Linked by Kroc Camen on Sun 16th Jan 2011 13:52 UTC
Mozilla & Gecko clones A mini-tempest has been raging across the web with anger at Mozilla for removing the RSS icon from the Firefox 4 toolbar by default (and moving it to the bookmarks menu). This has been going on for a couple of weeks now, and I had avoided writing about it on OSNews since the recent furore is often cited to have begun around a personal blog post I wrote, but now things have come to an impasse: "No matter how loudly you shout, what you see in the beta with regard to the feed auto-discovery button is what will ship in Firefox 4". When Mozilla can say they are open to input, but refuse to change in the face of near universal disagreement, we all lose, not just me.
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Minimalism trend
by fran on Sun 16th Jan 2011 14:05 UTC
fran
Member since:
2010-08-06

I don't care much for this trend towards extreme minimalism in browsers.
It's almost like where going backwards and not forward.
The "more screen space" argument was valid, but not anymore with 21-23" screen sizes being on the cheap together with the ease of toggling between normal and full screen view on netbooks/laptops.

Edited 2011-01-16 14:13 UTC

Reply Score: 6

RE: Minimalism trend
by Fergy on Mon 17th Jan 2011 08:52 UTC in reply to "Minimalism trend"
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

I don't care much for this trend towards extreme minimalism in browsers.
It's almost like where going backwards and not forward.
The "more screen space" argument was valid, but not anymore with 21-23" screen sizes being on the cheap together with the ease of toggling between normal and full screen view on netbooks/laptops.

If I buy a 24" inch monitor I do it because I want to use the screen space. If a useless titlebar, statusbar, bookmarkbar and taskbar use that screen space _I_ lose it. I could have removed those useless bars and bought a 22"!

Reply Score: 1

RE: Minimalism trend
by spikeb on Mon 17th Jan 2011 13:28 UTC in reply to "Minimalism trend"
spikeb Member since:
2006-01-18

I don't care much for this trend towards extreme minimalism in browsers.
It's almost like where going backwards and not forward.
The "more screen space" argument was valid, but not anymore with 21-23" screen sizes being on the cheap together with the ease of toggling between normal and full screen view on netbooks/laptops.

you're completely wrong about the design rationale for minimalism.

Reply Score: 2

RSS Icon
by kap1 on Sun 16th Jan 2011 14:11 UTC
kap1
Member since:
2006-05-12

The RSS icon was one of my favourite firefox's features. Really don't understand why they thought it was a good idea to remove, none of the arguments in favour of removing it really stick.

Further it only showed up when there was a RSS feed available other wise that icon didn't even take up any screen space.

Its a much more important feature then say other buttons now on Firefox's interface (e.g. The Group Your Tabs Button).

Put it back Mozilla!

Edited 2011-01-16 14:14 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: RSS Icon
by Carewolf on Sun 16th Jan 2011 14:48 UTC in reply to "RSS Icon"
Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

It is not removed, it is just buried. So if you know about it, you can easily find it. The problem I think is that it is no longer self-promoting, and thus new users are less likely to discover it.

Reply Score: 4

RE: RSS Icon
by WereCatf on Sun 16th Jan 2011 18:04 UTC in reply to "RSS Icon"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

I myself have never learned the point behind RSS feeds. I have tried, sure, but I just simply have absolutely no use for such :S Thus it's quite hard to understand why it's such a huge issue for people..

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: RSS Icon
by Fergy on Mon 17th Jan 2011 08:29 UTC in reply to "RE: RSS Icon"
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

I myself have never learned the point behind RSS feeds. I have tried, sure, but I just simply have absolutely no use for such :S Thus it's quite hard to understand why it's such a huge issue for people..

I used to go to my favorite websites everyday to look for new articles. With rss feeds you can just subscribe to your favorite websites and get automatically notified of new articles.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: RSS Icon
by WereCatf on Mon 17th Jan 2011 11:17 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: RSS Icon"
WereCatf Member since:
2006-02-15

I used to go to my favorite websites everyday to look for new articles. With rss feeds you can just subscribe to your favorite websites and get automatically notified of new articles.

I go to the site anyway to read comments to those articles and to perhaps participate in the discussion myself, so using RSS feeds is just a needless extra step in the middle.

Meh, I guess I'm a black sheep among geeks then for not using RSS.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: RSS Icon
by ephracis on Mon 17th Jan 2011 12:32 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: RSS Icon"
ephracis Member since:
2007-09-23

I got here via RSS. I am not interested in reading all articles here, at ars or all the posts in the blogs I am following, etc, etc.

I open up Google Reader, scroll through all the posts and scroll-click on the ones that might be interesting to read. Then I wade through all the tabs and read the post and comments one by one.

