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RSS Is Better Than Twitter (gizmodo.com)
580 points by k1m on March 30, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 250 comments

I just wish Mozilla introduce subscribing to RSS as a first class feature in Firefox. If they can introduce and integrate Pocket, I think an open technology like RSS deserves a fair chance. But they'd need to invest a little bit to make it easy to subscribe—similar to following on Twitter/Instagram or Liking pages on Facebook—to receive site updates. Having to find and enter byzantine URLs is not the way to go although personally, I do not have any trouble doing that as I have been using RSS and feed readers for more than a decade, but that is not the case for everyone.

I just wish some consortium of like minded companies like NYT/WaPo/Guardian/BBCs/Other national dailies, Reddit, Mozilla, and even Microsoft can huddle together and come up with a new name/identity and spread it and popularise it. One can always wish.

As one commentator said in the linked article: protocols are better than platforms.

Edit: The issue here is not about obtaining the feature with add-ons and extensions, which there are many. When the focus of the organisation is on something idealistic (open web), is it too much to expect them to add it to the core of the product?

Firefox used to have built-in RSS support, but it was removed in Firefox 64: https://www.zdnet.com/article/end-nears-for-rss-firefox-64-t...

The decisions that Mozilla comes to when it comes to Firefox sometime puzzles me... but overall, Firefox is still my #1. It was probably more work to remove RSS then to keep it... but either way, it used to be my favorite way to find a page's RSS link (but I disabled Firefox' telemetry and similar reporting tools, so i blame myself a bit too)

Wow I never knew. I would have used it if I knew.

The "rss support" was a folder, filled with links named after the article titles.

It was good that it was removed, as it was useless to put it mildly

> The "rss support" was a folder, filled with links named after the article titles.

You're describing the "live bookmarks" feature, which was only one part of the RSS functionality that was removed from Firefox. I never used live bookmarks, but I used the feed discovery and subscription functionality all the time -- only some of which can now be restored with addons.

They also removed the ability to preview RSS feeds, which is annoying because one of the few certain ways to subscribe to a feed was to preview it and then hit subscribe in whatever addon you were using.

In the past it was even possible to subscribe with whatever addon you prefered from the firefox RSS preview directly, but that was already lost after the jump to WebExtensions.

There are addons that restore RSS previews and improve on firefox' old feature.

It was an easy and simple way to get into RSS. I used to use it quite a bit. Just the effort of finding an RSS reader is enough to turn people off the service. Compare to Twitter, which exists on all platforms. I don't think we can underestimate the interface problem for RSS.

I actually used it considerably for my news site bookmarks on my bookmarks bar. It was great for just catching up on the day’s headline. It’s a feature I sorely miss.

The Livemarks extension duplicates the feature pretty acceptably.

You are describing the majority of rss readers. Newsboat could be said to be a folder, with a file inside called urls. Sure it's actually more than that, but that's the part you interact with.

So what's your point?

Though useless, I think that some RSS extensions were able to pull feeds from there.

There is an add-on called Awesome RSS [1] that brings back the web feed icon to the address bar. It doesn't implement the "live bookmarks" feature though, but you can use some external reader such as Newsboat [2] which will also let you read the content of the articles.

[1] - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/awesome-rss/

[2] - https://newsboat.org/

Awesome RSS is a great extension, and is compatible again with Firefox 64+ and now adds direct subscription feature to Feedly, Inoreader, NextCloud Reader and even Tiny Tiny RSS (or universal feed display. https://addons.mozilla.org/fr/firefox/addon/awesome-rss/

Another great new extension is Want My RSS because it's compatible with 10 RSS readers for direct subscribtion (you can add your own when you have a self-hosted reader for example). Feed detection and feed display is also great! https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/want-my-rss/

I was looking at this the other day[0] I actually think Brief[1] might even be better than the RSS support that was in Firefox. I haven't tried it yet but I intend to.

I use Thunderbird as well, and that has RSS support but to me that seems counter to my workflow. Typically I'll be on some site and want to subscribe, and then view in my browser. Doesn't really make sense to be in an email client.

On my phone I use Flym[2]

[0] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/collections/4757633...

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/brief/

[2] https://github.com/FredJul/Flym

I tried out Brief. It looks nice but there are a couple of problems:

1) There also doesn't seem to be a way to sort them by date or alphabetical order or domain.[0][1]

2) It seems like it should be possible to 'group' feeds, but I couldn't figure out how.

3) When Firefox updates certain things break

I think as a result of this I will try out newsboat. I found this tutorial[2] that seems to explain it nicely.

[0]: https://github.com/brief-rss/brief/issues/208

[1]: https://github.com/brief-rss/brief/issues/383

[2]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUFCRqs822w

Using debian stable, so I still have 60.6.1esr... not looking forward to this.

Yeah, I didn't know this because I run a customized nightly I forked, so I'll be keen on keeping all the files relating to this feature when I eventually merge with the upstream nightly so I can still have my cake and eat it too.

Why did Mozilla not propose a new version of RSS then ?

I discuss it with one dev contributor of Mozilla and they say that they didn't want to loose time maintaining Live Bookmarks. And the Live Bookmarks was underused. RSS is no more a prioritary subject. The problem is that they don't only suppress Live Bookmarks, they suppress all the ability to manage (I mean detect and display) RSS feeds... and that's terrible!

Perhaps it would harm the business model of their proprietary software, Pocket.

I'm considering integrating RSS with Polar:


Ton on my plate now trying to focus on shipping mobile and a few other features too.

I like the idea of Polar having data sources that are high quality and that the user can just easily subscribe to specific PDFs, research, or high quality content feeds.

We're also going to add social content discovery which is sort of like a Twitter feed but just people who are annotating content on Polar.

I am starting to get annoyed seeing you promoting it in every thread of a vaguely relatable topic. Could you please tone it down a bit? :)

Please stop using HN to spam your own site.

Looks nice but why does it need 3rd party cookies to work?

Also, copy-pasting is broken:

Bigtableis a distributedstoragesystemformanagingstructureddatathatisdesignedtoscaletoa verylargesize:petabytesofdataacrossthousandsofcommodityservers.

Also, expected keyboard shortcuts (eg hitting delete to delete a document) don't work.

I think polar needs a heuristic evaluation, it takes too many clicks to do certain things. Also, I couldn't figure out how to export a card to anki. Exciting project though, I check back every few months.

Yes, please do. It would be a great addition to an already great project.

Does anyone know if it’s possible to block users on HN due to spam?

Polar looks great! Just the kind of service I’m looking for. (Hope an iPad/tablet version is in the offing alongside mobile.)

Another +1 on this.

> I just wish Mozilla introduce subscribing to RSS as a first class feature in Firefox.

