Archive of UserLand's first discussion group, started October 5, 1998.

An RSS Categorization Proposal

Author:Jonathan Eisenzopf
Posted:9/12/1999; 2:13:32 AM
Topic:An RSS Categorization Proposal
Msg #:10939
Prev/Next:10938 / 10940

I wanted to start a new thread since the other one was getting scary. I also wanted to comment on the excellent discussion, which is not only an issue for RSS, but is a big issue on the Web in general.

First, I think it's safe to say that there shouldn't be a definitive categorization scheme for RSS or the Web. I've used systems like the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes and the Dewey decimal system, among others, to categorize data on the Web. While these systems are useful, they do not provide the granularity and detail necessary for classifying data.

For example, while a fruit stand and an apple orchard both fit under the agriculture category, the information that's valuable to a fruit stand owner will be different than that of an apple grower. Categorization is best left to the experts of that domain.

I think John Udell had it right when he suggested a hybrid approach. One nice thing about XML is that you can import properties from many other namespaces. So, we could effectively include as many categorization schemes as we like. The tags might look something like:

Xml-rpc to the future?
Markets & Investing/Personal Finance

This way, we can allow groups or individuals to use their own categorization schemes. As groups release new schemes, you can decide whether to update your software to recognize the new namespace or simply ignore them. Also, content providers would have multiple schemes to pick from, so might include info for dewey, dmoz, and its own scheme.

Finally, I would recommend that you read the XMLNews Meta tutorial at, which has several examples of importing namespaces. It's also a much richer format that RSS IMHO.


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