Do You Still RSS?

The fifth anniversary of the passing of Google Reader went largely unremarked in most circles, but there was some coverage on Techdirt and other sites (Wired even called for a revival of RSS).

RSS largely died with Google Reader; development of the RSS standard (and the Atom standard that replaced it) had petered out years before, and aside from a brief surge in new apps in 2013, we haven’t seen a new feed reader service in years.

Nevertheless, a lot of us still use RSS on a regular basis, and I was wondering just how many people are still using RSS as much as they did 5 years ago.

I’ll go first.

I am still using BazQux Reader, the app I switched to from Google Reader 5 years ago (in fact, I had to pay the annual subscription on 2 July). I still have over two thousand RSS feeds in Bazqux, but they are not half as useful as they used to be.

I checked with Feedly* and discovered 843 of the feeds I follow are now dead because either the site went away or moved its RSS feed in an update, and another 621 feeds are inactive  (new posts are only published a few times a year).

All of those feeds used to be alive with at least weekly updates, but in the past five years most of their owners have moved from owning their own platform to being, as Mike Masnick pointed out, trapped in one or another social media silo (Facebook, Twitter, etc).

How about you? Do you still RSS?

* If you use Feedly, you can check how many dead feeds you follow by opening the “organize” menu.

image by Phil Denton

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

67 Comments

  1. Steve11 July, 2018

    I still use RSS on a daily basis.

    I switched initially from Google Reader to Feedly, but when it started having issues with some of the sites that I track, moved to NewsBlur.

    1. Nick Parsons12 July, 2018

      I use RSS on a daily basis as my main source for news, entertainment, and all around good laughs. I even built an RSS reader called Winds (https://getstream.io/winds) to make RSS look good again. Check it out!

  2. Jeffrey Brenner11 July, 2018

    I still RSS daily. I use Inoreader which I like a lot. Many of my feeds have vanished. I’m using Twitter to RSS to replace these.

  3. Roberto11 July, 2018

    I tried a few readers when GR went out of the market; Feedly is the one I still use, but I miss the simplicity of Google Reader.

  4. Alexey11 July, 2018

    I use

  5. Adrian11 July, 2018

    Daily.

  6. Ed Bear11 July, 2018

    I use QuiteRSS daily. It’s still an invaluable source for the sites I follow.

  7. Zinc Whiskers11 July, 2018

    Went from Bloglines to Google Reader to Feedly.
    Can’t believe it’s been 5 years.

    Still using Feedly as my Home Page every morning…

  8. The Rodent11 July, 2018

    Daily using Thunderbird “Blogs & News Feeds” for RSS, and have about 120 blogs that I follow.

  9. Antonio Gallego11 July, 2018

    I use rss daily via Inoreader

  10. Michelle in Colorado11 July, 2018

    I use Newsblur all the time.

  11. Art Kavanagh11 July, 2018

    I came late to RSS. For a long time, I couldn’t really see the point: I was more inclined to visit the websites regularly. It was when I got a Nokia N800 in 2007 that I became enthusiastic about RSS. I never had anything like 2,000 feeds, though. At one stage, I pruned them down from maybe 200 to 21, keeping only the sites that were updated irregularly. I never used Google Reader, preferring NetNewsWire and Safari’s built-in feed reader. Then Apple dropped support in Safari and I couldn’t find an alternative I liked as much, so I gave up. Recently, I’ve started to use WordPress’s Reader but I’m following only maybe a dozen sites.

    1. Art Kavanagh28 July, 2018

      I just learned about this free, open source, macOS only, not yet syncing feed reader by Brent Simmons (who was originally responsible for NetNewsWire). It won’t suit everybody but it’s just what I was looking for https://ranchero.com/evergreen/

  12. Cole Mak11 July, 2018

    I use Newsblur and follow about 430 odd feeds (including the-digital-reader.com).

  13. Cyril11 July, 2018

    Daily with reeder on my iPhone. Actually 95% of your articles are read using reeder. I subscribed to feed wrangler aeons ago and enjoy its uptime.

  14. Robert11 July, 2018

    Until two years ago I have been using RSS daily but somehow that became less. For two months I have thoroughly sorted out my subscribed feeds and am now busy reading again. I use Thunderbird as a reader.

  15. jim11 July, 2018

    absolutely. Feedly every day

  16. Von Allan11 July, 2018

    I use RSS everyday. I heavily incorporate it into Mozilla Thunderbird and it is a fantastic way to stay on top of things.

  17. Bill Peschel11 July, 2018

    Feedly daily. I had to cut back on my reading diet severely, so I use it for about 40 sites. Haven’t had any problems with it.

