Opera Subscribes to Common Syndication Icon

Opera has embraced the common syndication icon adopted by Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Internet Explorer, lead developer Trond Hansen announced Thursday:

Yes, we're adopting it too, and it will be in the next weekly build. Thanks to www.feedicons.com for making it so easy! Oh, and in case you haven't seen it before (what are the odds). I've attached a large version to this post which you can make love to.

The icon, which makes it easier to find syndicated content in software and web sites, has been picking up speed. Matt Brett set up the Feed Icons site in January to promote the new icon, and it already has been linked 1,700 times on Technorati.

I'd like to see the effort go further and encourage common language to make the use of RSS and Atom feeds as clear as possible:

  • Call an RSS or Atom document a feed.
  • Call software that periodically downloads these documents a reader.
  • Use the verb subscribe to describe the process.

If conventions were adopted (and localized for each language), syndication would be a considerably easier process for millions of web users who have yet to learn about it.

When a user loads a feed in the preview release of Internet Explorer 7, Microsoft follows two of these conventions, using the following explanatory text:

Microsoft help box that reads: You are viewing a feed that contains frequently updated content from a website. When you subscribe to a feed, updated information is automatically downloaded to your browser. The benefit is that you get the latest content from your favorite websites without the trouble of checking websites manually. Subscribe to this feed.

The word feed links to a Microsoft user guide about syndication.

Microsoft's doing a good job so far introducing syndication in Internet Explorer 7, but I don't like how the company uses "RSS" as a synonym for syndication. That's like calling a web page "HTML" or an e-mail program an "SMTP/POP3 client," and it's a misnomer because the browser supports Atom in addition to the two RSS formats. The technical details ought to fade into the background.


Yep, it's the old interface vs. implementation distinction. To the user, the interface is "syndication", the implementation is irrelevant (until the reader screws one of them up).

The links on this post have been updated. The Internet Archive is one of the wonders of the world.

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