While RSS feeds are currently popular with weblogs and many news sites, they aren’t yet commonplace on many other kinds of sites that could benefit from them.
Below is a list of some Web sites I regularly consult for my professional work and personal interests that I dearly wish offered some kind of RSS feed. I’ve described how each could specifically be using RSS to offer unique value to its online audience. I’ll be updating this list periodically, and will announce developments here in CONTENTIOUS…
RSS is definitely not just for announcing news stories or weblog items. You can use it to announce ANY kind of information that gets updated periodically. In Overlooked RSS Opportunities I enumerated several kinds of content that would be perfect to announce via RSS feed.
I’m currently contacting the sites on my list using my form letters (general version, journalists’ version) to request that they start offering RSS feeds, and to give them resources for getting started.
You can do this too! My form letters are free for anyone to use. So go ahead and use them to nudge your favorte sites toward using RSS.
SITES I USE PROFESSIONALLY:
- US Chemical Safety Board, incident reports and news releases: This site is a goldmine for any reporter who covers environmental issues. CSB recently started publishing its press releases by e-mail (and they’re doing a good job with that). However, I’d read those releases much more often if I could get them by RSS feed. Also, CSB publishes incident reports timely announcements of very recent mishaps involving chemical explosions, leaks, fires, or releases. That kind of “breaking news” would be perfect for RSS.
- Edison Electric Institute: EEI is the trade association for US investor-owned utilities. They regularly publish lots of great content (backgrounders, fact sheets, news, etc.) offering the utility-industry perspective on a wide range of issues everything from legislation and regulation, to the environment, to technology. I would love to know, via RSS, when they’ve added such content to their site. So how about a “What’s New at EEI.org” feed?
- Energy Information Agency: Anyone who monitors the energy industry knows that the voluminous statistics published by this branch of the US. Dept. of Energy are a big deal. I’d like to see RSS feeds announcing new statistics and reports offered under nearly every link form EIA’s home page.
- US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), newsroom: Currently, EPA offers its press releases and other announcements via abysmally formatted e-mail alerts. I can’t even stand to read them, they’re so ugly. Half the time they get nabbed by my spam filter, anyway, because of inconsistencies in how they get sent out. I would love for EPA to not only publish its press releases by RSS feed, but also offer region-specific and topic-specific feeds not just for press information, but for public information and regulatory or science updates.
- MediaBistro: This site is great for keeping up with the media business, and they even offer e-mail alerts of freelance and staff job postings. That, and all of the content and services on this site, could and should be announced by RSS feed.
SITES OF PERSONAL INTEREST:
- The California Guitar Trio: Hands down, this is one of the best live-performance music groups I have ever seen. They usually play in the Boulder-Denver area once a year or so, and I never miss them. But what’s really cool is the way they use their site to build a relationship with their fans. Each of the Trio members maintains an online diary, including a photo diary by Hideyo Moriya. I would absolutely adore it if the Trio offered an RSS feed announcing new upcoming concert dates and any other fresh content added to the site.
- Intellicast: I live in Boulder, Colorado and so the outdoors is a big part of my life. Hence, I’ve got a strong interest in following the local weather. Intellicast offers an excellent custom weather forecast service, which I get by e-mail but I’d much rather get it by RSS. Interestingly, when you sign up to receive Intellicast’s e-mail custom weather forecast, they tell you pretty clearly that they know their messages get blocked as spam by a lot of ISPs, and that if you want to make sure you receive your forecast you need to add them to your whitelist. Um, hello, Intellicast? That wouldn’t be a problem for people who would get your forecast via RSS!
UPDATE: I STAND CORRECTED!
Earlier, the Motley Fool had been on this list, because I didn’t think they offered any RSS feed at all. In fact, they do as CONTENTIOUS reader Sarah Gilbert commented below. (Thanks, Sarah!).
As Sarah noted, the Fool’s feed is not easy to find. Their feed link appears only on this page, Motley Fool Headlines. Apparently, Fool has chosen to inform their readers about this feed in the very limited context of syndicating their feed by republishing Fool headlines on other sites.
While this limited approach is a start, it really sells RSS short.
First of all, the Fool could be advertising its feed widely (maybe on every page of the site) as a way to follow Fool news and advice without clogging up your e-mail in-box. Also, the Fool could offer RSS versions of all its e-mail newsletters, not just its news headlines. And why not a feed just for all those great online courses and special services they offer? There’s a rich variety of options yet to be explored here.