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Ask HN: How do you keep track of the articles you want to read?
67 points by in9 76 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 89 comments
I'm always gathering links for articles, be it a blog post, or an academic pdf article.

Currently I've been using pocket, but it seems that I've been losing some articles.

Also, there are some features I'd like to have such as searchable content, or the means to save tweets and facebook posts.

This kind of sounds like Evernote, but since the changes to their payment scheme I haven't been following them.

But custom solution ideas are also nice...

My approach has always been now or never. I don't have a read it later list. Sometimes this gets stressful to me if I want to read through a lot of content, but it motivates me to just burn through all of it quickly.

If I don't have time to read it, I'll skim it. Same with youtube videos, if I don't have time I'll skip through it or play-it-back faster. I use pinboard though after I've either skimmed an article I found interesting, or read it. Exception is with reddit and medium, I don't use pinboard for those sites, rather I use their built in tools.

For ongoing projects / links I use often, those go in google chrome bookmarks. I don't really have a searchable archive except for my note's app, pinboard, and google.

If you want to save tweets or posts, just put a like on them so you can check your profile → your likes. If you want to take it further, go scrape yourself.

My approach has always been to open them in a new tab and then ignore them until I finally decide it's time to clean up my browser session and discover the article doesn't exist anymore or has become irrelevant.

I never said it was a good approach.

You are not alone. :)

Contrarian thought here - but I stopped saving things. I was a very heavy user of pocket, pinboard, delicious et al for web articles. For academic papers I use Mendeley.

I now make an active effort to read the article as I discover it - the point being (for me) that if I'm in the process of "discovering" an article, I'm not "working" on anything else that leads me to have to save it for later -- I'm in the zone, read it and not worry about coming back to it! It's been quite a pleasant change. I don't read as many articles as I'd have saved before, but I'm ok with that!

As my list of "articles to read" grew, I felt guilt and a touch of anxiety because it was yet another thing I didn't have enough time to do. Then, when I finally made the time to read some articles off the list, I was usually disappointed... Here was this thing weighing on my mind for months, and now that I read it I see it's not that useful.

Now I read things on an "as needed" basis: I find and read articles as I need them, for instance if I'm learning about Kubernetes that's when I'm going to go and read 10+ things in one sitting.

Another thing I realized: If I found it once, I can find it again... When I need it. The article isn't going anywhere.

I know the anxiety you're referring to. I eventually started aggressively pruning my to-read list every once in a while, deleting articles that looked appealing when I came across them and impulsively hit "read later" but on more sober inspection no longer seemed worth the effort. No more anxiety, and this way what I end up reading tends to be worth it.

I can relate to that. I build up how good the article could be in my head, but it never lives up to it. Probably best to consume then save the good ones!

Double contrarian here :). My read it later list now has few thousands things and I love it! The ability to put things in queue frees up my time now unless reading it is absolutely required for task on hand. Think of it as easiest way to filter and prioritize. I don’t think I will get time to read those few thousands pending links but I can still search for things if I remember seeing it before but have forgotten exactly where. On the other hand I sometimes get stuck on long queues or travels without Internet access. At those time saved links in Pocket still available offline is great way to spend time. I also tag links by priority p1, p2 and p3.

So take away is that don’t get frustrated by ever growing read it later list. Think of it as way of creating your local searchable crawl of pages that matter to you.

I do much the same. I either read it at that moment, or decide my time is better spent elsewhere. I think that people in general underestimate the cognitive cost of context switching, and overestimate the amount of focused, free time they'll have in the future. Saving things for later 'feels' like you're accomplishing something, but with very rare exception, you aren't.

I definitely do this too. But for some acedemic papers it might take me (a first year PHD without much research exp) a few hours to actually understand everything the author is doing. For these cases I definitely try and skim the article to see if it warents furher review, and then save it to a folder in Mendely so I can go through it later.

For the most part I use Pocket because my Kobo ereader supports it. However if it supported Instapaper I would swap in an instant.

I've found Pocket often skips bits of text, usually bullet point items which I'm assuming it thinks are navigation menus or something. Really annoying. Instapaper does much better with this.

