csmonitor.com offers syndication feeds

Written by Adrian Holovaty on October 28, 2002

This just in: The Christian Science Monitor now offers syndication feeds in RSS format.

Twelve feeds are available, from topical feeds such as "Top Stories" and "Sci / Tech" to the broader "Entire Paper by Section."

The latter is particularly notable because, to my knowledge, it's the first time a major news site has made its entire contents available in a single public RSS feed. In early September, BBC News made select topical feeds available, but the site stopped short of syndicating everything.

The Monitor's Joel Abrams, Partnership Development Specialist, had this to tell me:

I'm really excited by this -- this is such a great, almost-zero-cost [way] to reach new people.

A few thoughts: I forget where I first saw the comparison of news aggregators to Napster, but it definitely applies: content is going to get out there and be aggregated, outside of its original context. A few people in our organization were a bit scared by that. But unlike Napster, the publisher still benefits from users coming to the web site and reading the whole story. And publishing in RSS seems a great way to get that elusive mindshare of users.

And this is just a start. Joel also told me there will be "a lot more coming in the next month or two." According to the site's syndication page, readers should expect "RSS feeds for news briefs, MonitorBlog, Daily Update, and more."



Posted by Dave Winer on October 28, 2002, at 10:25 p.m.:

The NY Times syndicates everything in RSS. Let me know if you want a pointer. dave@userland.com

Posted by Adrian on October 28, 2002, at 10:40 p.m.:

Dave, I'm familiar with the NYT's RSS syndication, but I don't believe the paper has "made its entire contents available in a single public RSS feed," as the Monitor has done. Rather, the Times only has topical feeds. You can't get every article in a single feed.

Also, I was under the impression the official NYT feeds were only available to Radio UserLand users -- *not* to the general public.

Posted by Dave Winer on October 28, 2002, at 10:52 p.m.:

Okay, but I don't see why it makes such a big difference that they're all available in a single feed. And for all practical purposes they are availalbe to everyone not just Radio users.

Posted by Adrian on October 28, 2002, at 11:25 p.m.:

It's a convenience thing, and it's a personal-preference thing.

Having all the stories in a single feed encourages people to read more stories -- including stories they wouldn't have read otherwise if they subscribed only to, say, a "sci/tech" feed.

I've heard it called the "newspaper vs. online" effect: In a print newspaper's "A" section, you're likely to read more stories, because everything's thrown at you; you're likely to see a random story that you never would have sought out actively. Online, you read only what you want, so you don't have as broad of a newsreading experience; you miss out on stories that you might have enjoyed.

I like the approach csmonitor.com has taken: Offer a broad feed *and* topical feeds.

Posted by clapper on October 28, 2002, at 11:40 p.m.:

Where are the NYT RSS feeds Dave talks about? I thought you needed Radio to view them.

Posted by kpaul on October 29, 2002, at 7:30 a.m.:

This is a very healthy step in the right direction.

I'm fairly certain text ads will be the next big thing and they'll be meshed within RSS feeds fed to lots of different devices.

Also, I'd also like to see the content from forums put into an RSS feed. Now that would be cool (for some of us ;)

Posted by Steve Yelvington on October 29, 2002, at 4:15 p.m.:

I wrote some forum software back in the 20th century that supports an RSS 0.91 feed of recent post headlines. It's trivial to do.

Posted by anonymous on October 29, 2002, at 5:41 p.m.:

This raises an interesting question... we've had feeds here at the Voice for months, but I'm at a loss as to how to promote them. We've got auto-discovery LINK tags on the relevant pages, but I haven't bothered with putting orange XML buttons up because they're yield a lot more bewildered emails than satisfied syndication users.

I know there are central repositories for the thousands of RSS feeds out there, and maybe it's just the UI of those sites, but I haven't found anything I'd send a reader to that would help them understand why these feeds exist, what they're for, and how they could use them.

So, how should we promote our feeds?

Posted by Adrian on October 29, 2002, at 8:03 p.m.:

Yeah, the UIs for the RSS repositories leave much to be desired.

A good, simple solution for the Voice might to discuss RSS in the site's "About" section -- offer a link to the feed(s), and explain what RSS is and how to use it. That appears to be what csmonitor.com is doing, although it doesn't appear the page is linked-to from anywhere yet.

Also, good old-fashioned self-promotion wouldn't hurt. Let some of the RSS bloggers know -- Dave Winer, Mark Pilgrim, Ben Hammersley, et al. I'm sure they'd be happy to spread the word.

Posted by Jay Small on October 29, 2002, at 9:49 p.m.:

It also never hurts to have "XML" and/or "RSS" in places on your site where they will be readily indexed by the major searchers. Most people who are interested in carrying RSS feeds will search actively for them.

Providers of open-source content management systems (Slash, the Nuke forks etc.) often prepackage lists of available RSS feeds managers can implement after installing. So it also wouldn't be a bad idea to post announcements on the forums for the major CMSes, so the feed will be on their radar, too.

Posted by kpaul on October 30, 2002, at 12:19 a.m.:

Steve, I know they're easy to do, but no one (afaik) is doing it yet. At least not in a big way...

Posted by Adrian on October 30, 2002, at 12:26 a.m.:

Comment RSS feeds have been offered by a few bloggers. I thought about implementing such feeds here but wasn't sure there'd be a demand.

Posted by kpaul on October 30, 2002, at 6:06 a.m.:

Thanks for the link, Adrian.

I guess it would depend on the traffic. (g) It would be cool to have it for a site like K5.

Posted by Anil on October 30, 2002, at 4:44 p.m.:

(oops, that anonymous comment up there was me)

Posted by Derek on October 31, 2002, at 7:44 p.m.:

The NYT's RSS files are available at http://partners.userland.com/nytRss/

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