inessential by Brent Simmons

More about RSS and links and permalinks

I have a few more notes about RSS and links and permalinks...

Guids may be permalinks

Many people have the misconception that guid in RSS 2.0 is not a permalink. Actually, it may be a permalink, and by default it is a permalink. Here’s the guid section of the spec.

Getting the permalink from the guid is the right thing to do, unless the guid says that it’s not a permalink.

For RSS 1.0 feeds I use the rdf:about attribute as the permalink (and as a unique identifier).

Two ways of looking at posts

There appear to be two ways of thinking about posts in an aggregator.

One is that when you’re reading in an aggregator, you’re looking at the post itself.

The other is that you’re looking at a kind of link to the post, but not the post itself.

Both are valid. And you may tend toward one view or the other, but it can change depending on if a feed provides full posts or summaries.

Choice is good

Some people have remarked that the feed should specify whether or not to use permalinks or external links.

But that’s the situation we have now, and people complain about it.

The better situation is when feeds provide both permalinks and external links, and users of newsreaders can decide which to prefer.

I’ve decided to make it a pref in NetNewsWire. Unfortunately, it really is a preference, in that it can’t guarantee to always use permalinks or always use external links. Some feeds have both, some don’t, and the software can’t always tell.

Who doesn’t want more traffic?

Keola Donaghy asked this question. Most people do want more traffic, I think, and preferring permalinks means more people would go to your site, and you’d get more traffic.

However, not everybody wants more traffic. Many people have to pay for bandwidth.