When I started using RSS I realized that I could follow many, many more websites. Also, I really like the "Suggested Items" feature of Google Reader. It works quite well if I remember to press the "Like" button on the articles that I find interesting. ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: RSS Icon
by lezard on Mon 17th Jan 2011 21:00 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: RSS Icon"
lezard Member since:
2005-10-11

Netvibes has become my homepage since I discovered RSS. I want to easily follow website updates and to read articles in a lightweight format. Lots of websites have pages so heavy that they load in 4-5 seconds, that's just too much.

Reply Score: 2

Uhm...
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 16th Jan 2011 14:14 UTC
Thom_Holwerda
Member since:
2005-06-29

What is RSS?

Reply Score: 1

RE: Uhm...
by Neolander on Sun 16th Jan 2011 14:24 UTC in reply to "Uhm..."
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

A way to check a website's headlines without checking its contents

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Uhm...
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 16th Jan 2011 15:30 UTC in reply to "RE: Uhm..."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

I know.

I was just trying to make a point. Apart from nerds, nobody uses RSS. RSS isn't dying - it's never been alive.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Uhm...
by Adam S on Sun 16th Jan 2011 15:51 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Uhm..."
Adam S Member since:
2005-04-01

That's a fools argument. Maybe most people don't interface with it head on, but they use it all the time. People find it in Safari, RSS typically feeds Twitter and Facebook, they use it to syndicate other blogs in Wordpress and Joomla, Google Reader's entire audience uses it, etc.

Most people don't know what Vitamin D is either, but that doesn't mean it doesn't benefit them.

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Uhm...
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 16th Jan 2011 16:08 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Uhm..."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

Exactly.

Which illustrates my point. Nobody uses RSS directly, making it perfectly okay for Mozilla to remove the RSS button.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Uhm...
by Adam S on Sun 16th Jan 2011 16:22 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Uhm..."
Adam S Member since:
2005-04-01

That was the point I was making before about Mozilla disrespecting CSS in RSS. When a *vendor* makes an active decision, it changes the way technology works. By removing the button, Mozilla has effectively cut off a non-intrusive CHANCE for a customer to discover it.

People used to not use email. Or the web. Or cell phones. People do learn new things, but now they won't. At least, the poor saps who are still using slow, bloated Firefox.

Edited 2011-01-16 16:22 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: Uhm...
by Thom_Holwerda on Sun 16th Jan 2011 16:46 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: Uhm..."
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

People used to not use email. Or the web. Or cell phones. People do learn new things, but now they won't. At least, the poor saps who are still using slow, bloated Firefox.


Hasn't the button been there long enough for people to discover it? How long must it remain there before you'll accept nobody cares about RSS?

Edited 2011-01-16 16:46 UTC

Reply Score: 0

RE[7]: Uhm...
by Adam S on Sun 16th Jan 2011 16:52 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Uhm..."
Adam S Member since:
2005-04-01

Thom, most of the Internet connected world has never even SEEN Firefox. Doesn't that invalfatd your argument? This is still cutting edge, fledgling technology to most!

Reply Score: 2

RE[7]: Uhm...
by Kroc on Sun 16th Jan 2011 16:56 UTC in reply to "RE[6]: Uhm..."
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

You make the same mistake Mozilla has, to equate a sucky implementation with user disinterest.

Smartphones sucked, until the iPhone.

Tablets sucked, until the iPad.

IE6 sucked, until Firefox.

And so on. RSS needs the killer app treatment that brings the time-saving to everybody.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: Uhm...
by emerson999 on Mon 17th Jan 2011 07:21 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Uhm..."
emerson999 Member since:
2007-12-08

I couldn't disagree more with the "only nerds use rss" thing. It was contrary to my expectations, but for whatever reason I know huge amounts of at most semi geeky people who keep track of rss feeds with google reader. Oddly enough, overwhelmingly female as well. No idea what's up with that skewered demographic, but it's one I've been continually baffled by.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Uhm...
by Fergy on Mon 17th Jan 2011 08:30 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Uhm..."
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

I know.

I was just trying to make a point. Apart from nerds, nobody uses RSS. RSS isn't dying - it's never been alive.

30" computer monitors are dying. Apart from nerds, nobody uses them.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Uhm...
by Neolander on Mon 17th Jan 2011 10:53 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Uhm..."
Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

On computers, I'd say yes.

The trend I see around me is rather towards smaller screens, with the various forms of laptops being much more popular than gigantic-sized screens. For me, the best place in the comfort/portability compromise is a 16" screen (biggest current computer screen which fits in an average backpack). But for some others, even netbook or phone screens are enough.

On the other hand, it's only what happens around me, and is not necessarily representative of the world outside.

