Making feeds friendly
I think the concept of feeds is perfectly understandable for most Internet users. Instead of having to keep checking back on a page to see whether it’s changed, and then having to figure out what part is new, you can “subscribe” (which is free) to its “newsfeed” (or “feed” for short). Then to read what’s new you use a “feed reader”, which shows you anything that’s new and nothing that isn’t. No more wasting time checking for news that isn’t there.
So why do people keep talking about “RSS”? What does that stand for? And what’s this “syndicate” stuff I see sometimes on blogs — is it dangerous? What’s an “aggregator”? What’s XML?
Yeah, well, that’s just us geeks. Never mind us. (Really. If you doubt me, let me just point out that “RSS feeds” sometimes don’t use RSS at all, but Atom instead. There.)
All people need to know is feed, subscribe (and the orange button that means “subscribe to feed”), and that they’ll need to use a feed reader (like Google Reader — yes, Google makes one, so they can quit worrying about whether this is a safe thing to do).
One variation: blog reader is often a useful synonym for feed reader: oh, you’re reading a bunch of blogs now? You should make life easier for yourself by using a blog reader. (Today, most people use a reader for blogs only, but I expect that to change as other kinds of useful feeds gain in popularity.) Reader is fine too.
If I’ve missed any terms that need to be included in the feed terminology for the masses, please comment below. Otherwise, this is my call to action to stick to just the terms that are in boldface above.