Arlington makes RSS useless

I give up.

I don’t want to seem ungrateful, as I do like the Arlington online event calendar. It’s klunky and javascript-crazy, but it works okay in Firefox and has a good amount of listings in it for community events. The problem is, like any website that requires that I revisit it periodically to see what’s new, is that I just won’t remember to do that. The solutions they offer to this are email alerts – fat chance, I get too much email already – and RSS feeds. Super. If you don’t know what RSS feeds are then this ain’t the whine for you.

If you do, Arlington’s got several, one for each category on the calendar. Arts, Business, Environment, Government, Reading & Literacy, Special Events, and Sports & Fitness. The only problem is that they just don’t work.

Oh, they list the calendar events…. sometimes a bunch of times. But they all come up with useless links rather than the link to the item itself. For example, here’s the item detail for the Pedestrian Advising Meeting on Jan 9th It’s got the times, location, sponsor, transportation options and more. But if you look at the entry in the RSS feed for Government events you get the brief description “Pedestrian Advisory Committee bi-monthly meeting”. Which might be okay, except the link is just to the sponsor website, WALKArlington. Go there and there’s no immediate information on this meeting.

If it’s a library-hosted event like this Stop in for Stories regular event you get a description that says “Stop in for Stories is a fun and interactive program with stories, songs and crafts for all ages. There is no registration required for this ongoing program.” and a link… that doesn’t say diddly about “Stop in for Stories.”

So I’m done with clicking a link to get more information… and not getting more information. I’ve removed all the feeds from my reader and if I don’t happen to look at the calendar to see something on any given week I’m just not going to know about it. I don’t know if this is a mis-configured tool or if they’re using it wrong, but the upshot is that you get less functionality with the RSS reader, not more. I wonder if anyone involved in running the calendar has actually ever tried to use their own RSS feeds?

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

Well I used to say something in my profile about not quite being a “tinker, tailor, soldier, or spy” but Tom stole that for our about us page, so I guess I’ll have to find another way to express that I am a man of many interests.

Hmm, guess I just did.

My tastes run the gamut from sophomoric to Shakespeare and in my “professional” life I’ve sold things, served beer, written software, and carried heavy objects… sometimes at the same place. It’s that range of loves and activities that makes it so easy for me to love DC – we’ve got it all.


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