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.