Fortunately, Thunderbird still has this feature.

I wrote about reading blogs with Thunderbird not long ago:


I think a similar setup would be good for many people here who wish to read RSS but doesn't want to add another SaaS to their life.

I’ve used that for over a decade, but eventually gave up and signed up for NewsBlur so reading on my phone and my laptop would be in sync. It is open source and you can run it yourself but I gave up and let Sam host it for me.

The other in-sync option would be setting up an rss/imap gateway, which is not even available as a SaaS afaik, so would cost about as much in hosting (unless you already have a server you can use) and about 20 times in labor.

Happy paying NewsBlur customer - even though the iOS app is a battery hog.

It does, but! I really want Thunderbird to be good, but the web feed experience is infuriating. If you don't care about open source or you just care plenty about UX, you wouldn't use it for feed reading. (I got started on a list, but it's more like the whole concept needs to be rewritten.)

Huh? In Firefox you'd visit a webpage and if RSS feeds were available you'd be able to subscribe to them, IIRC.

Where in Thunderbird do you find feeds to subscribe to?

I always found the feed url in a web browser, copied it, and then added it manually to Thunderbird. Granted, it's not the exact same thing as how Firefox used to do it, but it works well enough once you have all the feeds you want set up.

> As one commentator said in the linked article: protocols are better than platforms.

You're right! For users this is absolutely true.

Yet, almost all the companies that you might think of as potentially interested in RSS are platforms. You cannot sell ads in a protocol.

This is the core of why Twitter has replaced RSS. RSS is better for users, but Twitter is better for publishers and platforms. So users wind up following content.

Sorry to split hairs here but RSS is not a protocol but a syndication format: http://www.rssboard.org/rss-specification Atom is also a format but have proposed a publication protocol : https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5023

You're completely correct!

Is it perhaps possible that in this particular case, the difference you so wisely point to between a format and a protocol is possessed of a great and bountiful opportunity to be relevant? The discussion at hand is between "protocols" and "platforms", which might otherwise be cast as "standards" and "products".

Again, you're completely correct. It might just be worth considering that in some cases, a distinction without difference can be of limited value to a discussion where it is at best tangential.

I was not disappointed to see RSS removed from Firefox, because I want my already too-complex browser to have as limited a set of functions as possible. The more first-class features they remove, the more secure and usable their product will be.

If cars didn't have air conditioners... they'd be more reliable overall!!!!!

I wouldn't disagree.

The problem, of course, is that for some people, the removal of those features makes the browser no longer meet their needs. Worse, which features are "critical" varies from person to person.

The flexible answer, of course, would be to have a relatively basic core browser and an extension system powerful enough to allow the features to be implemented that way. Like Firefox used to be. Unfortunately, Mozilla decided to neuter the extensions instead.

The first part of your post puts the priority on having more software that can read a reliable formula, which I think is the opposite way to go, since the forumla is already there can't all browsers do this? Yes, but they have refused up until now, why? Because their focuses is web pages ... Make some hybrid RSS web feed with a universal interface and you have Twitter. Approach it from the software side and you have federated, inconsistent implementations of a reliable formula.

Would like to see more effort in this area too. There was some work done a few years back at https://www.subtome.com/ to make subscribing to RSS feeds easier.

Totally agree! Subtome was a great project but it lack updates. I talked weeks ago with @julien51, it's creator, and he told me that it didn't have time maintaining it but he would integer contributions.

The silver lining is that no built in support is better than poor builtin support as it opens the doors to interesting add-ons filling that need.

That said, I would love if Firefox had an excellent RSS experience, but frankly it was always a confusing afterthought.

Can anyone comment on why Mozilla is integrating dodgy services like Pocket and now some ill-conceived screenshot web locker? Is it just hunger for data as revenue?

"Cloud" features have been recently removed from the screenshot tool, FYI.

Well they bought Pocket, so I'd assume they wouldn't want their investment to be for nothing.

They bought Pocket AFTER they installed it by default in Firefox as some kind of PR disaster control.

Conspiracy Theory: Mozilla wanted to acquire the service from the beginning, but before doing so they would integrate it beforehand to stir up some drama, devalue it a little bit and buy it for less.

Not really related, but does anyone know of an open source Pocket alternative?

Try Wallabag: https://wallabag.org

It used to be called Poche (French word for pocket) but they had to change it becuase of a legal threat from Pocket.

Re-introduce, not introduce. Firefox not only used to do a fine job of displaying RSS feeds, it also simply displayed an RSS icon in the URL bar (if the page had the respective link elements HTML header) from which you could subscribe to all the provided feeds. There certainly was room for improvement, but still, they had it, and they canned it. https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/live-bookmarks

Thunderbird is still a mighty fine RSS reader though.

I use the Awesome RSS addon [1] to get the icon in the URL bar back. Also RSSPreview [2] to see whether the feed actually contains what I want to subscribe to. The previous integration where you could add the feed to Thunderbird directly from Firefox with a single click was much better, though.

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/awesome-rss/

[2] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/rsspreview/

For those (like me) who actually liked the old system of a folder with "bookmarks" in it there is Livemarks [0].

[0] https://addons.mozilla.org/de/firefox/addon/livemarks/

Thank you for the two add-on links. I would add Feed Preview [1] to the list.

[1] https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/feed-preview/

Thank you for sharing this! I had not encountered an RSS addon with 'subscribe' functionality before. This addon basically restores everything I wish had not been removed from Firefox.

(It's a shame I couldn't have found this on my own. addons.mozilla.org is unbelievably bad for discovering useful addons. It takes a thread like this to turn you on to the good stuff.)

Firefox had a way to display RSS/Atom feeds earlier which they removed, but it did not allow subscribing to them in any meaningful way other than live bookmarks.

I thought Firefox used to have a one click way to subscribe in your preferred reader back in the Google Reader days.

Yes that was possible and I always used it to subscribe to TTRSS. One day after an update I saw that they removed the button (which used https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/API/Navigator/r...) with which you could subscribe in Firefox that your custom TTRSS url should be added to the list off the ways to subscribe and I wrote a plugin to read it https://github.com/jeena/tt-rss-plugins/blob/master/jp_fxsub...

That worked for a short time until Firefox removed that API. Now I need to install this addon to be able to do it https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/awesome-rss/

It's basically impossible for people to find out how to subscribe to a RSS feed nowadays.

I've been wondering if the recent addition of AMP to Gmail as precursor to Gmail having RSS integration. I know I'm delusional but it feels good to think there might be a push back to RSS reading in a Google product.

I wish there was pushback against the notion of "hoping" and "wishing" for companies to do the right thing. Companies should be more afraid of the ire of informed customers informing other customers, than of competition, that's the delusion I live in... they should worry about having done too little, too late, instead of us always keeping an ever slimmer hope for ever smaller breadcrumbs alive.

