PS: (oh, doesn't work - maybe they haven't got RSS 1.0 support yet, it is new)
I just posted the following in comments over at Brent Simmons' regarding approaches to simple feed subscription, posted here so I can find it again. The issue has been characterised by Dave Winer as the "Yahoo Problem". Phil Ringnalda has given a good (if slightly paranoid) analysis of the political issue in comments at Brent's - summary: If we don't offer something that works as well for people without an aggregator as links to MyBigThree, we won't be fighting about mime-types vs. pseudo-protocols, we'll be fighting about the best way to write a bookmarklet that rewrites links to them back into links we can use to subscribe.
Somewhere between politics and practicalities, Winer's offered a vague solution that sounds centralized, and depends on aggregator developers suppporting him. More practically, there's the feed: URI scheme, and Randy Charles Morin has written up the mime-type based approach, he calls it the Universal Subscription Mechanism.
I'd assume that autodiscovery (via HTML page <link>s) was the first line of attack, the second line being a link on a persons's Web site, the second line getting all the attention at the moment. Anyhow, my $0.02:
It might be a good time to stand back and do a sanity check.
For a start, I'm not certain there's such an imminent threat to civilization as it's been portrayed, we've had these calls to "circle the wagons" many times before. So CNN include links to Yahoo's aggregator - if they also include a direct feed link, so what? If they don't include a direct feed link, then it's *their* loss, because fewer people will be subscribing. There is little doubt that there will remain a role for "third party" aggregators like NetNewsWire and FeedDemon for a long time to come, and it won't be marginal - there's a considerable proportion of feed publishers who have absolutely no intention directly leading people to Yahoo's (Microsoft's, Google's) aggregator.
I'm sure it's possible to solve the immediate issue of the "Yahoo Problem" given support of a significant proportion of aggregator developers - whether or not the solution is a good one. If everyone outside of Yahoo supports a single approach, then Yahoo will be compelled to follow that approach. But how is this different than say Microsoft, Google or Yahoo dictating a single approach? Bullying is bullying, whoever's doing it.
The Web is all about diversity, but paradoxically that diversity is enabled by standardization. Whether application-level standardization is desirable is another question. I would suggest standardization works best at the level of protocols and formats, not on user interface behaviour.
But ok, if something has to be done, and a level playing field is part of the issue, then shouldn't the approach be in the open? Shouldn't it additionally be something that conforms to good practice (as found in e.g. the webarch doc), to avoid conflict with other developments?
My own personal situation is that I've (just barely) got the opportunity to include a little about the technical side of this issue in a book. Whatever the commercial/political side of this problem, there still needs to be some code in there somewhere. Right now I can see the mime-type approach, the feed:// approach and Dave saying he has a solution - but it's secret and for it to work you must do what you're told...
Dave's unknown instructions aside, I can't actually see must conflict between these approaches, implementing one doesn't rule out implementing the other. Having a plurality of solutions at least to begin is quite in line with previous developments on the Internet. Selection in the environment may trim this down to a single approach, or different approaches may come along. That seems more Web-friendly than a single approach being decided by diktat.
So I'd conclude, for a start, that there's no need to panic.
TheseThere are strong reasons in favour of what Randy's suggesting. The feed:// approach runs contrary to good practice, though may be ok as a stopgap. If Dave can offer something more tangible than "vote for me" then perhaps it too could be considered more seriously. But I doubt whether the "Yahoo Problem" will be best solved by any single approach.
PPS. Oops, I also forgot to mention Morten's subscription service.