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Case study in extending RSS
By Dave Winer on Monday, February 01, 2010 at 9:02 AM.

A picture named loverss.jpgMy mother, who has a WordPress blog, keeps telling me about posts that I haven't seen. This was starting to irk me, so I looked into River2 to see what's going on. Yes, it is finding her posts, but it thinks they're pictures. Why? Because the feed says they're pictures. Oy.  permalink

Digging in a little deeper. WordPress has a neat feature that I don't fully understand, called "gravatars." If you have one, as my mother does, it attaches it to every post, as an image. I'm sure she has absolutely no idea what a gravatar is, and I'm equally sure that WordPress created one for her automatically.  permalink

So, I want to fix this, so her posts (and those of other WordPress authors) show up where they belong in River2. Other than looking at the URL of the image, I have no idea how to do it. I'm hoping one of the readers of this blog does. permalink

Here's an example from the feed. permalink

<media:content url="" medium="image"> permalink

They use the media:content element to represent the gravatar. I have a strong feeling this is very wrong. It seems to me that a gravatar is a bit of metadata. Why should it be represented as an image, why not as a <gravatar> in a new namespace defined for the purpose of representing gravatars? permalink

The media:content element came into being to help Flickr attach pictures to items in feeds. It probably was a mistake, in hindsight, to try to make a general namespace for this, because it gets us into jams like this. Probably would have worked better if they had come up with a <flickr:picture> element. That way we might not have had this conflict in semantics. permalink

<media:content url="" type="image/jpeg" height="1880" width="2816"/> permalink

I'm pretty stuck here. I really need to separate pictures from non-picture items (I subscribe to some awesome picture feeds, and they would completely swamp my news-oriented feeds). It looks like I'm going to have to check if the image comes from That's a terrible way to parse metadata. permalink

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