Colin's Journal

Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.

March 18th, 2003

Where did the images go?

I wonder why more people don’t use the image element of the RSS specification. It’s been available since version 0.91 and is still there in 2.0, yet of the 17 feeds that my aggregator is currently collecting only 1 (my own weblog) has an image present. The BBC RSS feeds have them, but that’s the only other place where I’ve seen them used. You would imagine, given the popularity of favicons, that more sites would be interesting in being able to associate an image with their posts.

As more of the major websites start using RSS we should hopefully see the use of images expand. By using an image in their RSS feeds a publisher can avoid the problem of loosing brand identity (one new article among hundreds a user my have aggregated), and it provides an easy way for a user to quickly identify the source of a feed. A good example of how this can work is the use of images on the friends pages of LiveJournal (LJ), where each post has next to it the image selected by the LJ user who made the post. It also shows a potential explanation for the lack of image use in RSS: even though my feed has an image, the LJ aggregator does not include it in the friends page.

If aggregators do not support the image element it becomes a chicken and egg problem of few tools to display it, and few feeds bothering to supply it.

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Copyright 2015 Colin Stewart

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