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This one's an old one.  It has been floating around in the blogging community for ages, and I figured I would just plain ignore it because the arguments both ways are fairly petty from my perspective.  I don't like that method of syndication at all - and would much prefer a push medium for it, like msn alerts or icq/jabber can be made to do.

But someone has finally asked me if I can add an Atom feed.

This is a little annoying, since I already have an RSS feed, but I like to satisfy people so I busily go to look at the atom specification.  It was far better though out than RSS for the job it's doing and it supports many more features.  If I was implementing the syndication features of my site again I'd choose atom.

But I have no intention of doing it for the moment, there's simply no practical benefit to it over rss - they are simple xml versions of content that is available through other means - I'm really tempted to make my own spec for a syndication format and see if a similar contest occurs...

Lets call it Stupidly Simple Syndication

   <Name>Feed name</Name>
   <Pinger>Address of XML webservice that allows you to define a url, ip and port, icq number, jabber address, passport or email address to call back when this feed is updated</Pinger>
      <Date>UTC date and time</Date>
      <Link>Link back to the article</Link>
      <Author>Author contact details or name</Author>
      <Category>Optional category of article</Category>
      <Extensions>Somewhere people can put anything extra about articles</Extensions>
      <Content>The article</Content>
            <Date>UTC date and time</Date>
            <Author>Author contact details or name</Author>
            <Extensions>Again, optional stuff</Extensions>
            <Content>The comment</Content>

We will rely on the existing HTTP headers to define when it was updated, when to fetch another one, etc. since we don't want to waste bandwidth.

We will also not worry about implementing shedloads of features most people won't care about in the base implementation, instead we will allow the use of extensions.  Setting up a webservice at a reliable url on the net allowing people/aggregators to pull out a description of the extensions used in a feed (ie - what format data is in there, why, what's a human name for it, is it for a machine or a reader, etc.) and anyone to register one.

This will permit it to have more features than either RSS or ATOM, whilst also being small, perfectly logical, and stupidly simple to begin with.