Good and Bad RSS Syndication Practices

I have been asked by a number of people to list what I consider are good and bad RSS syndication practices. I reserve the right to modify this list as thoughts and ideas come in that I think are worthy of adding to the list.

  • Good things Media Sites do with Syndicated Content
    • Attribution with Hyper link back to Content Origin Point
    • Original RSS Feed clearly seen and linked to.
    • No other confusing RSS links are associated media listing
    • Audio and Video Media is not altered or trans-coded
    • Audio and Video Media is not cached direct link only
    • Publishing Author Name on Media Listing
    • Make Listing Opt In
    • Claim a Feed
    • Pay content producers a revenue share on site advertising.


  • Bad things Media Sites do with Syndicated Content
    • Auto adding content versus asking to become listed!
    • Replace RSS feed with sites own.
    • Pre-Roll or Post Roll ads in the syndicated sites media player!
    • Not allowing one to claim there own feed.
    • Not allowing one to opt out.
    • Not linking directly to the media file.
    • Not honoring Creative Commons License.
    • Add to Digg etc links that drive people away from original content point.
    • Trans-coding media into a new format without permission.

4 thoughts on “Good and Bad RSS Syndication Practices

  1. Very good points. And more feeds/sites are specifying in their HTML meta tags Creative Commons or other licensing. However, there isn’t currently a standard mechanism for recognizing this in feeds. There is a ‘license’ element, but the contents of it are free-form.

    It would be useful if there was some straight-forward, machine-readable mechanism for specifying simple criteria of a feed, and even of individual items in a feed (for aggregation of multiple feeds into a single feed).

    For example, being able to specify via the license element, attributes for: attribution, commercial, derivatives, norestriction, and even the over-arching, dontaggregate. :)

  2. I think you need to explain “Opt-in” further. I never opted into Technorati, Google or Bloglines yet my feed is in each.

    Wouldn’t an opt-out (partly via robots.txt) be a better system? Opt-in makes network effect very difficult to take advantage of.

  3. I think the winner there is “Opt-in” unless you are a pure search play (which I think many services would try to spin).

    If I want to be in a network directory service thing, I’ll add myself, thanks.

    The devil’s advocate in this is, what’s the difference between a podcast network vs a and such. We don’t opt-in to Google, should we? And yes I realize that google leaves the links as is.. it’s more a conceptual issue.

    Ultimately, opt-in. (Side note: I haven’t updated many many podcast feeds for months and yet they are listed in various directories. That’s a neat trick, eh?)

  4. Great list Todd!

    Re: opt-in and claim:

    We will be adding a claim feed feature to, after we open the doors up to users, once we iron out a few bugs here and there.

    This will enable the feed publisher to access more info about the traffic garnered from their feed – and also open up other opportunities. And also opt out of the ‘feedpool’ if they so wish.

    However, we want people to find feeds through us, rather like I find a website via google (once our search is fixed up) – but I can’t imagine many feed publishers wanting to avoid being in the ‘feedpool’, in the same way that I doubt many people want to stop Google from indexing their public content for people to find.

    It depends on the content though, of course. ;)

    Hopefully, by Gnomedex I’ll have a lot more to say about all this, is also the importance and power of OPML, given the right tools, in relation to all of the above.


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