1)

hostingreviews (941757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374521)

No, but it would put my mind at ease. (ID Theft, recurring billing I've cancelled, vindictive girltypes...)

Ironing (3, Insightful)

blackjackshellac (849713) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374273)

It's ironic that this article is not in the rss feed yet. Try and find the rss link on the slashdot site. I knew it was there, and with this new setup I had to add it again. The idea behind rss is very cool, very cool indeed. But in practice it is not quite yet ready for prime time.

For example, what the hell is up with firefox's use of LiveBookmark? Why is it such an unmitigated pain in the ass to add an rss feed to firefox? What is the problem with firefox's current (1.0.7) implementation of bookmarks? Okay, I guess I'm bitching here a bit about firefox, but its default implementation of rss is not yet there yet. That, and that alone, is the reason why only 2% of users are doing the rss thing.

Besides that, for some sites, clicking on a feed displays a menu with very little information. Slashdot is a good example, I can read a list of article titles via the rss feed (this article still not available), but you know, as with slashdot, I go there and scan the list and read the articles that I'm interested in, increasingly very few.

I don't know how to implement these things to improve the experience for the user, including myself. Someone with more experience in user interface design will surely have more to offer than this.

ps. The article is still not there.

Re:Ironing (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374317)

Why is it such an unmitigated pain in the ass to add an rss feed to firefox?

In 1.5 you just single click the blue icon, displayed on the far right of the address bar.

Where RSS shines (5, Insightful)

Bluelive (608914) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374276)

RSS just isn't handy for news sites, but it becomes really handy for tracking for very good blogs that update seldom and/or irregularly.

Re:Where RSS shines (0)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374476)

RSS just isn't handy for news sites, but it becomes really handy for tracking for very good blogs that update seldom and/or irregularly.

It's good for *all* "blogs" regardless of their update frequency. I don't personally use RSS for reading sites but I know that quite a few people use it to read mine. I see plenty of referrer hits from Slashdot readers using RSS to get their news, etc...

The only thing I use RSS for is to show my past Dodgeball check-ins on my website.

Re:Where RSS shines (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374481)

I agree with the irregular thing. For sites like Slashdot that are updated every day though I find it's usually easier just to put a button in my bookmark toolbar. RSS is really handy though for things like the mac rumors sites and all the different sections of NPR.

RSS could be called Free Beer (2, Interesting)

rtphokie (518490) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374286)

and people still wouldnt use it widely. I'd venture a guess that those who do use it only have a couple of well chosen feeds.

Personally I use it for anything but news or website update notifications. I use it to monitor bug lists and trouble ticket lists. The integration with Firefox makes it nice.

Re:RSS could be called Free Beer (1)

arasinen (22038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374395)

As a matter of fact, after Safari added RSS support, my blog-reading has increased.

I used to have roughly 20 sites I checked daily, including comics. Many of these were updated relatively rarely, perhaps even once a month. After I started to experiment with RSS and blogs, I'm now able to keep track of many more sites, just because I don't have to remember the state of each blog. I now have over 50 blogs and other sites in my list.

So yes, they are well-chosen, but "few"? Not very likely.

I still read /. as a web page, though =)

My problem with RSS (Firefox-specific) (1)

mnemotronic (586021) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374299)

I subscribe to some RSS feeds from CM Crossroads. The list of articles gets so long that it extends "above" and "below" the screen, especially on my laptop. I get these tiny up and down arrows at the top & bottom to scroll the list. There are several problems with this:

  1. The arrows that allow me to scroll the list up/down are not very big. This makes them harder to "hit" when using a laptop touchpad.
  2. The "scrolling via hovering over arrow" paradigm feels dated. IMHO. No, I don't have an alternative.
  3. Granted, CM Crossroads should be actively trimming this list so that only the most recent articles appear. Why can't I explicitly specify "only show me the most recent X (say, 20) entries"?

Yes, these complaints may be Firefox-specific. I haven't gone to the trouble of finding, installing, and configuring a dedicated RSS reader.

Re:My problem with RSS (Firefox-specific) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374369)

Can't say I've used FF for RSS, although TB or SM is pretty good and you get SMTP, POP3, IMAP, SSL, TLS, S/MIME, and...

firefox only shows you 'current' headlines (1)

majid_aldo (812530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374610)

what happens if you don't check daily? you'll miss out on alot of news.

Too technical (2, Interesting)

Jesus IS the Devil (317662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374313)

RSS is just too technical for the average Joe to understand, much less care to use it.

Second, the majority of RSS feeds are junk. Most give you a really short headline with nothing in the way of content. You still have to click to read the full story, so there isn't much draw to it.

Fastfeed (1)

roror (767312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374328)

They should have called it Fastfeed. There is a lot in the name.

'SpeedFeed' huh (1)

Halfbaked Plan (769830) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374347)

I've said it before, I'll say it again- if RSS was called SpeedFeed every user would have to have it.

Naw, just the meth users would have it.

