About the Lack of NHL RSS Feeds

John over at Boltsmag talks briefly about RSS, and points us to The Ice Block’s complaint that hockey websites don’t feature RSS feeds.

There’s probably a good reason that none of the NHL team sites offer an RSS feed… RSS hasn’t been mandated by the NHL itself, nor has it been “pioneered” by the NHL.com website.

Edit: There are actualy three good reasons (moved to after the jump).

Implementation: Singer (Ice Block) is right, it’s not that hard to put an RSS feed on your website; code one by hand. But I think it’s more a question of the infrastructure tools available to the NHL team site maintainers. Do each of them need to learn to write well-formed XML for these feeds? Realistically, that’ll never happen; theoretically, even if they did dream in well-formed XML, it’d still be a huge pain in the ass to keep those feeds up to date.

They need a nice, user-friendly utility that will allow them to enter the title, text, etc. for a story, and have it automagically update their website, as well as spit out some nice XML and auto-update the RSS feed. Do those tools exist? I have no idea… I script my feed updates in Python (p.s. Dear NHL, I have already-written code for a nice web-based interface for autogenerating XML RSS feeds available for purchase at your earliest convenience.). Until a tool like that becomes popular, and penetrates the NHL head office (or a team office with league clout), then I wouldn’t look for RSS feeds any time soon.

Motivation: On the other hand, RSS feeds are offered by websites solely as a convenience to their readers… even if those feeds do contain advertisements. Further, the presence of a feed is only a convenience if the website’s readers are technologically savvy. While RSS is mostly unheard of in the general populace (cf. Gregg’s latest post), it is already wildly popular in the tech-geek circle, and still gaining momentum with the fence-sitters in between (cf. my July 2003 post).

Isolation: Finally, on today’s Internets, who makes up the group of people that will utilize RSS feeds from hockey websites? Answer: Hardcore hockey fans (a relatively small population vs. all netizens) that are also tech-geeks (even smaller a group!). Shit, when I put it that way… it doesn’t even make sense to have RSS feeds on NHL websites. It seems the only three people on Earth who would use them are Singer, JF and me…

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4 thoughts on “About the Lack of NHL RSS Feeds

  1. I’ve been looking for feeds for almost two years now. I even wrote a parser to download the html on their site and pull out the scores.

    If you ever find any feeds (or of the nhl wakes up and joins the 21st century) let me know.

  2. Well, there’s a few ways to implement an RSS solution. A typical way would be to tie the feed generation right into whatever content management tool they’re using. So that every document generates a feed as it’s published. While this isn’t exactly difficult, it can be intimidating to staff until it becomes mainstream enough that consumer demand requires it (man, I had hoped we were there already).

    However a really nice way to implement an RSS feed would be to decouple it from the site management tools itself and simply create a seperate scrape tool that knows what to look for and how to categorize content. It does mean that the scraper needs to be maintained during site changes, but it’s a part-time one person job and has no effect on the site itself. Very affordable, and quick to get off the ground. Putting together a third-party scrape tool for nhl.com is really not that difficult, however I don’t think the NHL or MSN is going to like their content being handled and published by a third party.

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