Every now and again it also finds an article it cannot extract the main content from. In that case it never ends up on my ereader, and there’s no obvious indication that there is a problem.

For either of those cases I save with Instapaper and use Erudite[1] to convert it to an epub.

To track my readying habits, I wrote a little PHP browser based application that interfaces with the Pocket API (and the hn.algolia.com API). Once I’ve read an article I archive it. Then when I’m back at my computer I run my app, which lists the archived articles, any related Hacker News pages, and lets me manage the articles (delete, save locally, etc.). It makes it easy for me to follow up and read the HN discussions after I’ve found the time to read the article.

Naturally I called it Pocket Lint.

[1] https://evanmclean.com/software/erudite/

The best thing about Pocket for me is the Kobo integration. I can seamlessly send articles I might find interesting from my laptop or phone, then read them while on-the-go or in bed with the lights off using a device meant for reading.

That’s exactly what I do. Save to pocket then read later on Kobo. It’s the first setup I’ve ever had where things I intend to read later actually get read later.

I just wish I could clip highlights from pocket-on-Kobo.

Pinboard.in. Very simplistic but it works: I use it through a bookmarklet, the form to add links has a “read later” checkbox. Later you can see the tagged list of links to read in chrono order.

Also, the https://www.one-tab.com/ extension can help managing many open tabs in the browser and can create a list of links web page that you can “share with yourself”, and add to pinboard.

On Firefox I use great extension Totally not Panorama [0] which gives old tab-groups-like feature. This gives me ability to group tabs around interests. It's like multiple workspaces in a desktop environment.

However most of the time I just open a lot of tabs. First I read some low-effort click-bait that I do not deeply care about. Then I read something that I'm actually interested in, but it's somewhere in the middle. Then I'm left with articles of perceived high-quality or high interest. I will read a few of them within a week or so. The rest will remain for even a couple of weeks. After a while I will either read them or just close the tab when I finally see that I don't care much about it. Also I read too many comments on HN.

I'm not proud of this.

One should always remember Strugeon's law [1] - "ninety percent of everything is crap". It may be worth it more to aim higher or just go for a walk than read crap.

While I'm at it, I was thinking about a title filter. I would like to filter out all content titled "N things you should know" or "N apps for something" entirely. Also personally probably all content about corporate machinations - be it Google or Apple.

Another thing would be from around the top of my too long todo list. An HTML-only browser that would index and possibly store all retrieved text - enabling full-text search through whole local archive. Then I would not worry about loosing some potentially relevant information. Bonus for it being HTML-only - no more position:fixed or sticky bars at the top, no GDPR or cookie fluff and no more JS tracking or otherwise.

[0] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/basic-panoram...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturgeon%27s_law

Well for the indexing stuff I recomend Worldbrain[0]. I use it for some time now and was able to find a lot of stuff that would be otherwise lost in my browsing history. It helps mo out when there is this "I know I read something about functors and javascript like two weeks ago". Turns out it was 5 weeks ago but since Wordbrain indexes every page I visit I do not have to scroll through 2k history entries.

[0] https://worldbrain.io/

Open a million of them in tabs, then click One Tab: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/onetab/chphlpgkkbo...

>Privacy assurance

Information about your tabs are never transmitted or disclosed to the OneTab developers. The only exception to this is if you intentionally click on our 'share as a web page' feature that allows you to upload your list of tabs into a web page in order to share them with others. Tabs are never shared unless you specifically use the 'share as a web page' button.

Then share as a web page and send myself the link.

Be it Pocket or anything else, I learned that processing and reviewing is just as important part of the reading process.

I try to commit time on the weekends to read 15 articles/PDF per day (saved on Pocket). I take down notes on articles I find useful (usually 4-5 of the 15 articles).

At the end of the month, I review the notes again and see if there's anything actionable or should be filed/stored in my long term notes (e.g. things to cook, books to read, tools for work to try, resources I'll need later, etc).

This works okay for me but I'm interested if other folks have ideas of what to do after you've read the articles?

