RSS is a platform independent protocol, for sucking content out of a web site. Give or take. I’ve written a lot about RSS and web content over the years, and in 2007 you’d think the big commercial sites would start to get it right.
Comedy Central in the U.S. is not one of them. Go to their site, I’m not linking, you know where it is.
Problem #1 – the page loads 138 items. 138! And it changes every time you load it. I managed to get it down to 98 once. 98!
Problem #2 – their featured videos start playing automatically, nice if you’re at work or goofing off in a quiet environment.
Problem #3 – look at the page source, the DOCTYPE doesn’t start until several lines in, and there are 228 HTML errors according to w3’s validator.
Problem #4 – the page gets a load error in Safari.
So say you want to subscribe to the video for one of their shows. Look around, see if you can find where to go. Give up? You have to click on the “community” tab in the menu and then the “newsletters” sub-tab. From here you can click “RSS feeds” in the left panel, and finally you get to the list of feeds. All good… or maybe not…
The first in the list is The Daily Show Videos. All I want is the URL for the feed, so I mouse over the SUBSCRIBE button and… nothing.
Problem #5 – it’s all flash, so no, you can’t find the actual RSS feed URL.
OK, so we give up, let’s just click on SUBSCRIBE and see what happens. Click…
Problem #6 – some weird flash dialog appears with the URL in an edit box, giving the impression that I can change it for them.
But luckily there’s a list of all the readers I might be using, and a custom URL for each. What? RSS is platform neutral? Why do I need to select a reader? And what if my reader isn’t in the list? I can understand selecting a feed by enclosure type, I might want Windows Media instead of QuickTime, but seriously, between readers? If it’s just a handy way to automagically subscribe in your reader, then it just adds confusion, as anyone using a reader will already know how to add a feed.
Problem #7 – it gives the impression that RSS is locked to particular readers.
And that’s just trying to get an RSS feed. You can check out the rest of the problems with the site in your own time.
When will they get it? Make it simple stupid.