RSS icon (yes, the orange one)

by phil on Tuesday Aug 16, 2005 6:41 AM

Here it is people: . This is the icon.
Right-click and choose "Save Picture As."

All web designers have their own run-ins with "Google holes." A Google hole is more than not being able to find what you want—that happens every day. It's about trying to find a needle in the haystack when you know that the needle you're looking for is not actually a needle but a giant baseball bat.

Case in point: Today I'm trying to put a little orange RSS icon on my home page and it takes me about 15 minutes to find the one icon that I know is all over the Internet.

What is RSS? RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It allows you to grab a feed of this site, and combine it with maybe a hundred feeds from other sites, to build up you your own virtual magazine at your fingertips. I hear bloglines is a good service for doing this.

Why do I need the icon? To provide an easy link for people to get to the feed.

I had felt this icon was ubiquitous—it must exist in at least a hundred thousand places—but it took me longer than it should have to find it.

First I tried a Google search for "rss icon" and none in the first ten had it. In a few cases, it seems Google is playing a joke on me:

1. Apple's Safari - This is a browser, not the icon. For the first result of an item on the Internet that appears it at least 100,000 pages, this sure is irrelevant.

2. on the "rss icon" - Hmm, looks promising. provides me with swaths of decent information every so often. And as you can see, it has not just the one orange RSS icon, but two other related ones. But, wait, what's this? All three icons are actually connected into one larger glob of an icon image. This would require me to take the file into Photoshop, crop out the icon I want, and then make sure I have the right compression for the remaining icon to keep the cleanliness of the original. Way too much work. And it's also about the principle: I should be able to click and drag this onto my site within 1 min. of a Google search.

3. RSS Reference from Harvard Law - Site has everything I would want to know about RSS except the location of the "RSS" icon itself.

4. images: rss icon - Is this the holy grail? Nope, it's just a picture of some kid who named his photo "rss-icon." Thanks.

5. RSS icon in CSS - This title indicates that it probably won't be exactly what I want. I want the image, not the CSS rendition. But I check out the page for kicks anyway. Instead I get a kick in the ass with a broken link.

6-10. Actual RSS feeds - I don't remember when Google instituted this kind of practice, but none of these pages have the word "icon" on them.

I gave up on Google and then tried my bookmarks, but then I found that some of my favorite blogs don't have the icon either.

Finally, I took a step back, dug a little deeper, and 14. M2 and RSS had more than ten of the same RSS icons for me to grab.

To right this wrong, hopefully this page you are reading will find it's way to the top of a search result for "RSS icon." If you care about fixing Google holes, please link to this entry and Google will recognize its relevance.

I understand that there are alternative icons out there. But it has to be the orange one, and it has to say "RSS." When people first get RSS software, they go on a subscription binge, scanning the Internet, looking for a quick way to grab every feed. The orange icon is the most common hook.

It also has to say "RSS" not "XML" because RSS is more relevant. Even my dad, who is moderately tech savvy, will mention RSS in a few conversations—usually in the same breath as blogs. Rarely will he mention XML.



Bob said on August 16, 2005 11:11 AM:

Sorry we failed you--I'll go yell at someone about it.

And link to you.

Brandon Franklin said on August 16, 2005 10:06 PM:

No offense, man, but I think you were just doing it wrong. Go to Google images and search for "RSS icon". Then, in the upper right, select "Small".

Brandon Franklin said on August 16, 2005 10:11 PM:

Oh, and you could have gotten the CSS version from my blog if you had just looked. ;)

It says "XML" but you can make it say whatever you want, since it's just code after all:

Brandon Franklin said on August 16, 2005 10:12 PM:

(Ugh, your comment thing filtered out the code I pasted...anyway, you can find it at my blog.)

Philip Dhingra said on August 17, 2005 8:10 AM:

Yeah, in number 4 I mentioned that I wasn't looking for the CSS rendition. I don't trust CSS.

And yes, I'm hitting myself in the head for not doing the Google Image search thing.

Philip Dhingra said on August 17, 2005 9:56 AM:

Thanks Bob!

jonnybignote said on September 1, 2005 12:36 AM:

pretty well indexed my icon from here - thanks

nycgadgetgirl said on September 29, 2005 10:08 PM:

got mine here too. LOL

Marilyn Saklatvala said on October 14, 2005 10:05 AM:

Thank you! You came up quite soon in Google, but if you should disappear so will my icon - didn[t know how else to do it. It links to me though, I've checked.
Thanks again.

Tom Gman said on February 28, 2006 12:41 PM:

If this icon is so 'useful' why could you not find it? Probably found many 'XML' buttons first didn't ya???

Hmm...i say it's time to standardize.


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