Gmail had rss integration through Reader back in the day. With the short lived Buzz, had easy integration for discussions on rss feeds.

Why not Google?

Google failed to gain traction in the social network space with G+. If you can't beat them commoditize them!

Why not make interoperable networks based on open standards first class citizens in chrome/chromium? Not just by adding support but also by helping move the RSS standard forward.

Google used to own the most used RSS feed subscription service. They shut it down. So, not Google.

They had their chance. And we're still mourning the loss of Reader to this day.

Good idea! Maybe one day Google will create an ecosystem around RSS. They could call it something like “Google Reader”...

TheOldReader is a really nice RSS reader built after the demise of Google Reader. They've been consistently solid.


There's plenty of really good solutions around : 1. Online: Inoreader, Feedly, Newsblur Newsbin, The Old Reader, Feeder... 2. Browser extension: the great Feedbro 3. Desktop: Liferea (Linux), QuiteRSS (Windows), Caffeinated, Readki, Reeder (MacOS) For RSSOwl and RSS Bandit (Windows), there's nothing new for years/ The great FeedDemon (Windows) stopped it's dev years ago. 3. Self-hosted: Tiny Tiny RSS, Fever, Leed, Selfoss

I second the recommendation for TheOldReader. It's where I eventually ended up after Google Reader's demise.

RSS is anti-ads. If people don't leave their reader, they don't visit websites, don't load ads, don't ping tracking services. So any alternative to RSS, content creators relying on ads will fight tooth and nail to not make it mainstream ever.

Mails are also ad-free, and they have no problem showing them in gmail. Same would be possible for newsfeeds. Actually, it would be even simpler, as they know the urls and could link this directly with ads shown in web search or on the specific pages. Though, majority of people using RSS are technical competent people, using adblockers, so likely it would be just pointless.

Yes but with mails, you read... mails. That is what you consume. With readers, you consume content that is most probably there because of potential ad revenue. Yes, RSS is generally used by technical people - but you'd be surprised how many technical people don't use adblocks, sometimes because they don't care and sometimes because they don't think it is ethical to do so. And there always is the possibility that it can evolve into something that is more convenient used by masses. So it is a net negative in terms of revenue.

And I'm not only talking about people that produce readers, but also about content creators. I'm making a site and hoping to turn a profit through ads and my interesting content - why would I want to provide a convenient stripped down version of my website for you to consume - something that is a net negative for my revenue (hosting and transferring data costs money)? Sure, I can provide "excerpts" in RSS, but I'd rather prefer you go to my homepage to see what is new - it is thoroughly AB tested to lure you in, spend some time and see some ads - maybe click one.

That said, Google did produce a version of AdSense specifically for RSS feeds (although it was discontinued in 2012).


I love RSS feeds.

You can convert Twitter to RSS: http://twitrss.me

Websites that don't have RSS: https://feedity.com/

Email to RSS: https://zapier.com

Hackernews RSS:http://hnrss.org/newest?points=300

You can even use RSS for finding a job: https://www.indeed.ca/jobs?q=millwright&l=Toronto,+ON&sort=d...

I work on a project which creates RSS feeds for sites which don't offer their own: Feed Creator - http://createfeed.fivefilters.org/

And one which converts partial feeds into full-text feeds: https://fivefilters.org/content-only/

Cool project, I was searching for something like this a while ago and then tried to build something similar. It's not as cool and full featured as yours though; you have to write your own plugins for each site. It was still fun to build though.


I came across your project a while ago. I was actually trying to search for it today to post a link to it in reply to another comment. I only remembered the 'bridge' part and assumed it was in PHP, so my search didn't bring it up. :)

I use a modified Scrape ‘N Feed to scrape the sites I need without RSS. With this I can go another level deeper and scrape the entire article and return that back to the feed instead of just getting the snippet.


Instead of sending your Twitter followers to a random cloud service (and getting it rate-limited), run your own RSS-Bridge to generate RSS from sites that don't have them, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. If you use it yourself and some friends, rate limiting is not a problem.


For HN, you can run that very same codebase from https://hnrss.org: https://github.com/edavis/go-hnrss

> You can convert Twitter to RSS: http://twitrss.me

From that link:

> 2018-10-17: Twitter are rate limiting requests from TwitRSS.me, meaning it is effectively broken until I can think of a way round it. You can still run your own instance


I used this before, but its delay is just too much for anything that requires timeliness.

The free tier of feed43 is a little bit better I think (still have hours delay sometimes..)

Are you aware of an open source/non-commercial email to RSS solution?

https://github.com/samuelclay/NewsBlur is open source, commercial.

No. But Zapier is free for limited applications.

But yes, wish TinyTinyRSS would offer all this functionality. Other RSS readers might be better, but I always return to TinyTinyRSS.

An open, distributed web demands open source tooling. I can appreciate benevolent corporations (Zapier goes above and beyond for their users, and is generous with their free plan), but nothing lasts forever; open source code once public can always be maintained and built upon further.

Lots of things changed between when I started to heavily and systematically consume content online (in about 2006), and today. But one thing didn't: RSS is still the crucial cornerstone of my online content consumption.

For me, RSS never was dead or less relevant than in the past. On the contrary: Since I keep adding feeds on a very regular basis, it's still growing in importance.

Fortunately, 95 % of blogs and media sites still provide RSS feeds. As long as this is the case, RSS will remain crucial to me.

Calling RSS dead only sounded like marketing from media sites as they got scared of being consumed outside of their platform but it was never dead from consumers' perspective.

A lot of journalist types seem to have switched to Twitter in the aftermath of Google Reader. But yeah, RSS never died in the real world.

> RSS is still the crucial cornerstone of my online content consumption.

Mine too, 100%.

I love RSS, and have for years. My first blog post ever was about RSS: http://www.mooreds.com/wordpress/archives/4 . I recently wrote that new developers should use RSS: https://letterstoanewdeveloper.com/2019/03/25/use-an-rss-rea...

But reading through the post and the comments here, I'm sensing an omission. What Twitter (and social media in general) provides that RSS doesn't is interaction. I don't login to twitter all that often, but when I do, I see things like this: https://twitter.com/mikekarnj/status/1106582308235235330 and this: https://twitter.com/lpolovets/status/1106812630985928704

I doubt I'd be privy to the discussions happening on Twitter if they were happening any other way (blogs tried to do it with comments and pingbacks, but that isn't as good as Twitter, and not as open to everyone, since you have to run a blog of your own).

This is the secret sauce for me. In fact, if there were a way to only see conversations in Twitter (and ignore all the posts with no responses) that would have a lot of value for me.

