Are RSS feeds an endangered species?

I keep up with all the serials I follow in Google Reader. Last week, Google announced it is discontinuing the service. Their stated reason was declining use and it's not one of the core things they want to focus on.

It's easy enough to migrate to another feed reader, although I'll wait until the hubbub dies down (some alternate feed reading sites have crashed due to the large number of migrants). But I sure hope the day won't come when RSS feeds themselves go away. There's no other such clean direct way of getting just what you chose without extraneous clutter. I'm surprised that commentators are talking about RSS as something esoteric that was only used by techies and journalists. Surely anyone that reads blogs at all will have noticed the orange button and clicking on it hardly takes any more technical skill that it does to turn your computer on in the first place.

RSS feeds are especially well suited to keeping up with web serials! So, serial authors, what do you think? Any reason why you wouldn't keep offering RSS feeds to your readers? Will we keep RSS alive?

I think that for RSS feeds to be endangered, there'd have to be something to supplant or replace them, and there really isn't.

They say it's Twitter.

The problem is that the need for a direct reader just isn't there any more with the way that things like, yes, Twitter or Facebook News feeds are easier for Joe and Jane Average to use to keep up with what they want to keep up with. Bloggers are moving to having specialized apps or becoming a part of a "network" (think Huffington Post) where there isn't a need for an outside 3rd party aggregation.

Even Flip Board, which I use on my iPhone and iPad to keep up with blogs and the like does not allow direct RSS input. You have to search for the feed and hope that the app can find it and then add it to your collection of things to follow.

Now that said, I think that RSS will remain as a form of back-end coding, the kind of thing that people who know websites will still use to manage data feeds, but fewer and fewer end users will be entering RSS feeds into a reader.

Case in point, my dad wants to follow my web novels. But for him it was not easy to get his "reader" (I have no idea what he uses) to grab the feed and make it available. I daresay that the future will be Twitter (as Fiona pointed out) or direct emails. Since we have our email on us 24/7 now with our phones, getting updates via email isn't quite as removed from our lives as it was 10 years ago when we had to block out time to dial in and down load it.

I had a friend working on software to take rss feeds for stories and turn them into epubs, waiting to download into your reader every morning. Don't think it ever took off.

I use RSS to keep track of webcomics and serials. But I use Google reader, which is dying. That said, its dying because there are so many other rss feed readers out there. There is a plethora, and google decided they weren't adding anything to the noise. I for one thought it was a well done reader, but enh. So im on the lookout for a new one.

Twitter is too cluttered and chaotic, and Facebook's audience reach is too limited. I wonder if it's less that they're going out of fashion, more that people want them to go out of fashion. For a start, reading posts in an RSS reader doesn't generate site traffic/ad revenue...

I get a huge amount of hits on my RSS feeds (that is, the RSS on my websites). I know I have a whole chunk of readers who use it to stay up-to-date with the story.

I really don't think that Twitter or Facebook are equivalent replacements for RSS feeds. These might provide click-throughs to the content, but you can't read the actual posts there, and every time a reader is forced to click through to something, you risk losing that reader. The whole idea of RSS is to make the content easier for people to get, and this seems like a backwards move to me.

Hubs and central sites might be a suitable replacement, if they existed. Currently, this kind of 'feed' is available through sites like and Tumblr, but having looked into it recently, this means duplicating content (you can't import RSS-type feeds into these, as far as I could find). There is a feed-hub for web comics somewhere (I think someone linked to it on here recently?), and maybe this will be the way to go.

To answer the original questions - I'll definitely keep RSS on my sites. It's no extra trouble for me (thank you, Wordpress), and I like to provide as many options as I can for readers, so they can do what suits them to access my story. I don't think RSS as a mechanism go away any time soon, whatever Google does.

Always good to keep an eye out for better ways to package it up for readers, though. I like readers. Readers are nice.

Google isn't giving up on RSS itself, just support for the application and primarily I think because they're not willing to support something that either hasn't been easily monetized for them or they see as a driver back to Google sites/apps. (They discontinued ads a while ago on the feed which suggests to me that the ads weren't working well.)

With Digg and other startups like Feedly all talking about throwing in on developing (or promoting) replacements for the Reader, I don't think the method of reading via compiler/aggregator is going to go away. However, both groups have talked about making the feed a more social experience, i.e., promoting "sharing."

I don't think twitter, RSS, and FB audiences intersect much from what data I see. RSS via some kind of feedwatcher was a decent factor in terms of driving traffic to my serial, but honestly direct traffic I think was best.

(Then again, I didn't start using RSS until I started following more blogs and comics with erratic posting schedules. I'm a person who actually prefers to get my notice of updates via Twitter since I am pretty active on it for work and personal reasons...)

RSS won't be going anywhere as it is a pretty fundamental protocol based on XML.

With the shuttering of Google Reader, it is actually getting talked about again. Like geocities! (whose tombstone has a scrolling marquee)

The RSS standard promotes mix-your-own, self-curated networks of content. While externally curated networks provide ways to find new content (Huffington Post, Reddit) they don't solve the problem of how to maintain a relationship, e.g. OKCupid vs. sending a text message to your sweetheart. There's not much money to be found in a direct relationship. RSS provides the latter. Third-parties don't (and I think won't) find any monetary incentive to enable that interaction.

That being said, I don't think that RSS will go away. It's comparatively easy to write a RSS processor/aggregator. What Google provided was an excellent user experience and single sign-on. the lack of either of those pieces won't kill RSS, especially for readers who have a strong incentive to find a reader.

Project wonderful does RSS feed ads (questionable content uses it, I know). Depending on what's in your feed, you can run other ads, and if you only put a teaser in the feed, with a link back to the site, then you still get your eyeballs on it.