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RSS: <author> vs: <dc:creator>

RSS is an utter mess of standards and a spaghetti of versioning. Quite often I wonder why I myself do not switch to using Atom feeds. Even with the multiple versions of RSS, it still has managed to have remaining errors and issues which it needs to iron out. One of these kinks is the <author> tag.

At first glance, it would make perfect semantic sense for the <author> tag to contain the name or the information of the author of a particular content piece. This is true to an extent; however, the <author> tag is geared more towards containing the email address of the author. Who would want their email address openly travelling around the Internet on an RSS feed? The issue that bothers me is the <author> tag has to contain the author's email address before it can contain the author's name. Sure, most RSS readers can handle an <author> tag holding only a name, but it will not validate.

Rather, you are meant to use the <dc:creator> tag if you wish to only have the name of the author. I am glad there is at least a solution for something that seems so basic, but I still cannot understand why the <author> tag cannot accept just names as well. Perhaps someone can explain to me some reasoning against this, but I highly doubt there is any logical reasoning.

Therefore, if you are only using the name of the author in an RSS item make sure to use the <dc:creator> tag and not the <author> tag:

Code: XML

<item>
    <title>Net Neutrality: Preserving the Free Internet</title>
    <description><![CDATA[The freedom of the Internet is under attack by the telecommunication companies of the world, but particularly in North America. Net neutrality is essential in order to maintain the frontier-aspect of the Internet, allowing everyone to play on a level playing field. Without net neutrality being mandated by law, the Internet as we know it will cease to exist.]]></description>
    <link>http://www.lowter.com/article/net-neutrality</link>
    <guid isPermaLink="true">http://www.lowter.com/article/net-neutrality</guid>
    <pubDate>Sat, 29 Dec 2007 11:15:15 -0600</pubDate>
    <dc:creator>Ethan Poole</dc:creator>
</item>

Also make sure that you include the proper namespace for the Dublin Core in the <rss> tag:

Code: XML

<rss version="2.0" xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/">

Tags:

Comments

  • I have never created an RSS feed personally, but this is such a stupid problem. Surely there should be a seperate tag for someone's email address?

    Posted by Tom (external link) on Sun 10 Feb 2008 at 7:28

  • The only issue with Atom that I am aware of is that you can't have no content; ergo it can't validly be used as a pure notification of new content mechanism. One can work around that by only putting something like "." as the content. Since the current support for Atom is allround - as far as I know - I certainly wouldn't put too much effort into the creation of a RSS feed.

    Posted by Frans (external link) on Sun 10 Feb 2008 at 16:04

  • I have been contemplating switching Lowter's feeds over to Atom in the near future, or at least just offering Atom feeds and slowly switch over to them.

    Posted by Ethan Poole (external link) on Sun 10 Feb 2008 at 18:24