Here we go again

Posted Feb 05, 2004 in XML.

In June of 2000, Userland took Netscape's RSS specification, removed Netscape's copyright statement, made several incompatible changes, added a Userland copyright statement, called it "RSS 0.91", and claimed that it was compatible with Netscape's RSS 0.91.

So says Mark Pilgrim, in what is actually a very interesting history of the syndication format. Dave Winer responds with:

For the record, I wrote the RSS 0.91 spec from scratch, starting in June 2000, to document current practice. There was no claim of compatibility with the format described by Netscape's document, as practice had already deviated, and it was made clear, in public, that I had created a new document. Some say that I stole the spec from Netscape, replacing their copyright notice with my company's. That's a very serious charge, it's being taken seriously, and it's not true.

Dave is clearly annoyed about Mark's post, and further indicates this with, "I must be crazy. I forgot that Lessig is a lawyer. Oy." Are we about to see another clash of great minds, flames, and other unpleasantries? Should I get popcorn?


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    He claimed it was 100% compatible with Netscape's RSS 0.91. Please don't take my word for it; read for yourself:

    "So all this is is a cleanup. All the Netscapeisms are removed. ... considering that it doesn't add anything to RSS, it should simply be a matter of reviewing it for editorial mistakes or omissions, there is no room to debate new features, because the spec doesn't attempt to add any."

    Posted by Mark on Feb 05, 2004.

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    Don't worry, I completely agree with your interpretation of events - the evidence is utterly compelling.

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Feb 05, 2004.

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    I noticed that Dave has added Mark's words to his original post on the matter. He says he cannot link to Mark's post because Mark's server is configured to bounce links from

    Personally, I think Mark should remove this restriction. I am not sure what he has to gain by leaving it there.

    Posted by Simon Jessey on Feb 06, 2004.