I've gotten people interested in by using RSSFWD (1)

akmolloy (686919) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374358)

I tried some RSS readers an got pretty overwhlemed very uickly by the amount of info.. I switched to RSSFWD and it works much better for me now: http://www.rssfwd.com/rssfwd/ [rssfwd.com] You can easily let the site parse the RSS fro you and then send you an e-mail. No clunky RSS reader required.

I set up a couple of keyword subscriptions to subjects I like in PubSub http://www.pubsub.com/ [pubsub.com] , and then linked to the RSS via RSSFWD. Now I get a few interesting e-mails that are filtered to a folder and I can read when I get a chance.

For sites like Slashdot that I frequent, I just visit the web page. I only use RSS to find info that I might have otherwise missed.

Thank heavens! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374367)

I was actually worried that people went around using the idiotic term "podcasting" on a daily basis. Now I know that it will never be more than some bullshit marketing.

Didn't survey us. (1)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374384)

They should have surveyed on a slashdot poll, then it would have either been overwhelmingly in the other direction


(or towards Cowboy Neal)

The Mysterious Fad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14374385)

I can't say I find this surprising. I've been reading about RSS feeds for quite some time and have yet to figure out why anybody cares. It might be one of those niche markets, like people who want to convert their old Nintendo into a micro computer case with harddrives and video cards duct taped together.

It's one of those "oh wow" factors that a small percentage of the population get really excited about.

I can see that... (1)

EddyPearson (901263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374444)

I personally don't like any of these RSS aggregators, Firefox's livebookmark feature is quicker and easier.

In other news.... (2, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374480)

...of Internet users, only 4% knowingly use ARP. However, 99.99% of Internet users do use it.

Seriously, WTF is with that "knowingly" in there, the majority of "Internet users" wouldn't know their ass from their elbow, let alone whar RSS is or what it stands for.

Fun With RSS (1)

gbulmash (688770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374483)

When I was designing geostats.info, I thought it would be very cool to include Amazon.com Purchase Circle data, but they don't offer it via RSS or the Amazon Web Services API, plus the screen scraping program from O'Reilly's 2003 Amazon Hacks book didn't work when I tried it.

After some digging via Google, I found a little-known way of coding their Purchase Circle URL's so the data is delivered as CSV (comma separated values). I wrote a script that translates that data into an RSS feed (with my Amazon Associates code embedded in the product links) and then set up CaRP to cache that data and re-format it to HTML for use in my pages.

RSS aggregators saves you time (1)

gozar (39392) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374492)

I started using Bloglines [bloglines.com] several months ago, and it's saved me so much time. For those that don't understand why it would be helpful, picture 40-50 sites that you read. Instead of visiting each site to see if there are updates, Bloglines just shows you the newest headlines from the last time you went to Bloglines. You can then see the headlines (and articles, depending on the site) and decide whether you want to visit the site to read the article. No more constantly visiting Slashdot or Digg, I just check Bloglines.

Bloglines offers a Subscribe to Bloglines bookmarklet, so I can easily subscribe to any website I visit.

Another RSS service is SuprGlu [suprglu.com] which will take all your feeds and put them on a web page for you.

where RSS is going, GeoRSS (4, Interesting)

rheotaxis (528103) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374496)

Some comments here wonder what value RSS provides? RSS offers much more than syndicated news feeds, it helps control your information overload. Two examples follow. First, Dr. Dobbs [ddj.com] article shows how to build your own RSS with Ruby to track information when certain events occur. Dave Thomas [pragmaticprogrammer.com] writes artcles and books about Ruby. He says "You can use RSS to collect and summarize information from your projects and from your life" in the Dr. Dobbs article.

Second, Yahoo maps documentation [yahoo.net] says, "The XML used by the Yahoo! Maps Simple API is based on geoRSS 2.0." Here is another link [brainoff.com] about GeoRSS and worldKit, a map built using shockwave flash. You publish your map content, and GeoRSS for every point you want on the map.

IMHO, GeoRSS [georss.org] is becoming a de facto standard, becoming part of many blogs, and content managment systems, like Plone [sterngasse.at] . and, BTW, Good luck with all your adventures this New Year.

This is dumb (1)

Shimmer (3036) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374524)

It's not important. A related example: Of all the people who use SSL (or even TLS), what percent do so "knowingly"? Not alot, and who cares?

Of internet users, (1)

carlvlad (942493) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374566)

many percent hates pdf..

Let's call it "push technology!" (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374576)

Which, after all, is what it is. Remember push technology? Remember what happened to push technology? All the interest was from the pushers, not the pushees. "Now, you can shove your crap right onto user's machines, when you want to." It's about making the Web into a broadcast medium.

And, actually, the old Netnews protocol does the same job. More efficiently, using less bandwidth. Netnews is even a true peer to peer distributed system.

And what % of the 4% cares... (1)

McBainLives (683602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374581)

...what the other 96% is ignorant of? Competitive Advantage! Survival of the Fittest! If they want to get their news and info the slow way, that's their problem. Here's on for ya: "Let them read newspapers!"

RSS, isn't that... (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14374599)

...what you get if you leave in a tampon too long?
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