Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The Case for RSS (macsparky.com)
350 points by mpweiher on Nov 10, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 200 comments

> If you’re not careful, every time you open your RSS reader, there will be 1,000 unread articles waiting for you, which completely defeats the purpose of using RSS.

No, it does not.

The point of RSS is that you subscribe all your interests which you consciously come into contact with. You then have a steady stream of content waiting at your fingertip.

The solution for "1000 unread articles" is to have a shift of perspective in your mind, that it is okay if you cannot get to all the knowledge and information in the world. This is, as long as you have prioritized your reading lists properly.

RSS was strategically killed by Google, Facebook, and Twitter and the rest of the web followed. RSS was basically the open source TiVo of content distribution.

Content not wrapped in ads, isn't good for business. Period.

The creativity unleashed by hackers with unfettered access to Twitter's RSS payload was legendary.

I loved RSS. I still do. I still use Shaun Inman's Fever RSS every day. It is really unfortunate that he has discontinued it, the guy is an artist at the highest level, but I get it.

RSS would be all but dead today if it wasn't for Wordpress's universal support of it. Major props to Matt Mullenweg and everything he stands for.

It should have become the backbone of the web and Dave Winer and Aaron Swartz more celebrated for it.

Instead it is just a footnote. A story of a time before everything digital was wrapped in glorious, money making ads and companies discovered charging for API calls as a business model.

I think the RSS decline is more of due to a simple supply/demand problem. (I hypothesize) RSS lost because most people who are on the internet aren't tech savvy enough to configure an RSS reader.

Because reading from an RSS source required you to have an RSS reader of sorts and there was some configuration required on the users' part - Install a client/setup an online tool, this was an extra (rather complicated) step as compared to say, simply going to Facebook and subscribing to a page you like with the click of a button.

Now, I'm not discounting the possibility it may have been killed strategically by the internet giants, because it's not in their interest, but I do believe Google Adsense (at that time) did allow you to publish ads into your RSS feeds somehow. So, maybe they killed it because of poor adoption rates and the configuration required to setup one?

Demand isn't some objective force! It is heavily affected by advertisement, culture and corporations strive for profit.

It could have taken another direction. We increasingly saw the embedding of the page Like button as we saw the decline of "Subscribe" button for RSS. So we moved from an open protocol and an ecosystem of "readers" to a propietary "protocol" and fenced-off news feeds.

I don't think the lack of incorporating ads in an RSS feed was a reason either. I think google just passively responded to the rise of blogs/rss with tools like Reader/feedburner/adsense-in-feeds, they didn't push for the greater vision that RSS implied. I think open protocols need time, and we didn't get the time we needed before Facebook arrived...

> Because reading from an RSS source required you to have an RSS reader of sorts and there was some configuration required on the users' part

Up until a few years ago Safari supported RSS natively: there was a button you could click and a native RSS url would open in your browser that you could read and filter and everything.

Nowadays the alternative in Safari is "reader" mode, which removes all the website styling and leaves just the main content and also the notifications API, which allows you to subscribe to a site (if they support it) and get notified of new content without even opening your browser.

I didn't really use RSS and don't use the replacements either. I really like the idea of RSS and I think it's worth implementing for people who like it, but I never found it useful for myself.

Actually, when you open a RSS feed in Firefox, it shows a simple interface with the organized feed and propose you to subscribe to it, creating a "magic" bookmark in your bookmarks toolbar which lets you quickly access it and tweak it.

It doesn't have to be complicated. Firefox for example has RSS support out of the box[0]; it's not fancy but very easy to use.

[0]: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/live-bookmarks

But they also killed to icon in the address bar which made it easy to discover RSS feeds a long time ago.

It could be because many feed readers just aren't that great. If you look at Twitter as a feed, the web interface is okay, but when it comes to reading threads etc, it becomes poor. Filtering, selecting, muting, interleaving, is the hard part. Grokking multiple streams and seeing the wood from the trees is tricky.

This is absolutely part of the story as well. Anyone subscribe to a Usenet newsgroup lately?

>RSS was strategically killed by Google


>I still use Shaun Inman's Fever RSS every day

Preciseness of language. The reports of RSS demise are greatly exaggerated.

Most sites, even those NOT using Wordpress, still publish RSS. This includes every major platform that I can think of.

Shopify, Magento, Blogger...The list goes on...

I use RSS daily to keep up with the sites I'm interested in. Ads don't disappear because of RSS. Ads can be embedded in the content of the feeds.

I use RSS (via Feedly) every single day. It's how I found this article, in fact. It was on my Hacker News subscription in Feedly.

Every website I've tried to subscribe to has had a feed of some sort that Feedly can pick up. I don't think RSS is dead at all.

> Content not wrapped in ads, isn't good for business. Period.

RSS is actually a great, sustainable way for independent bloggers to deliver targeted ads to their readers. Daring Fireball comes to mind, but there are many other examples.

Both the article segment you quoted and your comment seem to lay claim to the "purpose/point of RSS".

Is there some inherent value in having isolated the point of $thing, for all or even a majority of users, that makes it so desirable and common in discussions? Is the author's experience with RSS improved if they read your comment?

Both of you have identified a workflow that works for you; it seems useful to share "I've found that subscribing to too many feeds means if I'm not careful, I'm overwhelmed by the number of unread articles", or "I solve this by prioritizing what I read from my RSS feed and by accepting I won't get to all of it".

But when the pitch is ~"you're using $tool wrong, what you need is a shift of perspective in your mind," it comes off as far more combative than I suspect you intend to be.

Well, this isn't really about using the tool wrong. Because, using it right means that there's something about the tool which you're not aware of. That's never a case with knowledge/information consumption. There are as many different ways of consuming information as there are a number of people. When it comes to a platform (RSS in this example) the perspective shift is the only thing you can do. You can have a single source of information and still end up with 1000 unread items.

Yeah not a prob for me either, I love having all that subscribed "generally interested, but never pressing-need-to-know-right-now" simply pile up offline in my reader. Then once in a while I'm stuck somewhere offline with no mood for coding and I have a great selection of fresh knowledge to peruse.

It's like saying every time you open twitter there will be 1,000,000,000,000 tweets waiting for you.

That’s actually quite a good comparison. My thirst for information varies strongly, and my eyes are bigger than my belly.

By never letting you know what is coming next, _the endless feed_ never makes you feel bad about your current information processing potential, relative to last week when you subscribed to 12 obscure blogs.

Information not interesting? Scroll. Information feeding your insatiable hunger? Scroll. You’ll never know how much there is, or how much there was.

Feedly does a really great job of showing you "most popular stories today."

I'm feeling this kind of intentional obtuseness going on in this thread. Like, this solution for RSS has been solved a very long time ago. Now we're talking about it being a bug?

