Microsoft Hosed By RSS

By on September 16, 2004

Since everyone but the janitor started blogging at Microsoft, they’ve been aggregating their blogs into one big honkin’ feed that I call The Fire Hose, since reading it is like trying to drink from a fire hose. I find some interesting stories occasionally, but I probably missed 50 since I only look a couple of times a day.

Well, The Fire Hose has apparently started costing MS in bandwidth charges, and they tried to deal with it by abbreviating the articles in the feed, which is a bit like taping cardboard over the bottom half of your TV. CNET reports that enough uproar ensued over the change that they’ve (mostly) reversed it.

It also sparked a debate on RSS itself: Is RSS not scalable enough, or is Microsoft breaking it by putting 900+ bloggers into a single feed?

I tend to agree more with Scoble’s take: they wouldn’t have this problem if they weren’t pulling all the blogs into one feed. The Fire Hose is almost useless in terms of information delivery, because there’s too much crap in there to wade through.

The best-of-both-worlds approach would be to have an editor at MSDN hand-pick, say, 50 posts a day, from the MS blogs, and make a feed of just those posts. Sort out all the stuff about people’s new computers, first posts, and unruly cats, and just give me a feed of the best written Microsoft-ish, technical stuff.

Most interestingly, CNET points us to RFC-3229, which is an extension to HTTP to allow servers to only send file deltas, rsync-style (for those of us who don’t want to wade through RFC’s, Bob Wyman has a more readable explanation. Apparently, there’s already an extension for WordPress that supports it.