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Every news publisher should support RSS

I’m disproportionately frustrated by news websites that don’t provide an RSS feed. Sure, most provide an email newsletter these days, and that will suit many users. (It also suits the publisher just fine, because now they know exactly who is subscribing.) But while it’s been around for a long time, RSS isn’t the niche technology many people seem to think it is.

I start every day by reading my feeds in Reeder: a popular way for Apple users to keep on top of new content from their favorite sites. There are plenty of alternatives for every platform you can think of. On top of all the easy-to-use open news readers that are available, apps like Apple News also use a dialect of RSS behind the scenes. It is the standard way for websites to let people read updates.

It’s also a way for publishers to free themselves just a little bit more from the proprietary social media ecosystem. If most users learn about content they’re interested in from Facebook, publishers are beholden to Facebook. If most users learn about new stories from open web standards like RSS, publishers aren’t beholden to anybody. They have full control — no engagement from the partnerships team required.

It’s very cheap to support. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, it comes free out of the box; there’s no email inbox to clog up; and not allowing people to subscribe directly is hostile to both the user and the publisher. Hell, if you really want to, you can even run ads in the feed.

So, please: I want to read your articles. Spend half a day of developer time and set up a feed for every site you run.

Thank you.

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