The format for DF RSS feed sponsorships has remained unchanged since they debuted back in 2007. There are three fields: a title (usually the name of the product or service being promoted), a URL for the main link, and a description of 100 words or fewer. The sponsors write these entries, not me. (They are subject to my approval, though.) Then at the end of the week, I write the thank-you posts (such as the one you’re reading now) using a mix of my own words and thoughts, and the main talking points the sponsor is trying to hit.

The gang at Meh, who once again sponsored this week’s feed, have turned this into a sort of RSS-based form of performance art. Last week they made ASCII art of a table being overturned.

This week, they used a title of “…” (just an ellipsis, nothing else) and a URL of “about:blank”. For the body of their entry, they added at least some context:

In this week before Christmas we thought it’d be nice to take our Daring Fireball sponsorship and not pitch you on anything. Enjoy the holidays. Meh.

No link on the word “Meh”, either, so if you weren’t familiar with them, it might still be confusing. But it was confusing as hell in the @daringfireball Twitter stream, where these entries go in with just the title and URL. Here’s the resulting tweet, in its entirety:

[Sponsor] …: http://about:blank

This, in turn, led many readers to assume that there was either some sort of technical snafu on my end, or that the sponsorship had gone unsold. Not the case. I find Meh’s strategy with these spots utterly fascinating — so I thank them both for sponsoring the site and for injecting a big dose of creativity into a format where I had never even considered the possibility of such.

Saturday, 20 December 2014