Another lacklustre RSS pitch


WP Engine published a resource centre article in September that explains what RSS is. It’s about what you’d expect thesedays; emphasis added:

Getting content in front of your audience is a key concern, regardless of your niche. RSS feeds are a perfect way to do this. One of the main reasons is that users have to do practically nothing in order to view your content (aside from clicking on a link).

Since the feed does all the work, users don’t even have to memorize your URLs. This, in addition to the enhanced portability the feature provides, means that RSS feeds can become a central tool in promoting your site’s content.

Their technical explanation isn’t half bad by modern web standards, though it’s missing a lot. RSS does let you read people’s ideas in an aggregator, river, or other service, and it does make reading easier.

But it’s the pitch that gets me every time. It reminds me of the Ghost blogging platform promising to turn your audience into a business (and the subsequent follow-up). Note the use of the term audience in lieu of community, users in lieu of people, and summarising what we do as content to be promoted. The rush to see everything through this lens is so sad, and I’d argue is contributing to many of the modern web’s ills.

RSS is more than plumbing, just as blogging is more than advertising. It’s a shame one of the world’s largest blog hosting platforms misses this potential. Heck… they may even be more money it for them! cough.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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