While blogging appears to take control of formatting and presentation away from the author, the reality is that blog entries (or "items") are typically short summaries or "teasers" associated with a link to the author's website or another site relevant to the story in question. In this way, RSS feeds help to bring new readers to many websites.
Despite the fundamental simplicity of the idea, the RSS "industry" is crowded with competing standards and conflicting histories. Important RSS "standards" in use today include:
1. RSS 1.0. Standardized by the RSS-DEV working group. A very complete standard, including namespaces, extension mechanisms, and various things perhaps lacking in RSS 0.91. Despite the name, this is NOT related to RSS 2.0, and indeed it is not a superset of RSS 0.91.
1. RSS 2.0. Published by the Berkman Center at Harvard Law. A much simpler standard completely unrelated to RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0 attempts to maintain the spirit of RSS 0.91 while filling in gaps.
Perhaps at some future date a single RSS standard will emerge as the preferred format. In the meantime, however, the major syndication services accept well-formed and not-so-well-formed blogs in all of the above formats, and more. You may choose any of the above, with good results. I presently use both RSS 0.91, for Innards, and RSS 1.0, for the RSS feed of the WWW FAQ.
For a particularly thorough effort to make sense of the history of RSS, see Ronan Waide's RSS presentation notes.
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