On a private mailing list I read, there’s a tedious argument going on about the relative merits of the RSS autodiscovery mechanisms from MyYahoo and MyMSN. Are you already as bored as I am? Predictably, I had something to say on the subject, and thought it bore repeating here:
As I see it, the debate about MyYahoo vs. MyMSN is based on the theory that there are 3 kinds of people:
- Those who fully understand and are sold on RSS
- Those that have some grasp of the subscription model, and are MyYahoo or MyMSN users
- Those who don’t even remotely understand anything about RSS, subscription or the right mouse button
If I’m guessing, the percentage of users for those three categories breaks down like:
- Those who fully understand and are sold on RSS – 3%
- Those that have some grasp of the subscription model, and are MyYahoo or MyMSN users – 2%
- Those who don’t even remotely understand anything about RSS, subscription or the right mouse button – 95%
Knowing about existing or impending RSS support in Firefox, Safari and Windows Vista, I’ve given up trying to explain it to normal humans. I’m happy to convince people that it’s important, that they’ll never need to hear about or understand the acronym and that it’ll be native in future generation of familiar products. For the most part, I tell them to wait.
Yes, RSS is a wonderful thing. Yes, it will change the way you use the Web. But you know what? If you’re an average human (not a young, university-educated and familiar with computers human), you don’t need your computational life complicated right now. Trust me in knowing that the next time you buy a new computer, it will contain wonderful, simple ways to ‘subscribe’ to websites and be notified when they’re updated.
UPDATE: Conveniently, here’s some Ipsos research from Yahoo (PDF), which, surprise, surprise, flatters MyYahoo (thanks, Robert). 4% of surveyed users use RSS. Apparently 27% of users unknowingly use RSS through MyYahoo, MyMSN, and so forth. This smells highly dubious to me, and has me wondering:
- Where the online survey was posted?
- Whether the participants where mislead by the question?
The survey’s methodology describes the question, which might be confusing, but doesn’t give any details on where the participants came from.