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I've built a site where people can submit security vulnerabilities found on websites.

I've got some requests (not many though) by people to implement an RSS feed of confirmed and published cases.

I'm not going to implement it if nobody uses it anymore :-)

So my question is: Do people still use RSS feeds to get their information?

PS

My targeted public is:

  • the press
  • security researchers
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14  
I am a heavy user of RSS. I like to keep up to date with many websites, so it's the only viable solution for me. It's only Techcrunch that says it's dead, but most of what they say is rubbish - they just say it to start arguments and get user participation (arguments) on their website ;-) Plus RSS feeds are very easy to implement. –  Techboy Dec 11 '11 at 19:27
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If you've had requests then clearly some people do still RSS feeds. The question is really are there enough users to justify the cost of you enabling this. Without knowing the size of the site and how many people have made the request we can't really answer. –  ChrisF Dec 12 '11 at 9:36
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@ChrisF: It should be relatively easy/cheap to implement an RSS feed if their site architecture is well-designed. For instance, if you're using MVC, it should be as simple as just creating an RSS view for your news action and adding a route for that view (with CakePHP it's super easy since that sort of routing can be done automatically based on the request's extension, e.g. /news/index.html, /news/index.rss, /news/index.json, etc.). It shouldn't take more than 15 minutes to do all of this. –  Lèse majesté Dec 12 '11 at 16:51
    
@Lèsemajesté - indeed. The technology is important too. –  ChrisF Dec 12 '11 at 16:58
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@techboy: exactly. I read in excess of 200 articles in feeds every day and it's the only way I'd follow some of what I read - I certainly wouldn't be able to go manage such a volume without a feed reader and, by definition, feeds. No feed = no read, no exceptions. –  David T. Macknet Dec 12 '11 at 17:11

12 Answers 12

up vote 25 down vote accepted

A lot of people may use twitter now but I personally use both and still prefer how rss or atom feeds allow me to see the article without having to worry about whether the shortened URL in the tweet actually takes me to where I hope it is going. Security researchers may appreciate rss since not everyone can see who is subscribing to your feeds, which I believe you only get on twitter if you make your timeline private.

If you make use of Feedburner to manage your RSS/Atom feeds, you can configure it to automatically send out a tweet to your timeline whenever you post something new to your site. A tweet with your new article title and a goo.gl url shortened link to your site will get posted. If you categorize your posts, they will get included in your tweet as hashtags.

A lot of folks say rss is dead but I still have more rss subscribers than twitter followers. If you hope to syndicate your site content, RSS and Atom are still widely used for that purpose.

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+1 for Twitter/FeedBurner integration. –  Adrian J. Moreno Dec 12 '11 at 16:52

RSS feeds can also be used as a "poor mans" read only API - so if my application wants to consume a list of the latest security vulnerabilities that have been posted, I could read your RSS (xml) feed, process it as needed and display it within my application without having to go to the trouble of using an HTML/DOM library to parse your web site, and worry about having to update the logic if you ever redesign.

This may not be a legitimate use of your data, so providing it in this way, making it easier for applications to consume may not be what you want, or you could be more open with it, and so see this as a good way to get some traction for your data.

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Good point. This may not be a legitimate use of your data. That wouldn't be an issue. The data is Creative Commons licensed. –  PeeHaa Dec 16 '11 at 20:50
    
@PeeHaa - I guessed it would be as it's submitted, but it may not be for others. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Dec 16 '11 at 21:16

Not sure why people think Twitter replaces RSS feeds. Using a reader you can follow many sites and get a nice list or sub lists (by topic) of the new headlines without opening the individual pages for each site. So yes "still" use RSS. - Oh I see you let the masses choose for you...

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There appear to still be many people still using RSS feeds, but RSS feeds are really a tool for the end user. It basically allows users to be able to download your content without having to go through the trouble of actually using your website. They can just read your feed for any content you post on your site. The content goes right to them without the need for users to revisit your site. It is also a great tool for other sites to steal your content and republishing it with ease. They don't have to go through the hassle of viewing to your website to cut and paste your content. Again it goes right to them.

From a webmaster's stand point, you generally want people coming to your website. You want people submitting vulnerabilities to your website to make your website more successful. Implementing RSS feeds does not provide you any of that benefit other than potentially the notification of new content on your site. However those users still do not need to go to your website to view it. If you are planning on making revenue from people viewing your site, every RSS feed is a revenue loss.