Edited 2011-01-17 10:54 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Uhm...
by _xmv on Mon 17th Jan 2011 01:14 UTC in reply to "RE: Uhm..."
_xmv Member since:
2008-12-09

A way to check a website's headlines without checking its contents

won't, most GOOD RSS feeds display complete content, as in text content. but it doesn't display all the HTML layout (and also the advertisements, which is the core of the issue I believe - no advert - many websites dislike RSS / garble the content by inserting adverts which are much more annoying than in HTML, or simply just putting the RSS title and no content)

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Uhm...
by phoenix on Mon 17th Jan 2011 02:15 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Uhm..."
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

No, good RSS readers show you a list of headlines. When you click on a headline, then it either shows you the RSS content or a reduced version of the remote website.

Thus, you can quickly scan the headlines for any that interest you, skip over the ones you don't like, and carry on.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Uhm...
by Kroc on Sun 16th Jan 2011 14:39 UTC in reply to "Uhm..."
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

What is HTML?

It matters not what RSS is, but more what you can do with it. Browser vendors are letting us down in this regard.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Uhm...
by Beta on Sun 16th Jan 2011 16:15 UTC in reply to "RE: Uhm..."
Beta Member since:
2005-07-06

It matters not what RSS is, but more what you can do with it. Browser vendors are letting us down in this regard.

I haven’t said anything over the weeks because I don’t think a missing icon is that important… so how are these browsers letting us down?
Firefox still has the same functionality (albeit that vanilla themed page), it’s just not on an icon in the URL bar.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Uhm...
by Kroc on Sun 16th Jan 2011 16:40 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Uhm..."
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

Didn’t I go into that in great length in my second article? I know you follow me, so I assume you must have read it, but here is how I see it:

1. The existing functionality admittedly sucks

2. Removing the icon is worse than the sucky functionality, it removes any chance the user has of discovering the great time-saving power of RSS and helps to tip the scales away from all browsers promoting RSS auto discovery. With Firefox 4 and IE9 dropping the icon, how long until Safari / Opera does? Will in Firefox 5 Mozilla say that 'even less people used the RSS menu item than the icon [duh], we’re removing RSS completely'?

3. Something better needs to be done

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Uhm...
by Beta on Sun 16th Jan 2011 17:52 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Uhm..."
Beta Member since:
2005-07-06

1. The existing functionality admittedly sucks

It does, someone bright and competent with CSS could submit a replacement ;)

2. Removing the icon is worse than the sucky functionality, it removes any chance the user has of discovering the great time-saving power of RSS and helps to tip the scales away from all browsers promoting RSS auto discovery.

I think you have too much faith in users discovering things - 50% of my close family wouldn’t be interested in clicking a coloured icon to discover what it did - hell, two of them wouldn’t assume you could click on it to learn more.

With Firefox 4 and IE9 dropping the icon, how long until Safari / Opera does? Will in Firefox 5 Mozilla say that 'even less people used the RSS menu item than the icon [duh], we’re removing RSS completely'?

It’s likely, but then when they moved to a menu item, no one said ‘why don’t we remove this too?’ clearly people there understand the usefulness of it.

3. Something better needs to be done

…and not just by Browser vendors, but web developers too. Got a URL for a 30s introduction to ‘feeds’ (RSS/Atom) for a normal user? Maybe a video?

Then how do you link the user to that? Have the RSS icon blink a few times in the users’ first session? tooltips on start‐up?

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Uhm...
by phoenix on Sun 16th Jan 2011 18:58 UTC in reply to "RE: Uhm..."
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Considering websites that have RSS feeds put big RSS buttons on their sites where you can add the feed to your RSS reader of choice; and considering that Firefox supports adding directly to a bunch of different RSS readers, including web-based ones like Google Reader; does it really matter that an RSS icon is missing in the toolbar?

Reply Score: 4

RE: Uhm...
by Dirge on Mon 17th Jan 2011 05:01 UTC in reply to "Uhm..."
Dirge Member since:
2005-07-14

I don't use RSS either and personally couldn't care less about it. I guess I can understand where the author is coming from if he is a die hard fan but I think the statistics speak for themselves... "The RSS icon, sits at just 7.3% usage". Frankly I am surprised it is not lower.

Edited 2011-01-17 05:02 UTC

Reply Score: 2

No longer using it
by Neolander on Sun 16th Jan 2011 14:21 UTC
Neolander
Member since:
2010-03-08

I've been using RSS in the past, because it was a fast way to check a website's headlines.

But now that my network connection goes at several MBps, that pages are rendered and displayed in a blink of the eye, that better website design now gives me quick access to what's up, and that smart address bars which make all websites a few keypresses away have become the norm, I don't bother anymore.

For websites with highly infrequent publications, I can understand what the point of RSS is. But the way firefox implemented it did not favor this use case anyway.

