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The BBC are on the ball: they have RSS feeds for all their main news pages. Good to see RSS in a place other than weblogs.

This is the kind of thing that RSS should really excell at; rather than being obliged to visit a few news sites, I can just check the headlines in my RSS reader (liferea if you are curious) and check out the ones that are of interest.

However, most news feeds of this kind usually have a problem. They provide the headlines, rather than the full stories in their RSS feeds. Further to that, they generally don’t even provide the small descriptions that appear along with headlines on their front page. Headlines do not generally persuade me to read a story on their own; six words doesn’t give you a full idea of what the story is about. I want more information before I click a link — more certainty that I will be interested in what I find behind the link.

To use RSS to its full potential the major news organisations should at least provide the descriptions of stories if not the full stories themselves. Beyond getting me to click on more stories, it would allow me to get an overview of what is going on in the world from the RSS itself. If I don’t have much time, a quick peruse of the description would give me an idea about what is happening; I can view the more interesting stories later at my leisure.

So, BBC and others, you’ve made one step forward into the world of RSS feeds; now is the time to take the second step and explore how to make them into a truly useful delivery medium.

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