MovableBlog: RSS Evangelism

Nuance 2.0

March 26, 2003

At, I'm registered as an Evangelist, and there are sites that I would like to read that do not, as far as my autodiscovering feed reader and I can determine, have XML feeds. These sites (Zeldman being the main offender, which is understandable, since he hand codes his site) have been bookmarked as a group in Mozilla, but it would save time to have them aggregated in my copy of Syndirella.

Now, I just read Mark Pilgrim's post about nntp//rss, which I have yet to install. What concerns me now, though, is the last sentence of the email that Mark quotes—rather than quote something he quotes, I'll defer to his post. I've written earlier (here, which is a comment to this post at that a list of shame might not be the best approach to RSS evangelism, and that a short, well-worded email would be more appropriate. But I yet to actually try to actually use this approach.

Has anyody successfully convinced webloggers to provide RSS feeds before? How did you approach it?

Posted by Richard at 1:03


I have...twice, actually. I asked why they didn't have one, then explained the benefits of RSS, and helped them to implement it.

I've noticed that if a blog doesn't have an RSS feed, it's usually because the author doesn't know how to set one up, or intentionally removed it because they didn't know what it was.

...and then there are non-paid blogger users, who can't do anything about it as far as I know.

Pretty much. Well, if one has access to server-side scripting, then they could scrape out a feed. But that requires some programming knowledge, and can get complicated. There has been evangelism for moving away from Blogger, and I've done my share of one-to-one evangelism of that type, but it's been mostly unsuccessful (they claim poverty, which is something I would be foolish to argue with).

I guess what you're saying is that it's not so much a lack of willingness, but rather a lack of knowledge of the benefits of RSS (from the perspective of the reader of a person's site), and education in that respect is a good approach. I'm pretty sure Zeldman is knowledgeable about such things, but hand-coding RSS does not sound pleasant.

Pretty much, yeah. What would be great is if Blogger would automatically create RSS files for everyone instead of making it a premium feature, which seems silly to me. Heck, LiveJournal gives it to everyone, so I don't see why Blogger can't.

Given the final entry in Zeldman's about.html:

"If you offered an RSS feed, I could read your stuff without visiting your site."

"If you stored your groceries on the sidewalk, we could eat your food without sitting across the table from you."

you might want to start your evangelism with something easy, like convincing Fidel Castro that fully free and honest elections run by the US would be in his best interest.

For Blogger Classic users who actually do want an RSS feed, their best bet is self-scraping with Julian's RSSify (either his web service, or their own copy if they've got somewhere to run PHP).

It's easier to convince someone who already offers their content in alternate formats. Many sites offer AvantGo or email subscriptions of their content. They understand the value of the additional reach that alternate distribution formats can provide.

Acts of Volition already had a handheld version of their site. It didn't take much to convince them to add RSS.