If it's a power user feature, then power users know how to put it back it place. It's all that matters, in my opinion.

Edited 2011-01-16 14:30 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: No longer using it
by ivanzinho on Sun 16th Jan 2011 15:08 UTC in reply to "No longer using it"
ivanzinho Member since:
2009-04-05

I use it mostly because I can skip a day of reading the news without worrying about not catching up with the important stuff.

I don't have to go through dozens of pages on different blogs looking for the news I didn't yet read.

I find it much easier to have everything organized at the same place, all displayed equally. Frankly, if I was able to read and write comments from within my RSS reader I wouldn't even bother to open many blogs.

Also, it's better to read everything formated the same than having to view a number of different blogs, all with different designs, font faces and font sizes.

For me, RSS it not only about syndication, it's about where, how and when I want to view the content.

Actually, it's a shame it's considered a power-user feature.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: No longer using it
by miscz on Sun 16th Jan 2011 17:49 UTC in reply to "RE: No longer using it"
miscz Member since:
2005-07-17

RSS = VCR for the internet news. I too think that RSS is quite popular, mostly thanks to Google Reader. I can read news at home, on my phone etc. It all syncs perfectly thanks to dozens of utilities that support Reader.

tl;dr
Google Reader is awesome.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by killasmurf86
by killasmurf86 on Sun 16th Jan 2011 15:12 UTC
killasmurf86
Member since:
2010-04-27

RSS stats were so bad, because many users already had RSS setup.

If I'd had Firefox tuned etc, and I would try to use new Firefox, do you think I would want to reconfigure every aspect?
I would use old settings, which includes RSS, so that I don't have to browse every dam web page, and click on RSS buttons every time browser version change.

I think it was bad decision. And I see absolutely no benefit.

Luckily I don't use Firefox

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by killasmurf86
by Fergy on Mon 17th Jan 2011 08:39 UTC in reply to "Comment by killasmurf86"
Fergy Member since:
2006-04-10

RSS stats were so bad, because many users already had RSS setup.

If I'd had Firefox tuned etc, and I would try to use new Firefox, do you think I would want to reconfigure every aspect?
I would use old settings, which includes RSS, so that I don't have to browse every dam web page, and click on RSS buttons every time browser version change.

I think it was bad decision. And I see absolutely no benefit.

Luckily I don't use Firefox

Wait. Are you saying that that 7.3% statistic is how many people clicked on the rss feed icon in Firefox? That is really stupid. I usually subscribe only 15 websites per year but they stay subscribed in Google Reader. By now I have 274 feeds.

Twitter comes close to rss feeds and Google Reader. But it takes away almost all control. That is probably why noobies like it.

Reply Score: 2

Does Mozilla really understand RSS?
by almon on Sun 16th Jan 2011 15:27 UTC
almon
Member since:
2009-08-14

I make significant use of RSS feeds, so much so that I developed my own automated system to help me monitor them. In doing so I've come to learn who produces good feeds and who doesn't. IMHO Mozilla produces some of the worse ones (eg http://blog.mozilla.com/about_mozilla/feed/ or https://developer.mozilla.org/devnews/index.php/feed/rss/). What I mean by that is that most good feed suppliers produce very good and concise items with a very specific titles and descriptions (eg http://www.osnews.com/files/recent.xml). Mozilla on the other hand tries to cover way too many topics all at once in a single item making them very difficult to read through quickly. As such, I wonder if this is further evidence they don't really understand RSS?

Reply Score: 4

PresentIt Member since:
2010-02-10

IMHO Mozilla produces some of the worse ones (eg http://blog.mozilla.com/about_mozilla/feed/ or https://developer.mozilla.org/devnews/index.php/feed/rss/). What I mean by that is that most good feed suppliers produce very good and concise items with a very specific titles and descriptions (eg http://www.osnews.com/files/recent.xml). Mozilla on the other hand tries to cover way too many topics all at once in a single item making them very difficult to read through quickly. As such, I wonder if this is further evidence they don't really understand RSS?

Who made you the judge on proper newsfeeds?

OSNews is lucky, because each story is about just one topic. Mozilla may post different kinds of articles, so obviously their newsfeed is going to be different as well.

There's nothing wrong with covering multiple topics, even though you seem to think so.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by fasteez
by fasteez on Sun 16th Jan 2011 15:31 UTC
fasteez
Member since:
2007-03-13

the RSS icon was one of the first missing thing I noticed when I tried Chrome, frustrating as it doesn't look like it costs a lot to put it.

But at the same time, I barely don't use it anymore since I'm a Netvibes user. Merging RSS and speed dial looks like a neat idea.

The Mozillq answers smells weird, it's not really what open source should be. Maybe firefox will require to get RSS A/D through an extension ...