RSS is great for reading, but for conversing, it's not a good fit.

Amusingly, this is what I loved about Google reader. It made every post a message target for my friends.

I haven't used Google reader. I do use newsblur, but haven't found the conversation features in there useful. The population is so much smaller than that of twitter.

I'm excited about ActivityPub integration in blogs. You can give your site its own Mastodon ("Twitter") account, articles show up as posts and replies show up as comment threads.

The one thing I've been frustrated with using ActivityPub for blogs is that it is push based instead of get based like RSS. Basically it means that the responsibility is on the website owner to send out notifications for new content and maintain a database of subscribers instead of just publishing a feed that people can periodically download to check for new stuff.

While I agree that it's inconvenient on a technical level, I think it's the right choice for a model where publishes are more infrequent. Push-based means you only have to publish N times every time you post something (N is subscribers), and it's instant for subscribers, whereas pull-based means you need to poll every so often M times (M is subscriptions) getting nothing back most of the time, and you get posts with a large delay.

AP also handles everything in hubs. So while you do need to know your subscribes, you don't need to send out 100 notifications for 100 subscribes, you probably only need to send out 10 notifications to 10 servers who will handle the delivery to the recipients.

There is also AP relays which could further reduce the overhead if you simply deliver the content to the relay.

Has anyone tried to build conversation into RSS? An RSS item that is related or responsive to another RSS item?

(Or is that what Mastodon is trying to do?)

The classic relation is a link. Atom has the Atom Threading Extensions, to document conversation in feeds.

One problem of course is notifying the thread starter of new decentralized comments. There were Trackback, Pingback, Webmentions for web pages. For feeds there was the Salmon protocol [2], enabling notification of new comments to swim upstream. According to Google's documentation Salmon would have been an API of Google Buzz. But that started with a privacy scandal and shortly thereafter Google decided they needed their own closed social network. Salmon was later used in OStatus 1, I think.

There was a lot of activity in the 2000s transforming the RSS/Atom ecosystem into something of a decentralized social network. Extensions like Activity Stream for richer data, AtomPub, Salmon, OpenID, Webfinger, PubSubHubbub (now WebSub) to turbocharge feeds with a Publish/Subscribe thingy and a lot more, that I'm now forgetting. The rule of thumb is that the problems stay the same, but the syntax and the name changes.

And yes, if you squint the right way stuff like ActivityPub (Mastodon) and the Indiewebcamp Microformats are practically feeds.

[1] https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc4685

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salmon_(protocol)

Thank you for information. It seems that Salmon is used in Diaspora so it somehow could work.

> But that started with a privacy scandal

What was the privacy scandal?

> The rule of thumb is that the problems stay the same, but the syntax and the name changes.

What problems are? I suspect that there should be problems with spam as anybody could add their comments (although protocols seems to contain some countermeasures) and maybe some kind of DoS of anybody "posting" too many comments. But what other problems are?

There is a standard <wfw:commentRss> item that exists in almost any Wordpress blog feed. And my feed reader (https://bazqux.com) supports it for years.

But blog post comments is completely another medium from Twitter. It requires you to sign in and, since comment will be there forever, you usually put more effort in it. So comments are more rare and of higher quality. But at the same time you could sign in as anonymous and put your spam link or some ego bullshit -- which frequently happen on popular sites. So it's very dependent from community.

And if you comment on some blog post only readers of this post will see (and they will know the context). When you comment on Twitter -- anybody could see. Together with 280 character limit this leads to completely different kind of discussion.

Mastodon has per-user RSS feeds you can subscribe to but they are non-interactive. For interactive communications ActivityPub is the standard at play and the one to promote.

Let RSS be good at one-way consumption and ActivityPub be good at bi-directional communication.

Although I am a big fan of RSS, I find this article very disingenuous.

The author complains about the chaos, vulgarity, and hostility of Twitter, but those complaints would apply to almost any social media platform.

Then he suggests replacing it with RSS feeds from curated, professional RSS sources, which is not social media. You could achieve the same things on Twitter if you just followed the same curated, profession Twitter feeds.

This is really just a roundabout argument that can be summarized as "don't read the comments."

The solution to “too much RSS” is the same for Twitter. Unsubscribe/unfollow. Twitter does not require you to follow someone to interact with them. I follow relatively few people directly yet I have themed lists following other accounts. If I want local news I check my local list.

Twitter works quite well in this regard vs. Facebook where you need to be “friends” to interact.

As a counterpoint you're unlikely to be doxxed, lose your job, or any of the other social "features" using RSS. While one could simply say nothing and hope to avoid this, it's still up to the Twitter algorithms to display relevant content, which could change at any moment. Effectively it's about control, with Twitter you're hoping for benevolence as you're the product, with RSS you're the customer.

> it's still up to the Twitter algorithms to display relevant content

What do you mean? I just see a chronological list of tweets, not a randomly-ordered list like facebook

I find myself having to swap off Twitter's algorithmic feed once or twice a day on mobile.

Huh, I didn't know there even was an algorithmic feed. I haven't used the official Facebook app since it stopped being Tweetie, so I wasn't following the changes.

No, that doesn't work, because Twitter shows tweets to you if their algorithm thinks you will like them, whether you have a follower relationship to it or not. Twitter's newsfeed is nothing at all like an RSS feed.

You can turn twitter into an RSS feed with various other apps (I like Feedbin), and it greatly improves the experience.

I do not use Twitter.com not the Twitter app. I use third-party clients exclusively.

100% this. I checked the author's Twitter, and he's following well over a thousand people. Surely there's some fat that could be trimmed?

Considering how i read HN and thus how i’m reading this — and that i don’t have a twitter account — i guess i have to agree!

RSS is very, very nice. Especially for keeping track of all the journals I have to keep an eye on.

I found this via RSS feed to (inoreader). I simply couldn't live without RSS and don't think I'd want to. When I find new sites I always try to find their public (or secret) RSS feed but if none then they usually get ignored.

And it's super easy to use these feeds to automate stuff. Half of my IFTTT are about monitoring RSS feeds and taking an action upon them.

The other halfs are webhooks.

Interesting. Do you mind to explain this a bit more?

For example I have a Kobo eReader (Glo HD) and I like to read on it and unfortunately there is no builtin RSS reader app available for it but it does support Pocket natively. My workaround is to either monitor some RSS feeds with specific keywords in IFTTT, and send the URL article to my Pocket account, which in turns get synced to my Kobo every night.

I also want to get notified right away for articles that use a specific keyword, so I have other applets that will send an IFTTT rich notification to my phone with the link to the article.

