Some of you reading 40Tech in an RSS reader might see some posts with “Untitled” or something similar as the title of some posts. This isn’t a case of me forgetting to add a title to some posts, but is what happens when I post a microblog item, which by definition doesn’t have a title. Some RSS readers handle this well. Others don’t.

I initially worked on some RSS hacks to try to replace “Untitled” with something else, such as placeholder text or a snippet of the body of the post. But I’ve been persuaded by a couple of posts I’ve seen elsewhere online.

Dave Winer, from Scripting News:

An idea, they could do what Frank asked me to do, show the first few words from the post in the list view. And nothing in the right view. These items have no titles for artistic reasons. The author did not put them there. You, as a software developer, are not entitled to add them (haha that’s a pun).

And Manton Reece, the creator of

I agree with Dave on this. Titles are clearly optional in the RSS 2.0 spec. The fix for the “Untitled” text that some feed readers use isn’t for authors to add titles where they aren’t needed, it’s for the UI in feed readers to improve so that they gracefully handle title-less posts.

So if you are seeing “Untitled” in your feed reader, it is in part due to how your feed reader handles titleless posts. For now I’m going to see how this develops.