Atom is not better and users don't care
Wednesday, August 15, 2007 by Dave Winer.
I found myself writing an email to friends at Google about Google's religion about Atom (these guys came to Google from different companies, relatively recently). At the end I realized that I had written a blog post, so here it is.
Facebook is doing the same thing, and I'm pulling back from endorsing them until they take the religion out of their docs. I won't help propogate the myth that one format is better than the other. Users don't care.
If you must answer the question "What's the difference between RSS and Atom?" just say they're different flavors of the same thing. Even better would be to find a way to avoid raising the question at all. Test your reader against all formats with significant installed bases, and do what you can to keep the number of formats to a minimum. That's not only my advice, it's also Jon Postel's.
Further: If people want to debate the merits of one flavor over another, fine, but the discussion should be banished from all places that are visible to users (users don't care). I like chocolate, and someone else likes pistachio or butter pecan. But all are cold and sweet and desserts. The argument should stop when it gets to the qualities of the people who like one flavor over another. "People who like cheddar cheese are inherently better than people who like gouda." Now that's obviously silly. But when you look at some of the discsussions, esp things people say about me, that's what it comes down to. Dave is a bad person because his feed is RSS 2.0. That's when people tune out any discussions of progress as "syndication wars." That's how we get stuck.