Or you know, I have some other RSS feed I use with a torrent client to automatically fetch "stuff", and once the download is completed, I configured the torrent client to send an HTTP POST request with the torrent title to IFTTT, which in turn send me a push notification to let me know a download was completed.

I completely understand and respect the author's sentiments. However, it is unfair to compare RSS to Twitter. Twitter is a place where anyone and everyone can express their opinions while RSS is a technology and a mechanism to get an updated feed from services and blogs we care about. Most of these blobs and services will be well written or perhaps professionally written articles. These are two very different systems that tap into fundamentally different types of information sources.

In short, RSS is a feed of (mostly) professionally written articles while Twitter is full of amateurs expressing half baked thoughts in 140 characters. It is unfair to compare the two.

280 characters now, though still too short. There are plenty of professional writers on Twitter.

One problem is that there is too much emphasis on short, witty quips in widely shared tweets. It has everyone going for the witty zinger and that makes conversation shallow and obnoxious. Occasionally there are decent tweetstorms, though.

I always considered twitter to be a modern global IRC, freenode if you will. At that it is amazing.

Complete with all the problems of spam, overwhelm, etc. You gotta find your people, foster a community, and stay there. I owe a lot of my career to twitter I’d say. It’s an amazing place.

I bet just about every article that shows up in your RSS reader was also linked to from Twitter. It's very easy to use Twitter for RSS.

That feels kind of like a historical circumstance. I could easily imagine something based on RSS where people just express small blurbs like on Twitter. Heck, I've even thought about abandoning Twitter's UIs and creating RSS feeds for all the people I follow. At least then I'd be able to get chronological ordering and read/unread markers on tweets that way

That is by the way not alternative history but where RSS started.

Ok, not directly. First it started as a proto semantic web protocol, at Netscape to syndicate links and titles for their portal.

Then Dave Winer used RSS to syndicate his weblog, scripting.com and started the marriage of blogs and feeds. But blogs at that time were more small paragraphs, less big articles. And every paragraph was syndicated. That's still visible in archives of long running blogs:



… which seems a lot twitter like. The focus on longer articles in blogging is something which started later, in 2001 or so, in my recollection.

Btw: Following those blurb-like RSS feeds in a traditional RSS reader with read markers is overwhelming, in my experience. I banned all those feeds into a "High Volume" folder where I more often than not mark all as read just to get ahead.

An RSS feed is an XML file that lives under some URL. The RSS reader (or aggregator) polls that URL periodically and picks up new items that have appeared.

It's like a web page, itemized into a very regular syntax.

If you want to "tweet" using RSS, you need a URL somewhere where you can upload updates to XML content; then give people that URL.

Either you have to join some website where content (like blogs) you create are exported as RSS feeds, or else run your own domain.

What part of my comment made it seem like I need to be educated about what RSS is? I think it would have felt nicer for you to inquire rather than just tell me what RSS is.

I’m saying that it’s easily possible to imagine a world where the uses of RSS vary from what they’re used for today — different from the parent commentor.

Your comment didn't educate HN readers sufficiently; I thought it could use a technical backgrounder which could help others imagine the use cases and trade-offs. (I don't understand the Twitter architecture enough to add that for comparison, but perhaps many readers are more familiar with Twitter than RSS due to its popularity.)

Okay, that makes more sense. Maybe if you had included some of that context it would have been helpful in properly interpreting your comment.

>>> In short, RSS is a feed of (mostly) professionally written articles while Twitter is full of amateurs expressing half baked thoughts in 140 characters. It is unfair to compare the two.

Given that is true, isn't it "funny" that RSS is now non-existent compared to Twitter? ... I despair at the direction of the web.

> Given that is true, isn't it "funny" that RSS is now non-existent compared to Twitter?

By what measure? More people listen to podcasts (powered by RSS) every month than use Twitter.

Lately, I've been getting back into RSS to stay up to date with industry news. I've noticed a lot of industry blogs still support RSS.

On Mac, I've been using Leaf with no real complaints.

I've found many blogs happily serve rss content, even if a button isn't explicitly advertised. Some of the url's I'll try:

* example.com/rss.xml

* example.com/index.rss

* example.com/?feed=rss

* example.com/feed/

* exmample.com/feed/rss

I usually find RSS feeds by looking at the page source code:

  - ctrl+u
  - ctrl+f rss
  - ctrl+f atom (only if “rss” was not found at step 2).
I can't remember of any site providing RSS on which this hasn't worked. Actually, even for sites that advertise their RSS feed, this approach is the fastest for me (because of the lack of consistency of such advertisements).

Same, except I favor the Atom protocol because from previous research (performed a long time ago, to be fair) it was strictly an improvement over RSS in every regard.

There is a highly-rated extension to automate this, but I've grown to distrust extensions that require "Access your data for all websites", and scouring the page source for the relevant <link> tag is not particularly cumbersome.

This used to be easy with RSS support in Firefox. Not anymore

When you use the Wappalyzer browser extension (https://www.wappalyzer.com/download for Firefox, Chrome, Brave) you can detect the platform (CMS) used.

WordPress? Add /feed/ For more tips: go to https://wordpress.org/support/article/wordpress-feeds/

Drupal? Try rss.xml ?feed=rss /feed/

Joomla? You can try ?format=feed&type=rss or /itemlist/?format=feed

Blogger? Add /feeds/posts/default

*Spip ? Try /spip.php?page=backend

> Some of the url's I'll try

Try just the domain in Leaf; it might autodetect the feed URL. I use Reeder[1], and that method never failed me.

[1]: http://reederapp.com/

That’s literally the best thing about it. Many sites don’t even know that they serve RSS, so they don’t get filled with adtech crap.

I tend to just "View Source" and then search for "rss/feed/atom". There's usually a <link/> header in there pointing to one or more feeds.

There’s a couple safari extensions on the store that will do that for you. I use rssfind.

There are some things I like to follow on twitter, but I wanted them integrated in my RSS feed setup, so a few months ago I wrote a simple app which gates twitter to rss, and which can be deployed as a Google Cloud Function. If anyone is interested:


I think Feedbin let's you subscribe to Twitter as well (RSS reading service).

There is also https://www.twitrss.me/

I use twitrss.me's perl code to do my own thing locally and I've found that twitter throttles me scraping from my home IP very heavily. I can scrape my twitter users/searches about 3 times per day if I space them out correctly. Any more and the pages just stop returning anything at all.

Yes. That service is mentioned in the second paragraph of my link. Along with reasoning as to why you might use the tool I wrote instead.

A lot of people were using RSS. Then Google found RSS feeds were hurting Google ad revenues and so Google killed it. Since Firefox these days trails Google, it too stopped supporting RSS feeds

I was there during the turndown. As I remember, RSS had almost no impact on revenue positive or negative. That is why Reader was shutdown actually. Because not enough people used it to impact the bottom line and make it worth keeping.

