Now that I’ve posted the feed icon usage guidelines and the accompanying FAQ and gotten some comments on the guidelines and other feed icon issues, I wanted to do a follow-up post. Here it is.

First, there have been at least three substantive changes proposed to the guidelines:

  • Lower the minimum allowable size of the icon to 12x12 pixels, in order to better match the fonts sizes used on many web sites. I think this is a reasonable change, but I’d like to hear from at least a few more people, especially anyone who disagrees. If I don’t see any disagreement in the next couple of days then I’ll go ahead and update the guidelines to make this change.

  • Explicitly allow icon colors other than orange (e.g., blue and green). This is a harder question. To crib from a comment I made in response to this suggestion, there may be two different answers for two different groups. The first group is comprised mainly of people supplying feed-enabled applications (e.g., news aggregators, whether stand-alone or integrated into other apps) or operating equivalent online services (e.g., web-based aggregators). For these types of applications I think it’s more important to have a standard color, to help orient new users.

    For other people, including the vast majority of people running web sites (especially blogs and related personal sites), from the point of view of the guidelines it’s arguably less important to maintain a standard color. However, it’s not clear to me what the best way is to actually implement such flexibility in practice. We could change the actual guidelines to allow more colors, but that might imply that we think it’s OK to use different colors in all cases, which is not necessarily the case. The other possibility is just to leave the guidelines as is, but informally acknowledge that in practice web sites can and will ignore the guidelines in this area, and no one’s going to try to stop them.

    I’m not decided either way on this question, and would welcome further comments.

  • Allow the use of drop shadows in contexts where they are used with icons as a standard part of the user interface. (This is mainly applicable to applications.) As with the point about the minimum size of the icon, I think this is a reasonable suggestion; however as in that case I’d like to get some more comments. I’d also prefer to not just drop the prohibition on drop shadows, but rather to modify that prohibition to acknowledge the context of use and allow some flexibility.

With regard to other feed icon issues, there are apparently still some lingering questions people have relating to the previously-proposed feed icon trademark license and the associated trademark application, and I wanted to try to set the record straight regarding our intentions.

Trademarks and trademark licensing have traditionally been a controversial subject in the open source world. In retrospect we clearly were precipitate in thinking trademark might be useful with regard to the RSS feed icon, particularly without having the public discussions about finding an appropriate role for trademark or trademark-like management of icons, marks, etc, and community goals and sensitivities. We have not entered into any trademark licenses for the feed icon, will not be pursuing any further activities related to a trademark license for the feed icon, and will abandon the trademark application and leave it to community processes to manage. (I’ve directed the relevant lawyers to begin the process of abandoning the mark.)

As before, comments are welcome on the proposed usage guidelines and other feed icon issues. Just remember that I moderate all comments to prevent spam, and so any comments or trackbacks you submit may not show up on the site right away.