When comparing requests for my RSS 0.91 and RSS 2.0 feeds, I've noticed that the 2.0 feed is fetched more often than the 0.91 feed. It's roughly 45% versus 55% right now. Both Bloglines and My Yahoo seem to prefer the 2.0 feed, which greatly amplifies the distribution of my 2.0 feed in a way that Apache log mining does not account for unless I look for the readership info they both leave behind.

Every news reader I know of handles 0.91 and 2.0 equally well. So this got me to wondering... What would happen if I stuck in a server-side HTTP redirect such that anyone asking for my 0.91 feed would instead get my full-content 2.0 feed?

Would anything break? Would it lead to any nasty surprises?

I'm not particularly anxious do this. I'm just kind of curious to know what would happen if I did.

Posted by jzawodn at July 12, 2004 09:10 PM

Reader Comments
# Mark Fletcher said:

At least in the case of Bloglines, once we see a permanent redirect for 7 consecutive days, we automatically transfer all the subscribers from the old feed to the new feed. If the new feed was already in the system, as I think is the case with yours, then the old feed is marked as a duplicate, so any future reference goes to the new feed.

on July 12, 2004 10:36 PM
# eroc said:

Nice move. People say there are too many RSS versions, and people say that increasing the number of versions is also bad.

It follows then that either RSS stops evolving, or older versions get retired. The RSS Advisory Board should be advocating the active deprecation of 0.9x feeds, providing how-to docs for migrating to 2.0, and pretty well slamming the recalcitrants for harming RSS.

on July 12, 2004 11:07 PM
# Matt said:

Bloglines seems to take a few days to "register" any type of change with an RSS feed. And a re-direct is a perfect example.

As soon as I started using an RSS feed, combined with PHP (to produce the feed), Bloglines said it couldn't find my feed. Then a day or two later, it was working all of a sudden.

As far as the different versions of RSS, I wish somebody would clear things up too, but it doesn't look to happen anytime soon. Just another example of the "technology overload" that web developers go through.

on July 13, 2004 04:26 AM
# Dave Winer said:

I think it would continue to work, although I haven't looked at your feeds.

To eroc, although I'm no longer on the RSS Advisory Board, I'd recommend against that, although there was a time when I secretly agreed that all 0.91 feeds should become 2.0 feeds.

What turned me around was the BBC. They use 0.91, and it works perfectly for them. I thought perhaps they could use a guid, but they never re-issue stories, so it wouldn't make their feed better. Sometimes really low tech is the right solution.

But I guess that Jeremy does, from time to time, edit his posts, and guid would be a good thing for him.

If you provide the URLs of your feeds, Jeremy, I'll have a look if you like.

And congrats on the Oddpost deal. They're really wonderful people, you'll have fun working with them.

on July 13, 2004 05:12 AM
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on September 26, 2004 08:03 AM
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