My MSN launches RSS feeds service: serious concerns with Moreover

Filed as General on January 25, 2005 3:12 pm

by Duncan

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News from Microsoft that they have now officially announced the ability to read RSS and Atom feeds within the My MSN service.

The Microsoft Search Blog states that users can add an individual blog’s feed on the site.

On problem though: type in the name of your favourite blog and none of the results will show you the blogs feeds directly.

The search only shows results from reconstituted feeds held by Moreover.

Whilst shifting bandwidth demands from content originators to Moreover may be welcomed by some, the arrangement strips the ability for Bloggers to know who or how many people are reading their feeds, and potentially gives over control to Moreover of the feeds, giving near total power to a private company in the dissemination, or censorship, of feeds utilised on the service.

Direct links from the feeds at My MSN to stories from blog feeds are via a Moreover URL address, which we presume is for tracking purposes, which then redirects to the actual post on the blog.

For example a link from a feed from The Blog Herald at My MSN pointed to http://c.moreover.com/click/here.pl?r32628677b&w=2280172 not directly to the post at the Blog Herald. The Moreover URL then re-directs directly to the Blog Herald, presumably after recording the readers interest.

In testing (typing in “Blog Herald” into the search box), a number of feeds for the Blog Herald appeared at My MSN, all provided from Moreover, and remarkably, showed content from different points in time, with one feed showing the latest postings, and another 24 hours out of date.

Two other well know sites where tested, Dave Winer’s Scripting News (search: “Scripting News”) and Ensight.org from Jeremy Wright (search:”Ensight”). Both search results provided only reconstituted feeds provided by Moreover.

Further, an initial attempt to link directly to a Blog Herald feed was met with a “No content found” message. Strangley though, and attempt exactly 37 minutes later to http://www.blogherald.com/wp-rss.php was successful, and the times of the posts listed on the feed all indicated that they had been posted 37 minutes before. The only thing that we can presume from this is that our initial search initiated an indexing by MSN, which whilst no means successful for the initial search, logged the feed in their shortly thereafter.

Interestingly, the Moreover site brags that it is not a syndication provider, but an aggregator and “As part of the Weblog Content Pack, you can access more than 1,000,000 blogs including techdirt.com, gizmodo.com, kuro5hin.org, reiter.weblogger.com, econlog.econlib.org, argmax.com, knowledgeproblem, blogspot.com, winterspeak.com, institutional-economics.com…”

Basically, Moreover appear to be selling access to feeds from blogs, which they re-label on their own servers, controlling the access to the content, and Microsoft, who are trying to promote a Blog friendly service, are being a little sneaky about its abilities: you can link to an individual blog’s feed, but you’ll more likely end up with an indirect Moreover feed that will be tracked and recorded by Moreover, not the contents originator.

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  1. Comme la lune sur la brancheJanuary 25, 2005 at 9:35 pm