The Metafilter rss feed doesn't have a favicon. July 26, 2005 2:43 PM   Subscribe

The Metafilter rss feed doesn't have a favicon.
posted by The Jesse Helms to Feature Requests at 2:43 PM (16 comments total)

Every two seconds someone in the third world dies of starvation.
posted by Ryvar at 3:08 PM on July 26, 2005

There's no standard way for an RSS feed to link to a favicon*. All newsreaders that show them guess where it is from the feed or homepage address, and they all use different algorithms. Shrook does display one, for example.

(* Atom 1.0 does have this feature, of course)
posted by cillit bang at 3:19 PM on July 26, 2005

ror ryvar
posted by Dreamghost at 4:18 PM on July 26, 2005

favicons are usually pulled from the main domain server, and aren't part of the RSS spec.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:27 PM on July 26, 2005

cillit bang: Metafilter's feed is RSS 0.91, which specifies the 'image' sub-element of the 'channel' element for this purpose. RSS 0.92, RSS 0.93, RSS 2.0 and, amazingly enough, RSS 1.0 all use this element for this purpose as well. Even more amazingly, they all specify the 'link', 'url' and 'title' sub-elements of 'image'. So there very definitely is a standard way to do this in RSS.
posted by ubernostrum at 8:50 PM on July 26, 2005

(and yes, I know that 'image' isn't explicitly for the same purpose as the traditional favicon link in HTML, but arguably 'atom:icon' isn't either, and if that's what you want, most decent aggregators will fetch /favicon.ico when they grab a feed)
posted by ubernostrum at 8:54 PM on July 26, 2005

well shit
posted by punishinglemur at 11:20 PM on July 26, 2005

Erm, no ubernostrum. All current practice revolves around putting a full size logo in rss:image, and all four of the specs you mention specify a suggested size of 88x31 pixels for this image. More crucially, putting a link to the favicon in rss:image will not lead to the vast majority of aggregators that display favicons to look for one there.

atom:icon is explicitly for favicons. I know this, because I was the member of the Atom Working Group that suggested we have it.
posted by cillit bang at 7:10 AM on July 27, 2005

So nerrr.
posted by cillit bang at 7:11 AM on July 27, 2005

Quoth Atom 1.0: "The "atom:icon" element's content is an IRI reference [RFC3987] which identifies an image which provides iconic visual identification for a feed."

Quoth RSS 0.91 on the orginal definition of the RSS 'image' element: "Specifies an image associated with a channel."

Other than saying that the the image should visually identify the feed (which, inevitably, is what people used RSS' 'image' element for), how exactly is Atom more explicitly saying 'favicon' here?

And honestly, if you want to get into RSS mentioning 88x31 as the default assumed dimensions, then let's look at Atom's language for hints of favicons. A favicon is an image, almost invariably in Windows .ico format, of dimensions 16x16 or 32x32. Atom hints at none of this, so I have a hard time reading the spec as 'explicitly for favicons'. Maybe that's why it was put in there, but that's sure not how it reads now; it reads like someone wanted an equivalent to the RSS 'image' element, which is likely to be how 'atom:icon' will be used by many feed authors.

And as I said, most decent aggregators fetch /favicon.ico anyway.
posted by ubernostrum at 7:33 AM on July 27, 2005

You missed the other half of the atom:icon spec:
"The image SHOULD have an aspect ratio of one (horizontal) to one (vertical), and SHOULD be suitable for presentation at a small size."

There is also an atom:logo element, and that is the RSS 'image' element equivalent.

And as I said, most decent aggregators fetch /favicon.ico anyway.

But I thought you said linking to the favicon via rss:image was standard?
posted by cillit bang at 7:48 AM on July 27, 2005

If I knew what language you nerds were speaking, this pissing match would be more entertaining.
posted by jonson at 7:53 AM on July 27, 2005

Trust me, jonson - it wouldn't.
posted by Ryvar at 8:09 AM on July 27, 2005

So the Atom WG apparently felt it was necessary to have two distinct elements, one of which "identifies an image which provides iconic visual identification for a feed" and the other of which "identifies an image which provides visual identification for a feed". Was that the result of a visit from the Department of Redundancy Department, or is there a semantic hair-splitting argument based on alleged meanings of "iconic" that I'm missing here? Can we look forward to 'atom:brand', 'atom:mark', 'atom:logotype' and other useful thesaurus entries in the future?

And I simply said that, if you want to link to an image to represent your feed (that's the purpose of favicons, isn't it?), RSS does provide a standard way to do so. That many aggregators have taken to fetching /favicon.ico and displaying it in the list of feeds, in lieu of images which are explicitly meant to visually identify the feeds, is not the fault of RSS, which from the start provided a standard way to link to a representative image and which has amazingly maintained that through all its otherwise-incompatible versions (although the fetching of /favicon.ico does obviate the need for an element explicitly intended for favicons).

So there.
posted by ubernostrum at 11:51 PM on July 27, 2005

Again, you're not quoting the technical difference between the two, just the introductory text. One should point to a small square aggregators may use as an icon, the other should point to a large rectangular logo. This simplifies aggragators, since they know which element to look at when they want a separate kind of image.

Aggregator took to using /favicon.ico exactly because there isn't an explicit way in RSS to link to icons. It doesn't obviate anything, it's a hack.
posted by cillit bang at 9:16 AM on July 28, 2005

I was quoting directly from the current version of "The Atom Syndication Format". If its descriptions of those elements don't constitute the "technical difference between the two", then what does? And if I take what you're saying at face value, then the reason for having two elements is so you can use one when your image is square-shaped and the other when it's rectangular. Um. Mightn't that have been handled more elegantly?

And if you really want to be an asshole about the RSS specs, I'll happily be the same about the Atom spec and conclude that 'atom:icon' isn't explicitly for favicons. Sure, it talks about 'iconic representations', but that'd fit gravatars just as well, and a lot of other things too. Sure, it says you SHOULD (that's an RFC2119 SHOULD, so you don't have to follow it) give the icon a 1:1 aspect ratio, but if this were explicitly for favicons then it'd say 'MUST' instead, since favicons are square. And finally, if it were meant to explicitly be for favicons, it'd explicitly say 'favicon' in the spec instead of relying on supplemental material to get the point across. This is supposed to be the unambiguous syndication format, after all.

Anyway, when we take all that into account it's quite clear that Atom 1.0 does not explicitly provide a way to link to favicons. How do you like them apples?
posted by ubernostrum at 4:11 PM on July 28, 2005

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