Robert Scoble and the RSS Advisory Board

On Sunday, Robert Scoble accused the RSS Advisory Board of being a plot by large companies to steal RSS 2.0:

But, what really is cooking here is that RSS has been given (and if you listen to Dave Winer, stolen) to big companies to control. How so? Well, the RSS Advisory board, which includes members from Cisco, Yahoo, Netscape, FeedBurner (er, Google), Microsoft, and Bloglines and this new unofficial board +is+ changing the RSS spec all the time (they are now up to version 2.0.9). Dave Winer, who founded that spec says that's in direct contradiction with the original charter of the RSS Advisory Board that he founded when he moved RSS from UserLand over to Harvard University.

The board hasn't changed the spec "all the time." The change notes for the document show that it only has been revised twice since January 2005, and one of those was an administrative edit that didn't affect the format itself. The other added four words to clarify how namespaces are supported.

Our work's a lot less controversial than Scoble and others make it sound. Most of the board's efforts have been to support publishers and developers on the RSS-Public mailing list, promote things like RSS autodiscovery and the common feed icon, and draft an RSS best-practices profile.

In airing his concerns about FeedBurner, Scoble made this comment about moving a site's feed to a new URL:

Switching feed URLs at this point is audience suicide. If you don't care about your audience you'll do it.

This is a weird point for him to make. When Scoble switched blogging software in 2005, moving his blog from Radio UserLand to WordPress, he left behind thousands of subscribers. His old feed still has 7,520 subscribers in Bloglines.

Recently, he moved his feed from Scobleizer.Wordpress.Com to Scobleizer.Com using an HTTP 302 redirect, which tells RSS readers the move is temporary. His WordPress feed has 3,635 subscribers in Bloglines and his current feed has 747.

If Scoble had been using FeedBurner to publish his feed, he could have switched blogging tools and feed URLs without losing as much as 70 percent of his RSS readership. (Even today, he could fix this by using HTTP 301 redirects to point all those old URLs to the current feed.)


Actually doesn't a 301 tell user agents the location has moved permanently?

In any case, I think his point was that if you give core services over to a domain you don't control, you risk being tethered to those services. If you use FeedBurner's MyBrand service you're in the clear because you leave FeedBurner at any time and redirect users to your preferred URL.

Oops. I got the codes backwards and have corrected the error. Thanks.

Rogers, I find this article bordering on the fantastical because of one implicit assumption, i.e., that Scoble knows what he is talking about.

Silly you, Rogers.

Scoble bets on so many new technologies that he thinks he's a forecasting genius. In reality, if his bets were placed in Vegas, he'd be a pauper.

Oh dear. He may be an A-lister and get page 1 coverage for being first in line for an iPhone, but his deep under the web tech is, well, exceedingly limited.

To wit (or to elaborate on your description of his move from Manila/Radio to current location): After yet another quasi-whiney statement (in ascii, you never know) that certain stuff got lost from his Manila site (his blogging about his car accident, his child's drawing of 9/11), esp after UserLand provided a bunch of up front warnings to get their stuff outta there else it were to be shut down, I was just. simply. floored. He used to work for UserLand and he never bothered to learn what All The Rest of The Manila Plebes who aren't on staff had to learn, namely, you need to backup your Root? Nope. Never did. Friends and connections trump learning to do that kinda stuff yourself.

When I pointed that out to him, on his site, he said that he had no idea how to do it there, either. So lo, here comes the blogosphere to tell him Rule Number One about backups and how to do it on a site.

So when it comes to any specific technical item, Mr. Scoble has a lot of "you gotta be sh**tin' me" lack of credibility to overcome.

I dunno. Maybe it's me. I don't like to broadcast my ignorance. I do research ahead of time. But Scoble likes to say any old thing and let the public educate him. Different styles, completely. See? I fell for it. And, in this post, so did you.

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