Use RSS Autodiscovery to Get More Feed Subscribers

The RSS Advisory Board has published a specification for RSS Autodiscovery, the most effective way to let readers know that your web site offers an RSS 1.0 or RSS 2.0 feed. (A similar effort's underway for Atom.)

If you're using Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 or Mozilla Firefox 1.5 or higher, you might have noticed an orange icon on the right edge of the address bar when you load some pages.

RSS icon on Mozilla Firefox 2.0 address bar found through autodiscovery

This icon indicates that the site offers a syndicated feed. You can click it to subscribe to the feed in the browser's feedreader or another reader such as Bloglines.

This specification works in complement with the common feed icon, the icon that's become the most popular means of identifying Atom, RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0 content on the web.


What benefit is there to have two specifications for this function? Should there be a separate specification for each and every value of the link's type attribute, or don't you think one specification can incorporate enough language and diversity to specify a generic autodiscovery method that will work for both RSS and Atom (and whatever else you may want to have as alternate representations).

Can't the RSS Advisory Board work with James Snell (which is the current editor of the "Atom effort") to create a single specification? Wouldn't that benefit the web and community a whole lot more than having two (perhaps even incompatible) specifications for the same functionality?

NB: Your site is completely broken in Opera.

Thanks for letting me know about Opera; I'll fire it up and see what's wrong.

The RSS board is working with Atom's effort -- I'm about to submit some suggestions this morning on their draft. The reason our current spec doesn't reference Atom is to avoid stepping on their work while it's still going on.

Ideally, the two specs should work the same way. I'm not opposed to our spec also telling people how to do autodiscovery in Atom.

FYI: WordPress blogs have this built-in, both in the download version at, and the hosted one at So does Movable Type. (I have one blog of each and just checked)

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