RSS Best-Practices Profile Up for a Vote

For the last 18 months, the RSS Advisory Board has been drafting a set of best-practice recommendations for RSS. Working with the developers of browsers such as Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, aggregators such as Bloglines and Google Reader, and blogging tools including Movable Type, we've looked for areas where questions about the RSS format have led to differences in how software has been implemented to produce and consume RSS feeds.

The result of our work is the RSS Profile. The lead authors are James Holderness, Randy Charles Morin, Geoffrey Sneddon and myself. The profile isn't a set of rules; it's a set of suggestions drafted by programmers and web publishers who've been working with RSS since the format's first release in 1999. Our goal is for the profile to be the second document programmers consult when they're learning how to implement RSS.

The profile tackles some long-standing issues in RSS implementation, including the proper number of enclosures per item, the meaning of the TTL element and the use of HTML markup in character data.

In addition to recommendations for the RSS elements documented in the specification, the profile includes advice for four common namespace elements: atom:link, content:encoded, dc:creator and slash:comments.

Morin and I have proposed that the board endorse and publish the RSS Profile, making it available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license so that others can build upon and extend it with their own recommendations.

Additionally, we proposed that the following sentence be added to the About this document section of the specification, as a new fifth paragraph: "The RSS Profile contains a set of recommendations for how to create RSS documents that work best in the wide and diverse audience of client software that supports the format."

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