    By comparison, I use Facebook’s feed from about 4 pages (The Author Biz and 20Booksto50K among them), and otherwise rarely go there.

  18. Julie11 July, 2018

    Yes, I use Bazqux on my PC, Bazqux through FeedMe on my Android phone. I should probably go through and clean out dead feeds.

  19. Chris11 July, 2018

    Absolutely, never stopped. Use Feedly every day.

  20. Drew11 July, 2018

    Feedly, daily.

    Two notes on your post. 1) The RSS standard didn’t “peter out”, it was frozen. That’s how standards are supposed to work. And 2) Atom didn’t replace it. It was a later spec that tried to address the same needs, but as far as I can tell was never as widely adopted.

    1. Nate Hoffelder11 July, 2018

      First, Atom – yes, I know it is a different standard but the thing is a lot of people lump it under the same term “RSS”.

      As for freezing the standard, that is a good idea for any given version of a standard. Declining to develop the next version of the standard, however, is so inconceivable that I didn’t think anyone would do it. The development had to have fallen apart because no one would be dumb enough to intentionally stop.

      1. Tim15 July, 2018

        Standards sometimes stop at a particular level when they are “good enough” and there’s no compelling use case to demand re-examination. In the case of RSS I think once the standard supported “enclosures” which allowed things like podcasting, it met 99.9% of the needs for feeds and so it kind of stabilized there.

        1. Nate Hoffelder16 July, 2018

          Don’t tell me that there was no room for improvement; they could have developed something like this in RSS 3.0:
          https://adexchanger.com/podcast/washington-post-builds-tech-that-dynamically-inserts-ads-into-podcasts/

          1. Drew17 July, 2018

            As a consumer of podcasts, I wouldn’t view that as an improvement.

            1. Nate Hoffelder17 July, 2018

              people have to make money somehow

          2. Steve17 July, 2018

            Actually, Nate, I think that’s a legitimately interesting example of what not to do with a standard.
            The best and longest enduring standards define their scope clearly and stick to it.
            RSS is a standard for “syndication”, and interprets that primarily as a matter of notification. As such, it makes as few assumptions about the media being delivered as possible (basically, that they can be uniquely identified via a URL).
            New ways of preparing or delivering media are outside the scope of that standard and should stay out! They belong in some other standard entirely.
            Consider: I can use RSS to notify people of newly available or changed HTML pages and PDF documents. But the HTML and PDF standards are not part of the RSS standard, and that’s entirely as it should be!
            Now, if you wanted to suggest that notification were not the entirety of “syndication” and that RSS 3.0 should allow publishers to more clearly express an organization to their published items or relationships between them (e.g., this article is an update/correction/retraction of that one), that would be in the right ballpark.
            In the meantime, though, kudos to the gatekeepers of RSS for keeping it simple and relatively free of featuritis.

            1. Nate Hoffelder17 July, 2018

              Steve, the first draft of this comment said something to the effect that if RSS were about notification then you wouldn’t see whole blog posts in this site’s RSS feed; instead you would see a link. But then I reread your comment, and looked into the standard again, and I got the impression that putting a whole blog post in the feed is actually a bastardization of the standard.

              Is that correct?

              Whether it is a bastardization or not, I would argue that the way RSS is most commonly used means that it is about delivery, not notification. And that leaves lots of room for improvement, including things like adverts, authentication (logged in subscribers get a full article, but no one else does), and so on.

  21. Julian Orton11 July, 2018

    Pretty much stopped when Google Reader went. Unless you count Flipboard – Daily.

  22. Paul11 July, 2018

    Yes, over 800 web sites, in feedly but viewed through Reeder on the Mac/iOS

  23. Anthony11 July, 2018

    I still use RSS every day, as it means not manually checking multiple websites for update, (or hoping I catch their tweet/Facebook post—the latter made difficult thanks to Facebook’s algorithms. For a reader, I use Feedly.

  24. Bruce11 July, 2018

    NetNewsWire. I never understood why RSS lost popularity. I monitor my 2 dozen or so sites with a quick glance and a scan of items I want more than a 5 line summary of. Way better than than the dozens of emails and notifications my partners gets…

  25. Michael Anderson11 July, 2018

    Still use RSS daily for hundreds of feeds across a bunch of info types – and use Feedly. For me it gives the most ‘Reader-like’ experience. That said, given how much time I spend on iPad I do NOT use the Feedly app – because it sucks. I use the website there as well.

