It's MY Feed, Stupid

One of my favorite AVC posts was "It’s the feed, stupid".

It was written in May 2004, after I had that "aha moment" about RSS feeds.

Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time using RSS, thinking about RSS, and meeting interesting companies that use RSS in some really important ways.

One thing I’ve come to understand acutely is the sense of ownership that publishers have of their RSS feeds.

I have done a fair amount of due diligence with large and small publishers in the process of looking at various companies. And the thing I have heard loudest is that publishers understand that RSS is a new channel to their audiences and they want to control it as much as possible.

I feel the same way.  Whether its an RSS feed of my blog at Typepad, a podcast feed of Positively 10th Street, or an RSS feed of my delicious account, I want to control how its used, how its measured, and how its monetized.

All three of these feeds are simple RSS feeds with very little done to them to make them useful to me.

But that’s OK, because I have the right to do things with these feeds.  In each case, I’ve "burnt" these feeds at Feedburner.  The reason I do that is I get some really great stats at Feedburner and I have the option of running Google and Overture text ads in my feeds with Feedburner.  And when I publish the availability of these feeds, I point readers to the feedburner feed by actively publicizing the Feedburner feeds and "depublicizing" the simple feeds.

Depublicizing the simple feeds is tricky and not entirely achievable.  One thing I highly recommend (and just got around to doing myself) is changing the autodiscovery code in the typepad templates to whatever feeds you want to publicize.  Here’s some instructions on how to do that.

If you don’t do that, you’ll end up like me, supporting three basic blog feeds.  I have roughly 4500 subs to my feeds in total, with about a third each for the .rdf feed at Typepad, the atom feed at Typepad, and the feedburner feed.  That’s a mess.

So, that leads me to my final point.  The service providers who we use to do all of this feed stuff need to recognize that if we create the content, then we should be able to control the feed.  Because its MY feed.

Feedburner showed last week that they get this fact.  They rolled out a "redirect" service for publishers who want to leave Feedburner.  Helping customers leave a service is a "we company" move if I’ve ever seen one and these guys get huge credibility with me and surely everyone else for doing this.

I’ll end this post with a shoutout to Six Apart/Typepad to do the same.  Please provide your users with a "redirect" service so that if we’ve built sizable audiences for our Tyepad feeds, we can redirect them to Feedburner or anyone else we choose.  And please do it soon.  Because its MY feed.

#VC & Technology