Yahoo RSS & Frothy Fan-Boy Behavior

I’m sorry, am I missing something? Yahoo adds an RSS reader to Yahoo Mail and people are acting as if Yahoo has created an implantable chip that mainlines RSS feeds into your brain. As I recall, Oddpost, the precursor to Yahoo Mail’s current beta, had an RSS reader two years ago. And there are an awful lot of other RSS readers out there, many of which that are much more feature-rich than Yahoo’s product.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with Yahoo’s RSS reader/folder — and it’s much better than Google’s broken stab at the area. But why people are engaging in such frothy fan-boy behavior is a complete baffler.

I have an idea. Why doesn’t someone call me when a prominent company decides not to support RSS — at this stage in the syndication market’s evolution that would be be something newsworthy. Because in 2005 RSS readers are a commodity, not front-page news.


  1. I couldn’t agree more. If it was a super-cool, Ajax-powered Web app with all kinds of features, I could see it getting attention. But the screen captures I’ve seen are unimpressive at best. I’m sure Yahoo is happy for the free publicity though.

  2. Hey Matthew — Speaking from having used it, it has none of those whizzy features. As you say, I’m sure Yahoo is elated at the huge buzzing effect a small stick poked into the RSS nest can have. Madness.

  3. In fact, Yahoo’s implementation of RSS (in email) is nearly identical to that of Oddpost.

  4. I think Matthew’s comments are kinda funny. “if it were a super cool ajax powered web app”. It is. Oddpost was, and now Y! Mail is a complete AJAX app with drag & drop, right click menus, keyboard shortcuts, and all sorts of stuff like that. They were doing AJAX before someone came up with a name for it.

  5. I agree, Scott. I was focused more on features than on whizzy Ajax stuff. As a former Oddpost user I long thought of da boyz as progenitors of the whole Ajax thing.

  6. ah no, ajax goes WAAAAY back to the 90s, long before oddpost, although the yahoo connection is there: the founder of 411 (rocketmail -> became yahoo mail) had a startup called that presented an entire UI in javascript. a desktop with a trashcan, apps etc, and they even had the idea of publishing apis so users could write their own apps. totally ahead of its time in 1997-98. too bad browsers weren’t quite there yet.
    also zaplets had these “live documents” that were just ajax emails in the late 90s. they folded too.
    the oddpost guys had the fortune of making a run at this when the platform support was there.

  7. Ah, good point. Forgot about Zaplet. Have posted here before about as early Ajax company, so should have been more careful at calling Oddpost an Ajax pioneer. Maybe better would have been calling ’em the best-known of the current generation of popularizers ….