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Website Planning

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Interesting Facts

Monday, September 20, 2004

Website Planning - feeds & syndication

"It is clear that the aggregated news model is rapidly becoming the preferred method of online consumer news consumption," said Jim Pitkow, chief executive officer and president of Moreover Technologies.

Syndication, aggregated news, or feeds is a fast growing way to distribute information over the Internet. A recent Nielsen NetRatings report, Top 20 Online Current Events & Global News Destinations, confirmed that Q2 2004 was the first time an aggregated news source, Yahoo! News, was more visited than any individual news publication site such as CNN.com and USAToday.com.

Feed information has periodic updates, either regular or irregular. It can be news, weather, sports scores, software updates, tv shows, or movie reviews. It can be meeting minutes, a quote of the day, journal entries, diary entries, or blog entries. It can be the "what's new" or news releases of a corporation. It can be technical tips, a comic strip, or calendar updates. Anything that has a sequence of entries.

Publishers put all this stuff out onto the Internet in a special format. Consumers read it with special products. Let's see how it works.

Publishers put the stuff out on the Internet in a format called a feed or a channel. Anyone can create a feed on any topic and put it anywhere on the Internet. Lots of publishers create feeds, including the BBC, CNET, and Yahoo. Lots of individuals and small groups also create feeds. This blog creates a feed.

Feeds must be in one of the feed formats. There are various formats, including RSS and Atom.
Consumers who want to read these feeds must first acquire a product or service called a feed reader, a news aggregator, or a news reader. These products come in various flavors. Some run under Outlook, some are stand-alone products, and some are online services that you access through your browser.

Consumers sign on to the feed reader, subscribe to feeds, unsubscribe from feeds, and read feeds. The feed reader delivers each feed to the consumer when it is updated. If the BBC does not publish news to its feed that day, nothing is returned. If Yahoo publishes 12 news items to its feed and the consumer is subscribed, the consumer receives 12 items.

The feed reader gathers up all the feed updates and delivers it to one place. It aggregates all the feeds to which the consumer subscribes.

How does the consumer find the feeds? They are not in any one organized place. Most feed readers maintain a list of popular feeds. There are directories of feeds. There are sites like this blog that point to where you can find its feed. Any valid feed can be subscribed to using the feed reader. Sites that have a feed often use this symbol.

Each website that has a news section could consider creating a feed as part of the website planning. The feed could be anything from company news, to updates on specials, to timely tips for the holidays.

RSS has created some concerns, summed up in this article entitled Don't Believe RSS Hype. One concern from the article is "Many large sites that deliver RSS feeds recently started complaining that they are being hit every hour with a flood of reader requests that is, for all intents and purposes, the same thing as a denial-of-service attack."

Interesting Feeds:
Feedster Jobs :: Fresh jobs delivered daily to your aggregator!

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