Open Letter To Web Comic Publishers

If you publish an online comic, please for the love of God use RSS. Please note that some of your readers do not have time to visit your site every day waiting for updates. Most of your readers probably don’t even remember when you usually update your site. RSS is the perfect medium for publishing your artwork because it allows your fans to read your work at their leisure.

Let me paint you a picture here. I currently read the following comics on a regular basis: user friendly, vg cats, phd, mac hall, dillbert, penny arcade, pvp, extra life and dork tower. I also like to get my news from digg, boinboing, slashdot, arstechnica and reddit. I also read dozen of blogs belonging to some of my friends, or people that write interesting stuff. If I would go to each of these sites every morning, I would never get any work done.

I use RSS aggregators to slurp the content for me while I’m busy doing other stuff, and when I have some free time I check up on my feeds. I instantly know which sites have updated, who has a new comic out, and who has been blogging like a madman. If my agreagator can’t catch you I usually don’t bother reading you. Sure, every once in a while when I’m bored I might pop over and check your work out but I will not be a regular. I just don’t have time for this.

If you live off your site and you think that RSS will rob you of precious “clicks” – be my guest and put ads in your feed. I don’t mind. Hell, just put links to the comic in the feed – so that I still need to visit your site to view them. Just please – publish the feed so that I know when you update.

No, I really don’t want to receive your bullshit newsletter, or email notification. My email is barraged by spam already and I do not need another thing wasting my bandwidth and storage. Do it the way nature intended it and publish the freakin RSS. I can guarantee you that you will see a spike in daily hits when you do this.

I’m planning to write a small screen scraper in perl that will generate RSS feeds for some of the comics that I like but which do not use feeds. I will probably release the code here. I’ll don’t think I will publish the links to the custom feeds because of bandwidth issues – unless I can host them somewhere that will not get me in trouble.

This is a drastic measure but hey – if you don’t want me to do that, just publish the damn feed!


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