12 Responses to “Don’t Be Alarmed – But I Want You to Kill Your RSS Feed
  • I have to respectfully disagree 🙂 It’s true I subscribe by email to blogs I really don’t want to miss (including Danny’s), but I like my Feedly because I can sort and categorize blogs I subscribe to, only have to read headlines until I want to click on something, and lets me curate content quicker and on my own time.

    And there is a caveat to the analytics you mention…a lot of people who subscribe to your RSS will Tweet or share your article (often viewing inside their reader without visiting your site), and thus driving traffic to your site from Twitter users even though the original referrer was using a RSS reader.

    Granted RSS is not perfect, it will hopefully evolve and become more user-friendly.


    • Hey there mate,

      No, you’re not allowed to disagree – that’s not how blogs work…. 😉

      Your point about headlines is exactly why RSS doesn’t work. Anyone can craft a good headline – hell, there are thousands of blog posts that advise on how to do that to encourage clickthrough – but often the headline is as good as it gets for these types of post. It’s why the likes of Triberr suck, because they’re encouraging one-click never-read mindsets, just to grow social proof.

      With regards the sharing from RSS, that’s only if the service allows it (many don’t, newer ones do – but then they’re more sophisticated examples of RSS feed services).

      Feedly is a weird one – I’ve had a bunch of conversations over on Facebook with folks whose Feedly has been hacked or contaminated, and instead of the posts that should be there, there are posts about green living, healthy lifestyles, etc. There seems to be a definite issue with that service that they haven’t addressed (or are unaware of).

      Cheers for the thoughts as always, fella!

      • Hey Danny,

        Thanks for the transparency in this post.

        You’re additional point about headlines in the comments is a gem. I’m a little tired with the vanity metrics that result from ‘consistent sharing’, with apps like Daily by Buffer compounding the ‘one-click-never-read’ mindset.

        Our goal as content creators is to draw the reader in with excellent content, and then nurture them through email to be a part of OUR community. Owning your community is the key here. Not feeding off someone else’s or tricking people into sharing your lifeless blog post with a catchy headline.

        When it comes to Feedly, my experience has been different. It’s a permanent fixture in my daily routine. I find it very valuable to collate content from a wider variety of sources than you are willing to have clog up your inbox. But that may be a personal choice. (Also not experienced any signs of hacking, or problems with Feedly)

        Either way, great provocative post Danny. Thanks for sharing.


        • Hey there Will,

          Great insight here:

          “Our goal as content creators is to draw the reader in with excellent content, and then nurture them through email to be a part of OUR community. Owning your community is the key here. Not feeding off someone else’s or tricking people into sharing your lifeless blog post with a catchy headline.”

          Exactly! It’s why I also loathe tools like Sniply, that encourage content sharers to actually drive traffic away from source.

          I’ve definitely heard good things about Feedly from many of its users – my example was of posts that I saw being shared on behalf of bloggers I knew didn’t write about these topics, and the core connector was they were all shared by Feedly. I checked the blogs on Sucuri, and they seemed fine. Very strange – more digging needed. 🙂

          Thanks for commenting, mate, appreciated.

    • Anneliz Hannan

    I have been following your writings on the RSS topic and this well written post has convinced me to return to email notifications for key blogs. I have been a person who has seesawed on this for some time. I started out with all emails and then it became unwieldy and switched to all via RSS. I neatly filed all of them by folder topics and that became overwhelming so I filtered many to a daily read folder and that soon became to top heavy that I was back to square one.

    Your statement “even that minimal filtering option soon became overrun and clunky” is where I am today. I also agree that because of this sheer volume I have found myself spending less time there. I still like the RSS reader as a glossary of sorts with blogs categorized to my personal preference and will reference when researching for a specific topic. It is the emailed blogs, however, that I commit the time to read daily and also take the time to comment upon.

    As far as for the authors, it is indeed a sign of my trust, loyalty and content endorsement when I subscribe via email whereas my RSS reader subscriptions has become much like an old telephone book or curated resource contact catalogue, they are listed but rarely accessed.

