Technology

Radio RSS Not Funky!

I got tired of saying “I don’t know enough about RSS.” They say a little knowledge is dangerous, so I’ll take a chance here. I just spent some time going through the RSS 2.0 spec (http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rss) as well as my own and other weblog feeds.

This is from the RSS 2.0 spec regarding elements, and the examples that are given (element name – description – example):

title – The title of the item – Venice Film Festival Tries to Quit Sinking
link – The URL of the item – http://nytimes.com/2002/09/07/movies/07FEST.html

Clearly, the link is supposed to point to the same item that is linked to by the title. It is not the permalink of the post on the weblog. That seems to be the guid element…

guid – A string that uniquely identifies the item – http://inessential.com/2002/09/01.php#a2

Furthermore, the RSS 2.0 spec states:

“guid stands for globally unique identifier. It’s a string that uniquely identifies the item. When present, an aggregator may choose to use this string to determine if an item is new.”

Radio’s RSS feed does provide this correctly, I just confirmed it in my own feed. So as far as I’m concerned this proves that, at least from this perspective, Radio RSS feeds are distinctly non-funky.

So regarding Rob McNair-Huff’s comments here that…

All Radio blogs using the standard generated RSS feeds produce feeds that point to the topic of the post rather than to the actual post on the user’s blog…”

This appears to be the expected behavior according to RSS 2.0.

I can say without a doubt that it is painful to even try and find the blog URL of a Radio user whose post I want to point to if their Radio blog generates the standard RSS.

This is what guid is for. It’s in the Radio feed as well, as it is Manila. As for this comment:

it is different than all other RSS feeds from widely used blogging software…

I’ll put my neck out on the chopping block and suggest that they go back and reread the spec, because unless I’m seriously mistaken, Radio’s RSS is clearly not-funky, at least as this issue is concerned in RSS 2.0. The link element is to the title’s URL, guid to the permalink of the post containing this title and link. If other weblog software has the permalink in the “link” element, that clearly seems to be violating the spec.

As far as Rob’s other concern regarding older posts displaying as new in aggregators, it doesn’t seem that this should be the cause. I posted a report on Ranchero.com to see if Brent has any insight on why this behavior is manifesting itself. I wouldn’t be shocked if I learned that this behavior was not restricted to Radio feeds.

If I’m wrong about this I’ll hang my head in shame and never enter another RSS debate.

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