Winning RSS Nickname: Webfeed

The winning RSS nickname is: webfeed. This was entered by CONTENTIOUS reader Joshua Jabbour.

This winner was selected by my panel of judges. It also ranked second-highest in the popular voting. Although the nickname elert garnered a few more popular votes than webfeed, the judges believe that webfeed draws a clearer distinction between the concepts of RSS feeds and e-mail alerts.

This contest was rather contentious, and I expect that the winning name will not suit everyone. Well, nothing suits everyone – this is not a one-size-fits-all world. Personally, even I have mixed feelings about the term webfeed because one can publish online content by feed only. (That is, the feed may be the publication, and it may not be associated with new Web content.) However, this is a technical point, and a minor one at that, since the vast majority of webfeeds at this time do refer to updated Web content.

The larger issue is that this nickname eliminates an unnecessary acronym, thus making the concept of feeds more accessible and appealing to a general audience.

So for now, I’ll experiment with using the terms webfeed as well as the more generic feed. I’ll occasionally throw in the term RSS because it is currently popular among early adopters and thus would likely be used in search queries of this blog. Likewise I’m altering a category heading in this blog from “RSS Ramblings” to “Webfeeds (RSS)” to indicate transitioning terminology.

More thoughts on this contest…

First of all, after going through this experience, I’d have to agree with some of my critics – a contest probably wasn’t the best way to go about building popular consensus on a nickname for RSS feeds. I think the competitive element undermined the cooperative spirit and invited hostility and ridicule. Lesson learned.

However, this contest did also foster a fair amount of important and interesting conversation about how to popularize webfeeds. So in that sense, it was successful.

I have to say that for the most part the people who think RSS is the best term to use (mainly because it’s the common term used by early adopters, who are by and large technically-minded people) just don’t get it. When you’re trying to describe a communication medium (rather than a specific technology) to a general audience, acronyms are obstacles! And that’s the point here – webfeeds aren’t just the product of a specific technical standard, they’re a medium. The webfeed represents a new way of using the Internet, one that focuses solely on “what’s new” rather than “what’s out there.”

I don’t expect that the technical people who developed and were the early adopters of webfeeds will ever abandon their cherished RSS acronym, nor should they have to. If you prefer the term RSS, then by all means keep using it. If you prefer webfeed or the shorter feed, go for it. (By the way, my personal favorite entry to the nickname contest was snipples, even though I knew it didn’t have a prayer…)

The point of this contest was not about pleasing the technogeeks of the world, but rather about finding a term suitable for the majority of online users, who are fairly nontechnical. These are the people who like and can relate to terms such as Web, e-mail, and chat. These are people who want to enjoy the benefits of media and communication without being burdened by the supporting technology. They’ve got just as much right to use and enjoy webfeeds as the geeks, especially since they vastly outnumber the geeks.

WILL WEBFEED CATCH ON?

Who knows? I have no particular hopes or expectations in that regard. I know that I’m willing to try out the term, but I’m just as willing to abandon it if it ultimately doesn’t communicate well. We’ll see. Let me know if you hear it being bandied about.

21 thoughts on Winning RSS Nickname: Webfeed

Comments are closed.

  1. You say the name Webfeed isn’t that appropriate because one doesn’t need a website to publish a feed… But you’re forgetting that the feed is always (or am I missing something?) served through a website (http-protocol, world wide web), so I think the name is very appropriate after all.

  2. I’m inclined to say that it’s indicative of the general risk:reward ratio of changing the name that you now have a ghost page at /archives/cat_rss_ramblings.html and anyone who has linked to it will have no idea that this entry exists.

  3. I like it. A lot actually. I’ll start using it on my site.

    On of my problems with blogs is the dificulty explaining it to my friends and family. I wish “blog” wasn’t the popular term because the longer weblog explains it all when you really think about it.

  4. Re: Antonio’s comment that “webfeed” is an English term that doesn’t translate well — good point.

    I don’t think any Spanish nicknames were entered in this contest (although there were a few French ones), and none of those garnered votes in the public voting process. I think that reflects more the limitations of the contest format to this task than anything else. Like I said, it’s not a perfect approach.

    If someone else wants to come up with a more translatable term, I encourage you to go for it. There’s no reason the nickname for RSS needs to be Anglocentric (or Eurocentric, for that matter).

    - Amy Gahran
    Editor, CONTENTIOUS

  5. I love it! Next time I head to the mountains, I am going down to the Feed and Tack store in Payson, Arizona to see if they are now stocking web feed ;-)

    Despite probably landing in your “technogeek camp”, I enjoyed watching this unfold, though I am not changing anything as I use RSS and feed in equal proportions. Yet, I cannot really see that “webfeed” connotes any more meaning. Is it feeding the web? What is it feeding? Does it taste good?

  6. ¿Aceptamos webfeed como sustituto de RSS?
    Uno de los problemas que se le ha achacado siempre a los formatos de sindicación de contenidos es un laberinto de siglas y versiones (RSS 2.0, RSS 0.91, RSS 1.0, RDF, XML…). Atom parece el primer nombre con un poco…

  7. ¿Aceptamos webfeed como sustituto de RSS?
    Uno de los problemas que se le ha achacado siempre a los formatos de sindicación de contenidos es un laberinto de siglas y versiones (RSS 2.0, RSS 0.91, RSS 1.0, RDF, XML…). Atom parece el primer nombre con un poco…

  8. Nombre alternativo a RSS
    En ¿aceptamos webfeed como sustituto de RSS? se informa de la existencia de un concurso para encontrar un nombre más amigable a este formato para la sindicación de contenidos. En dicho concurso salió vencedor el término “webfeed”, sólo queda por…

  9. Nombre alternativo a RSS
    En ¿aceptamos webfeed como sustituto de RSS? se informa de la existencia de un concurso para encontrar un nombre más amigable a este formato para la sindicación de contenidos. En dicho concurso salió vencedor el término “webfeed”, sólo queda por…

  10. Do not call it RSS anymore. It’s WEBFEED
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  12. Io preferisco il termine RSS a Webfeed
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