I don't buy it, because then they would've killed Google+ way earlier.

Multiple factors go into the decision to kill a product; Google+ had a much larger investment and profile, it would make sense Google would be more skittish about killing it than Reader.

Still had more impact than Google+

RSS can't be killed by anyone, thats what makes it good.

Although the title is a little bit provocative, i tend to agree that RSS is a better way to consume news than Twitter or any other social media platform by the way. Social platforms should be used for social, not for news, but i guess Twitter is a special case in that one of its core values is to deliver news in real time. But do we need realtime? Twitter being a social platform, it means you can't easily avoid trolls, offensive/aggressive/idiotic comments...

Off the top of my head, some issues i had with RSS and/or with the tools/RSS readers: - RSS can become en echo chamber if you have a limited number of feeds - Too many feeds and your feeds are flooded with a lot of noise - want to check the top stories of the day, or trending content? need to use a different tool than your RSS reader. - want to follow some social feeds but without the noise of social platforms?

I wrote something about the signal/noise ratio in RSS recently: https://medium.com/@julien.aktu/rss-less-noise-more-informat...

To solve these issues, i'm trying to bring something to the RSS ecosystem, and i built a news platform mixing RSS and traditional news aggregation. It has features to limit the noise and help avoid echo chambers. You can follow Facebook pages, Twitter users, etc... add your newsletters to declutter your mail box, and much more to come.

You can check it out here: https://aktu.io/about

"the charming pop-ups that everyone uses because fuck you"

Between the cookie popups, the GRPD "choice" popups, and the sign-up-for-some-email-crap popups, each of which takes 1-2 seconds to appear - sometimes in parallel and sometimes in sequence - the web is a garbage fire.

There definitely needs to be a retraction of sorts in terms of technology and content delivery. I also think we have passed "peak information". On the internet, everyone has a voice. At first that was good, but now the signal to noise ratio is so bad that good, accurate, useful content is just rounding error. The same is also true for television/film as well as the commercial music industry.

That's not to say there are not still great people creating great content, but there are mass numbers of people polluting the mediums and making it increasingly difficult to find the good stuff.

The current rate of decline of value of the internet suggests that there will be some significant disruption this decade. I wish I had the solution (or knew who to bet on!)

>The current rate of decline of value of the internet suggests that there will be some significant disruption this decade. I wish I had the solution (or knew who to bet on!)


That's what I've retreated to as the internet has been ruined. It's all about low barrier to entry that ruins anything with the shiftless/idle masses becoming involved. No one wants to pickup a book and read, they want to offer smart ass one-liners or harass people on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. That's most people's entire life, same behavior in the workplace, then they die. That's why I'm a developer, the barrier to entry is high enough that I enjoy and appreciate most people that I work with. Same concept as with media.

Books are proof-read, edited and vetted for reasonably accurate sources in most cases. In general, publishing them is hard enough that as a consumer I can rely on them being one of the better mediums.

> There definitely needs to be a retraction of sorts in terms of technology and content delivery.

Indeed. The easiest (low-friction) way to implement this would be as browser options/addons. We need to get back control over how content is displayed on our screens, but browser makers' priority is to turn the browser into a TV set.

I did use RSS through Google Reader briefly back in 2009. Then I found out about Twitter, and immediately thought of it as a modern response. Unifying the web's news feeds into one technology was such an obvious solution, its emergence was unavoidable, no matter what way it came. Web platforms always had some form of portal, blog publishing service, general discussion board, or better yet a single tap service where everything anyone wants to know, or at least thinks they do is encapsulated.

What these older services failed to capture that made Twitter and other "social" media sites so popular is the "social" aspect. The automated synchronized posting structure that RSS provides may be more efficient than user-driven Twitter. But with Twitters' intuition, popularity, and ability to communicate within that vast user space is enough to outweigh any of RSS's technological advancements. RSS always seemed like a technology for techies, Twitter brought the feed to laymen.

Peak Internet for me was using Google Reader, sharing articles, and having discussions about them with my Google Buzz friends.

Remember when Twitter offered RSS feeds? It made the service actually useful.

There’s a number of bridges from Twitter to RSS. I read Twitter in Feeder. See https://feeder.co/knowledge-base/rss-feed-creation/twitter-r...

Erik from Feeder here. Let me know if there's anything we can do to make the experience better! :D

But nothing you can do yourself without getting throttled by twitter.

If you get your own free developer API key, you're allowed to call the "statuses/user_timeline" 1500 times per day. So you can follow 1500 users before getting throttled, if you only want an update a max of once per day. Or 62 users if you need hourly updates. etc.

They are mainly (all?) dead because of rate limiting.

I think part of the issue with RSS is the real pain of dealing with XML. I'm mildly cheering for something like https://jsonfeed.org - which would be a big step towards making a decentralized system more of a reality.

Eh? It's not like teams of elves are tripping over hand-coding this stuff. And even if they were, JSON parsers tend to be way more strict than RSS readers (which are actuakly very liberal interpretations of XML). But again, nobody in their right mind is manually generating or templating this stuff. And if you are, there are a dozen RSS-gen libraries for every single language. Let one of those handle it for you.

Doing this in JSON does not suddenly mean you don't need a convention (aka standard) for fields and types. It's data exchange. The reader needs to know what your data means. You still have pubdates, links, titles, descriptions and you still need to label them in a semi-strict way somehow.

All in all, JSON will save you a few bytes but it would just be another standard on the pile, just with no libraries around to write the RSSJSON format.

JSON doesn't fix XML.

Of the three formats I support, RSS, Atom, and JSON, the RSS feed is the smallest.

    RSS: 33,228
    Atom: 43,433
    JSON: 36,137

I'll be honest —and it'll make me sound like an arrogant dbag— but that doesn't pass my sniff test. "jsonfeed" is lighter than equivalent RSS for several small reasons.

Can I see?

(To be clear to anybody reading this out of context: I'm not claiming that JSON is best —far from it— just that I would expect it to be a few bytes lighter in transit.)


Each one contains the full text of the past 15 entries.

Thank you for sharing that. It took me a little while before I noticed it, but your JSON files have more data.

Each item has a id, date_published and tags field which do not feature in the RSS. Together these account for around 250chars per item or 3750chars per 15 item feed. Cut out those fields and the JSON would be 850chars shorter.

Also, you're preserving tab and newline characters around HTML. This affects JSON more because a newline is valid between RSS tags. In JSON a newline becomes two characters "\n", as a tab becomes "\t". Going "spaceless" on output would save you 1372chars from your JSON feed (and half as much from RSS/ATOM).