Reply Score: 2

Heatmaps reflects Firefox attitude
by thedarky on Sun 16th Jan 2011 15:40 UTC
thedarky
Member since:
2011-01-16

The management want 4 as simple to sell as possible.
The market is in mobiles, not desktops, and it's for fast delivery of instant content, with tracking in various forms being the centre of "monetising".

If Firefox had remained not a corporation, development would likely have retreated to Seamonkey backwaters in comparison with Chrome and Opera, so you win and you lose for trying to promote user education over user muppetisation.

I miss the status bar, not RSS so much because I manage feeds in TBird, but I believe the battle for a more user-centric browser was lost with 3.

But as long as we retain the full add-ons monkey-patch ability, there's nothing that can't be tinkered with in the dumbed-down 4.

Reply Score: 1

Messere
Member since:
2006-10-12

I really fail to see how heatmap result can be directly linked to popularity of RSS button.

Suppose you've found interesting blog and want to be notified about new topics. So you click RSS button, confirm adding new feed to your favorite reader and you're done. You only need to click RSS button once for every interesting page. It's not reload, cancel, scrollbar etc. - it is designed to be used less frequently than other functions.

Reply Score: 6

Feed Reader
by Moredhas on Sun 16th Jan 2011 20:26 UTC
Moredhas
Member since:
2008-04-10

I prefer to use an RSS feed reader than those stupid "Live bookmarks" in Firefox. The RSS button really didn't do a whole lot for me, as I'd often have to find the RSS link on the site anyway, and copy that into something like liferea or feedburner. Perhaps I just never really got the idea, but I preferred to read my RSS feeds like emails (I even used to use Thunderbird for it until I discovered liferea).

Reply Score: 3

RE: Feed Reader
by pgeorgi on Sun 16th Jan 2011 22:36 UTC in reply to "Feed Reader"
pgeorgi Member since:
2010-02-18

The RSS button really didn't do a whole lot for me, as I'd often have to find the RSS link on the site anyway, and copy that into something like liferea or feedburner.

A good feedreader provides a button/link with which it added itself to your browser's RSS reader list.
After that, adding a feed to your feedreader is a matter of clicking that RSS button.

Reply Score: 1

Smart move.
by callinyouin on Sun 16th Jan 2011 20:26 UTC
callinyouin
Member since:
2008-12-15

I have to agree with Thom on this one. Even if people use RSS in other various services without them knowing, that's no valid argument to keep the icon. The masses have no clue what RSS is, will never know what it is and will simply shrug their shoulders when someone explains to them what it is. Like it or not, Mozilla is making a web browser for the masses. For advanced users, there are about a million different web browsers out there.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Smart move.
by JeeperMate on Mon 17th Jan 2011 03:06 UTC in reply to "Smart move."
JeeperMate Member since:
2010-06-12

Wrong... Firefox and Opera have always been the choice of most advanced users. IE, Chrome and Safari are chosen mainly by folks who are not critical about the type of user experience they get from the browser as well as the Web itself and those who either don't know or don't care about ways to improve or change it entirely (i.e. extensions). In other words, IE and Chrome are mainly used by people who accept the Web as it is and are only concerned with either simplicity (mostly IE and Safari, due to their tight integration with Windows and Mac respectively), speed (Chrome), or both (Chrome).

Reply Score: 3

Love it
by Andrew27 on Sun 16th Jan 2011 20:49 UTC
Andrew27
Member since:
2010-08-06

I have only recently discovered RSS and I love it (unfortunately used through Google Reader). I love your idea of the speed dial RSS, with maybe a Zune HD-esque menu side-swipe to see new items or maybe new items appearing when hovering over the speed dial section.

Unfortunately I have no coding experience, so I am going to the add-on libraries to see what I can find.

Reply Score: 1

RSS too long
by timalot on Sun 16th Jan 2011 21:28 UTC
timalot
Member since:
2006-07-17

A reason why following news stories on Twitter is better is the 140 char limit. Helping Tweets get to the point quickly, so can see if you want to pursue further. RSS feed content tends to be too long for this purpose.

Maybe at RSS-140 standard is needed.

Reply Score: 1

Why don't they remove extensions then?
by RichterKuato on Sun 16th Jan 2011 22:05 UTC
RichterKuato
Member since:
2010-05-14

If they're making the browser for the masses why not remove extensions too? Extension are only for power users.

Reply Score: 2

Why less is more.
by Jack Matier on Sun 16th Jan 2011 22:17 UTC
Jack Matier
Member since:
2005-07-17

I'm going to play as a devil's advocate here.

I love having features available to me in as few clicks as possible. It's important for me to see whether or not a website has an RSS feed available. My dad doesn't care. My mom doesn't either.