My typical web pattern is to open a page, read it's content, open any interesting links in background tabs, then deal with them either immediately after reading the current page, or in bulk at my next idle moment. Dealing with them depends on the content. Generally, I'll take one of 3 paths:

If it's something I want to action against soon (IE - a really neat ESP8266 project or very cool VIM trick), I'll add the URL to ToDoist. I'll review all my links in that every week or so and either discard, take action, or move to the next two options. I've managed to keep my ToDoist URL queue fairly short - under 100 items.

If it's an article or long form journalism I want to read later for recreational purposes (IE - the history of the ESP8266 or how VIM has made the ESC key the battleground of the technical elite), I'll generally add it to Pocket (which captures the article text) thinking I'll go through and catch up on them the next time I have an hour to burn (usually a plane flight). This never happens though. My Pocket list is huge and untouched.

If it's a link in reference to something I'm interested in doing/exploring (IE - something about ESP8266 projects or VIM tricks), I'll add it to Pinboard.in and pull it up when I start messing with those projects again. I actually refer to my Pinboard.in account frequently, but never expire anything. There's ~12k links and it's a bit of history of what I've been interested in over the years.

I use org mode, together with org agenda. It doubles for taking notes, too! Helped me write my thesis and keep notes accessible. Unfortunately, there are no good solutions for using org from a phone.

Most articles go in a tab in my browser, either I read it eventually or I realize I don't really care and close it.

Academic papers that I read and figure out I might wanna re-read or reference later goes into Paperpile (using their browser plugin).

For projects I work on I keep working notes in markdown using Typora. Some links to libraries or articles might find their way into these working notes if I think I need to come back to them later. The markdown documents are then usually committed to some git repo.

I use zotero both for all my references, bibliographies, document citations, and also tracking interesting articles I see on the web or hacker news. Very easy to use with the browser plugins, I just hit the save-to-zotero icon and it not only save the page but a snapshot of it so I can also read it offline (or if it goes away). Highly recommend.


Evernote, I have a notebook specifically for that. Then when I go to read the article if I find it particularly useful I'll add notes/tags to the bookmark so that I can recall at a later date.

Even if I'm not looking for a particular article I've read it's so helpful being able to search a topic like "functional programming javascript" and have a list of resources that I have already screened for quality.

Pocket is pretty good. It keeps the copy of the page so even if it’s gone, you can still read years later. Plus you can use their app to read things offline or do search (where had I saw that?). One big issue is no support for pdf. So if you are in to reading research papers, try Diogo. It allows highlights and annotating and they stay in their server copy. Unfortunately diigo has turned out to be pretty buggy.

I used to rely heavily on pinboard.in but I noticed two things: most of my devices are iOS & MacOS (Safari & iCloud everywhere) and I almost never went back to re-read articles I had already read. So now I track everything through Reading List https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT200294 and prune as I read.

I just started using Mix.com, they have a mobile, chrome, and firefox extension that lets you save from around the web. It lets you organize the articles you want to save into collections you can customize. Also it seems if I add articles about a certain topic it will give me more recommendations. You can save any link, including tweets. I do not believe it works with Facebook posts.

I recently started using https://www.emailthis.me/

It's like Pocket but the articles are cleaned and stored in your email inbox instead. I was a big fan of RSS feeds but recently stopped using any RSS services at all since the signal to noise ratio was generally too high.

Pocket for me, but I've been very lazy with it over the past few years, to the point where I almost operate it like a stack which gets bigger over time.

I was thinking of writing a thing to surface the older/not touched articles near the top so they have more of a chance of being read but in reality that's probably just a fools errand

I've stopped trying to remember things to consume. So no lists. To echo others here, read it now, or if you forget about it, it wasn't worth reading probably.

Where I think it's important to flip this is "keep track of all the things you want to produce" instead. All the article ideas, product ideas.

I keep a list now of hundreds of things I want to write or vlog about. I'm constantly surprised by how many good ideas I forget because I forgot to write them down. "What was that great anecdote I wanted to share?"

And it's this insanely important list now. When I'm in the inevitable i-couldnt-be-creative-to-save-my-life state, there's this giant list of things I came up with when I was in a much more creative mood.

Saving a list of all those threads has been the only way I could have kept up making a new video every single day for so many stretches. It's maximized my creativity.

