RSS Atom wars
The RSS Atom wars (or syndication wars) were a toxic plumbing debate about the merits of using Atom vs RSS that dragged in and distracted numerous high level web technologists from 2003-2007 while social silos (Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, etc.) emerged, rapidly innovated UX, and thus gained popular adoption.
Articles during this time period help illustrate the tensions and conflicts:
- 2003-06-28 Aaron Swartz: Dave Winer said… recalls perhaps the origins of the RSS Atom wars.
- 2003-06-29 A polite post by Ben Trott declaring the technical underpinnings for why an alternative to RSS was needed: Why We Need Echo quickly escalates into what would become the RSS/Atom wars:
- The subsequent one polite defensive comment
- And then as of the second comment the patronizing begins, and escalates into full on rudeness, strawmanning, expression of interpersonal dislike, personal attacks, and a darkly prescient prediction:
They just had no idea that the BigCo's that would step in and profit from this weakness had yet to be founded (Facebook, Twitter).
This whole discussion leads to BigCo's stepping in and profiting from the community's weaknesses.
- 2003-07-01 Corante / Clay Shirky: RSS, Echo, Wikis, and Personality Wars
- 2003-07-03 Ben Hammersley: Echo...echo...alright enough already
- 2003-09-20 Joi Ito: If I were Microsoft... starts with a vague reference
that is quickly misinterpreted to be about the RSS Atom wars with a reference to both ”RSS or Atom”, followed by arguments over RSS vs Atom vs CDF vs RDF.
If I were Microsoft I would probably like micro-content and metadata.
- 2003-09-21 Kevin Marks: How to Atomize (or de-atomize) Syndication
“…how Microsoft might approach the Syndication feud.”
- 2004-03-10 CMSWire: Blog Format Wars, RSS vs. Atom, Let There be RSSPeace
- 2004-03-10 Seth Finkelstein: RSS/Atom Wars - Peace In Our Time?:
[ALL CAPS EMPHASIS is from original]
How can you route around big media, revolutionize society, create new forms of participatory democracy, solve deeply complicated social problems ... when "we" CAN'T EVEN AGREE ON A FORMAT FOR WEB SITE CONTENT SYNDICATION?!
Really. Site syndication is a "little" problem. Nobody is going to literally die over it. Not like access to health care, or poverty, or world wars.
- 2005-11-22 Jon Udell: Dueling simplicities
- 2006-11-28 Rogers Cadenhead: Atom and RSS Go Together Like Peanut Butter and Bananas (see especially the comments)
- 2007-07-25 Richard MacManus: Syndication Wars 2007: Atom's Time is Nigh, With Google on its Side.
- 2008-03-10 Dr. Harry Chen: RSS and Atom in the Social Web
Subsequent posts/articles referencing the wars:
- 2018-04-08 Shane Becker: https://twitter.com/veganstraightedge/status/983062603483107329
- "Turns out that in 2018, “RSS” and “ATOM” are still trigger words for nerds." @veganstraightedge April 8, 2018
- 2018-09-16 The Rise and Demise of RSS
RSS would fork again in 2003, when several developers frustrated with the bickering in the RSS community sought to create an entirely new format. These developers created Atom, a format that did away with RDF but embraced XML namespaces.