The thing is, even if it does only show up when an RSS feed is available it only helps those users discover RSS feeds IF that is the type of user they are.

I don't know about many of you, but I've found that with any new user to a foreign system, that person needs to be shown how to do something. They don't stray much outside that box they're shown until they start getting comfortable with it and not worried about f--king it up.

More unknown buttons scare the shit out of people who don't know what to do with them:
http://static.howstuffworks.com/gif/space-shuttle-glass-cockpit2.jp...

But with less things to click, things become a bit less scary. Google Chrome isn't scary because it doesn't present things the user wouldn't likely know.

In summary, there are two users:
- Those willing to explore
- Those not willing to explore

Those willing to explore will find a button they can add.

Those not willing to explore won't find this weird broadcasting icon and worry about their identity being sent off to space.

This doesn't mean I'm for or against their decision - I don't know what my position is yet. I know I use RSS feeds extensively. They're useful, it's like upgrading my ability to browse things I find interesting.

Edited 2011-01-16 22:18 UTC

Reply Score: 1

I use RSS but not that button
by RIchard James13 on Mon 17th Jan 2011 01:11 UTC
RIchard James13
Member since:
2007-10-26

In fact I never knew there was a button there until you mentioned it in this article. I look for the feed on the page.

Reply Score: 1

RE: I use RSS but not that button
by phoenix on Mon 17th Jan 2011 02:16 UTC in reply to "I use RSS but not that button"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Exactly.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by _xmv
by _xmv on Mon 17th Jan 2011 01:16 UTC
_xmv
Member since:
2008-12-09

i personally like the live bookmarks, when i want to have all the HTML layout of the site its quite handy and must faster than going to google reader or what-not

i also wonder how the RSS button is removed, and the "tab magic" or w/e button is added. This tab thingie is such a useless feature (and it doesnt even look good)

Reply Score: 2

Design
by spikeb on Mon 17th Jan 2011 01:17 UTC
spikeb
Member since:
2006-01-18

Design is about feedback, yes, but not in the way you think. It is about what works better for the user, not what makes them happy initially. Users always hate change. Bitching is not constructive feedback and is thus ignored.

Edited 2011-01-17 01:19 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Comment by kaiwai
by kaiwai on Mon 17th Jan 2011 05:02 UTC
kaiwai
Member since:
2005-07-06

Meh, I've tried to use RSS in the past but found that websites have horrible headlines or misleading headlines to get clicks - the net result is that I either miss out on a piece of interesting information or I'm drawn into something that might be interest but turns out to be useless. To be totally honest I only go to a few websites, most of them are news aggregators of some form such as Macsurfer which pretty much undermines the reason for using RSS in the first place.

I remember when I first got an internet connection I used to go to 100s of websites but these days I have around 1/2 dozen websites I visit and ignore the rest; to get on my list of 'websites worth visiting' you have to do a lot more than just give 'your take' on the news considering that every other bugger is doing that these days.

Reply Score: 2

Thought I should use RSS
by Adurbe on Mon 17th Jan 2011 08:50 UTC
Adurbe
Member since:
2005-07-06

RSS is one of those 'fads' I never bothered with. If I wanted to read a news site, I would go to it. Within a second, I know if there is new stuff or not.

BUT, so I can join in this discussion properly I thought I would start using RSS, from scratch, on FFb9. I will give it a week or two and report back on my finings

Reply Score: 2

RE: Thought I should use RSS
by Icaria on Mon 17th Jan 2011 10:01 UTC in reply to "Thought I should use RSS"
Icaria Member since:
2010-06-19

If you're going to try RSS/Atom-ing your web experience, do it properly, or don't do it at all. Use a dedicated client like Feed Reader/Liferea/Thunderbird, or at least a competent web client like Google Reader.

Also, unless you follow more than 5 news sites/blogs/other sites with regularly updated content, you're not going to get much out of it. I'm a news junkie, so I find RSS/Atom feeds absolutely crucial.

It's almost like the spiritual successor to the gopher protocol's clean, minimalist, structured vision of the web: (mostly) plain text, organised chronologically into trees. It's a wonder how much more reading you can get done with the web condensed down to a series of headlines and opening paragraphs, with the full article merely a double-click away.

----

As for the Firefox issue, I'm not sure their decision is going to make a whole lot of impact. The RSS icon was never very discoverable in Firefox and, at least for myself, I don't need an icon to remind me to check for an RSS feed. If Mozilla hadn't also killed the statusbar for FF4, I would have suggested that they merely move the icon there. Hiding it in the bookmarks menu is, at worst, going to prevent a very small minority of potential RSS users from discovering the tech. For everyone else, they either already use RSS, discover it via sites that liberally advertise their RSS support, learn of it through the grapevine, or have no interest in it.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Thought I should use RSS
by Adurbe on Mon 17th Jan 2011 18:15 UTC in reply to "RE: Thought I should use RSS"
Adurbe Member since:
2005-07-06

Personally I follow a good deal of tech news, uk politics and mass media so I certainly have the content. Plus, I am here more than is natural ;)

"do it properly, or don't do it at all."