James Governor @ Redmonk once told me, at the very beginning of Twitter, "You need to think of a Twitter stream as a river. You don't wake up in the morning and say 'Damn, I missed so much, I need to run downriver and see the bits I have missed.'."

This was hard for me when I was a big Google Reader user and even with Twitter. You have to accept that the world is going to go on without you and it's impossible to catch up with everything.

Well, a good digest service would solve that.

Good digest would only exist on aggregating technologies like RSS.

I used NetNewsWire and my easy solution was to simply “Mark All as Read” at the end of each day (other than a selected few feeds, such as those related to college classes and some chosen feeds where I did not want to miss anything and had manageable number of posts such as daringfireball when I was still a huge Machead).

This was a much more manageable problem when it was all in one place, Google had tags to organize your feeds with, and their magic sorting algorithm wasn't bad at all.

Now, if you haven't found any free alternatives that are as good, you've likely subscribed to some emails to keep up, go to the website often to check if anything is new, keep up on twitter/fb if there is a page/profile or just don't bother anymore with content you would actually have been interested in if it was easier to get. The most reliable reader I've found on Linux is liferea, and it works, but I wish it had pluggable sorting mechanisms, based on how popular an entry is.

I agree. In free category, post-GR, I have extensively used Digg and now I'm using Inoreader. Ino works out well wherever I am at (desktop, mobile etc). Digg was working out fine until they broke something for me.

Subscribing information via email is atrocious. Newsletter subscription via email is okay. I still don't know how people follow any kind of information (while keeping their sanity) via Twitter (tit for tat feuds) and/or Facebook (my friends and family do not generate good information for me to consume - sorry).

You can also go beyond free. After Reader, I decided to go with Feedbin so that I know it won't evaporate when the next annual drop-the-least-sexy-projects time comes around. And, after all, if you're not the customer, you're the product.

> You can also go beyond free. After Reader, I decided to go with Feedbin so that I know it won't evaporate when the next annual drop-the-least-sexy-projects time comes around.

This is why I went with Newsblur.com, which is open source: https://github.com/samuelclay/NewsBlur In the worse case I just run my own instance.

Yup, gladly pay money for newsblur, I only hope that it generates enough revenue to keep supporting it. Running my own instance is an option as a fallback, but I'd rather avoid that.

I also subscribe to newsblur. If I ever decide to run my own instance, though, I'm sure that I'll be missing content. Many blogs these only include the N most recent articles in their RSD feed. So if you only start now, you'll be missing the older ones. Is there a non-time-travel solution to this?

Not if it’s already gone. But a non-cloud reader (e.g. Liferea) stores real hard copies for you on disk.

Yep, liferea has the functionality of tt-rss and other hosted readers. It's not completely bug free, but you can fix them. Not sure why you'd go for a hosted one unless you really wanted mobile reading or something.

Ditto. Satisfied Feedbin user for years now. It doesn't suck, seems more stable than Google Reader was, and for something that is basically my newspaper, $2/mo is a great price.

I agree. But I like to have one particular feed of 1,000 unread articles and every now and again I like to pick a few to read. It's a stream of mostly research related news and it's constant and overwhelming. But it's nice to just randomly pick a little something which I wouldn't have encountered otherwise.

A bit like HN

On that lines shameless plug on the app I built which is RSS reader but allows one to see their posts sorted like reddit-style - https://telescope.surf

Hey, this is pretty cool. You have a nice and fresh looking UI; not sure why you called it reddit-style. I'll bookmark it to browse it when I am super busy and not able to follow things on my own.

Thank you! I called it reddit-style because it litterally aggregates all social shares it received on fb, linked and reddit and sorts it with the similar algo reddit uses. I hope you like it.

Nice! Do you have an OPML import?

no sorry i don't, but point noted. I'll add the support soon.

Additionally, one of the reasons to subscribe to feeds for me is so that I can search those feeds in the futures. For certain topics a curated set of RSS feeds is a much better web search tool than google or ddg

Lol I probably have 25000 unread articles in my reader right now. I just read whatever I feel like that day and move on.

Google Trends for RSS is pretty telling: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=rss

Personally, I think it's a big loss that we have moved away from the RSS format specifically, and the open web generally.

Twitter seems to be having a harder time: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=twitter

But Instagram is still in ascendance: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=instagra...

I wonder if you can really draw conclusions from any of this?

Touché! Hadn't thought to check JavaScript.

Anyone have a better source for actual RSS usage?

Nobody has moved away from RSS, it's just not as trendy, but major blog platforms ship with RSS by default. Every time I want to add a blog to my list I can find an RSS link (on some rare occasion there is no such link, and an email to the website developer is enough, actually I'm suspecting that most blogs have a RSS feed nowadays because at one point they received requests to create one)

RSS is nigh-unusable for many sites now because they only put the first few sentences of an article in the feed, then "continue reading on our site <link> [where we can show you our ads]". It makes sense from a business perspective, because RSS has no good way to embed ads. However, it greatly diminishes the value of RSS -- reading ALL of your content in one easily-organized place.

The best alternative that I've found is Feedly, which can show ads inline.

I'm a fan of this for sites that don't include the full-text of the article:


It sucks that the content producer doesn't get any ad revenue, but it also sucks that the only way they can get paid involves tracking me and building a profile despite my wishes.

On the other hand, I've found that non-profits / independently-funded researchers produce most of the best RSS feeds, and I happily donate to the non-profits.

Of course there is this trend of not giving more than the title/first sentence but those feeds all belong to that weird, hostile, parallel universe where advertising / tracking / consumerism of closed tech is seen as an efficient way of sharing information to the reader. Lots of content is produced there but is it worth reading it? doubt it, unless you want to be sucked into their world. I'm pretty happy with what is outside and consider the "sane" part of the internet.

As someone who hosted RSS, but not ads, the reason for doing that was primarily bandwidth related. Serving unchanging content to clients every five minutes is just wasteful. A lot of RSS clients are shit.

that's why we had feedburner. Is it still a thing?

I built my own reader, in which I have a Mercury API integration. This allows me to click a link and scrape the source article, so I can read the rest of it inline (and with no ads)


Moving to snippets was a bummer when many RSS sites stopped doing full feeds (I remember it being kind of a wave), but eh, ultimately it's been fine and it's still scads better than the alternative of having to visit each site individually, often dealing with autoplay this and popup that.

NewsBlur, the reader I mainly use, can fetch that linked web page for you with a single click.

It depends, you can embed ads and content in a feed, or some content and no ads. I think depending on what you're reading, academic, non-profit, ad-supported, etc.. the published RSS feeds add more value than take away for both parties.

> RSS is nigh-unusable for many sites now because they only put the first few sentences of an article in the feed

It has always been like that for some websites, and I haven't seen an increase of these kind of RSS feeds.

Facebook and Twitter killed theirs though. I find that deplorable.

I honestly feel like the solution to that problem is to ignore content from Facebook and Twitter, but I suppose I'm in the minority.