  26. paul11 July, 2018

    I use SharpReader’s RSS feeder. It’s long gone, but I like the layout and would not switch. I read 10 feeds and that is enough to keep me busy reading.

  27. MD Presley11 July, 2018

    I read this article off of RSS. I have to do social media for work and my book, so it’s the only way to keep abreast of all the headlines without having to go to each site. Too bad so few sites have them now. Or blogs (damn you blogspot!)

  28. Vikarti Anatra12 July, 2018

    I use RSS with Newsblur (+Full-Text RSS tool from fivefilters.org) to check on my news collection.

  29. Angela Korra'ti12 July, 2018

    Still do RSS, yep. Like several other commenters, that’s how I read this blog.

    Feedly’s my main source of RSS but I’ve also got a local copy of the open source reader Vienna on my laptop, which I use to read friends-locked journals on Dreamwidth. I use Reeder for the Feedly feeds as well, both on my laptop and on my phone.

  30. Lisandro12 July, 2018

    I started using RSS a long time ago in Thunderbird. Nowadays I still follow more than 200 feeds daily in Brief (a Firefox add-on). It’s sadly true that there are a lot of missing or crippled feeds but some useful tools (rss-bridge, RSS Box, Politepol) mitigate this creating proper feeds for most websites and social media silos.

  31. Josh Gunderson12 July, 2018

    I still utilize RSS/Atom extensively, via Inoreader.

    Other than email services or search engines, if a site doesn’t have a feed I likely don’t see any of their content.

  32. Gwenhael12 July, 2018

    Every day through Nextcloud’s News app.

  33. Jeffery Land12 July, 2018

    I use Feedly daily, though I still miss the old Opera’s RSS reader.

  34. André12 July, 2018

    I use Tiny Tiny RSS daily.

  35. aus12 July, 2018

    I use BazQux Reader daily. Easily the best of all the readers I have tried.

  36. Robert Spencer12 July, 2018

    Feedly, daily.

  37. Ana12 July, 2018

    Yes, Inoreader daily, I don’t have Twitter or Facebook accounts, so anyone who has moved there has lost me as reader. Anyway, I tend to be interested in blogs with more developed content than a short sentence, so I have never seen the appeal of twitter to keep me informed, and Facebook usually has the same content I end up receiving in WhatsApp from one of my friends.
    For work related content (technical information) it’s still more useful following the gurus blogs and asking/following forums.

  38. Mike12 July, 2018

    I still use RSS myself but am afraid it has begun to fade for a long time now.

    The main problem with RSS is that you can’t see it.

    Browsers have removed the RSS icon long time ago, about the same time Google introduced the chromecast icon, its similarities makes me think it wasn’t a mistake.

    I’m using Feedly and checked the organise feed page.

    Among the tech savvy sites I found:
    * People had started a new platform that didn’t have RSS.
    * Page that still had <link…rss but pointing to the wrong page.

    Instead of making a separate page serve the feed we could add the meta data to the page that already show the list of posts.
    Though the problem of visibility is still there, You can't see if you forget to add the metadata.

    A solution might be something alike today's page monitoring services.
    Third party services with the sole purpose to monitor changes and report them.
    Feed readers could simply scan the blog page for changes and group them as individual posts.

    But we already have the end solution to all of this. Why bother integrating thousands of separate systems using RSS when you could simply have them all connect via one hub such as twitter or facebook.

    1. Anderson Nascimento Nunes4 September, 2018

      Why wait for sites to offer feeds? What I do is convert html pages to atom feeds.

      Google Search? Facebook? Twitter? I convert all this and much more. Forums? Search pages on e-commerce sites? Yes, yes, yes!

      This way I can use my feed reader to filter everything with a blacklist of regular expressions, then send the updates as e-mail messages. Doing this I don’t waste time with content I already know I don’t want to see, as it is all filtered automatically. Plus some keywords are highlighted to make it easier to eyeball some categories of content.

      I can easily check 1000+ pages multiple times per day and not see a single advertising.

      These companies don’t need to know what I like and what I don’t like. I do my own computing and don’t need their black box algorithms.

  39. Michael Sautter12 July, 2018

    Yes, everyday with https://www.Netvibes.com

    1. Erik Marshall12 July, 2018

      Looks nice!

  40. Kevin M12 July, 2018

    I use RSS daily via Newsblur. I get very frustrated when I visit a blog that has no feed.

  41. Tracy Cooper-Posey12 July, 2018

    I get all my morning news via RSS feeds, using Inoreader. I follow over 200 feeds.

    In fact, I found this post in my reader. 🙂

    t.