Would it not be best from the perspective of FF to bring its implementation to a 'proper one' and if they dont plan to.

The point of this whole article was the fact FF are looking to reduce the prominence of this feature. So using another RSS reader would serve only to justify the position they have taken.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Thought I should use RSS
by Icaria on Tue 18th Jan 2011 05:37 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Thought I should use RSS"
Icaria Member since:
2010-06-19

I don't think it's ever been intended that FF be an RSS reader proper, merely that it expose the basic functionality. Thunderbird has always been the Mozilla product of choice for RSS.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Thought I should use RSS
by PresentIt on Mon 17th Jan 2011 22:27 UTC in reply to "Thought I should use RSS"
PresentIt Member since:
2010-02-10

RSS is one of those 'fads' I never bothered with. If I wanted to read a news site, I would go to it. Within a second, I know if there is new stuff or not.

It's much easier to have the news delivered to you instead. Why bother doing it manually?

Reply Score: 1

About Opera
by vodoomoth on Mon 17th Jan 2011 10:13 UTC
vodoomoth
Member since:
2010-03-30

I don't know how Firefox uses that icon but if it's the same way as Opera, the button appears when the website has an RSS feed available for subscription. So, what does "removing the RSS button" mean? That the icon won't appear anymore when visiting such a website?

Anyway, maybe that the most important thing would be to know what clicking that icon meant in FF 3.6? I haven't found that in the article.

And yes, associating RSS and speed dial is a nifty idea. It would be awesome if it could come to life.

Reply Score: 2

RE: About Opera
by Icaria on Tue 18th Jan 2011 06:16 UTC in reply to "About Opera"
Icaria Member since:
2010-06-19

Clicking on the icon either took you to the RSS feed URL, using FF's own stylesheet to display the feed, or it displayed a menu with links to all the feeds found on the page.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: About Opera
by vodoomoth on Tue 18th Jan 2011 08:26 UTC in reply to "RE: About Opera"
vodoomoth Member since:
2010-03-30

Then it's very similar to what Opera does. When I click the icon when browsing OSnews for instance, the feed is displayed using a stylesheet and I get to choose what reader I want to read it with.
If the button is relegated in a menu, does it mean there will be no more visual notifications that a feed is present?

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: About Opera
by Icaria on Tue 18th Jan 2011 08:50 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: About Opera"
Icaria Member since:
2010-06-19

Not unless you see an RSS/Atom icon featured on the page itself, or think to open the bookmark menu and see if the RSS option is greyed-out.

As I said before, it was always something that belonged in the statusbar but since Mozilla have killed the statusbar, that's no longer an option. Moving the icon out-of-sight (while retaining it as an optional toolbar widget) isn't a terribly bad move, it just means that a very small number of people who didn't discover RSS through more overt means but might be interested in it, aren't going to discover it.

The crazy thing about having it visible to begin with is that you only ever use the icon for a site once, after which, you access the page via a live bookmark/a proper feed reader. It's akin to having a 'bookmark current page' button always visible.

Reply Score: 1

spudley99
Member since:
2009-03-25

I can see both sides of this discussion, but I can't really see why it's blown up into such a firestorm.

The RSS icon is useful because it shows you immediately when a site has an RSS feed available, and simultaneously gives you a one-click way of getting to it.

I've used this icon to add the OSNews feed and a bunch of others to my toolbar, and I refer to them daily.

However, I only ever needed to actually click on any of those icons once. Now that I have them all in my toolbar, I don't need the RSS icon. This is why it gets very little usage.

I don't really see that moving it out to the menus is going to hurt anyone. The functionality is still available, just a bit more hidden. But if I'm on a site which I consider useful enough to subscribe to the feed, then I'll likely be happy enough to spend those extra few seconds finding the menu option instead of the current button, especially since it would be a one-off event.

In any case, all the RSS button does is flag up that a site has an RSS link on the page anyway. The link is already there for you to click on in the body of the page. So just find it there if the menu option isn't accessible enough for you. In fact, in some cases there's multiple feeds, and in this case the RSS button isn't much use because it only applies to one, and it may not pick the one you want.

So yes, it's a nice feature. I don't think it's that nice that it's worth the kind of flame-warring that's been going on, but it is nice to have.

If Mozilla are determined not to keep it, fair enough. It's their software, and they've clearly put a lot of work into the decision. But it would surely be a good idea to make it a configurable option so that those who are absolutely unpersuadable can have their way. (Or perhaps they have?)