A lot of large news websites have abandoned RSS. ABC News is one example, although their page layout is quite nice (maybe the best I've found among news sites) so I guess they want people to just visit the site


<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS Feed" href="http://feeds.abcnews.com/abcnews/topstories" />

Sure, the platforms support it, but most readers don't use it. I still use RSS, but the majority of my readers follow my blog via email or Facebook.

Google Trends don't necessarily equate to usage. I keep hearing rss feeds are dead, yet nearly every site on the internet has an rss feed, save for Twitter and Facebook (for obvious reasons).

RSS feeds are pretty trivial to implement, so it's worth it for most sites even if they only get a few dozen users from RSS.

At one point every site on the internet had a visitor counter, and don't forget about web ring!

The RSS feed is the guestbook of web 2.0, it comes along for the ride with the shitty page generator.

That's probably a reflection of the fact that most new "protocols" are APIs built on HTTP, so no one's talking about TCP/IP even if it's still there under the hood. Compare it to API and you'll see it follows TCP down for a while as fewer people work on native software, then heads back up around 2012 with web and mobile apps becoming the norm.

If that's true, then the web is dead: https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=web

With everything becoming centralized, the nice stuff is being ignored. I use theoldreader.com to keep up with stuff that is posted on websites, like HN, Reddit, etc.

Can someone name any major publications that don't have an RSS feed for me?


I don't really care, but can you get your Facebook or Twitter feed via RSS?

Nope, those have been a walled-garden since day 1. But every blog post shared on those platforms likely has an RSS feed. Reddit publishes RSS feeds for every sub. Digg did RSS. WikiNews has RSS. So-on.

That's not true. Both had RSS up until 2012 or so. They were hidden to the average user though.

There are a lot of services that do Twitter to RSS like twitrss.me and queryfeed.net. Queryfeed also does some Facebook things.

The big offender here is Google. They nuked it with killing Reader and FeedBurner is also minutes away of being sunset.

Choosing between evils, Google seems a better bet then Facebook, ofcourse, but these actions they've taken will backfire for them eventually. The more "open" and "accessible" web, should be in their benefit, long term thinking.

But what I see, what they're busy with is self driving cars, google glasses, augmented reality and all of that: GREAT.

But supporting some basic, easy, cheap, webstandards, they're just completely neglecting and they might up being the next AT&T, or IBM.

They do have some charm offensives going ("Google News Lab") and, well, basically any big tech corp looks better then Facebook -- if you care about the internet in it's current form, Google is really screwing us over. I really am convinced Google is completely losing it's way.

There's no real good quick adequate alternative that I can think of, but they could've just done things so much better, and it would've costed them, quite literally, nothing.

> Choosing between evils, Google seems a better bet then Facebook

We are treating these companies as if they are sports teams. No, we don't have to choose between evils.

> The more "open" and "accessible" web, should be in their benefit, long term thinking.

An open Internet is only in the benefit of small and medium companies and startups.

Companies like Google have virtually unlimited resources at their disposal. All doors are open for them, all possible loopholes are within reach. When all else fails they can just drop a couple of billion $ and nobody can say no to that.

> > Choosing between evils, Google seems a better bet then Facebook

> We are treating these companies as if they are sports teams. No, we don't have to choose between evils.

This is very very slightly OT but I've asked this exact question within HN comments before and never really received any satisfactory answers...

Yes, I fully agree that it shouldn't and doesn't need to be a choice between the two sports teams, but even in a hypothetical world where it was, how on earth is anyone presuming that the infinitely pervasive Google is somehow more ok than the very opt-outable facebook?

Facebooks core service is a walled garden, Googles core service is a gateway into the open web. More to the point, as someone who was using the web before Google existed, Google Search specifically has helped me immeasurably over the years far more than anything Facebook has ever done.

I think you're confusing value and virtue.

Everything you've said is true, but not really relevant to this particular discussion I think?

I don't think I am, if we're forced to choose between "Evils" then I will choose the "evil" more aligned with my best interests. You didn't originally ask which of those companies was more virtuous merely why one would choose Google over Facebook, I would choose Google because its core business model revolves around helping me, Facebooks core business model revolves around entertaining me.

Not that I think either company is actually evil obviously.

I was thinking of evil and virtuous as bring antonymous I guess.

i.e. I might choose evil that offers me value if I thought the trade off was worthwhile.

> how on earth is anyone presuming that the infinitely pervasive Google is somehow more ok than the very opt-outable facebook?

The only way to "opt out" of either is to avoid Javascript and try blocking as many of their ad/beacon/tracker domains as possible; although that's a bit of a Hydra.

Yes, you can opt out from getting an account and using their applications; the worse part is all of the "shadow profiles" and third-party tracking which is pretty much everywhere these days :(

Using most content blockers with default settings will block all Facebook tracking you'll encounter without visiting the site itself.

In contrast, opting out of Google is a largely unviable feat for most.

I've found it's easier to opt out of Google than of Facebook. The former is difficult because their products are relatively good (I consciously use a different browser, search engine, etc, but at the same time there's eg no competition in the field of mail clients), whereas the latter (including WhatsApp) is difficult due to the immense social pressure. I appreciate that far less.

You're not opting out of Google simply not using their service though. You're using Google invisibly just by visiting most major websites or by using a lot of (non-Google) software which integrate their services.

True, but in that regard Facebook almost equals it. But yeah, it's worrisome for both - luckily also mostly blockable on an individual basis.

Facebook is mostly blockable on an individual basis, but Google really isn't. There are so many vectors:

- Google provides a geolocation service for applications to locate you by triangulating you relative to nearby wifi hardware. This sends data to Google about your devices wifi hardware and the ssids it detects. This isn't an in website feature, so normal content blocking doesn't help, it will be an application setting. Firefox and Safari both used to use this (Mozilla have now created a competing service).

- Google provides suspicious site screening services ("safe browsing" advisories) to many applications, including browsers.

- Google hosts most of the CT logs. I'm actually not 100% sure how the mechanism works here in detail, so this may eb a red herring, but it seems to be that browsers may periodically send a list of https sites you visited to these log servers to audit the certs for those sites

- Google provides free fast DNS which sends all of your DNS traffic to their servers. This may be set by the administrator of the network you're connecting through.

- Google analytics is used by many non-browser applications, and also in areas of the browser not covered by content blockers, e.g. Firefox's add-ons settings page.

- Many sites use Google js cdns and ajax apis for required functionality, so a content blocker will need to set whitelists to get the site to work.

- there are more such things, these are just examples

Facebook does none of the above.

Something like Decentraleyes will help with the cdns and a custom firewall, hosts file, filtering proxy or things like Little Snitch can help with some of the others but none of these are trivial.

In my eyes the CDN was the hard thing among those, as I'm not sure how many of them Decentraleyes manages to replace. Most of the others, though, are either blocked/not used for me, or used because I feel there are benefits (i.e. not through social pressure), namely the safe browsing advisories.

