In a post entitled Atom 0.3 Denouement begins his advocacy for developers to stop supporting Atom 0.3 and states his intent to start flagging such feeds as being invalid in the Feed Validator come the fall. I planned to avoid blogging about his post until I saw the following comment by Mark Pilgrim where he wrote

Atom 1.0 will shortly be an IETF RFC, which makes it as much of a web standard as HTTP.  Atom 0.3 was just some guys (and gals) dicking around on a wiki.  As it turned out, some guys dicking around on a wiki were able to produce a relatively decent standard, but that isnt saying much given the competition.  Atom 1.0 is a great standard, worthy of the label and worthy of being pushed by standards advocacy groups like WaSP...

Although what Mark Pilgrim has written is factual it is misleading as well. Although Atom 0.3 was not backed by a standards body (and neither has any flavor of RSS by the way) it still became a de facto standard thanks to the advocacy of people like Mark & Sam. Specifically once Google decided to switch their RSS feeds to Atom 0.3 feeds they used their power as a dominant content producer to force every major aggregator to support Atom 0.3.

At the time I blogged about how this was a stupid thing to do since it basically guaranteed that there would be two conflicting versions of Atom for the immediate future. Now there are hundreds of thousands to millions of aggregator users who will potentially be screwed when Google decides to switch to Atom 1.0. These end users are sacrificial pawns in what has basically been a battle of [male] geek egos over whether a blog post in an XML feed should be contained in an element named atom:entry or item.

The only bright light in all this crap is that a few years after everyone else figured it out some of these XML syndication geeks are now realizing that instead of arguing over XML element names it is more interesting to figure out what other kinds of data can be syndicated beyond blog posts and news stories. See Danny Ayers's post Brownian Motion and Bill de hra on Atoms in a small world for examples of some of the Atom geeks finally getting it.

Better late than never, I guess.


Thursday, July 21, 2005 5:36:55 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
"Better late than never, I guess." Uncalled for. Those geeks both got it long ago. Atom going 1.0 is just yet another excuse to restate the obvious.
Thursday, July 21, 2005 5:51:13 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Funny that people complain about RSS being frozen when that is by far it's greatest strength.
Thursday, July 21, 2005 7:32:53 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Don't worry about it Mark, I'll get my own back when Dare groks RDF ;-)
Thursday, July 21, 2005 7:49:57 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
PS. there's something else in Bill's post - not so much about other kinds of data that can be syndicated (he aggregated the t-shirt long ago), rather about putting more in at the protocol level, and things associated with app behaviour, but done in a very loosely-coupled, non-RPC fashion.
Thursday, July 21, 2005 11:09:12 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I think it's a little FUDdy duddy to speculate that millions of end users will become collateral damage because their aggregators may/may not support Atom 1.0. First, it's the Bloggers/Googles of the world who have the responsibility to make test their feeds on all the major aggregators before doing something like that, but it isn't the responsibility of the people designing the protocol or feed validator. They didn't go telling Google to make such a bone-headed move. Of course, this all hinges on the argument that the feeds would, in fact, just break in the aggregators which remains to be seen. You *may* be right, they *may well* break. But the real point I'm making is that you're shifitng the blame from Google to the geeks who care about the name of an xml element (yet another gross oversimplification).

The only reason I'm taking the time to call you out on this is because you're just too damned smart to be spewing this sort of fallacy.
Friday, July 22, 2005 8:47:34 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)

As far as I know, Google management just didn't know any better. It was Ev and gang who made the decision to support Atom prematurely over RSS. While I can understand why they made the mistake, their choice was clearly not in the best interest of the users nor developers. The power of creation is intoxicating and addictive. Each of us must learn to control ourselves better and realize that even the Mad Piper has responsibilities.
Friday, July 22, 2005 2:21:28 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Agree with your overall assessment and I'll defer to your superior knowledge of the facts. That said, it doesn't change the fact that the wrong people are being blamed in this post.
Friday, July 22, 2005 4:10:42 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
There's lots of blame to dish out. The existence of an Atom syndication format isn't good for end users or developers who now have to deal with more fragmentation in the XML syndication world. The fact that the folks at Google deployed Atom 0.3 isn't good for end users or developers either since it led to fragmentation in the Atom syndication world.

It seems you are trying to quibble about who I should be shooting more flames at. Whatever.
Monday, July 25, 2005 3:08:05 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
I'm not trying to quibble or troll or antagonize you. You believe that the very existence of Atom is bad because of fragmentation. That's a value statememt, and perhaps time may even prove you right, but that is *not* the argument you made in your post. My point was that you were blaming the wrong people for the Blogger deployment debacle and that was an unfair criticism.
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