Reply Score: 1

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

If Mozilla are determined not to keep it, fair enough. It's their software, and they've clearly put a lot of work into the decision. But it would surely be a good idea to make it a configurable option so that those who are absolutely unpersuadable can have their way. (Or perhaps they have?)

They have. You can add the button back in the address bar if you want. What Kroc is complaining about here is the lack of discoverability for new users.

(Myself, I doubt that new users will just click on every icon of their web browser, especially when they just look like a wireless network connection indicator, but well...)

Edited 2011-01-17 21:24 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RSS means 'meh' to me
by rklrkl on Mon 17th Jan 2011 14:12 UTC
rklrkl
Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't really care about RSS one way or another - I never use it myself (it certainly isn't a necessity, IMHO, because you get used to the update frequency of your favourite Web sites when manually surfing anyway). I would strongly object if RSS was a permanent icon that wasn't removable and I would also say that removing the RSS icon and not being able to drag it back on would also be objectionable. As long as Mozilla lets the <10% of users drag the icon back into view, I don't really care that much and that's exactly what they're doing.

What's *far* worse in Firefox 4 is the loss of the status bar with no way to resurrect it without installing an extension. This is 10 times worse than the RSS issue, so I'm afraid this is a storm in a teacup issue and the status bar disappearance is the one that should be blogged about, IMHO.

Reply Score: 3

RE: RSS means 'meh' to me
by Icaria on Tue 18th Jan 2011 06:21 UTC in reply to "RSS means 'meh' to me"
Icaria Member since:
2010-06-19

(it certainly isn't a necessity, IMHO, because you get used to the update frequency of your favourite Web sites when manually surfing anyway
Not when you visit literally hundreds of sites. Manually checking for updates is arduous, time consuming and bandwidth consuming. Moreover, a lot of sites are a veritable nightmare to navigate and a lot of these 'user created content' sites, which offer their own means to 'subscribe' to users, are utterly broken and just don't work (*cough* - youtube).

Agree about that statusbar, though.

Reply Score: 1

Meh
by Soulbender on Mon 17th Jan 2011 14:58 UTC
Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

I bet someone writes a plugin that puts it back for those that want it.

Reply Score: 2

The thing is....
by Nehemoth on Mon 17th Jan 2011 20:23 UTC
Nehemoth
Member since:
2005-07-07

if you know what RSS is, you will know how to subscribe without a button.

Love RSS

Reply Score: 2

Can't say I'm happy
by sorpigal on Tue 18th Jan 2011 12:49 UTC
sorpigal
Member since:
2005-11-02

I never had a use for RSS in Firefox as such. Why would I want to conflate bookmarks and feeds? I don't think this is a useful metaphor, sorry if others disagree. What I want out of Firefox's RSS button is two things: Notifying me when a feed is available on a page and letting me copy the URL to the clipboard.

I've often had to spend an annoying amount of time hunting through a page for its RSS link, frequently giving up and just doing View Source, so that I can find the RSS URL and copy it into my standalone RSS reader. I have found the Firefox RSS button to be extremely useful as an indicator that there is a feed, but not for any other purpose.

If the RSS icon does not appear when there's a feed available then how am I supposed to know? Rely on the good UI design of every web site? Good luck with that! If, after Firefox has notified me that there is a feed, I still have to hunt to find it, then I am never going to notice it on my own. An eye-glance is far less expensive than clicking the Bookmarks menu! And don't say "Bookmark toolbar" to me; I don't use one because of the massive waste of vertical space involved.

In my idea scenario the RSS icon appears either in the status bar or in the address bar if and only if there is an RSS feed available, and upon clicking it gives me the option of copying any feed URLs to my clipboard.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Can't say I'm happy
by Nehemoth on Tue 18th Jan 2011 14:54 UTC in reply to "Can't say I'm happy"
Nehemoth Member since:
2005-07-07

This is the exacply way as I use RSS.

Firefox as a RSS reader?, No way. I just took the rss link a go to Google reader.

Reply Score: 1

Give me a break
by Crayzie on Tue 18th Jan 2011 14:05 UTC
Crayzie
Member since:
2005-07-01

It's funny to see how many people are getting fired up. It's RSS. I've tried it, but that's the extent. Overall, its a "niche" feature. Get over it.

Edited 2011-01-18 14:06 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE: Give me a break
by PresentIt on Tue 18th Jan 2011 17:28 UTC in reply to "Give me a break"
PresentIt Member since:
2010-02-10

It's funny to see how many people are getting fired up. It's RSS. I've tried it, but that's the extent.

Newsfeeds are incredibly useful. Instead of having to open sites, all the news comes to you.

Reply Score: 2