Gmail is good, but for personal email at least FastMail is better.

For example like many people here I have multiple acquired domains — for personal projects, plus I also devised a scheme for my online safety — I prefer for each online account I make to have its own email address.

FastMail does sub-domain aliasing by default, so if you have domain.com, you can make an email alias like me@domain.com and then you can use facebook@me.domain.com, google@me.domain.com, etc.

For one this allows you to keep spam in check and track its source. People say that Gmail's spam filters are really good, but that's not true. Gmail's spam filters are at the same time overly aggressive, with legitimate email ending up in the Spam folder far too often and doesn't do a good job at detecting optimized spam. E.g. when I was on Google Apps, my address was bombarded with email from "SEO specialists" that wanted to "optimize my website for HTML5" or other such crap. This is because I made the mistake of not protecting my domain with PrivacyGuard.

Another reason for unique email addresses are that they make the accounts more secure. If you find the email address that I use for Twitter, you won't necessarily know the email address I use for Facebook. It's like with passwords, the emails I use being in my 1Password (although due to the scheme used I remember them).

FastMail makes this very easy and natural. You can't do it with free Gmail obviously (it does plus aliasing, but that's shit). You can do it by configuring GSuite with complex email routing rules. But then the Gmail client itself will fight you, because you cannot configure a dynamic "From" address.

Also Gmail on mobile is polished and good, but not their website. If you ever find yourself on a device without a configured client on it, then FastMail's web client on mobile actually works and is very good.

And on iOS FastMail has been doing push notifications for some time. Don't know what deal they did with Apple, but you can use iOS's Mail client with push notifications via FastMail. I heard a rumor that iOS 11 finally fixed the Gmail integration to do push notifications. I have two work Gmail accounts on my phone and have seen no such evidence.


Don't get me wrong, I like Google's products, but their superiority is overblown. I like FastMail more than I like Gmail and I use them both on a daily basis. And Dropbox is superior to Google Drive. Google Drive is simply shit that doesn't work and that I cannot trust with my files.

A lot of people here use Chrome. Well, I'm using Firefox and I think Firefox Quantum is now the superior browser.

I've been an Android user for a long time and I like Android's openness. However Android is really bad at privacy. I simply don't trust applications on Android, unless they are open source or from a very well known brand. Android also doesn't do Caldav and Carddav by default, you have to install apps from the Play store for it. But I find that to be unacceptable.

Google Docs is really good for collaborative editing, the best actually, however their spreadsheets quickly show their limits with big documents.

Google Hangouts is shit, nobody uses it and I'll never forgive them for killing their XMPP service in preference for the current Hangouts.

Google Maps is good, but don't go through Bulgaria with it because the coverage there is piss poor and you'll find yourself on really bad roads in the middle of nowhere. I noticed OpenStreetMaps is better in many parts of Europe.

Overall they fare well in quality, but superior they are not. Except for their search engine.

Eh, I'll give you that Google's products are not always superior, and that it's likely that the alternatives are better for use cases. However, when I _do_ use Google's products, it's mostly because I prefer them to the alternatives, not because people are bugging me to.

You're making the mistake of thinking that Facebook's dominion ends when you close the facebook.com tab.

- Facebook is tracking you over the whole web, building shadow profiles on everybody [1]

- Facebook is known to have conducted illegal and unethical experiments on manipulating people's emotions via the timeline. Let that sink in for a moment [2]

- Facebook is known to have had a partnership with Disqus for tracking users [3]

- Facebook is buying and aggregating user data from data brokers [4]

- Facebook now harvests the data of WhatsApp users as well, in spite of the app's original privacy policy [5]

- Facebook already knows your friends because it knows their address book [6]

- Facebook's tracking through Like buttons all across the web is violating EU law [7]

- Any of your friends can give Facebook access to your data [8]

We can go on btw, the web is filled with details of their past transgressions. I have no doubts about this — Facebook is one of the most immoral companies to have ever existed and time will prove me right.

And yes, Google has a lot of potential for abuse, but they haven't fucked up so badly yet. We don't need to guess how they compare, the evidence is right there.

[1] https://spideroak.com/articles/facebook-shadow-profiles-a-pr...

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jul/06/we-should...

[3] https://blog.dantup.com/2017/01/visiting-a-site-that-uses-di...

[4] https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-doesnt-tell-user...

[5] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/aug/25/whatsapp-...

[6] http://users.livejournal.com/joshua-/61105.html

[7] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/31/facebook-...

[8] https://spectrum.ieee.org/podcast/telecom/internet/stalking-...

I'm aware of all of this, but my point was that Google does exactly what you described, but on a much much more pervasive level that's almost impossible to opt out of.

Again, I'm not defending Facebook. I'm only stating that Google is worse terms of pervasive unavoidable tracking. What each of them do with that data (e.g. emotional manipulation) is an important, but slightly separate topic.

To address some of your references:

3 and 4 are real problems and probably the only thing you can never really opt out of with any provider.

8 is actually an old article on a feature since (thankfully) removed. However, even when it was there, it still only involved sharing data you had already volunteered to Facebook.

6 is aggregating data on who you are but not explicitly tracking, unless/until it's actually cross-referenced with 3 and 4, so isn't a problem in isolation

The rest are trivially blockable with any content blocker (some of which even come built in to some browsers these days)

The comparison with Facebook is because, yes, we're at a point of choosing which companies ethics you believe in most, and feel most comfortable handling your personal data. Privacy, security, openness, ads, ... at least it does to me.

And yes, I do think for any company out there crawling the web, RSS feeds are a good indicator. Ofcourse, Google algorithms got to the point that they don't really need RSS feeds anymore, but that's perhaps also the reason why quite often their search results kind of suck, as soon as you dive deeper.

The real problem, for all of us out here - is that no-one even bothers making a search engine anymore.

Everyone has given up. And Google can just do whatever they want. And that's exactly what they do.

Yep, with their infrastructure it's a much easier task to build something and take advantage of the scale in multiple ways, I believe GReader was a 20% time project too. I don't think any one has come close to matching the ease and scale that GReader operated at.

Sure their search has improved too, but it's pull instead of the push model that RSS is. The social networks are no substitutes, though Twitter comes closer than FB because it doesn't have to deal with my other network posts when trying to surface content I would be interested in.

DuckDuckGo is still hanging in there (for me anyway) https://duckduckgo.com

Yeah DuckDuckGo is awesome. I have been using them exclusively for the past couple of months for search. In that time I have found their results as good as Google's results for the topics I cluster around.

The beauty of RSS is no one has or ever had a monopoly on it. The comings and goings of particular readers is of absolutely no consequence. The only issue is the reduction of sites offering feeds, but I don't think Google is one of those offenders. They offer RSS feeds for things including Google News and most YouTube channels, they're just not always visible on the page.