  42. c12 July, 2018

    Almost daily.

  43. Erik Marshall12 July, 2018

    I saw this post via RSS on Feedly, so, yup. I stopped for awhile but now it’s my homepage again.

  44. Tom S12 July, 2018

    I use Feedly nearly daily for around 100 feeds. And of course a podcast app, which uses RSS feeds.

  45. Stefan12 July, 2018

    I love RSS and use it daily, for example to read The Digital Reader. I use “Selfoss”, the RSS-Reader you can install on your own server.

  46. Barney12 July, 2018

    Been using Feedly since Google Reader bit the dust. Can’t imagine life without RSS. Haven’t had any issues with my favorite sites / blogs / podcasts cancelling feeds.

    I mainly use Feedly for browsing rather than reading, though. I send the interesting posts / articles to Instapaper and read them later.

  47. Al Kendall12 July, 2018

    Like many Google I used Google Reader until it was discontinued then switched to and stuck with Feedly. I use it every day although 50% of the 350 feeds I followed are now dead. I still find RSS feeds vital and check them daily. Any site that I visit and have I check to see if a feed is available.

  48. Russ12 July, 2018

    RSS every day, including this blog. 83 working feeds total for me.

    Also, it’s not correct to say “…we haven’t seen a new feed reader service in years.” I use Mosaiscope, which is a service and reader all in one that came out in December 2015 (so lets round up and call it 2016). It’s been bad ass and it’s Pinpoint Bookmarking feature (allowing me to bookmark down to the exact word I left off at in an article) is mind-blowing (iOS only as far as I have seen).

    I do agree that development of the RSS standard has basically stopped, but there has been a little development in this space generally with the creation of JSON Feed (https://jsonfeed.org/) in the last year-ish. Maybe to little to late, but I think it shows that people do care about independent feeds, even if it’s an uphill battle to fight the “platforms” (Facebook, Twitter…) that control this space now.

    My guess is that it (RSS) will either stay at the level it currently is, or someone will figure out a creative way to fight back and RSS, or something like it, will rise to be a bigger player once again. Heck, WordPress is opensource and owns ~25%+ of the website market. I feel like that’s only a good sign for what RSS is capable of.

    Just my 2¢.

    Russ

  49. fahirsch12 July, 2018

    NetNewsWire, mainly on my iPhone, sometimes in my Mac

  50. Chris Meadows12 July, 2018

    I came across this post on GrazeRSS, which I use on my phone and all my tablets to keep track of techie information to potentially blog about.

  51. Chris Meadows12 July, 2018

    Incidentally, does anyone remember what came before RSS? “Push technology,” it was called. Best exemplified by Pointcast.

    Anyone else remember using Pointcast? Back in the day, it was my screensaver…

  52. Harry Underwood13 July, 2018

    I jumped on Feedly when Google Reader died, and I still use it. I have two Feedly accounts (one for politics, one for tech/etc), and I always find some new site to add to either one. Maybe there’s more to be done with RSS as a format or protocol, but it’s suprisingly resilient for a decade-and-a-half old protocol.

    TBH, I hope the future improvement to RSS isn’t to make it more “social-friendly”.

  53. That Guy13 July, 2018

    Tiny Tiny RSS daily. Bring back RSS, twitter is good for nothing but trolls.

  54. Quasar13 July, 2018

    Yes. I use feedly multiple times a say as my main news source. I only ever started using google reader because of the feedly front end and so just continued when feedly took over thebackend.

    I have over 300 feedins in it and like 10 have not been updated in the vlast 3 months.

    As for rss, I also use it to plugnin podcast feeds to things.

  55. James17 July, 2018

    Inoreader has been great, you can also add feeds from places like youtube, facebook, craigslist, and more.

  56. Tanya7 August, 2018

    I still use RSS on a daily basis, and so does almost everyone that listens to podcasts. I appreciated this post, but focusing solely on text-based RSS feeds does it a disservice. RSS underpins all of podcasting, as Dave Winer and Adam Curry intended. What does iTunes need to add your podcast, even today? The RSS feed!

    It is such a wonderfully flexible standard. I have a podcatcher on my phone for audio and video content. I can have blog posts delivered to me by email using Blogtrottr, so I don’t miss a post. I can get the RSS feed for a Twitter user or subject through TwitRSS.me, then pipe that through Blogtrottr to my email. Yeah, I’m essentially using my email as my text RSS reader, but that ensures I actually see it. That is the beauty. It can be all things, and present all formats (text, video, audio) dependent on how (the proverbial) you want to consume it. All the best!

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