Who needs RDF?


It’s been proposed that WordPress drop RSS 0.92 and RDF as supported feed formats. This has caused a flurry of posts to the hackers mailing list, and no shortage of blog posts about it.

Taking Owen’s comment in the ticket, I evaluated my own RDF usage. I do not publish a link to my wp-rdf.php file, and the only reason I provide an (unpublicized) RDF feed at all is because I’ve not taken the time to delete the file. For the week of 8 January through 15 January, I received 148 hits to my wp-rdf.php file. Of these, 112 were from www.pluck.com, which helpfully announces that it has zero subscribers to my RDF feed. It sure is happy to consume a feed which gets zero use. All the while Pluck was chewing on my RDF feed, it was also happily consuming my Atom 0.3 and my RSS2 feed.

Yahoo requested my RDF feed 12 times last week; 10 of which were from Yahoo-Blogs. Syndic8 came through 7 times. I had three RDF hits from something announcing itself with Jakarta Commons-HttpClient/3.0. Icerocket hit twice, along with two visits from GoogleBot. Then I had one hit each from PubSub, EdgeIO, ping.blo.gs, Blogslive, Java/1.5.0_03 and finally topicblogs.

The argument for RDF seems to be that there are some really powerful applications consuming RDF in pursuit of the Semantic Web. I asked what those applications might be. I’m genuinely interested: maybe there’s some great thingie there that I didn’t realize I needed/wanted. I’ve yet to find out what the great RDF applications are. If anyone can provide salient examples, please comment below.

The uproar around this whole thing surprises me. The RDF advocates make it sound like the sky is falling right now, even though they’ve yet to produce an example of something that needs RDF. The proposal is to remove RDF from the next official release of WordPress, which is months away. And even then, if RDF is removed from the next version, RDF isn’t going to completely evaporate from the internet: upgrade adoption is usually slow (there are still people using WordPress 1.2!), a plugin could reasonably be developed, and an enterprising entity could take this as an opportunity to make an RDF service hub, collecting all the various feeds from non-RDF WordPress blogs and translating them into RDF (here I admit my ignorance: to me, one machine-readable feed format ought to be easily converted to another machine-readable format).

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