"FeedBurner is also minutes away of being sunset"

One may hope. FeedBurner is horrible. It wasn't great even when it was new, and Google's neglect of it coupled with the standard Google non-support black hole if anything breaks (as it regularly does) hasn't exactly made things better.

It's probably on the way out, but it'll be a very bad thing. Tens of thousands of podcasts and blogs use FeedBurner for their feeds exclusively. If FeedBurner shuts down, even if more than half of folks successfully migrate away, incredible amount of content will be lost forever.

As someone who's been working with RSS aggregation since its inception I can say that even if there's a steep decline from a trend perspective, the support from almost any major site is still alive and kicking. For those who remember popurls 1), I've recently launched a new site at http://www.hvper.com and 90% from it is based on pure RSS. So long for its death.

1) https://medium.com/hvper/popurls-goes-hvper-2867b1b6b2bd

Thank you for chiming in here. Reading so many of these comments of people basically talking out of their asses?

Hey guys, just because you don't think about or use RSS anymore doesn't mean the entire platform is dead and no one uses it, haha.

Jesus the hubris in this thread is insane. I have been using RSS via Feedly uninterrupted for 4 years and counting. No problems, haven't paid a dime, works great.

Yes, not as popular. Apparently losing mindshare these days is akin to actually not existing.

Yeah, Google Trends has been advocated by so many Create-a-niche-site Marketing Experts that it's become the undisputed barometer for putting a number or value behind just about any term, including Bitcoin price forecasting. The only times I'd use it is to decide whether I should still wear my 80s fanny pack today.

Now let me check my Alexa ranking.

Alexa ranking! xD

Oh man, we can be friends.

It may or may not be dead in the end user space, but it is everywhere in the content and media industries.

this makes my day. I still use popurls, though it's covered in cobwebs and seems like abandonware. glad to see you have a new project up and running.

Used popurls for long period of time in history. It is an illusion (the grid reading that is). Don't think I will go back. The river of news per folder hierarchy (Google Reader) is better in a long run. It takes some effort upfront in organizing information and priorities, but it yields better reading results later.

This has never been a replacement for a serious feed reader but something that should actually keep the latter clean from the short-term stuff that all the news outlets put out there. With a site like this, it's not about being informed, but about feeling connected.

When my pieces show up on Digg, I see a lot of refers from Hvper. Good to know the philosophy behind it. Cheers.

I’ve been hacking on a Twitter client that batches your tweets and lets you consume them in a more pull-oriented daily digest format, with the ability to customize rules for which subset of tweets get included in the digest. In my personal usage I’ve found that this makes Twitter feel more like a manageable RSS feed, and limits the impact on my attention because I only get updates once a day. Is this something people would be interested in using if I released it? Any feedback on the idea?

It's a good idea, and I do the same.

Except I actually just have Twitter via a RSS feed. I wrote some code that generates RSS from Twitter lists and I consume it and filter it just the same as any other RSS feeds.

Do you plan on releasing the Twitter list RSS feed generator? It's something I've wanted for a while.

Well i'd be interested in using it if it had an RSS feed lol. That's just me though.

Yes! I've toyed with the idea of building exactly this (except I'd do it for Facebook and Instagram, too) for around a year. I didn't really have time to devote to it though, so I've just kind of ended up not using social media anymore.

Part of me relishes that I no longer have that distraction, but another part of me feels guilty for eliminating that personal cost at the expense of reduced interaction with loved ones. (Our personal relationships have been co-opted for ad revenue -- what a time to be alive.)

I would love to just get an email once a week with a digest of stuff I've configured it to care about.

I do something similar with TweetDeck and Twitter lists. By building lists of about 20 people per topic, I get a streamlined view of the topic that's not overwhelming.

I am apparently in the vast minority as there seems to be no decent mobile app supporting lists effectively. I'm not sure if it's even possible given Twitter's token policies, and unfortunately they killed off TweetDeck's mobile ambitions an eternity ago.

TLDR I would love a mobile app that embraces Twitter lists as much as Tweetdeck does on the desktop.

Sounds interesting. I'm a long-time RSS user and never made the jump to twitter. My gripe with twitter is that it seems like there is too much noise and too little signal. I suppose at this point my RSS has a lot of noise, but I'm perhaps more attuned at how to filter it out (but I do it heuristically).

I used a twitter digest for a while. I found it frustrating. Most tweets are part of a larger conversation thread which aren't visible in a digest. I found myself opening more than half the tweets in a digest individually to read the whole conversation.

I would like to try this out. :)

Try as I might, I just don't spend enough time actively using Twitter to make it all that interactive, but I'd still like the ability to catch up in a read-only manner.

I'd like this, would pay for it, and would ideally consume it by email if possible.

I’ve been using Nuzzel for exactly this.

Yes, please!

I really feel like RSS+<something else> could've been the standards for open social networking if the major feed readers didn't loose steam and FB and Twitter supported it (which is probably why they don't)

I often wish for the Open-Social equivalent of email. Anyone can host it, I can subscribe to people on different hosts. And if I don't like the way my feed is aggregating I can choose another.

> I often wish for the Open-Social equivalent of email...

This is a pretty good description of the Mastodon social-network model, there are several nodes, and your account on one node can subscribe to accounts on others. It's distributed in a kind of nntp-like way.

In my world, it made a pretty big splash about a year ago, but I've drifted away from it.

I think OStatus is what you're looking for ;)

RSS is great. Most of the major news sources, from the BBC to Fox News to NPR, have useful RSS feeds. Technically, it works OK. Real content is out there.

But there are two big problems. First, it doesn't add ads, as others have mentioned.

Second, it's really easy to unsubscribe. This is why so-called "newsletters" are sent as spam emails. RSS could do the job just fine. If the recipient really wanted the newsletter. The first time a "newsletter" sends out "NEW OFFER BIG SALE...", the recipient clicks "unsubscribe". They're unsubscribed then and there, will never read another item, and the sender can't do a thing about it. The sender doesn't even know they're gone.

RSS doesn't disempower the end user. Modern web technologies are designed to keep the user firmly under the thumb of advertisers. That's the problem with RSS.

> First, it doesn't add ads, as others have mentioned.

I think this is more a problem of scale. Simple, text-based ads could work if the audience is very specific. For instance, you could start each item with a one or two line message by a sponsor. Ads could be purchased for a fixed amount or even on a pay-per-click basis if the url is a referral.

This could work brilliantly on a regional level I think. For instance, a local news paper could draw attention to a new restaurant that will open up soon, a sale at a mom&pop store and so on...

I love RSS and shout-out to newsblur.com for keeping the dream alive. It is wonderful to use a system that isn't being optimized around the needs of advertisers.

newsblur! I've been happy with that as well since Google dumped Reader.

I bet if someone re-wrote the specification using JSON or YAML, everyone would start using it again.

