Follow @RoyOsherove on Twitter

Why is RSS adoption so low? Here's why.

Why is RSS adoption so low, asks Scoble? and the answer lies, of course, in the obvious. It's still too hard to start with it. And yes, I mean even the geeks I hang out with. Hell, even I find it less than tolerable sometimes. What do I mean?

You have to work hard to read RSS news

  • Find out what RSS means
    • Someone actually has to convince you to read RSS news, or you need to proactively find out what it means. Although a lot of sites are now starting to let out some feeds, its still not mainstream enough and a lot of times the XML icons are nothing more small decorative icons without so much as an explanation as to what they mean.
  • Find a news reader
    • Again, you have to proactively search for it or get a recommendation from a friend. You dont get a news reader that is built-in with windows. For example, how many people do you think would read newsgroups if Outlook express was not installed by default? Or if it had no newsgroup ability? Just to clarify how much this built-in means to the end user, consider that outlook express is by far one of the most down grade news readers out there, and that there are a lot of worthy and easy to use news readers that are free! How many do you know? How long did it take you to find out about them? What made you move over and use them? Would you ever use them if you didnt have outlook express installed in the first place?
  • Download and install it
    • Sometimes installing means unzipping a file to a folder and running an EXE, and sometimes its a full fledged installation program, but nevertheless, its still not as  easy as it should be (some advanced readers are starting to look more on the professional side though).
    • Sometimes the download site itself is a hobbyist site. This whole RSS thing is so new, it still has that open source feel to it. The download pages usually have huge technical links and history lists, programming resources and generally they are not user friendly unless youre a programmer, and even then not so much unless youre familier with the territory. In short, the download interface is not inviting enough and can even deter some people by giving it all a this is complex/serious feeling.
  • Find sites that give out RSS feeds
    • Yep. After going through all that crap up there, you still have not gotten to what you actually want news sources. Now you actually need to go out and proactively find RSS sources. There are some RSS directory sources out there, but its still hard to find them. Compare this with the built-in news group searching features found in all newsreaders and youre starting to see how this is a not so easy task for a newcomer. In fact, you actually need to know some sites you want to read prior to downloading an installing your news reader, or you wont find much use for it.

Now, all the steps Ive outlined here are not very hard to do individually, and may even be relatively easy in the technical sense, but this does not mean squat when we try to compare the usability of this whole shebag to what todays users are accustomed to. It is light years behind. Its much like comparing linux to windows as far as ease of use vs. power is concerned. Youll find plenty of similarities in that field.

Now, until we dont get all these things fixed, dont expect it to get better.

[Book] Coder To Developer

When you're new...