The state of web syndication

From time to time, I’ve blogged about where I saw the issues in web syndication such as verbiage and roadblocks to adoption. Here I am, almost a year after that last post and even though web syndication is incredibly popular, it still amazes me how unintuitive the entire experience can be…even for web geeks like me. Let me tell you a little story.

Today at work, a fellow Boston sports fan pinged me with news of the impending Garnett trade. My only sports feed is to the Reiss’ Pieces Patriots blog, so I was a bit in the dark. I immediately went to to get more info and decided to subscribe to the Celtics blog. So, I go to the Celtics page where I see the little feed icon in Firefox’s address bar so I know there’s a feed available. Awesome. I start looking around the page for a “subscribe” link…nowhere to be found. Do you honestly mean that I need to view the source of the page to figure out the subscription URL? I click on the link to the Celtics Blog. Ah, here I find a “subscribe” link (even though it does say “Subscribe via RSS”, which is still too geeky) but there’s no feed discovery on this page…the link in the address bar is nowhere to be found!

Now, I love my, but this is really sad. The feed discovery tag and a link to subscribe to the feed should be on the same pages, period. I really admired for catching on with blogs and syndicated feeds so quickly, I really hope that they can pick up on these little implementation details to make the site more usable for feed readers like myself.

Another tidbit: Wouldn’t it be great if the feed icon in the address bar could be right-clicked to get a menu with selections for “Copy feed location” and “Add to live bookmarks” along with other options? Maybe someday…


  1. Asa Dotzler

    What's wrong with just clicking on the feed icon?

    - A

  2. Asa Dotzler

    Oops, forgot to add that I assume you're using Firefox 2 or newer.

    - A

  3. Nicholas C. Zakas

    @Asa - there's nothing wrong with clicking on the feed icon except that it automatically saves the feed as a Live Bookmark, which I don't want to use. I want the feed in my Google Reader.

  4. Richy

    My Firefox ( gives me the option of subscribing using other RSS tools, INCLUDING Google Reader.

    Having said that, I've just stuck to FF's Live Bookmarks for now, so there may be some issue with using FF to subscribe to something in Google Reader that I'm not aware of...

  5. Richy

    Also (and I know this is a bit of a PITA) you could click on the feed icon, add it as a Live Bookmark, and then use the Properties of that bookmark to get the URL of the feed. Still quite complicated, and definitely not intuitive, but it does avoid having to wade through HTML source...

  6. Nicholas C. Zakas

    @Richy - yes, I know there are various ways to get at the feed URL, as in the ways you've mentioned. I just think it needs to be easier.

  7. Kevin

    When I click the icon it'll give me the option to select how I want to subscribe (eg. Live bookmarks, google reader). Perhaps you need to update your settings to get this functionality working? For me, I open the FF options, choose the 'feeds' tab, and select 'Show me a preview/ask which feed reader to use'.

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