January 12, 2004 4:01 PM PST

Yahoo tests syndication technology for MyYahoo

Yahoo plans to test RSS technology for its personalization tools, giving people the ability to automatically receive news and information feeds from third parties onto MyYahoo pages.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company has been experimenting with technology called Really Simple Syndication (RSS), a format that is widely used to syndicate blogs, discussion threads and other Web content. Yahoo already started using RSS for its Yahoo News service, allowing other sites to automatically "scrape" Yahoo's top stories daily.

Last week, the company started beta testing RSS for MyYahoo, but soon pulled the experiment shortly after. "It's all in flux right now," said Stephanie Iwamasa, a Yahoo spokeswoman, adding that it was a momentary test.

"We're looking at RSS as one of the ways to provide consumers more features and products," Iwamasa said. She added that the company will publicly test the MyYahoo RSS service again, but she did not pinpoint a date. She said the company is beta testing the application internally.

RSS would let MyYahoo users transport feeds from third-party content sites onto their personal pages, intermingling outside links with tailored news, video and financial information from Yahoo. The outside links then direct the reader to content on third-party pages. Such a layout would be a first for Yahoo.

RSS, also known as rich site summary, is based on the Extensible Markup Language (XML) specification and is secondhand for Web publishing to millions of bloggers. The technology allows people to create, and Web users to access, content such as news and observations that can be automatically syndicated to other Web sites.

The technology has taken off with the rise of blogging, and mainstream companies have adopted it as an easy format for distributing content. But it has drawn some controversy among its gatekeeper, Harvard Law School fellow Dave Winer, and advocates of a different format. Those are Blogger owner Google and Sam Ruby, an influential IBM developer.

Demand for more features in the syndication format inspired Ruby and others to begin work on a comprehensive alternative to Winer's format. They say their technology will define not only syndication, but publishing, editing and archiving functions as well.

Yahoo News uses RSS to syndicate top stories and business, science and world news, among other feeds, free for noncommercial use to third parties. Yahoo has had some small success with RSS for News. It said that the news service has "grown steadily since the introduction of the RSS feature."

 

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