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> 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

Then

>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.




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