    • Exactly, Anneliz – how many bloggers are no longer receiving your “custom” (reads, comments, shares, etc) because you no longer see their updates or, more likely, ignore them because they’re no longer relevant?

      “RSS reader subscriptions has become much like an old telephone book or curated resource contact catalogue, they are listed but rarely accessed.”

      Your point here nails it perfectly.


  • Good analysis on RSS popularity as compared to other channels!

    Alas, there is one point I feel the urge to criticize: your analysis of RSS visit quality. People visiting from RSS feeds are more often repeat visitors, and by virtue of them being repeat visitors, they have already seen some parts of your site and have less new things to see. Therefore, the expected bounce rate for repeat visitors is higher than for new visitors. Thus, to conclude from a high bounce rate that these visitors are less valuable is not a valid conclusion. I would even suggest the contrary.

    To exemplify this via analogy: If I buy all my computer gear from a single store, is it bad that I also visit the store when I’m not going to buy anything? Not at all, that is an opportunity to strengthen the customer relationship and ensure that once I am again ready to buy something, that’s the store I’ll turn to instead of some other store.

    I do agree that the importance of RSS has been on the decline as a whole, but not because of visit quality.

    • Hey there Ville,

      Thanks for such a great comment and thoughts mate, appreciated.

      Perhaps it’s me (although I’ve heard the same from many other bloggers and business bloggers recently), but I don’t see RSS subs as repeating their visits. If anything (and to reference Anneliz’s point), they’re more like dusty relic collectors that rarely get out their treasures to look at.

      I totally get your analogy and, to a degree, agree with it – you don’t always need to buy to show loyalty. But by the same degree, I’m not sold on the idea of RSS subscriptions being loyalty builders.

      For one, you can hit “subscribe” on RSS immediately and done. Nothing else needed, and (often) because of this, no other interaction had, apart from an update in your reader that you may or may not open, read, etc.

      Email – you subscribe. If you’re in Canada, or somewhere where double-opt in is the law, that’s another interaction. Immediately you have twice the involvement, which is adding to the relationship building. Once you do that, you may have further choices – instant updates, weekly digests, delivery time preference, etc.

      Again, adding to the relationship, and all without visiting the store.

      These subscription actions at the start of the subscriber’s relationship with you put email above RSS (for me, at least), and mean something more than a one-click forget.


    • Jon Aston

    I agree with you on all points re email. Plus, to my knowledge, RSS never quite made it to 12% adoption among internet users. Outside of reaching other bloggers, digital marketers, tech-savvy journalists and the like – it never really had legs. That said, I still find it valuable as a media consumer/curator and strongly prefer it to email for that purpose – along with Flipboard. XOJA.

    • Hi mate,

      As a curator, RSS does have a place. As a useful curator with minimal effort, it’s not quite so good (although platforms like Flipboard and This. are making it much more manageable, even if they’re not “true” RSS Readers).

      Like you say, adoption among the tech-savvy was fine. Everyday consumers of content? Not so much. It’s like our mutual friend Tinu said over on Facebook:

      “It’s like demanding that our subscribers know about HTML and CSS in order to read web pages.”

      Couldn’t have put it better myself.

  • I’m so glad I wasn’t cool enough to get into RSS readers. Email has ALWAYS been king for me. I’m controlling like that – anything else has the ability to take my community from me. Screw that!!

    • mike ashworth

    i think the challenge with this is that if you open up your email inbox to notifications of new content, new comments, it may fast become something you cant get your head around. we may have a multiple email addresses for a variety of different things, or great ways to filter incoming emails. the vast majority of people around the world arent that tech savvy. Also, if you are scrupulous, and dont abuse that inbox privilege, someone else will, and it wont be jsut them that suffer, it will impact upon everyone who is communicating with them in that fashion. they may cull everyone. no easy answers i guess, some like rss, some like the aggregators, some like email, the choice will likely depend on industry and audience.

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