With no data to back this up I'd wager conversion rates (read x and click to see y linked within x) are at least double that of RSS. Possibly even much more.
I've been an RSS user for years and I use it to subscribe to blogs mostly. Despite this, I would never subscribe to the RSS feeds of some of the most popular email newsletters I know and receive.
With Google giving up on the Google Reader years ago, the market for well-designed, easily accessible, and free RSS readers sort of dried up overnight. I use Reeder for macOS, which is a paid (but cheap) app and I know full well this is a power user situation.
I would never expect the overwhelming majority of users to get back on the RSS bandwagon unless browsers made it a first-class feature with a noticeable call-to-action on sites with available RSS feeds, an inbox letting me know new content has been published since I last checked, and a clean reading interface that mirrors what Readability, Instapaper, and others used to provide.
I'm super happy with RSS and don't want to clutter my inbox.
One difference with e-mail is that sometimes we don't care about some articles, especially on the high volume sites. In an RSS reader it will be bold as unread and this cause anxiety and make it harder to distinguish a newly arrived article vs the most recent unread article.
I feel that for RSS we need three levels of flags: new, unread, read. Or "unread, read title, read article". In an e-mail inbox you will make sure everything is in the read status. In an RSS reader that amounts to too many janitor clicks.
That discussion around engagement was even had amongst RSS advocates when it came syndicating the full-text vs a summary (really,the lede) of a post/article.
Anybody looking to monetise attention should be focussed on email.
I believe this encouraged the spread of email lists and a drift away from social networks.
I don't see any of that anymore now that gmails filters into social and offer tabs. I don't even see the couple I want to see.
 I use sieve to filter real newsletters into the same "News" folder, so it's a mixture of content from RSS feeds and newsletters.
Many email clients also handle RSS directly. Thunderbird, for example, is the most responsive RSS reader I've used.
I do prefer RSS entries as email entries, therefore newletters and RSS feeds are more or less the same to me.
I totally keep meaning to do this. Glad I'm not the only one with this crazy preference!
But this is great for those that don't. Great work.
If you are thinking about making some money with it, maybe one twist would be to be to offer a SaaS "proxy" between the newsletter and the subscriber, where subscribers enter their real email and search for newsletters they are interested in and convert them into a feed? Although TBH I'm not sure there is money in RSS readers...
Author of Kill the Newsletter! here. Thank you for your idea, but my intent is not to make money with this. Let alone get a hold of users’ real email address :)
- make the UI easier to use on mobile
- make feed title and feed URL fields appear together at the same time
- send a test post to each newly created feed so I can confirm it's working
That said, I'm not sure if OP is actually the author based on taking a glance at commit dates in the repo.
Author of Kill the Newsletter! here. First, thank you for your suggestions :)
> - make the UI easier to use on mobile
I don’t own a phone, can you please be more specific on the difficulties you
had? I’d be happy to address them.
> - make feed title and feed URL fields appear together at the same time
To which screen are you referring?
> - send a test post to each newly created feed so I can confirm it's working
That’s a good idea. Of course, the sole fact that the feed exists with the title
you gave is already confirmation that it’s working. Even if there are no
entries. And, right after creating the feed on Kill the Newsletter! the user is
probably going to use the email address the service gives to actually sign up to
a newsletter. Upon doing that, the newsletter provider usually sends a
subscription confirmation email that shows up as a feed entry. Still, I think
one more confirmation wouldn’t hurt and I’ll add it.
> That said, I'm not sure if OP is actually the author based on taking a glance at commit dates in the repo.
You’re correct. I don’t even know ProfDreamer, but I’m glad he liked my work
enough to post it. Otherwise I wouldn’t have received feedback such as yours :)
NewsBlur even has support for Twitter:
Author of Kill the Newsletter! here. Thank you for your comments! I didn’t know
of NewsBlur and Feedbin and it’s nice to see that other tools take similar
approaches to the use case. It validates that my solution was appropriate.
It’s unfortunate that NewsBlur and Feedbin bind the feature to their
platform. But I guess it makes sense, Feedbin is even trying to make
money. Anyway, whenever you need a free tool that doesn’t lock you in or ask for
your personal information, I hope you consider Kill the Newsletter! an option :)
It’s unfortunate that NewsBlur and Feedbin bind the feature to their platform. But I guess it makes sense, Feedbin is even trying to make money.