No, the problem with RSS is two fold:

1. You have to get users to clickthrough to get your ad revenue, but you also need enough content in the RSS to encourage them to click at all. It feels like you put effort into this thing that prevents users from spot checking your website, which reduces your revenue. And you're hosting the RSS feed, too, so it costs bandwidth!

2. Twitter is easier to use (for you and your audience), is where the audience is, and is "good enough".

Twitter is absolutely what eventually killed my RSS usage. Human curated links in my Twitter feed, vs the firehose of articles that often fill up the RSS feeds of many sites.

Could any service not offer this curation? Try Pocket for an example.

I've used countless 'read it later' services like Pocket, Instapaper etc over the years (even some on PalmOS...), but for me at least the combination of Twitter plus the much more reliable cellular data we have now has made them less appealing.

Twitter has advantages beyond just the links being shared - the tweets themselves are often interesting to me, and the list of people I follow has been carefully built over time to the point it would be annoying for me to switch again now.

I'm sure these are great options for others though, but I don't think I'm alone in using Twitter as a kind of curated RSS replacement.

Thanks for the reply! I don’t use Twitter, so I’m always interested in getting input from people who still are.

Maybe 7 years ago I built a service that would track links from your Twitter feed, mainly because I was posting links I found interesting and wanted a way to refer back to them later.

I intended to have it track all links from people you follow too, to give a curated list of links, but Twitter was aggressively making changes to restrict their API so this became impossible.

That’s sort of what I was getting at. There’s no reason RSS couldn’t be extended to support the curation people are familiar with on twitter.

Protocols and an open web over walled gardens.

I suspect you might be right.

Personally, I think the main reason RSS failed to get bigger adoption was a UX problem. Clicking on RSS and getting a page of code is just too confronting for most people. Thus it never managed to get the same adoption as other republishing buttons like Pin, Like or Share.

The main problem with RSS is that it is simply not discoverable.

The related UX problem is that major browsers didn't have a built-in reader, so there is nothing with which to discover RSS.

To use RSS, you have to get some add-on like Brief for FireFox, or third-party app for Android. Or else use some website like Google Reader (I think that's dead now?).

Before you do that, in the first place, you have to know what the heck RSS is, and what are the benefits: why should you be installing this additional stuff for interacting with some hidden aspect of the web.

Browsers need to make it discoverable by alerting users, like by bringing up a bubble: "Hey, user! This web page's updating listings are available in a condensed RSS feed [learn more.] You can register the feed into my built-in feed reader, and then not only browse the items conveniently, but be alerted of new ones, search through the items, and delete ones you don't want."*

When we were recently looking, on Craigslist, for a bunch of different types of items simultaneously, I showed my wife RSS. From the beginning: how it is the condensed version of a web-site, and how you need a program to deal with it (went through an installation of Brief on Firefox). Then how you add feeds to the reader, and go look at them through the Brief toolbar button, etc. Then configuration: explaining how Brief just surfs the RSS periodically the same way that a human being refreshes a web page, and that the frequency can be configured, as well as how long the items are stored.

So after that she was using it daily, no problem, and mostly liking the convenience of just checking the feeds for what has dripped in, and being able to erase the duds, as if it were an e-mail inbox.

Actually, Firefox has built in RSS support, under the name live bookmarks.

I think the button for RSS was shown by default in the past, but now you have to add it to the browser UI manually (presumably, it was hidden because no one used it).

Profiles on FB and Twitter are decidedly less discoverable than blogs and potential RSS feeds. I can subscribe in one click from Firefox, same from Chrome with an official add-on. I won't need to come back to the original site unless I absolutely want to.

I think the problem is in monetization, that's why FB and Twitter stopped offering them, and Google killed GReader too. It's not a coincidence that Twitter is having trouble monetizing, when it's the new way to get news. As a publisher and as a reader RSS makes perfect sense, but how do you build a generic infrastructure in between the two as a utility? This is essentially the question.

Yes; sites don't want you to know about RSS because it's a way to bypass their portals to just get to the goods.

I suspect that most sites that have RSS feeds don't expose them intentionally. They just used some framework which automatically creates it. If they knew, they'd put an end to it. "What, someone can grab a list of our items without seeing the main page at all? Turn that shit off!"

Even though the items do contain links that beckon the user to that site, it still minimizes their interaction.

No, it helps discover-ability, and makes me more likely to come back when instead I might not bother. Marketers and someone wanting people to read their content would know the value of RSS.

Even if you're ad-supported, I'm more likely to visit you if you have an RSS feed. Not to mention any non-profit or academic website could let people follow new developments easier.

> not discoverable....

How is going to a 3rd party site like Google Reader (yes, it's dead and damn Google for killing it) any less discoverable than going to WaPo or Facebook? I make a conscience effort to go consume these sites. I made a conscience decision to consume my information from Google Reader. Or it's replacement.

RSS buttons are (were?) right along side Facebook, Twitter, Google+ buttons 10 years ago. Not that difficult.

If Facebook suddenly announced an RSS component to their service, people would use it. I know when Google reader dropped their Google Reader service, there was a hue and cry about it. Google said the usage numbers were flat. I suspect in great part because Google's lessor products come and go all the damn time. If the product is not integrated into Gmail or YouTube, 99.9% of their user base does not know of the service's existence.

> How is going to a 3rd party site like Google Reader (yes, it's dead and damn Google for killing it) any less discoverable than going to WaPo or Facebook?

Facebook is discoverable because people invite you there, sites link to it, and you're often prompted to "log in with your Facebook account" into every damn thing you visit. People talk about Facebook; you hear it on the news, etc.

Facebook per se isn't discoverable. If Zuck had just registered "facebook.com", the domain, and put a server there and waited without promoting it, there would be no Facebook.

Weeeeeeeell technically back in the day Google Reader would have worked just like that. Logging into Google Reader would could have permitted logging into any platform with integrated Google sign-in for their platform.

I still hold massive butthurt towards Google for abandoning Reader. It marked a pivot away from open technology platforms. Perhaps people don't know about RSS because Google / FB / Twitter prefer you not use it? These giants encourage passive consumption and discourage DIY curation of content. If I can currate my own content lists, I bypass their ad revenue generating framework, picking and choosing only those things I want to read. They receive no information about why I choose that specific article to read. I've made it a priority to trim my usage of Google to the extent possible. I dream of someday abandoning Gmail.

Good article from back in the day about the whys and wherefores of Google Reader's demise.


Hell, just finding the RSS feed on some sites is like going on a scavenger hunt. I really wish the html spec itself had a standardized way of defining the rss file for a site, like they do for favicon.

It does. In the HEAD, LINK tags with REL="alternate" and TYPE="application/rss+xml" (or "atom" instead of "rss").

I use the RSS feed finder user script. If it really can't find it, I use the feed autodetect bookmarklet. Both work well for me.

