Ad Supported RSS

Tim Bray is getting pushback over his call for RSS subscriber tracking. And while I agree that we need to insure reader privacy, I feel that proscribing ads in RSS is shortsighted.

Consider your favorite music artists. It’s common practice to distribute tour information by mail (both e and snail). And a RSS feed would be a natural extension of that practice. First of all, it is arguable that the entire feed would be one big ad. And suppose early work previously only available on cassette was re-issued on CD, would you want that announced on the RSS feed? How about an announcement that songs are now available via the iTunes Music Store?

Now consider your local club scene. Wouldn’t it be convenient to have the schedules available by RSS? And would you be willing to trade that convenience for ads from those local clubs? How about ads from your local music stores?

I agree that there are limits. Personally, I draw a line at pop-up windows and cheerfully block them. But RSS is a pull technology. If the ads are out of line, then vote with your feet.