A side-effect of all this Google Social lunacy is that I’m seeing a lot of URLs for people that I wouldn’t normally have put in their Address Book entries. For instance, Simon Wistow’s Vox page links to his gestalt page which in turn links to his use.perl page, so I see all of these URLs in Shelf. It fetches the pages, and discovers that there’s a single RSS feed advertised on the use.perl page – http://use.perl.org/index.rss. But this RSS feed is nothing to do with Simon’s page – it’s the main use.perl article feed. Shelf doesn’t know this, of course, so Simon’s display in my Shelf window contains all recent use.perl articles.
The HTML spec seems to imply to me that rel=”alternate” links are for linking to the same content, but represented in a different way, not some completely unrelated content that happens to be hosted on the same domain. This is very annoying.
I’m picking on use.perl unreasonably here, of course. Lots of people do it. use.perl is just the first one I noticed. Followed by search.cpan.org (author modules pages have an RSS feed of the master module upload list). But there are others.
Well, as of next month, Facebook developers can no longer put things in a feed unless it’s going in as a direct result of an action that the owner of that feed performed on a facebook page.
Now, this is clearly spun as trying to prevent ‘you’ve been given a beer’ / ‘you’ve been bitten by a zombie’, etc messages. Not letting apps belonging to another person put entries into my feed is a good thing. But the documentation page says
Note that you should not be using a session_key for a user who is not actively using your application when calling this method.
Now, I read this as, you now can’t use a background process to put entries into a user’s feed using a session_id. You can only put things into their feed if they’re looking at your app while you’re doing it. And this is irritating. It completely breaks all the apps I use that syndicate the outside world into my Facebook profile – Twitter, delicious, CPAN, Dopplr, etc.
It seems that this is an effort to stop users like me, who just want to use existing services, but centralize update notification for the friends I have that don’t want to obsessively subscribe to 20 RSS feeds. Naturally, facebook don’t like me, because I don’t see, and therefore click, their ads. Forcing me to visit the site to tell my friends anything ‘fixes’ this.
Maybe I’m paranoid. Maybe I’m mis-reading ‘actively’, and they’re ok with installed apps using session_ids of users who aren’t logged in and using that app at this precise moment. I hope so.