Interesting discussion has taken place recently and I wanted to add my take. Some great minds have been looking at the issue of blogs, their RSS feeds and the comments; the current state of affairs appears to be a bit lacking.
A big part of blogging is the conversation and, as we all know, a conversation has two sides and is incomplete without one of them. As Chris Brogan explains the comments to any given post are just as, if not more, important than the post itself but the current means of being kept to date with those comments are not working.
The options we have at present are as follows:
- email notification of new comments
- a general comments RSS feed
- an RSS feed specific to one post
not a desirable position, I think you'll agree.
Louis Gray touched on this problem almost a whole year ago - forward thinking indeed - with his post The Trouble With RSS: I'm Not Involved. We spend so much time looking at the way we consume our RSS feeds that we lose everything that surrounds the content and as Louis says lose the participatory role.
There is no easy solution to this problem, however.
It has been suggested that something like could fill the void and provide us better options when consuming our feeds. At its simplest level you could combine both a posts and comments feed in to one and just subscribe to that but this is messy and not a great way to consume content.
What is needed is a way to combine both the posts and comments, filtering the comments to the relevant post and displaying them in the correct order. We run the danger, however, of information overload so an option to opt in to comments for any given post is in order. As Chris suggests, perhaps some kind of toggle to select only those posts whose full conversation you wish to follow.
How do we then consume such a feed?
Are we forced to visit the site to select an option, or are we looking at some kind of extension to RSS to feed back to the site the content we wish to consume? Are we looking at something like Simple Sharing Extensions (SSE) for ways to communicate back to the site in question?
The overview for SSE says:
"The scope of Simple Sharing Extensions (SSE) is to define the minimum extensions necessary to enable loosely-cooperating applications to use XML-based container formats such as Atom and RSS as the basis for item sharing – that is, the bi-directional, asynchronous synchronization of new and changed items amongst two or more cross-subscribed feeds."
Sounds right on the money, but this kind of feed consumption will require new feed readers that support the new extensions.
How far could this be taken? Could we get to the point where you can comment directly on the post from within your feed reader?
What do you think?