The Candidates & RSS: Poor Grades

The goal: put together one aggregated RSS feed that combines the campaign blog feeds from Hillary Clinton (the best URL of the bunch), Barack Obama (bleh) and John McCain (second best URL). The first two: a piece of cake to find the RSS feed link (after ducking past that annoying splash sign-up page).

But McCain’s site had me running (well, clicking) in circles. There is no ’single’ RSS feed for the blog and no feed that contains current posts, even though there are five (5!) category feeds (and no archive links). The dates of the last posts: campaign (14 Mar 2008), economy (28 Nov 2007), health (28 Nov 2007), iraq (28 Nov 2007) and spending (28 Nov 2007). (Yes, those four all end with the same post.) The latest post right now, however, is 8 Apr 2008 (Speech to VFW). Is it the ASPX system?

Then there are the interface design issues that made me immediately think of Bush’s sites. Must be the same design team: totally counter-to-expectations use of the cookie-crumb trail (the last item in the trail is “home” instead of the page you are on); navigation links that take you nowhere (because they link to the page you’re sitting on); machine — not human — readable URLs (no search engine optimization for these folks!); and randomly-ordered navigation links (rather than alphabetical).

So only the Democratic contenders are aggregated, but all aggregation isn’t created equal. Clinton sends only headlines and links (poor choice, that). Obama sends full posts — in that aspect, his team “gets” this media space — but his RSS feed is padded with “community” blogs, which I have absolutely no desire to read.

On blog syndication, I’ll give an F to McCain and Cs to both Clinton and Obama. This is not rocket science — everyone should have gotten an A+ … because the software has become so simple that you have to work at it to screw it up!

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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