I will confess, my sniff test didn't account for using quite as many HTML attributes as you do :) Escaping double-quotes costs you 334 in JSON.

The overall difference is much slighter than I had expected.

> which are actuakly very liberal interpretations of XML

This does sound painful, unlike parsing ordinary XML.

Working with XML as a simple data-interchange format is not any more difficult than working with JSON, and it is ubiquitous across all major programming language ecosystems.

Beyond that, you can use powerful tools like namespacing, schemas, XSL, etc if you want them, and they are also ubiquitous across most major programming language ecosystems. They add complexity, but so do their JSON analogues.

It seems that people often reinvent aspects of the XML ecosystem using JSON. For example, JSON Schema is like XML schema, OpenAPI is like WSDL, JSONPath is like XPath. That's not to say I don't support these efforts - I think it is great that people are developing powerful tools for JSON. However, I think there is a misconception that the XML ecosystem is less "à la carte" than the JSON ecosystem when it comes to these added complexities. You don't need to deal with them unless you need/want to, and then it is nice to have standardised, battle-tested implementations.

So my blog [1] generates an RSS feed (early 2000s), an Atom feed (2009), a JSON feed (2017) and a Gopher [2] feed (2018). None of these formats were hard to add, and of all four formats, the JSON feed has the least use. Yes, the Gopher feed gets more use than JSON. If I go by "same client picks up feed at least one per day" then the results are:

    RSS: ~20 [3]
    Atom: ~25 [3]
    JSON: 1
    gopher: 7
I don't think using JSON is any help towards a decentralized system of blogs. It's just another format to generate.

[1] http://boston.conman.org/

[2] My blog is also available via gopher, gopher://gopher.conman.org/

[3] Unique user agents---probably not the best metric, but for a quick scan, easy enough to check.

Edit: formatting

XML has worked just fine for RSS. The reason why RSS isn't as mainstream as it used to be around 2004 has nothing to do with XML, but is a consequence of Google capturing, than abandoning the audience, and of walled-garden social media taking off. Inventing a new JSON-based format in this niche is as helpful for adoption as matrix.org is for federated chat - it will only serve to fragment the space.

Twitter is like an internet Rorschach test. It’s a very general platform that offers little guidance, so people use it in fundamentally different ways.

I didn’t get the headline until I saw that apparently the author think Twitter is for getting news. I’m sure some people do, but this is strange to me. I use it to keep up with friends and acquaintances, and with the goings-on at certain local organizations. Other people use it to get better customer service. There are many ways to use it. RSS isn’t even in the same species as most of them.

I don't use RSS much, but fire it up whenever searching on Craigslist for something. Havning multiple CL searches registered as feeds in a feed reader leads to a much more efficient workflow than using the site directly. The presentation of the items is better: you get something very analogous to an e-mail inbox, in which you can easily delete unwanted items, and hide ones you have read. And all of the multiple searches appear like folders and update automatically; you see a count of new items in each one.

> On the surface, Twitter’s main value proposition is that it delivers up-to-the-second news.

Not really.

Most of the people I know , including me, go there for just one reason: To know the public opinion.

Twitter is actually very bad at this. It's designed to amplify the most fringe, outrageous, and reaction-provoking hot takes, and trending stuff. A lot of sensible people either don't comment on twitter, or their voices get drowned in a sea of outrage and more engageable reactions.

> To know the public opinion

But always remember that you're only getting to know the opinion of the twitterverse. That may or may not track public opinion overall.

Openness on its own is not a significant competitive advantage. Twitter provides comments, retweets, and already has friends and celebrities.

RSS is still there on the publishing side for major publishers and all popular blog platforms. So why is it not as popular as email? Maybe individually visiting websites is good enough and maybe that itch is scratched by Twitter.

Can you track trending topics with RSS?

Can you carry on a conversation between content creators and subscribers over RSS?

Can you discover new content by following a RSS social graph?

RSS is better than Twitter in only one aspect and that's the one-to-many subscriber model. And that's the least interesting and least profitable thing that Twitter provides.

I think it's a fairly silly comparison overall, but it doesn't help when you judge by technical features rather than what kind of content the ecosystem encourages, which what actually matters.

Twitter is extremely noisy. It tends to overwhelm actual articles that people put some effort into with shallow, witty zingers. If you're not looking for witty zingers, it doesn't really matter what other features it has.

RSS is just a file format, but it enables a larger ecosystem that works better at showcasing good content.

1. No, do you need to? Trending for whom? People could create curated feeds for this purpose.

2. No.

3. See 1.

If you look at both Twitter and RSS superficially, you can easily decide one is better than the other. If you've ever tried and failed to create your own "perfect" news reader as I have, you'll realize both suck, and have for over a decade now and they're never going ever improve. The real issue isn't the pros and cons of one platform vs. another from an informational or social perspective, the real issue is much more fundamental: Information overload.

I wrote about this, oh, 9 years ago [1]. And then a few years later as well [2]. I did an analysis of the quantity of news items, posts and tweets coming through my custom feed reader and realized it was - and always will be - impossible to keep up, no matter how I organized, grouped, condensed, summarized and displayed it all.

The basic, undeniable fact is that most RSS sources are filled with repetitive information which are nearly impossible to group or update properly. And if you follow any more than a few dozen accounts on Twitter, you are going to miss most of their posts on a daily basis (regardless of their quality, there's just too many). Most of Twitter, in fact, is simply people talking to themselves. (And Facebook is basically useless in terms of gaining any actual knowledge.)

All news feeds - whether they are from RSS, Twitter, FB, Insta, SnapChat, WeChat, TikTok or anything else - are simply not scalable. So pick which you enjoy most, limit the number of sources to only those most important or useful to you, and get on with your life. Until AI gets to the point where it can sort through all the information out there for you - a la Apple's Knowledge Navigator - the only difference between any stream of data is superficial at best.

1. https://www.russellbeattie.com/blog/drinking-from-the-fireho...

2. https://www.russellbeattie.com/blog/but-how-do-you-keep-trac...

I have 50K regexs on a black-list to filter feeds on my reader. AI would help with some, but this brute force method goes a long way too.

That's... amazing! I admire your dedication (addiction?). :-)

Every couple of months I search for a better news reader… cycle through Flipper, Feedly, NewsBlur, & 4-8 others… once more acknowledge how good Google Reader really was, and go back to scrolling through Twitter/Reddit

I’d probably pay large amount of money now for a news reader w/ these 4 features * Extract stories from my feed/lists on Twitter & Reddit and aggregate comments on these from people I follow * Learn from my ‘more/less like this’ on individual stories * Allow me to tag sources and create auto-tagging filters * Clean/intuitive Web UI & mobile client

Have you tried https://bazqux.com ? It was built right after Google shut down Reader and very much resembles and improved upon it in multiple ways. Super fast too.