I view it as my website is the news reader, go to my website to view my news. Google will take care of the rest. If the question is if people still use RSS, yes they do.. But if the question is if this provides your site any benefit, then generally it does not in my opinion. I would rather people go directly to my site.

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without having to go through the trouble of actually using your website I tend to make websites which doesn't feel like a trouble using ;) However you do have a point regarding the 'stealing' of content. However the information on my site is published under Creative Commons license so that wouldn't be a problem. –  PeeHaa Dec 12 '11 at 22:43
    
If you want to steal a site content, it's easy even without RSS. For me : a website that doesn't have a feed is a website I don't read even if the content is really interesting. And in the worst case, there are some tools that creates RSS feeds over your website when there isn't one (techpp.com/2009/04/27/…). If revenue is an issue, you can put ads in the RSS feed. –  Julien N Dec 18 '11 at 14:24
    
You could publish an RSS feed containing only the summaries/standfirsts of your articles, with a "read more" for readers to click through into the main article on your site - then everyone wins ;) –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Feb 13 at 10:53

I for one use RSS a lot. Besides getting updates from favorite websites and blogs I also subscribed to RSS feed of:

  • links saved for reading later (pinboard.in)
  • popular links from my Twitter stream (tweetedtimes.com)
  • several email newsletters (mmmmail.com)

This way, whenever I got some time for reading on the web I just fire reederapp.com dive into my "reading center".

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Yes, people still use RSS. I use it heavily to get quality and regular content every day. In fact, I saw the link to this question from my RSS feed.

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"In fact, I saw the link to this question from my RSS feed." - Heh, me too. RSS feed of Hacker News (-: –  Wojtek Kruszewski Dec 12 '11 at 18:15

I am here via RSS (Hacker News) as well. I don't have time to sift through every website I like to keep up on, therefore I use a newsreader that let me know when a website is updated. I prefer it over email because it keeps my news separate from my mail. Think of it as a newspaper vs. regular mail. Most of the techie people I know (I work in a software company) and photographer friends also use newsreaders (eg: feedly) to keep up on their favorite websites. Honestly though, can people stop asking "Does anybody use this any more?"

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Think of it as a newspaper vs. regular mail They both end up in my mailbox :P –  PeeHaa Dec 12 '11 at 17:49

I found this article via RSS (Hacker News). I subscribe to many RSS feeds and check them almost every day. I hope it doesn't go away !

I use Google Reader and have 10 Main Folders with each having many sub-folders of various RSS feeds of interest.

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Although I'm not a traditional journalists, some people consider me press. I can't speak for my fellow writers but I can tell you first hand that RSS is absolutely indispensable to me. I use it to stay up with the news and keep track of the sites most important to me. In fact, I found this very inquiry via RSS.

If it's easy I say go for the RSS implementation and good luck.

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I've got about 300 different RSS feeds in my reader, with 17050 entries combined. They allow me to track game releases, news on Perl, new pages on web comics, and much more.

More importantly though: They remind me when a site i liked half a year back publishes something new. They make me come back without having to remember to go back there manually.

I do not know of any other web technology that can do that.

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Twitter can sorta do this, but far fewer sites support this, and far fewer browsers/apps support twitter vs. RSS. –  Lèse majesté Dec 12 '11 at 16:53
    
Twitter can't really do this because it's only one stream. I'd miss things. My RSS reader shows me a neat concise list that makes it easy to tell the ones that got new content at a glance. –  Mithaldu Dec 12 '11 at 21:50
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And most twitter accounts are full of garbage as people might share uninteresting things (see most rock bands twitter accounts : they mostly share their life - I don't care if they were drunk last night - while I'm only interested in "real" news) –  Julien N Dec 18 '11 at 14:16

Yes, many people are using it. I have a website with about 40k daily visitors, and the RSS feed has about 9K readers.

People read RSS (or Atom) feeds in Google Reader, fetch data from it to automatically post to other site, and you can also use it to push messages to Facebook/Twitter. Or as I'm using for some feed, add it to Feedburner so that you can have daily digest email of your feed items.

RSS feed is also very easy to implement. Usually it won't take you more than 1 hour to have a RSS feed for your own customized website.

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I also have a website and still see people from time to time subscribing. I also use google's feedburner and have it configured to post to twitter. It seems to be working well.

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protected by RandomBen Dec 12 '11 at 17:59

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