Earlier I posted about a proposed Mozilla Foundation approach to promoting use of the “feed icon” (also known as the “RSS icon”):
As part of that approach I proposed having the Foundation (or some
other organization) publish a set of usage guidelines for the feed icon as used in association with open web syndication formats such as RSS and Atom. This document contains
a first draft of such proposed guidelines the (hopefully final) draft of the guidelines.
These guidelines are published and maintained by the Mozilla Foundation as a service to
the community of individuals and organizations wishing to use the feed icon in connection with their own products and services and
members of the general public who use those products and services and rely on the standard meaning of the feed icon as indicating the use of open web syndication formats.
See also the feed icon guidelines FAQ.
Using the feed icon
The feed icon is freely available for general use in connection with web feeds using open web syndication formats, without the need to enter into a trademark license agreement or similar legal arrangement. Note that these guidelines are not legally binding.
However if you
create and distribute software or hardware for the purposes of reading or manipulating web feeds;
provide an online service for equivalent purposes; or
provide or offer
any otherrelated goods or services relating to web feeds(e.g., consulting or systems integration services)
and you wish to use this icon in connection with such goods or services then we request that you (or your authorized representative) make a public statement signifying your commitment to comply with these guidelines.
The following sections constitute the proposed guidelines.
By “web syndication” we mean a process in which content items from a web site or other source (e.g., news stories or blog posts or summaries thereof) are made available for other sites or applications to use, typically using an XML-based document format transferred using the HTTP protocol.
By “open format” we mean a format that is
- defined by a published specification
- free of legal restrictions on use, especially restrictions that would prevent the format from being implemented by free and open source software
- developed and/or maintained through an open process
The canonical use of the feed icon is on a web page containing information (such as blog posts, news articles, and so on) that is also available via web syndication, with the icon linking to a URL for the web feed.
The feed icon may be used in other contexts that involve discovery, retrieval, reading, creation, or manipulation of information in open web syndication formats. For example, the icon may be used as (or incorporated as part of) a menu icon or toolbar icon invoking particular features of an application or online service that are related to open web syndication formats.
The feed icon (or confusingly-similar variants of it) should not be used in the following contexts:
in relation to information that is not made available in open web syndication formats;
as, or incorporated as part of, an application icon, a web site logo (including a favicon), or in any other way that would imply to a casual observer that the feed icon was exclusively or primarily associated with a particular application or web site; or
as, or incorporated as part of, a trademark or service mark associated with a particular individual, organization, product, or service, or in any other way that would imply to a casual observer that the feed icon was exclusively or primarily associated with a particular individual, organization, product, or service.
Note that these guidelines are not intended to preclude in any way making fair use of the feed icon, including using the icon in connection with blog posts, news stories, magazine articles, books, television programs, movies, or other works discussing open web syndication formats or applications or web sites supporting such formats.
The feed icon should be displayed in its entirety on either a solid light or dark background (avoid mid-tone or strongly colored backgrounds). The feed icon should not be displayed in parts, with color variations,~~ or with other elements superimposed on top of the icon.
The feed icon should not be displayed on screen at a size
smaller than 16 pixels by 16 pixels. The feed icon should not be displayed in print at a size smaller than 3/8 inches (10mm) tall, except in screenshots of applications or web sites or other contexts where the feed icon is a minor visual element.
The feed icon should be displayed at a size that is both large enough to render it legible to its intended users and compatible with the size of any related text elements.
The feed icon may be displayed at larger sizes as appropriate
to the context of its use. The feed icon may be displayed using the colors black and white rather than orange in contexts where color reproduction is not possible. The feed icon may be used with the colors of the icon inverted (e.g., white used instead of orange and vice versa), as long as there is adequate contrast between the background and foreground colors.
When used as an element in a user interface (e.g., as a toolbar button) the feed icon should be displayed in a manner consistent with related UI elements and any applicable user interface standards (e.g., for the underlying operating system and/or window system).
The feed icon should not be displayed in modified forms inconsistent with the above guidelines or in ways that visually compromise the icon. In particular, the icon should not be displayed
in a color other than orange (or black where the use of orange is not possible) with the colors of the icon inverted (e.g., white used instead of orange and vice versa)
- in a different orientation (i.e., rotated or flipped relative to the standard orientation)
- with the “rounded square” element of the icon replaced by a circle, triangle, or any shape other than that used on the original background
- with the corners of the “rounded square” element of the icon made sharp rather than rounded.
with a drop shadow or any other type of border different than that used in the original icon
Note that the above guidelines regarding size and color are not intended to restrict the ways in which the feed icon might be represented by assistive technologies designed for use by people with impaired vision. (Such technologies include software to magnify the contents of the screen and/or change screen colors, contrast, and brightness; alternative stylesheets for web sites; and the like.)
Note also that these guidelines are not intended to discourage other uses of the feed icon that conform to the overall spirit of these guidelines. Such cases include using different colors for the icon where appropriate (e.g., in matching a site theme) or using the icon in combination with other icons of a compatible style and nature (e.g., to identify the type of feed being offered). However in the interests of providing a consistent experience for users we suggest that providers of feed readers and related goods and services make minimum use of such alternative representations of the icon.
(At this point the guidelines would include some figures highlighting some common mistakes to avoid when displaying the feed icon. However as I’m not very skilled in graphic design I’ve omitted these from this draft.)
UPDATE: I modified the guidelines to reflect various comments received about the first draft. The major changes were to remove the arbitrary restrictions on the minimum size of the icon and not be dogmatic about the use of inverted colors or different colors for the icon. Thanks go to all the people who contributed comments and suggestions. Special thanks go to Matt Brett for creating and maintaining the feedicons.com web site and for providing the versions of the icon that I’m linking to.