RSS and BitTorrent are a great match, but despite the good fit between the two technologies there is no standardized format for BitTorrent feeds. Much to the surprise of many torrent site owners, RSS inventor Dave Winer has offered a helping hand to fix this problem.
For those not familiar with the term, RSS is an acronym for ‘Really Simple Syndication’. It’s a really convenient mechanism which allows you to receive regular automated updates from your favorite sites.
Most news sites have RSS feeds that let you automatically receive updates when a new article is published. Similarly, most BitTorrent sites also publish RSS feeds for their content, allowing users to download or receive notifications on new torrents without having to search for files manually.
Most of the popular torrent clients support RSS downloading which works well with the RSS feeds produced by most torrent sites. However, nearly every site uses a slightly different format which doesn’t do the usability of the RSS feeds much good.
Dave Winer, the original designer of RSS, has noticed this ‘mess’ as well and has opted to change it. Although Winer saw BitTorrent winning at the 2003 Wired Awards where RSS was also nominated, he doesn’t hold a grudge against the popular file-sharing protocol.
“After Mininova shut down their main service, I decided to look into how BitTorrent might be better decentralized,” Winer told TorrentFreak.
‘One of the keys to that will be to improve the RSS the various sites produce. It’s pretty much a mess, but that’s understandable because there have always been good search engines to do the centralization. Now that that’s in doubt, let’s clean it up,” Winer added.
To help BitTorrent’s move forward, Winer started by reviewing the RSS output produced by a few torrent sites and wrote up some comments and suggestions on how the various implementations can be improved.
His writing was soon picked up by isoHunt’s Gary Fung and EZTV’s NovaKing, who have already implemented some of Winer’s suggestions and started discussing a more standardized RSS output, as well as a BitTorrent RSS namespace.
Although the technicalities may not be of interest to most users, everyone who uses RSS feeds on BitTorrent sites will eventually benefit from standardization. Winer encourages torrent site and application developers to join the discussion, add comments and come up with suggestions.