Unfortunately, this is nonsensical and obnoxious. I'm perfectly happy to pay for a service, given that "free" tends to mean "shuts down in a couple of years". And I'd have to pay for a server anyway if I wanted to run my own.
And even if you have RSS, chances are you have a lot of feeds you never read that just end up part of the furniture of your life.
I hate tracking URLs, pixels etc. but I don't see how we can get them to not use them.
You can "own" email list, but not your FB followers.
Author of Kill the Newsletter! here. First, thank you ProfDreamer for finding my
service and posting it here. Thanks too to everyone that took interest in Kill
the Newsletter! and commented or wrote me emails. I appreciate the kind words
and testimonials that the tool was useful to some of you. I also appreciate the
suggestions for improvements, I’ll try to implement them in the near future.
Kill the Newsletter! ended up on an LifeHacker article:
As a long-time reader of the website, I’m flattered.
Finally, I want to say a word about the name of the service. The copy on the
website starts with “I love newsletters …” This is true, otherwise I wouldn’t
have created the tool. So don’t really mean to extinguish the newsletters. I
understand RSS users are a small niche when compared to email users. I also
understand the business reasons to prefer mailing lists. The comments on this
thread had some very interesting arguments on that topic. I certainly learned a
lot by reading them.
The name Kill the Newsletter! was supposed to be whimsical. But I understand
death and specially killing are sensitive topics to some people and I apologize
if I offended them with my joke.
Still, I hope everyone can enjoy Kill the Newsletter! if they ever need to
convert that mailing list into an RSS feed.
Author of Kill the Newsletter! here. Thank you for the kind words and for pointing out the mistake. I
fixed it :)
I'd be interested to see what other solutions people have come up with to this problem.
Newsletters aren't new of course but there seems to be a very enthusiastic renewed interest in them. Does anyone know why?
1) The pop up results in higher conversions (people actually filling out the email address field and hitting "subscribe")
2) The action of "closing" the modal popup confirms that the viewer of the page is probably a real human and that they genuinely made some kind of movement on the page (scrolling slightly, moving the mouse off the window, etc). This is supposedly taken into account by google, etc when judging page rank for pages.
Interesting about number 2.
Is there still not an extension to block this HTML element?
RSS is probably easier to layer on top of those new fangled HTTP-over-P2P networks like IPFS.
Heck, I remember proposals for combining RSS and BitTorrent, so an RSS feed could be spread via BitTorrent, with incremental updates being applied, and with each entry containing BitTorrent magnet links. This was proposed as a distributed way to provide podcasts ("podcatching"). Not sure if it got implemented.
I was impressed with it as a piece of history, but more thorough exposure left me with a much decreased interest in building a system on it. More modern approaches to pubsub feel more natural (and are also more fun to work with!)
Read the spec.
In fact, I put a lot of work into my RSS feeds knowing that people like this would exist. http://feed.tedium.co/ (Using FeedPress, if you're curious.)
I see it less as killing the newsletter, and more as giving people options.
I'm using Ghostery on my machine rather than uBlock, and on the front page, I count eight items—standard social fare like Pinterest and AddThis, along with some advertising-related stuff like Skimlinks (I use some affiliate marketing, and am transparent about this.)
Beyond Google Analytics, one tool that I in fact do use specifically to track things is HubSpot's free LeadIn service, which mostly exists to tell me how people end up subscribing to the newsletter.
But on the article page, it's showing 46. Two things are different there: One, I have a single Google AdSense ad, which I only added a few weeks ago because I was seeing some traffic surges, and second, I have Disqus advertising turned on.
Just for kicks, I commented out Disqus for a second, and reloaded the page. That 46 number went down to 15. I'm assuming that if I turned off the single Google ad I use, that 15 would go back down to 8.
So there's your answer. Disqus is shoving a ton of ad trackers onto my users. I should really turn that off—I'm not making that much on it anyway.
(As for the number of domains used, I will point out a couple things: I'm using a font family that's not through Google, I appear to be using a third-party jQuery, and I'm using Cloudinary for image hosting—the latter because I use a lot of GIFs.)
Edit: For the sake of comparison, I loaded a couple of other pages to see how many trackers they had. The front page of Mediaite.com had 59, while an average article page had 81. Pitchfork.com (which doesn't have comments) had 22 on its front page and 20 on its article pages. And Washington Post had 17 on its front page, 42 on its article pages.
