RSS-CB FAQ

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Contents

Frequently Asked Questions about RSS-CB

Overview

What is RSS-CB?

RSS-CB is an extension of RSS 1.0 created to meet certain information dissemination needs of central banks. RSS-CB follows the structure of conventional RSS 1.0, while adding custom elements intended primarily for consumption by machine processes. It also supports several Dublin Core elements. The most recent version of the RSS-CB specification is 1.1.

RSS-CB is based on RSS 1.0 — as opposed to other syndication formats such as RSS 2.0 or Atom — principally because RSS 1.0 is an instance of RDF, a well established W3C specification providing "a common framework for expressing... information so it can be exchanged between applications without loss of meaning." [1]

What are RSS-CB applications?

There are currently five RSS-CB applications - speeches, news releases, events, research papers and statistics. Each represents a certain type of information that central banks commonly produce.

As each of these types can have varying metadata, the applications are customised to suit. For example, a speech item includes the name of the speaker, the location of the speech and so on. A statistics item will include rate information and observation periods.

Generally, every item in an RSS-CB feed will belong to one of these applications. However, a feed can contain items that belong to different applications - for example, a feed for your entire site, which might combine speeches, news releases and other application items.

Implementation details

For which readers should we optimise and test our feeds?

The following are suggested at a bare minimum...

  • Google Reader and Google Homepage
  • Yahoo! home page
  • Internet Explorer 7 favorite

Some others of interest

  • Firefox live bookmark
  • Bloglines
  • NewsGator - various options, including web-based and applications

And particularly for statistical feeds, you could try

Why is RSS 2.0 not supported in RSS-CB? Is this planned?

RSS 2.0 does not support the addition of customised elements. The same limitation applies to Atom feeds, hence the decision to base RSS-CB on RSS 1.0.

Therefore, there is no plan to support other RSS formats at this stage.

Feed content

What is the ideal number of items in an RSS feed?

There is a general convention of having 15 items in a feed. But it is not compulsory. If your feed is very active, you may choose to have a higher limit. If it rarely features new items - or if it features data that becomes obsolete, such as statistical feeds - you can choose to have fewer items. If you're not sure, go with 15 and see how it looks.

Should we have many topical feeds, just one feed for everything, or a hybrid solution?

This is probably a personal judgement on some levels, but the hybrid solution puts the power to choose in the hands of the users. They may like to receive all of the updates to your website - or just those from specific parts of the site. Having a feed containing the contents of all feeds, as well as topical feeds, will allow the user to make the appropriate choice. But be sure to mark the feeds clearly.

Post-implementation issues

How should we indicate to our visitors that we have feeds available?

There are several options, none of which are exclusive to each other. You may wish to use all of them!

  • Put a link in a prominent location on your website to a page that lists all your RSS feeds. It is recommended to have a standard RSS feed icon next to this link, which can be found at feedicons.com. These distinctive and commonly-used icons catch the eye of the user and lead them to your feed page.
  • Create the web page listing all of your RSS feeds. Some sites have a hierarchical structure of feeds such as the New York Fed, which allow the user to subscribe to what are essentially feeds of feeds. Others, like the International Herald Tribune have a flat list.
  • For Firefox browsers and Internet Explorer 7 and above, you can use a feature called "auto-discovery". You can put this on any or all of the pages on your website by making a simple change to the <head> section of your HTML. When a user visits this page, an orange feed icon will appear at the top of the web browser, which allows a one-click subscription to your feeds.

How should we inform other central banks that we have feeds available?

You have two options at the moment.

What if my question hasn't been answered here?

You can visit the RSS-CB Q&A forum. Anyone can read the entries here, but registration is required to post new ones.