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Re: RSS 1.0 vs. RSS 0.9*

Dave Winer writes:

 > David, I don't see the boom in support for the RDF-based
 > format. Further, since it's not backward compatible with previous
 > version, it would be better to make that clear up front so that
 > people don't have to wade through all the docs and modules and
 > other specs to find out that it actually isn't RSS at all, in any
 > technical sense. It would be as if I came out with XML 1.1 and
 > dropped support for attributes and put them in a namespace. I'm
 > sure that wouldn't go over well with all the people who had
 > deployed XML 1.0 apps, and it should be explained and disclaimed
 > upfront, imho.

For anyone not familiar with the background, Netscape's RSS 0.90 was
RDF-based, Netscape's RSS 0.91 was completely different (not a sniff
of RDF), RSS 0.92 is Userland's (??) own revision of RSS 0.91 (also
not RDF-based), and RSS 1.0 is an RDF-based update of RDF 0.90 by a
separate, informal working group.  

In other words, RSS 0.90 and 1.0 are compatible with each-other (but
not with 0.91 or 0.92), and RSS 0.91 and 0.92 are compatible with
each-other (but not with 0.90 or 1.0).  Ouch!  The RSS 1.0 people
claim backwards compatibility (by pointing to 0.90), and the RSS
0.9[12] people deny it (by pointing to 0.91).  The rest of the world
doesn't care, but they like the free headlines and links.

 > Anyway, since your argument is based on adoption, how about some
 > numbers and URLs. I'd like to see a list of RSS 0.91 sources that
 > have switched to the RDF-based format. I run one of the primary
 > aggregators and haven't seen the switchover that you have
 > seen. Understand that there are thousands of feeds in 0.91. Three
 > or four in RDF is hardly a groundswell.

We're in different spaces.  For XMLNews.org, I'm watching known
information providers (i.e. not private users) who actually produce
their own feeds at source.  I mean no disrespect at all to the web-log
movement or to the many people who run unofficial converters (RSS 0.9*
or RSS 1.0) for non-RSS sources, and I make no claims (positive or
negative) about RSS 1.0's prospects in that community.

Here are the major providers I'm aware of who use RSS in its various


RSS 0.90:
- MacWeek
- Motley Fool
- Slashdot

RSS 1.0 (RDF-based):
- Meerkat (O'Reilly)
- Reuters Health
- W3C

Not RDF-based

RSS 0.91:
- CNN (stale -- no live content currently)
- FreshMeat
- The Guardian
- Reuters Health
- Salon
- Wired

RSS 0.92 (not RDF-based):
[none, yet]

There are other, less well-known RSS 1.0 providers, like MonkeyFist,
that I'm not counting here (for the record, they provide both RDF 0.91
and RDF 1.0).  I'll also guess that Meerkat has an RSS 0.91 feed to go
with its RSS 1.0 feed, but I don't happen to have the URL.

So among the relatively well-known providers I'm aware of, I have five
in the RSS 0.9[12] (non-RDF) camp and seven in the RSS 0.90/1.0 (RDF)
camp, though I've likely missed some non-RDF ones.  It's not bad that
RSS 1.0 already has feeds from providers of the stature of ITN and
Reuters Health (hi, John Cowan!) when it wasn't released until just
before Christmas -- that suggests to me, not that RSS 0.91 is dead or
that RSS 1.0 is about to swamp it, but that my private and Dave W's
public fears that RSS 1.0 was too complicated for implementors were
likely unfounded.

I will be very grateful for anyone who can let me know about any
source RSS 0.9* or RSS 1.0 feeds from information-provider companies
or organizations not yet listed at


 > Anyway, Robin Cover said he's going to write up RSS 0.92, that's
 > all I wanted for now. The market will decide this one for sure. In
 > a couple of months there will lots of 0.92 feeds, then we can talk
 > again. Learning to play a rough game, that's OK, I've done it
 > before, but I thought open development processes were different
 > somehow than the paranoid slugfests in the commercial software
 > world

It's more simple anarchy than a paranoid slugfest.  When Netscape lost
interest in RSS and then disintegrated anyway, there was no single
credible owner for the spec.

Dave Winer refuses to recognize the RSS 1.0 WG's authority, and they
refuse to recognize his, so both are making free use of the RSS name
for very different specs.  I suppose that what's left of Netscape
could step in and try to enforce some kind of legal action against
either or both of the parties, assuming they ever established any kind
of intellectual property rights over the name in the first place.
Otherwise, things will sort themselves out eventually.  There are
other XML-based news syndication specs (like NewsML and PRISM, the
latter also RDF-based) that may also have a role to play in this over
the next year or two.

All the best,


David Megginson                 david@megginson.com