Google Groups Kills RSS Support Without Notice • The Register


Google either turned off RSS support in Google Groups without telling anyone, or didn’t notice that RSS in Groups is no longer working.

RSS, which stands for either RDF Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication, is an open content syndication protocol. It allows people to subscribe to website feeds and receive syndicated content from them through an application capable of reading XML data.

Launched in 1999, RSS has evolved into different versions and variations, like Atom, and for some time around 15 years ago it was very popular as a medium to receive updates on newly published content. When Google decided in 2013 to shut down its Google Reader RSS application, it was a controversial decision. Mozilla distanced itself from RSS in 2018.

Lately, RSS has been a low priority for tech companies focused on content distribution programs that are easier to control and monetize, although it is still appreciated by those who need to keep up with updates across a wide range. of websites.

Google has never made Group RSS feeds obvious. RSS links were previously hidden on the About page of any public Google Groups. But now they are completely gone.

Earlier this year, questions about the disappearance of RSS support in Google Groups started appearing on the Google Groups support website. The answer given by one of the non-Google moderators is that support for RSS feeds has gone with the redesign of the Google Groups desktop client which debuted in May 2020 and was rolled out thereafter. A mobile client design update followed in August 2020.

While the Groups redesign may have removed references to RSS links on the About Groups pages, the RSS backend remained in place.

It was then that Internet users has begun To opinion that their Google Groups RSS subscriptions were no longer working. Mozilla’s dev-security-policy mailing list, for example, relied on Google Groups RSS to distribute updates, and earlier this month it switched to an alternative RSS service.


People affected by the disappearance of RSS have suggested several workarounds, such as using to generate a feed from a specific Google group. This approach is not ideal, however, because the generated streams are not formatted the same way, so details such as message timestamps are not preserved.

In an email to The register, Feross Aboukhadijeh, an open source developer who runs Socket, expressed dismay that RSS has stopped working in groups.

“I am disappointed that the RSS feed feature has been removed,” said Aboukhadijeh. “It worked perfectly well and probably only represented a minimal maintenance burden for the group team. “

While many Internet users today may not interact with RSS, the technology is nonetheless a critical infrastructure for journalists, technologists, and researchers, he says.

“RSS is an open protocol for websites to share their information with other websites, applications and services,” he said. “It’s used everywhere – it powers every podcast feed and shares articles from almost every major news website.”

Aboukhadijeh also observed that many programming communities, like Node.js, use Google Groups to advertise critical security issues. “Anyone who relies on the Google Group RSS feed to consume these security advisories will stop receiving critical security advisories until they subscribe directly to the group by email,” he said. declared.

“Another victim of this change is the @IntentToShip Twitter account that posts when browser manufacturers announce their intention to ship, change or remove features from their web engines, ”added Aboukhadijeh.

Another victim of this change is the Twitter account … which posts when browser makers announce their intention to ship, change, or remove features from their web engines.

“The account is popular in the web standards community because it consolidates posts from many disparate Google Groups into one feed. The removal of RSS from Google Groups broke their integration. “

With the announcement of last year’s redesign, Google announced that it would – gradually – depreciate 16 features, including canned replies, pinned topics, and topic types, among others.

RSS support, however, is not among the condemned features. While Google mentioned its intention to remove RSS feeds from groups at the time, it did so very quietly.

The disappearance of RSS in groups is all the more puzzling for Google’s recent assertion of RSS, or something like that, in Chrome for Android and its attempt to remedy its reputation for abruptly disrupting services through adoption. a corporate API policy.

The register asked Google for comment and we got no response. ®

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