Monday, May 08, 2006

Share Your OPML

Share Your OPML, a new project founded by Dave Winer, is launching officially on Monday. It is a self-described “commons for sharing outlines, feeds, and taxonomy.” It will gather a community of subscription lists and aggregate them in interesting and useful ways.

To participate, create an account and upload an OPML file containing the content feeds that you read. Most feed readers like Bloglines, NewsGator, Rojo, Attensa, etc. store the feeds that you read in the OPML file format and can be exported. The feeds that are included in your OPML file are aggregated with feeds other people have uploaded. If you don’t know what all this stuff means, don’t worry. You can still use the site to find new sources of content that you might like to read.

This aggregated data is useful. In particular, it will help people find new feeds that they may enjoy.

There’s a top 100 list of the most popular feeds which could become the definitive top 100 list once there is a statistically relevant number of users (subject to SYO successfully controlling spam). You can also see other users that have similar reading habits as you (it’s called “subscriptions like mine”). Based on this last feature, John Tropea, Robert Scoble and Dave Winer are my closest matches. I may find other interesting feeds by perusing their lists.

There are basic sharing options included now: a user can set sharing to off, which will keep his or her list private (but still include those feeds in the aggregated rankings. Dave Winer says that they’ll have per-feed sharing turned on within a few days.

Spam may become an issue with the site as people attempt to game the top 100 list. There are some controls in place now - a feed is only counted once even if it’s in an OPML file multiple times, and only once account can be created from a single email address. Dave has lots of experience dealing with spam from his days running the ping server, so expect to see additional protective measures put in place as the service evolves.

If tools are added that make SYO the easiest place to manage your OPML (including adding feeds, removing feeds, batch operations, categorization/tagging, etc.), some of the more openminded RSS readers may start to allow customers to store their OPML at SYO instead of with the reader. SYO would become a sort of central registry of people’s OPML files.

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