Without getting into the semantics of the underlying technologies, I have believed that RSS is to the written word, what TiVo is to television. RSS, has been a ruthlessly efficient and rather simple way to keep in touch with the breaking developments in areas that interest. I have used three main services – PubSub, Feedster and Technorati – and set-up so more than two-dozen keyword searches that I end up finding even the most obscure feed that mentions say, the e911-VoIP debate.
It has been working well, but lately I have observed a few disturbing signs that can quickly turn RSS into yet another technology to avoid. RSS searches are now throwing up classifed listings from not just Craigslist but other sites. It shows the obvious shortcomings in the RSS search engines. This is going to be a bigger problem going forward – more and more people are indiscriminately churning out RSS feeds. Hey, when they set-up RSS only venture funds, you know it is the “loss of innocence.” But there is another evil lurking out there.
I find feeds from some dubious websites, which sole purpose is to output hundreds of RSS items and dupe people into clicking on some of the links. Others are simple commercial messages. For instance sites like VoIP-Information-Guide, is nothing but an affiliate site, that is just nothing but a whole lot of links and Google AdSense text ads. The RSS output of these sites includes google text ads, and Moreover news feeds. In many way I am impressed by the chutzpah of these folks’ ability to game the system, but at the same time it is also distressing because in the end it is going to completely pollute the RSS ecosystem. The RSS search companies like Feedster and Technorati will have to fight this, but how, I am not sure. Will RSS spam become as much a part of life as say email spam or spyware?