I just learned about the log today from another comment. Even after reading it, I'm not sure all of what it is doing. Since the owner of the site is posting here, I thought it would be a good opportunity to ask. If anybody knows why the blocked count continues to climb even after the page is loaded, it would be the creator. It's always interesting to me to hear why something was built the way it is.
BTW, I'm not really complaining about anything.
Also, I just looked at the logs again and I don't see 11 different domains. So, yeah, even with the log it's confusing to me.
So now that I look at it, it still doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Judging by what's red, I think uBlock is mostly stopping the blog from tracking me.
Also, the number of blocked requests is now 36. Not sure why it would keep climbing after the page is loaded.
- non tech saavy users don't know what RSS is and often won't use a RSS reader even after tutoring.
- newsletter still makes a LOT of cash. I didn't believe it, but working in the adult industry teached me that many things I would never do (read a news letter, click a ridiculous add, engage with an obviously fake profile) is actually common practice among the vast majority of users.
You primarily receive newsletters you didn't actually sign up for? (stores you bought stuff off, etc.) That's the only way it's spam. But there are plenty of people who actively sign up for and appreciate them.
Author of Kill the Newsletter! here. That is a valid concern, thanks for
bringing it up. I worry about this myself, being the #1 user of the tool. Do you
have any idea how to fix it, though? I thought of a dead man’s switch kind of
thing, in which I would periodically add an “everything is still working” for
low-volume feeds, but I didn’t do it because I would consider such entries
spam. What do you think?
Maybe the "still working" message is good enough, it wouldn't bother me too much, personally.
Author of Kill the Newsletter! here. I’m glad to know that my project inspired
your idea. Feel free to generate NewsMaker RSS feeds using Kill the Newsletter!,
if you’d like :)
Author of Kill the Newsletter! here. First, thank you for your interest. Nothing
technically prevents you from using the tool in the way you propose. But I ask
you not to, if you can. See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12957555.
Will definitely be taking a deep dive into your website for inspiration. Congratulations on shipping!
Author of Kill the Newsletter! here. First, thank you for interest, I’m glad the
tool was useful to you. While of course Kill the Newsletter! does work as a
throwaway email address, I ask you to please not use it for that. I fear this
might result in @kill-the-newsletter.com email addresses ending up in
blacklists. Or that the service grows in a way that I couldn’t support with my
$0 budget :) Finally, I can’t make strong guarantees of privacy and security for incoming emails. The security is through obscurity of the generated email address and corresponding feed URL, which is not a strong model. This is generally fine for newsletters—whose contents are public anyway—but not so much for signing up for a private Twitter account.
Also, there are other tools like https://www.mailinator.com/ designed
specifically for this use case. You’re much better off with them!
And, when you want to convert that newsletter into an RSS feed, I hope you
consider Kill the Newsletter! an option :)
I think its a great service for the original purpose though and I'll start using it for that.
Author of Kill the Newsletter! here. Thank you for your comment. I tried the
tool you mentioned before creating Kill the Newsletter! Of course, I was trying
same work :)
Unfortunately, I ruled it out for two reasons. First, it required a Google
account, thus binding my identity with my reading preferences. Second, I set up
a throwaway Google account just to test the service and it didn’t work. I can’t
remember exactly why, though.
It was definetly an inspiration for Kill the Newsletter! It gave me an
indication that the project was feasible.
Author of Kill the Newsletter! here. Thank you for your comment. Indeed, the
tool generates Atom feeds instead of RSS. It is a better format. But RSS is a
more popular term, so I went it. It’s like the TLS vs. SSL: I only use the term
TLS with highly technical audience.
I wouldn't say there's much difference from a user point of view, i.e. "clicking". Polling for feeds with an RSS reader is comparable to polling for new messages with a mail client. Both can be made fast by fetching mail and/or news in the background, either using a client or using an OS service.
I would imagine that the "vast majority of real world users" of this email-to-RSS converter know exactly what RSS is
Author of Kill the Newsletter! here. Thank you for your comment. I think it’s
cool that you’re using an email reader that doesn’t require any clicks :)
But, seriously, of course the tool I developed is for a niche. In particular, I
had only my own use case in mind. I know the benefits of newsletters. So much so
that Kill the Newsletter! starts with copy saying “I love newsletters …”.
The name Kill the Newsletter! is only a joke. I’m sorry that you seemed not to
appreciate it. After all, joking with death and killing is not exactly
G-rated. So the joke is actually on me and I apologize if it caused you any
I hope you can still consider Kill the Newsletter! an option if you ever run in
the inteded use case.