It turns out RSS and Atom really are different

I’ve argued that RSS and Atom are functionally equivalent for users these days. Choose one and make it easy for people to subscribe, I said.

It turns out that, for Radar readers at least, our two feed links attract different kinds of readers. Who knew? Looking at our feed traffic, about 35% of you subscribe to our RSS 1.0 feed, while the rest subscribe to our Atom feed. 52% of the RSS 1.0 readers use Bloglines, but 77% of the Atom readers use Bloglines. Our Atom readers are significantly more likely to click on a link in one of our posts. And the posts you like are different, too. For our RSS 1.0 readers, the most popular articles in June were:

Rank Title
1 The NY Times Gets into the Blog Spirit
2 Google Maps + Yahoo! Traffic Back Online
3 Review of Gershenfeld’s Fab on Slashdot
4 Good Discussion of Apple/Intel Rumors
5 CafeSpot

And then for our Atom readers:

Rank Title
1 Ruby on Rails, and the Rails Beta Book
2 The Rise of Open Source Java
3 Google Maps + Yahoo! Traffic Back Online
4 Review of Gershenfeld’s Fab on Slashdot
5 OS GIS Conference Day 1

So there are more Atom readers, who are more likely to use Bloglines, click on links, and read our nitty-gritty tech posts; while the RSS 1.0 readers go for the bigger brand name topics, and for some reason don’t give Nat the love he deserves. (Y’all are missing out on that score.)

Can this be explained just by the relative permeation of the terms “RSS” and “Atom”? I wonder.