There's a self-hosted clone of Pocket, Wallabag: https://wallabag.org/en

Can't vouch for it, not having used it (yet), but it ranks pretty high on Alternativeto, which is a good sign.

Looks pretty good. Did anyone already try it?

I use it since ~4 Years and i love it. Its also my personal archive. You can tag articles and there is an app (for reading and sharing articles directly to wallabag) and a Firefox addon which lets you quickly add articles and tag them immediately.

But its a rather big php app which did not perform well on my bananapi which i used until half a year ago. Now whith a little bit more hardware (udoo x86) its running really fine.

May I ask, what did ‘not perform well’ entail in this case? The reading interface, capturing, or something else?

I'm mostly using a RSS reader, tagging articles as "read later" and/or starring the ones i want to save. For quite some time i used Feedly, it's a great tool, but i was missing some features so i've built Aktu (https://aktu.io): I can follow twitter users and Facebook pages as RSS feeds, and soon Quora topics. Everything is automatically categorized, with names of people, companies, etc... extracted, same story articles are grouped together as in Google News even for the items in my own feeds. And i'm adding a pdf export feature available in the next few weeks.

I have this problem too. I used to bookmark, but nothing really ever triggered me to go back through and read them. So I started leaving tabs open on my phone to read on the bus, but eventually started closing them when I realised they'd been sitting there unread for a week. Finally I built a tool for myself [0] that takes the URL and your email address, runs the page through Mozilla's reader-mode and emails the result to you in 15 minute (3000 word) snippets - which I've found to be a manageable sized piece for a bus trip.

[0]: https://lusmo.re/dripfeed

Pinboard has been one of the best paid services I've ever used -- though I bought it back when the lifetime fee was <$10 [0]. The Chrome bookmarklet is great, and the search/listing page is so straightforward and useful that I haven't even begun to look at the API. My main complaint is that not only are the iOS plugins costly (I've paid more for the plugins than for the entire service), the ones I've had have inconsistent/obsoleted support.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8751170

I either read it right away, or I send the tab via Firefox Sync to my phone, so I can read it on the bus/train the same day. I very rarely keep anything longer than that. I tried using pocket for a while, but I just ended up with a gigantic long list of stuff I never got around to reading.

There's just way too much stuff out there.

My only exception is Spotify, where I have a bunch of "check this out" playlists. I'll generally pick one at random for my commute, and then either save my favorite tracks and delete the playlist, or upgrade the playlist to "favorite album" status.

For me, it's a hopeless endeavor to keep track of stuff I want to read. So, if ever want to read something, I do read it right there, right then, or just hope that I'll remember that I bookmarked it somewhere and will be able to get to it at some point in the future when I have to. Depending on the device/site I am on, I do one of the following, and then end up never really coming back to it.

- bookmark the page

- add to "read later" on Chrome

- add to "reading list" on Safari

- clip to Evernote

- click "favorite" on HN

- (edit) (forgot to add) OneTab Chrome extension to save dozens of open tabs

I used to use the Firefox extension Scrapbook. It saved items to a local archive (not "local storage", but user-definable and in the normal local filesystem).

Then the Firefox rewrite killed it.

In addition to news that I'd like to be able to refer back to, I've found more and more "perennial" Web resources disappearing.

The Web is not a library. If I want to be sure I am able to refer to something more than a week or a month later, I'm finding I need to ensure I have a local copy.

Scrapbook made this easy and convenient.

Inoreader is the absolute best for me, although I usually use it for discovery.

I just have over 200 rss feeds, mostly from blogs, but from Twitter and Facebook too, and then tag and star everything I may be interested in.

They also have this chrome extension for adding websites from the web, but I haven't found myself using it much.

It has a pretty good search functionality, but I think you do have to pay for some of it.

It also has a lot of automation tools like "auto send to one note" sort of stuff, integration with ifttt, among others.

