Google's RSS support questioned

Dwight Shih asks a good question:

For a company whose motto is don't be evil, Google's drop of RSS support is quite troubling. Atom is both an API and a format. I could understand a move to the Atom API. I could even understand a migration to the Atom format. But I just don't understand the need to drop RSS support. Readers and aggregator developers are potential losers. But who are the potential winners?


Blogger has never offered good RSS support. Why would they START just as it's losing steam? They are choosing to stick with an open format that is clearly defined. Nothing wrong with that.

Blogger's existing support for RSS works fine; I've been reading a few Blogger feeds for many months without problems.

I'm not suggesting that Blogger do any more work to support RSS. But withholding existing support is inexplicable, unless it's a move sponsored by the letters F and U.

Who knows what resources were required at Google to support RSS? Pehaps it didn't make sense from a business perspective to continue devoting resources towards supporting RSS.

Can you think of any reasons why existing RSS support would require ongoing development resources? Once it works, it works forever.

Someone must be benefiting from the change. Google owes us an explanation of who they think benefits and why. It is a free offering, so I'd accept a purely business reason. But I'd like to see it up front.

I think this is a good thing. RSS is seriously broken in many ways. If google pushes Atom, all of us will profit.

That's FUD, David. RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0 have been supported in dozens of software products and are used every day by thousands of people.

Blogger's RSS (which was only ever offered to Blogger Pro subscribers, and was left on for them when Pro disappeared, so they don't have to change, but free users only get Atom) has always been awful. If you haven't had trouble with it, then you are either subscribe to feeds from very careful bloggers, or you have a very forgiving parser. Search for "boingboing rss", especially with an added term like broken or sucks, and you'll see it hasn't all been gravy. Blogger's escaping has been terrible, they've never really been sure what charset their input is, and every time someone would copy-n-paste a URL with ampersands, or smart quotes, or something in Urdu, their feed would become invalid. Whether or not Atom will solve all their problems is another question, but they didn't really have something that reliably worked, other than for people typing 8859-1 and not ever pasting.

You wouldn't believe how many times I've had to explain to a Pro user "you can't compose your posts in Word with smart-quotes on", "you can't paste in URLs including ampersands without escaping them yourself", "you can't copy bits of posts that include curly-quotes (unless you copy from their source, and only if it's entity-encoded rather than the actual characters in UTF-8)", on and on.

Dwight, can you tell me why Google owes you an explanation?

Are they a business partner of yours? Do you have some signed contract with Google related to their decisions in regards to syndication formats? Do they legally owe you an explanation, or would you just like one as a user of Google?

Well, Google owes *me* an explanation since I am a customer. I don't pay them anymore since their pro service is now free for me. But I have an investment in their services in that it would cost me time, money, and potentially readers, to move my blog elsewhere.

BTW I am thinking of doing this anyway since google's quality of service is every bit as bad as it was before the purchase. After several months one would hope a company like Google would have improved the quality.

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