Automating feed subscriptions

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The idea of getting a browser to handle a feed correctly when it encounters an appropriate MIME type is gaining steam. Randy put together a spec for how to configure your feeds to handle what he’s calling the Universal Subscription Mechanism. By adding a bit of code to your feeds, any feed reader that understands the spec and registers itself as the RSS helper app for your browser can automatically handle feeds when you open an RSS document on the web.

Randy’s taken things a step further and written a small shim for Windows that works with your browser to pass feeds off to My Yahoo.

We’ve also added support for this to Pheedo, so in addition to inserting ads into your feeds, you can also easily USM-enable your feeds.

Trackback from
January 18, 2005 5:52 PM

USM is moving forward

Excerpt: Adam Kalsey: We’ve also added support for this to Pheedo, so in addition to i...

Trackback from The RSS Blog
January 18, 2005 5:57 PM

Pheedo is USM

Excerpt: Randy: Adam's the first mover. 999 million bloggers, hosting services and clients to go. Adam also sent me a bunch of great ideas to improve the USM client. I'll add new aggregators. If you want your aggregator added to the USM client, then send me an ...

January 18, 2005 8:31 PM

bad, bad idea. Spammers will exploit this in a second. I would hate for my bloglines account to get all these extra feeds just because I was tricked into clicking on a link. Think "spyware" and why it's such a problem even though people have to give permission for the download. This could turn out to be the same.

Adam Kalsey
January 18, 2005 11:16 PM

That argument doesn't hold much water. People don't try and trick you into viewing a newsgroup even though the news:// protocol does almost exactly the same thing as this. There isn't a rash of people sending email that they didn't intend to because they were tricked into clicking a mailto link. Verification of intentions is a client-side problem. The client should present the feed to the user, including all the items, and ask what they want to do with it. They may choose to subscribe, or they might just be looking at the feed once to see what's in it. Clients that automatically add feeds into any sort of permanent subscription list without first asking the user will not be used for long. Spyware gets in through piggybacking on a useful download (Like 180 Solutions), by providing some useful functions (like Gator or HotBar), or through browser security holes. Spyware is an entirely different issue and bears no relation to a feed subscription.

April 22, 2005 9:38 PM

…good idea but I think in future popular browsers will be able read and manage popular xml based feeds without assistance.

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