Recently ZDNet ran an article entitled Google spurns RSS for rising blog format where it stated

The search giant, which acquired last year, began allowing the service's million-plus members to syndicate their online diaries to other Web sites last month. To implement the feature, it chose the new Atom format instead of the widely used, older RSS.

I've seen some discussion about the fact that Google only provides feeds for certain blogs in the ATOM 0.3 syndication format  which is an interim draft of the spec that is part of an effort being driven by Sam Ruby to replace RSS and related technologies. When I first read this I ignored it because I didn't have any feeds that were of interest to me. This changed today. This afternoon I found out that Steve Saxon, the author of the excellent article XPath Querying Over Objects with ObjectXPathNavigator had a blog that only provided an ATOM feed. Being that I use RSS Bandit as my aggregator of choice I cannot subscribe to his feed nor can I use a large percentage of the existing news aggregators to read Steve's feed.

What a find particularly stunning about Google's decision is that they have removed support for an existing, widely supported format for an interim draft of a format which  according to Sam Ruby's slides for the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference is several months away from being completed. An appropriate analogy for what Google has done would be like AOL abandoning support for HTML and changing all of its websites to use the May 6th 2003 draft of the XHTML 2.0 spec. It simply makes no sense.

Some people, such as Dave Winer believe Google is engaging in such user unfriendly behavior for malicious reasons but given that Google doesn't currently ship a news aggregator there doesn't seem to be much of a motive there (Of course, this changes once they ship one).  I recently stumbled across an article entitled The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity which described the following 5 laws

  1. Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

  2. The probability that a certain person be stupid is independent of any other characteristic of that person.

  3. A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

  4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.

  5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

The only question now is Is Google crazy, or crazy like a fox? and only time will tell the answer to that question.


Friday, February 20, 2004 12:09:13 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Dare: Quick question...

I'm building a list of aggregators that can handle Atom elements as an extension in an RSS feed. How would RSSBandit fare in such a scenario?

(Sample feed:
Friday, February 20, 2004 4:16:09 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
It is highly unlikely RSS bandit will support embedding Atom elements in RSS whenever I get around to adding Atom support.
Friday, February 20, 2004 6:18:04 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I'm curious ... why not just support Atom 0.3, at least minimally enough to read Blogger feeds? Postings by other aggregator authors imply that it would be less trouble to Just Do It than argue about it. Is that not true given your architecture? Or do you object strongly enough on principle to not do it until it is more frozen?
Mike Champion
Friday, February 20, 2004 6:26:16 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I'm curious ... why not just support Atom 0.3, at least minimally enough to read Blogger feeds? Postings by other aggregator authors imply that it would be less trouble to Just Do It than argue about it. Is that not true given your architecture? Or do you object strongly enough on principle to not do it until it is more frozen?
Mike Champion
Friday, February 20, 2004 7:42:33 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Patrick Logan had a post on this about a month ago, it turns ou that it's the user's choice of format, but they can pick only one.
Friday, February 20, 2004 10:11:29 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Get off your duff and integrate atom into rssbandit and quit whining.
Friday, February 20, 2004 10:50:33 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Some questions that come to mind:

Implement what version Atom? How many times?
Where do you get a non-copyrighted spec?
Is Google/blogger guaranteeing well-formed feeds?
What to do about embedded markup?

Rather than forcing the aggregator implementors to take shots at a moving target, why don't the folks who've got the ability to validate and transform offer a freely available web-service that takes Atom and renders it in RSS 2.0? For those feeds that would suffer some loss in functionality, automatically place a little caveat at the beginning of the feed explaining to the user that this is a dynamically transformed feed and these [x, y, and z] capabilities have been deprecated or found not to be able to be rendered in RSS 2.0.

Taking this approach would allow aggregators and consumers to quantitatively make comparisons between the feed formats and provide better feedback than has been found in the blogosphere recently.

Lest somebody want to start throwing stones at me ... I have (in development) code that does some of the things that I refer to above ... but it's against a machine-generated feed and the original content isn't even blog related (summary of email messages, database transaction logs, tec.) As such, it's not useable as the basis for what I suggest.
Saturday, February 21, 2004 6:18:20 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I saw over on Jon Udell's blog ( ) that there is a way to get RSS from an ATOM feed.

I've now posted a link to the feed from my blog:

As far as ATOM support in RSS bandit is concerned, there is always the possibility of running XSLT over it to get it into RSS 2.0 ... If can do it then so could the RSS aggregators...

Thats not to say I agree with Google's stand on this. Possibly some backlash against the blogging community for some of the "Googlebombing" that has been going on...?
Saturday, February 21, 2004 7:26:27 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
This post reminded of a lesson I learned from a professional poker player long time ago: bewares of lucky drunks. Normal players are easy to manage. Greedy players are even easier. Drunk players, however, are difficult to manage and lucky drunks are definite hazards to avoid.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004 6:39:27 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Just a quick correction/clarification: I picked up on this post from your link to my post re: Google being crazy vs. crazy like a fox.

Check the update at the bottom of my post (just before the comments) at

There's a link to the AtomEnabled beta site (, which lists a number of aggregators that handle Atom feeds. The list of Atom-enabled aggregators is still less than the long list of available aggregators you linked to, but it does list some of the popular ones. The trick is that one probably needs to download the latest versions to see Atom support included.

Frankly, I'm less than thrilled there are now two competing formats and Google is bucking the current trend, which has been working very nicely for bloggers. However, if one's favorite aggregator supports both, then from the end user's perspective, it's not so bad.

The key is that it puts the onus on the blog or web site designer to decide whether or not to include an Atom feed, and the extra work required to do so. Several comments posted to my blog by Atom supporters seem to indicate that RSS itself is fine for bloggers, but that Atom's additional feature set was developed to meet the more complex needs of larger organizations (multiple authors per post, inclusion of more media forms in the feed, etc.).

Just my two cents worth.
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