Why Do FireFox and Google Subtly Default to Atom Feeds?

I was subscribing to a few new blogs this evening when I noticed something strange with the way FireFox together with Google handled the subscription options. Rather than giving me the option of subscribing to the RSS 2.0, RSS 0.92, or Atom 0.3 feed, the only option displayed was the Atom feed.

Here is an example site where I’m seeing this.

Gabe's Blog On Flickr

When I click the RSS icon in the address bar, here is what I see:

Only Given an Atom 0.3 Option

Only one option: Atom 0.3.

Clicking that option brings me to my Add to Google page where I can add the site to my Google Reader.

Add to Google

What’s strange about this to me is Gabe’s blog publishes three feed options with Atom 0.3 being the third choice.

Source Code RSS Options

Yet only the Atom feed was displayed as an option.

I do have Google selected as my default choice for RSS subscriptions within Firefox. Is that what causes this?

This reminded me of Dave Winer’s post from earlier this week about his dislike of Google owning FeedBurner. He sees this as a case of over-concentration of power:

Why Feedburner is trouble (Scripting News)

So now someone at Google “owns” Feedburner and all their feeds. And they could, if they wanted to, change the feeds to another format, overnight, without asking anyone. Reader software might have trouble working with it. They would say “Oh but the new feeds work better with Google Reader, and that’s the one most people use.” And by the way, more and more that’s true these days. But what about other feed suppliers? Do they have to change to work with Google Reader? They will say no, but there may turn out to be practical reasons why they must.

Could this be a case where Google, together with FireFox, are subtly steering people toward Atom 0.3 feeds in order to create a de facto standard?

Do you have any other theories on why my FireFox browser is limiting my RSS options?

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