I print to pdf, email them to myemail+autodidact@gmail.com, and then turn on my website blocker so that I'm not tempted to keep scrolling HN and facebook. Then, when I feel like it, I email the pdf to the email address for my kindle here: https://pdfblog.com/2012/03/12/email-pdf-kindle/

I just open them then OneTab them, there already are myriads in the list and I have only read ~10. Although I happen to be intrigued by some subject all the time and feel constant urge to learn everything I find it extremely hard to read anything longer than a single display (900px-high) page and containing any amount of "water". I dream brevity was taught at schools and encouraged by publishers and not the opposite...

I create a bookmark on the Chrome bookmark bar. More than a couple articles and it looks ugly so it triggers a read/process cleanup. Seems to work.

My main input streams are an RSS reader and Twitter, both on a dedicated device. The RSS reader has a "Read later" queue and I add articles to that. From Twitter I click the link to open a browser tab directly.

One of my last tasks every night is ruthlessly filtering the browser tabs and "Read later" entries. It's rare that I hold onto an article overnight.

I keep the most important ones opened in a Chrome tab until a read and save it to Pocket. The less important ones I save to Pocket until it comes the day I get to read them on spare time or by necessity. The ones I know I'll repeatedly query for info (like tutorials/technical articles/documentation) I save in a categorized folder on Chrome's bookmark bar

I got tired of bookmarking & forgetting about the articles. So I just started to email them to myself but with a filterable address <myhandle>+bookmarks@gmail.com

This way I could redirect it to a sub folder while having it unread. I could also jot down notes in the same email thread for later reference. It has worked well for me so far.

Good part are articles in sites that I read with an RSS reader (Newsblur), so on it I can save articles for later reading. For others it depend on where I read them (i.e. phone, work computer, etc) and may have very different approaches, from keeping tabs open for months to send me links by mail, google keep or even send them to kindle.

If it's something I want to read, I usually just use Safari's Add to Reading List function. Then it syncs to the reading list on all of my Apple devices and computers.

If it's something I've just read and want to save, I save the page as a PDF in iBooks and it also syncs to all of my devices and computers.

I have been using Google bookmarks, but I am not happy with the solution.

Things tend to get lost of forgotten or the context of why I saved them is lost.

I think eventually I will write a simple custom solution that helps me recall the reason and context of why I saved the article along with the key takeaways I got out of it once read.

I’ve been downloading articles and longer form texts as PDFs and then just deleting them when I’m done. I could put them in directories when I finish them, but I rarely reference old articles (and they’re easy to find again anyway). Standard Unix tools work pretty well for searching within files.

I used to save articles to read in the future, but not anymore. If I want to read something, I can usually open HN or reddit and find something I'm interested in. However, I think this says more about the general low quality of articles published today (that they're not worth saving).

I'm usually using the 'save' button on reddit or the 'favorites' on HN. If it isn't on either of those sites, I'll then try to submit it to the appropriate sub and save that.

It works because I'm logged into reddit & HN on most of my devices.

That said, I rarely look back at the stuff I've saved.

Consider the service, http://www.lasso.net/go/index.jsp

It is terrific for saving collections of content. It is even better if you want to publish a collection or collaborate privately.

Safari Reading List. No need to keep tabs open and it's seamlessly synced and available on all my (iOS) devices. The bad thing about this is that's only on Apple devices and it's one of those things keeping me part of their ecosystem.

I use Trello for basically everything, so I've linked Pocket and IFTT to place an article on my Master Task Board in a list called "Articles to Read"

I usually don't read them steadily, I tend to sit down and clear the list in groupings when I've got time.

I just hit "Send to..." in Firefox and send it to a different device than what I am currently using. If I'm using my tablet, I send it to the desktop. If I'm using my desktop, I send it to my tablet.

Eventually many things get tagged in Zotero anyhow.

Pocket is pretty good. I use it as my reading queue, but it also lets you strip out all the cruft that most modern news sites and blogs tend to have. Pushbullet is also great if you just want a stripped down way to share links and small files across your devices.

Every morning, anything remotely interesting in Feedly or HN goes straight to Pocket.

I mark at hour (at least) each day to look at the list. Usually more.

* news items: skim, share if needed, trash

* resources: skim, then save to color-coded Google Keep card if valuable.

* code: download & add a to-do item to Remember The Milk.