Don't sites put it in the HTML meta headers anymore? This is then picked up by the browser and displayed under the feed icon/menu.

Safari in Mac OS X did a pretty nice job of rendering the feed for a basic feed reader back when it still had the big blue RSS link button in the URL bar, no raw XML to speak of:


I used to use this A LOT back in the day, often finding it preferable to many site's native UIs.

If you click on RSS in a browser, you're presented with a HTML rendering of the feed. What browser or messaging application (Thunderbird and friends) doesn't do this?

I really like jsonfeed, but I just can’t envisage it getting anything like the ubiquity RSS enjoyed in the mid 2000s, when even Safari had a pretty reasonable feed reader built in. Back then my main way of following news/blogs was to combine the RSS feeds of my favourite sites, giving me a single view onto all the news I cared about.

What killed it for me personally though wasn’t the slow death of widespread RSS, but weirdly Twitter. Twitter can be a great news link replacement for RSS if you used RSS the way I did, as the links the people you follow share have been curated by those people themselves. I started to find a much better “hit rate” for content I wanted to read by seeing what influencers in industries I have an interest in share, rather than the hosepipe of stories that RSS was providing. I found I was still getting all the content I wanted without having to wade through all the noise, at which point I just stopped using RSS altogether.

I do however agree it is another sad indicator of a dying open web though.

RSS is difficult to implement? Since when?

Sure, it's XML. And had I been the one to design it from the start, I would have gone with JSON. But come on.

RSS has been losing ground because, deep down, people love the algorithms. I personally hate how algorithms artificially mangle content that I would have seen anyway if my "timeline" was chronological; it's annoying to me to have stories from hours or days prior to appear near the top of my feed because everyone has already seen the same thing by now and new comments are worthless/unseen after a givens tory is ~1.5 hours old.

Its XML which requires a more difficult tree abstraction instead of a mapping/list abstraction

and the XML wraps html-formatted articles, so unless you hate yourself, you'll need to be embedding a browser for rendering, which means bundling a browser too (even on certain browser embed providing platforms like win32, since it still uses IE11 as its browser embed)

of course its easy to generate RSS.

- - -

and thats nevermind the whole impossibility of getting all articles without a daemon on a separate server, especially for high-volume feeds

Its XML which requires a more difficult tree abstraction instead of a mapping/list abstraction

and the XML wraps html-formatted articles, so unless you hate yourself, you'll need to be embedding a browser for rendering, which means bundling a browser too (even on certain browser embed providing platforms like win32, since it still uses IE11 as its browser embed)

of course its easy to generate RSS

> RSS is difficult to implement? Since when?

He didn't say that - just that people find JSON exciting. There are many things that have been rewritten in JSON just to become popular again, or things people have done long before but are exciting because they're now JSON.

I would love to believe that idea would work.

What are some examples of concepts written for JSON that became more successful than their predecessor?

RSS was never difficult, and just about every language out there already has RSS libraries.

The biggest problem is the number of people who rolled their own XML generators or use broken templates to generate the XML.

Not sites that are solely driven by ad revenue. Most sites that aren't, still offer an RSS feed, it's just not always visible on the page. Some sites I've subscribed to and contacted for minor RSS related issues, didn't even realize they had it, it was just part of the publishing platform they used and the feed was exposed through a link tag in the markup. I don't think the protocol has anything to do with the choice to provide a feed, in fact, yet-another-protocol would just make it a harder for everyone involved.

Everyone is still using it, they're just getting their feeds differently (or going to the website directly) and Facebook might just be the lone big publisher to stop publishing feeds.

There is already https://jsonfeed.org but it's just an example of famous "now there are 15 competing standards" comics (https://xkcd.com/927/).

From RSS reader developer perspective (I'm author of BazQux Reader https://bazqux.com) problem with RSS/Atom is that there are many feed generators (and even handwritten feeds) each with its own understanding of standard or without understanding at all. And good feed reader need to handle many quirky issues to support all kinds of feeds.

With new feed format there will still be old bugs and problems (duplicating IDs, missing IDs, new IDs for the same posts, duplicated posts, misconfigured web servers, servers down and so on). And new format needs to duplicated efforts like MediaRSS for extended information about podcasts (which JSON Feed is missing).

Problem with RSS is not a format (end users won't read XML/JSON anyway) but needs of average user, time to setup, vogue, no profit for big players and so on. People, not tech problem.

Haven't seen it mentioned in here yet, but I've recently started using Inoreader (https://www.inoreader.com/) as my RSS reader and am quite happy with it so far. I haven't tinkered with it very deeply yet, but it seems to have a lot of great features for organizing feeds, viewing in different formats, and so on.

I love RSS, and have been using Inoreader since Google Reader's demise. Well worth the $15 annual subscription fee.

I mentioned it earlier, but thanks for providing the link! Yes, it's very cool.

Google will never recover in my eyes for the shuttering of Reader, which was an attempt to move people to G+.

Huge fan of feedly.com here. I would for sure reduce my consumption of web news in favor of print if it wasn't for feedly. Just helps me organise and read content so it is usable for my own purposes.

Second. I am super cheap - but i actually pay them now, so I can get "mute filters." Want to live in a world where no one mentions Trump or chatbots? I do :D

This lets me focus in on my 1000s of other feeds, which have something interesting and valuable to say.

Been really enjoying using Feedbin (https://feedbin.com/) to keep a curated list of things I actually want to read, but often miss via Twitter or even Facebook.

Hear hear! I've been arguing this for several years now, most recently: https://bryanalexander.org/2017/07/07/i-defy-the-world-and-g... . Facebook's algo is deeply messed up.

When we talk about RSS I hope we are including Atom in that too!

After Google Reader went "tits up" I switched to Inoreader (a web-based reader). Still using it quite happily.

Yes, the case of the disappearing feeds is something I wrote about recently - I believe it's all part of a plot to control the web...


There was a brief "Golden Age". I want to say around 2005 or so. When you had a proliferation of MP3 music blogs such as "Hype Machine". All with distinctive curatorial voices and great taste. And all distributing their MP3s using RSS. Just the music. No ads, filler or other detritus.

And you could write your own little client program in like 100 lines of C#. That would aggregate all the various feeds. And download just the MP3 files overnight. Providing you with a tasty gigabyte-sized bouquet of rare bootlegs, unreleased demos, forgotten imports, and much more every morning.

Spotify playlists have supplanted that particular use case. But the design favors promotion. Pushing overlooked talent to the fore. And bubbling up gems that may have been subsumed in the volume of noise.

To find rarities, such as this classic R.E.M. set from the Paradise Theater in Boston, Summer '83 (where they opened for The Replacements). You have to stumble on it via Youtube. Or find a friend with an actual collection of old vinyl ;)


Hype Machine is still around & active. http://hypem.com

I love RSS! I'm between readers right now though. The one I'm using only loads a few feed items at a time so it's annoying. If someone can recommend a reader that presents feeds as a list of links, and has a bookmarklet I can use for subscriptions, I'd greatly appreciate it! Keep in mind that I'm using a screen reader. Lol it doesn't have to validate perfectly though.

