When I did the transition to the new format of Scripting News over the weekend, I decided for the moment not to change the format of the feed. However I will do it, eventually -- and it's almost certain not to work well in some feed readers, maybe most of them.

One of the reasons I wanted to give it a little extra time is to create a time for feed reader devs who care to make the small changes necessary to accommodate title-less items.

Example #1


This is the feed for the noteblog. You probably should not subscribe to this feed because it will stop updating when the next transition happens. But it's an example of the kinds of items that will show up in the main feed.

Example #2


This is my original linkblog feed, going back to 2010.

All the items in this feed are title-less.


If developers want to handle the coming changes in Scripting News these two examples should be enough to make these feeds work in your software.

I explained the changes, and the reasons in this March 9 post.


Mike Rodriquez reports that Newsblur supports title-less feed items.

Here's how Chrome deals with title-less items. Not optimal!

And here's how River 3 deals with title-less items.

Feedly handles them a lot like Chrome.

03/17/14; 19:14PM

At some point, soon, the Scripting News feed will have items without titles. The body of these items are in their descriptions, as explained in the RSS 2.0 spec.

An item may represent a "story" -- much like a story in a newspaper or magazine; if so its description is a synopsis of the story, and the link points to the full story. An item may also be complete in itself, if so, the description contains the text (entity-encoded HTML is allowed; see examples), and the link and title may be omitted. All elements of an item are optional, however at least one of title or description must be present.

How we got here

Scripting News started in this format, and Frontier News before it.

Manila, the first CMS to produce RSS feeds, supported title-less items in feeds.

In 2006, Google Reader had gained dominance, and didn't support title-less posts. As a result Scripting News didn't look great in their reader, so there was pressure on me to change. At the same time Twitter came along, and fully adopted the idea of posts without titles, so I split my blogging into two pieces, one on Twitter and my linkblog, and the other, just the essays that appeared on Scripting News before. Scripting News, the first blog to have a feed, conformed to Google Reader's omission (a kind way of putting it) or bug (more fair). Scripting News became Google's idea of what a blog is. Ugh.

I felt this was okay as long as Twitter held promise for being a revolutionary Internet-scale notification service with a powerful API. But they've backed off that. Their service hasn't improved in a long time. I didn't realize how much I missed doing the intermediate-length posts until I started using Facebook regularly. But stuff I post there has no lasting value. So I need a better place for that kind of writing, so why not use my own blog? Of course that's the right answer.

Undoing the mistake

I'm undoing the mistake I made in 2006. And that means you may either find that your RSS reader supports my feed, or it doesn't. I'm not going to let them hold me back. If you can't read my feed in their tools, then you can switch to one that works properly, read the site in a web browser, or don't read it at all.

I'm sorry it has to be this way, but reader developers have been deciding arbitrarily not to support an important part of the RSS standard. I want to use the feature, I was using it long before any of them existed, and it's easy for them to support. Just a little bit of thinking and a little bit of coding.

03/09/14; 21:32PM

Last built: Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 1:57 PM

By Dave Winer, Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 10:01 AM.