All links that I want to read in the future I save in Notes on Macbook or iPhone. I know it looks a bit old-fashioned, but I haven’t found a more convenient solution for myself yet. This list reminds me that there is always something to read.

As I look at the header for this post, I see an "instapaper" link just to the right of the "7 comments" link. Click that and select a category I've previously set up. (Naturally, I have an Instapaper app on my Mac Air.)

I have been using ggather.com for the past few months and liking it quite a bit, especially it's bookmarking and organization interface as well as performance, as compared to pinboard. The only thing I miss is having an android app.

Email - searchable, taggable, no app needed per se, cross-device.

Agree with read now or never, but sometimes I still want to save it for weekend read.

To actually read something I found printing it out very helpful - you won't forget and can highlight stuff.

I mostly send it to my kindle with the browser extension push to kindle. http://fivefilters.org/kindle-it/

Slack, just send a link to myself. If you are running MacOS, then you could use the Notes App. It works great, sync's content between devices, and you can password protect notes as well.

A text file full of urls and book titles. When I want to pick something I open this file in Sublime and go `Edit -> Permute Lines -> Shuffle` and go with whatever is on top.

I use Instapaper to actually read articles so I can highlight and annotate.

It Instapaper can't parse it, I'll save it to Pinboard or download as a PDF and highlight as I read in Preview.

I simply use browser built-in bookmarks folder and place it in my bookmarks bar, just to keep it in front of me all the time to remember to read them later.

I used to use instapaper, but I find that I almost never actually read the articles that I saved so I don't do it much anymore.

A plain old text file synced across my devices with Dropbox. Dummy, but it works. ps. I use this approach for my notes in general

I use a Trello board. I have my to-do today column, to-do soon, future project ideas, and a read at some point column.

Tools like Diigo may be helpful for you not only to read, but annotate what you want to remember about everything by topic.

I save a list in vimwiki. Since it is a file, I can easily sync it across multiple systems/OSes using git.

a) most of the stuff I read instantly, even if just skimming. If important, bookmark it.

b) looks interesting, very long - bookmark it.

c) semi-interesting and/or semi-long - browser tab, to be revisited this week. Sometimes next week.

I use Pinboard for my bookmarks.

Stick em in Evernote, 'till they fade away or become shitter reading.

open tabs in chrome I never close... hundreds of them

I'm gonna save this thread for later reading!

Strategy #1:

- Open in new tab

- Repeat 5,000 times

- Session is lost, all tabs are lost

Strategy #2:

- Save to Pocket

- Repeat 20,000 times

- Never read any


Works on pc/mac works on mobile, Can extract content from web, Has content suggestions

3M Post-Its



used to use instapaper or pocket and just archive read articles to pinboard



Those are my go-to options.



I use Instapaper ; one action and keep article I wanna read later…

Sorry to learn about these missing articles in Pocket. We'd like to try and help you track them down if we can. If you're interested, just click "Contact Pocket Support" at https://help.getpocket.com/ and reference this post, and someone on our team will take it from there.

Regarding your other comment, Pocket offers basic search (title and URL) for free, and Pocket Premium includes full-text search so you can find text throughout all of the articles you've saved (with support for operators if you want to get fancy).

In addition, you can save any URL to Pocket, so feel free to try saving those Tweets or Facebook Posts. How they'll appear in Pocket depends on a few factors, though, including whether they're public or private.

Hope this helps!

Appreciate you responding to this thread. Now that you're here:

I love Pocket, but I feel the "Discover" feature could be greatly improved. I do find great articles in there, but you could spare your users some scroll fatigue by giving them more options on the Context Menu's "Hide This".

Right now the options aren't great, because when I hit "It's not Relevant to Me" on yet another Medium.com article about Gary Vee and "the hustle", it doesn't seem to change the number of low-quality recommendations I get on this topic from similarly low quality domains like "forbes.com" and "huffingtonpost.com". Letting users filter out certain domains (like how you can filter subreddits using RES extension) would be a great way to restrict the "Discover" feature to high quality stuff. That alongside the original unfiltered, content (called "Top Reads" for example) would give me the best of both worlds.

I hope you'll consider it!

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