> "For several years now, the trend among geeks has been to abandon the RSS format."

I wish he would've named even a handful of examples that prove the point. Even Medium offers RSS feeds for users, publications, and tags.

And also, RSS is also at the center of the enormous and growing medium of podcasting, which nearly a quarter of Americans enjoy every month.

I make heavy use of RS -- I use TT-RSS as a reader and subscribe to lots of feeds. I pretty much use it as a 'starting point' for most of my news gathering. Even if RSS seems to be dieing off, pretty much all major news sites and CMS systems still have RSS built in so it is not dead yet..

I still use RSS. After Google News was discontinued I moved to NewsBlur, https://newsblur.com, and never looked back.

RSS is the one way I keep track of the things I want and the speed I can follow, differently from Twitter.

I've kept my subscription list in Feedly, which I open every now and again. I like the highlights it selects for me.

At peak Google Reader I suffered from "inbox zero" syndrome and recall zapping through hundreds of posts a day (being full time student in dorms help with having free time). But something rss, email and social media have thought me is that you'll never see it all. So I never pay much attention to the vast majority of the dress I subscribe to.

I certainly look forward to more decentralized systems like rss in the future.

It's a good case! Though I don't use dedicated readers as I used to, it's a great format and important part of the open web.

I still hold on to customizable aggregator protopage.com, though I wish iGoogle hadn't gone away. Also regularly check the fixed-selection aggregators like alltop and popurls, though the latter seems to have been abandoned.

Posts like this encouraging desktop clients are fine, but where is the slickly designed web client for RSS feeds? Until I find it, I'll stick with protopage.

Hi! You may be interested in https://frontpage.to .Just like you, we're a group of ex-iGoogle refugees who got fed-up with the alternatives which we found to be (subjectively) badly-designed/ insecure / inflexible, and built our own.

We haven't officially launched yet, but we'd love to have you take a look and tell us what you think! You may hit a few snags here and there as we prep for a more robust launch; in the meantime feel free to reach out either to me personally (contact in profile) or through support at frontpage dot to. Hope you like it!

Is Feedly slick? I like it

Turns out I had an account with a bunch of follows from years ago. Thanks for the reminder!

Is RSS/Atom sufficiently unpopular that it need somebody stepping up and making a case for it?

If so, that makes me sad, I rather like it. I am currently on my fourth iteration of building an RSS reader with a web UI, using a Bayes network to distinguish between interesting and boring articles. It is not very sophisticated, but it works well enough in filtering out the items I do not want to see.

Needless to say, this thing relies on RSS to fetch news items. Kind of what it was made for, as far as I could gather.

I for one built my own RSS reader which I serve locally with NodeJS. I update the sources every minute and keep them in a MongoDB collection. I even added a Mercury API integration so if I like a summary, I can click a link and read the whole article in-line (formatted consistently, and just how I want it -- no ads)


Contrary to trends & general opinion, RSS usage for content aggregation & monitoring is on an increase, specially in the business world and niche industries.

I'm speaking from our own experience running a little startup, Feedity - https://feedity.com, that helps create custom RSS feeds for any webpage.

The biggest case for me is no rescanning over things I've already seen. Also, filtering things I know I'll never want to read (anything from certain domains and some keywords) removes a ton of cruft, even when subscribed to otherwise high-volume feeds.

Edit: Another big win, not needing yet another account to be tracked and targeted through just to get at a feed. Best example being YouTube.

Who remembers the time before they'd hammered out the rules for escaping html in RSS item title elements, and all the cool kids were syndicating each other's feeds on their blogs, then some chucklehead posted an item whose rhetorical title was "What happens when you put &lt;blink&gt; in the title?" and the whole blogosphere started blinking?

What I'm hoping to get time for to help out here is starting to write on my dumb blog again and have full RSS.

I never earned anything from ads anyway (can't remember if I even activated them).

Anyone else would like to try?

As long as it isn't about "building an audience" and monetizing we could have blogrolls, links to post by other programmers and forget all about SEO nofollow etc etc.

Newsbeuter user here... usage dipped in the last year but have been looking to get back into the habit. Nice CLI speed and efficiency!

Does anybody here know of a good native RSS program for Windows, Linux and/or Android? All of the ones I've tried are buggy or ugly or just unfriendly to use. My Reeder envy has gotten so bad, I've been running Reeder in a VMWare instance.

I've been using https://www.feednotifier.com/ for a while now.

I publish my Caller ID info from my landline to an RSS feed, and Feed Notifier was one of the only ones that would allow me to get updates almost realtime. The popups strike a good balance between useful amount if info and too obtrusive, and I like how it uses the site favicon to let you know which feed you're looking at at a glance.

I tried lots of methods on ios to get timely prompts, but 15 minutes seems to be about the best any of the apps I have found can do, and yes, they mostly seem to be bloated garbage with limited configuration options.

The other good option on Windows is, surprisingly, Outlook. The RSS feeds in there are quite good.

On Android I am using Flym, though it doesn't seem to get old entries upon subscription. It is built on the sparse rss app, it is GPLv3 and it has a newer relative spaRSS https://github.com/Etuldan/spaRSS which is more recently maintained.

Thanks for bringing that to my attention! spaRSS is a decent contender. It's pretty, fast and it looks like it does what it should. One small wrinkle: it doesn't seem capable of importing opml files on newer android devices. A bug was filed 2 years ago, but it was closed without being fixed.

Filter the articles based on the rules you define: https://nodetics.com/feedbro/

It works. Very tiring to have stuff that is rock solid exchanged for junk. Move on, find something else to go after.. there is so much that is just mediocre

I use theoldreader myself, and have very little reason to stop checking my RSS feeds.

If you’re looking for an RSS reader that does away with unread counts, check out https://siftie.com

It works.

RSS is as important as E-mail.

Sure today people are mostly focused on corporate run social media like Twitter or Facebook but nobody really likes them. Everyone is constantly bitching about their practices. And you can't really make money on Social Media, which means corporate run social media is going to die some day, when they all realize there's no cash in that expensive cluster of cows.

RSS is free, and everyone can use it, no matter what blogging software you use. Operating your own blog gives you more control over content and presentation, as well as smaller details such as how your commenting system works. It's the superior choice.

It's free. That's important. Nobody controls RSS. Anyone can write an RSS reader. Anyone can write a blog app that publishes RSS. This ensures it will be around to survive the rise and fall of social software trends. When the smoke clears and people emerge from the rubble of the corporate landscape, RSS will be there, welcoming them home.

footnote: I saw this article in my "Hacker News" RSS feed.

Yeah VSS can be quite misleading, =p

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact