I'm leaning towards atom but I'm not sure.

  • I had the same question recently. I use both Jekyll and Hugo. Jekyll ships with jekyll-feed, which provides Atom. And Hugo ships with RSS 2.0 baked in for free. Trying to figure out which was preferable I started experimenting with both and discovered this kind overview from IBM developerWorks which includes some of the key differences.
    – vhs
    Jun 28, 2017 at 9:04
  • See near-duplicates on StackOverflow and SoftwareEngineering.SE. Apr 10, 2019 at 17:43

4 Answers 4


RSS2 is the modernized version of the legacy format, atom is a more recent competing format. Both are read by all commonly used feed parsers.

You'll run into a fanboy here and there that will try to convince you that one is better than the other. In reality it makes no difference whatsoever. Use the default. Or toss a coin to pick one.

  • 1
    I disagree with your opinion. Atom makes a number of improvements over RSS 2.0 such as support for multiple enclosures, ability to add author data without using Dublin Core XML namespace imports to name just two.
    – vhs
    Jun 28, 2017 at 5:30
  • @JoshH - IMO, what I wrote nearly 7 years ago still holds today: it's a coin toss decision. Consider how things have evolved since: the last I saw a debate on the merit of one or the other was around 2006-2007, long before I even posted the answer. A new JSONFeed format is being pushed around in some developer spheres of late. And hardly anyone uses feeds anymore anyway, apart from robots. Feed reader apps that consume whatever they can auto-discover, WordPress offers JSON out of the box, and the go to options for real people to subscribe or read offsite are Twitter, Facebook, and maybe AMP. Jun 28, 2017 at 5:53
  • I'm aware of JSONFeed. It's a silly silly concept, and I've opened the deal breaker issue against them in GH. But that's besides the point. As for Web Feeds, you're thinking syndication. I'm thinking exports. But that's still besides the point. It's a Web Standard, and Atom easily bests RSS 2.0 for the reasons I mention. If one tossed a coin they'd be shooting themselves in the foot. Yesterday. Today. And tomorrow.
    – vhs
    Jun 28, 2017 at 8:32
  • Oh, for exporters you're totally right - Atom is much better. But the context of OP's question was which to provide for syndication. Jun 28, 2017 at 12:11

If your question is more like "which format is most widely used and supported?", then I got a pretty good answer for you:

I analyzed the world's 50 most read blogs according to Technorati, and found that 9 (18%) offered Atom feeds while 48 (96%) offered RSS feeds.

I've also never heard about a feed reader that doesn't support RSS (although I haven't tried them all) -- so I would definitely go with RSS instead of Atom, if I had to choose.

  • Which version of RSS?
    – nevster
    Mar 8, 2011 at 1:06
  • I didn't look into the versions, only checked the media types, which is "application/rss+xml" for all versions of RSS. But RSS 2.0 was published in 2002, so it's not new and unknown to modern software. Mar 8, 2011 at 8:00
  • Technology is not static. And this answer is argumentum ad populum.
    – vhs
    Jun 28, 2017 at 5:32


The fact of the matter is that people will want to use both for different reasons. Google, for example, converts all RSS feeds to Atom before using them in Google Reader. WordPress, for example, can only read RSS feeds in its built-in feed readers (try importing a Google-ified feed into WordPress and everything breaks!).

But which style you use is a matter of personal preference in the end, so you should offer both. This way, the Atom fans can use your Atom feed, and the RSS fans can use your RSS feed.

Besides, WordPress is capable of generating both ... so why limit your users?

  • 1
    That last line is the best reason alone.
    – Dillie-O
    Oct 15, 2010 at 15:22
  • 7
    "Why limit your users?" Because users don't care, that's why. When I come across a site that I want to add to my feed reader, I click the little orange button in my address bar. What I want to happen: Site gets added to feed reader. What happens instead: Site forces me to think about the relative merits of RSS vs Atom and figure out which is better. I don't KNOW which is better. I don't CARE which is better. I don't WANT to know which is better. You decide please and leave me out of it.
    – Doug
    Oct 15, 2010 at 18:02
  • "WordPress, for example, can only read RSS feeds in its built-in feed readers (try importing a Google-ified feed into WordPress and everything breaks!)." Why isn't WordPress using it's built-in SimplePie to import? SimplePie handles both with ease.
    – Dan Gayle
    Oct 15, 2010 at 23:45
  • Well, the functionality is there ... but the default dashboard widgets, for example, don't use it. If you try to give them an Atom feed rather than an RSS feed they break completely.
    – EAMann
    Oct 17, 2010 at 23:04

If you are using feedburner you can use SmartFeed which can 'translate' your feed from Atom to Rss so you will not need to provide both formats yourself.

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