Hey i'm working on a News Aggregation platform / RSS reader, aktu.io. It doesn't have the features you need but if you'd like to give it a try anyway, would love your feedback.

You can check out the main features here: - https://aktu.io/about - and here https://medium.com/@julien.aktu/rss-less-noise-more-informat...

While there are definitely areas where it sorely can be improved, check out Inoreader.

They're very different.

RSS only let you listen. And it only works if you already know who you want to listen to.

Twitter et al expose you to other content you're not already "following" by letting the people you do follow quickly push things in your eyeline.

But RSS is just a format for sharing data. There's no built-in client for having a conversation, for tracking conversations. You ultimately still need a point of centralisation (like HN) to talkk shit about the stuff you're reading.

All in, article is silly nonsense. Apples are way better than oranges.

> Twitter et al expose you to other content you're not already "following" by letting the people you do follow quickly push things in your eyeline.

How is that different from the people whom you do "follow" with RSS recommending other feeds or individual articles, or quoting these articles, with their own comments?

(Mostly agreed about the point regarding third-party pushed conversations.)

> How is that different

We *could( each publish feeds of what we liked, or re-feed them with annotations. And we could follow other individuals (ie friends, acquaintances) and they us, and we could control access to levels of feed with authentication. We could have feeds of our friends (and their URLs). As well as feeds of our own throwaway commentary on life. Yeah, you could quite easily build something like Facebook and Twitter (without comments) with RSS.

The "how is that different" is that we don't. There's both a technical networking obstacle as well as an interface. You and I likely know how to host this stuff but our grandmas don't. There's also nothing —there could be— to tie this together in an interface.

Twitter et al do this crap for us, for "free".

> Yeah, you could quite easily build something like Facebook and Twitter (without comments) with RSS.

People already have!

I'm going to use the example of Wordpress, as I know for sure that it does offer RSS out-of-the-box, but there are alternatives.

If your grandma, say, has a wordpress blog, then RSS comes for free. If she knows what a hyperlink is (even if she doesn't know what it's called) then she can paste links to individual articles or blogs or news-sites. The reader can read whatever is recommended in their web browser and if it was (part of) an RSS feed, they can subscribe. In principle, you could even have an RSS feed reader that checks all links for whether they are associated with RSS feeds, to avoid the "web browser" step.

I don't think that a non-self-hosted wordpress blog is significantly more difficult to use than Twitter. There will probably be people who can use the latter, but not the former; however, I think that it'll be a tiny minority.

With Wordpress you could even have an RSS feed of comments and pingbacks, partially (but not globally) solving the third-party comments problem.

RSS is just a way to list the last articles of a website in a generic way.

It is very far from what Twitter offers, on Twitter you can exchange with people, reply and discuss content (yeah this is not the best way to do it, but you can do it), you can alert people or organization (how many time, thanks to RSS we alerted a company about a bad practice or contacted their customer support ?)

Maybe Twitter is not the best at what it does, and maybe we need something that allow to us to exchange but RSS doesn't provide that.

PS: I'm not saying RSS is bad

Don't forget the main thing twitter offers: spamming your notification feed with impossible-to-disable garbage in order to prop up whatever the hell engagement metrics they decided on.

I have basically stopped using it ever since they started doing that.

Surprised No one has mentioned Miniflux https://github.com/miniflux/miniflux

But RSS doesn’t replace Twitter.

As much as the Twitterati May argue they need to be on Twitter to be informed, the reality is that the need Twitter fills is the need to broadcast your own views all over the world.

A blog post, which requires a lot more effort, since it’s expected to be a little more substantial, may get 0 views, while a silly comment in response to a controversial topic on Twitter could easily get a few hundred likes, which makes people feel important.

And RSS does not replace that aspect of Twitter.

Yup, I agree with you for some twitter accounts. I find myself often pruning who I follow on Twitter so much so that I then find I am mostly getting tech announcements of papers and conferences, release announcements, etc.

Periodically, I start following more people, then the pruning cycle repeats.

I feel sometimes that I spend too much time on twitter and HN, and so I go on cycles for time spent per week there also. Really good to use a monitoring tool to let you know cumulatively how much time you spend a week on different media.

Part of the problem that I don't think people talk about needing twitter for work is how they don't separate it as publishing platform and a news platform. I think it is much better to use a kindle that you update before you go to work than using twitter as both.

It really helps to limit it to a finite amount of content for you to consume as well as making it so you don't have the almost non-existent barrier of instantly being able to react to the news.

Good idea. You can also use something like Instapaper to mark articles to read but set aside a few times a week to actually carefully read these ‘curated’ articles. For me a big benefit for doing this that when I do sit down to read what I have ‘curated’, I discard half as being not something I need to spend time reading. Instead on Instapaper, just bookmarking articles, then deleing the bookmarks after reading works well.

If anyone is interested in the soap opera that shaped the early days of RSS, read "RSS has been damaged by infighting among those who advocate for it". This is from 2006, and captures the chaos of the times:


I miss using Newsfire before it stopped getting updates.


Well...if it is working for you, you can keep using it

I personally quite like twitter, although I tend to lurk rather than actively participate (don't feel I have much to say I guess)

In some ways my twitter feed is almost like RSS, and the people I follow tend to be interesting people who post interesting content or links to other content they've found.

That's similar to how I use Twitter.

Private Account, no followers, only selected accounts I follow to keep my feed clean of clickbait, useless discussions and the usual twitter outrage. It's a great tool, but I think I'm not using it as it's supposed to be ;) I'm just not interested in participating in useless discussions with trolls and people who try to sell me their product.

Once Google Reader died, I found The Old Reader (theoldreader.com) and just ran with that.

I never stopped using RSS, and trying to get syndication from Twitter would cause my head (and my Twitter feed for things I actually care about) to explode.

I'm sad that we still have to remind people of these things.

If you are interested in RSS, I did a twitter-thread [3] recently on interesting projects in the space. Reproducing here: If you are interested in helping revive #RSS, a thread on some good FOSS projects around RSS:

1. RSS-Bridge[0] - RSS Feeds for websites that don't give you one. Supports instagram/facebook/Google Search and many more (150+) websites. Very easy to contribute, and there are open requests for lots of providers. (I added a Amazon Price Tracker Bridge in <150 loc). Yes, I get a RSS notification when there is a price change on something I follow[1].

2. MiniFlux - Golang+Postgres based self-hosted RSS feed reader. Minimal/responsive design with keyboard shortcuts https://miniflux.app

3. 3. tt-rss - A highly configurable PHP based RSS feed reader. Supports plugins and has tons of options. UI is similar to Google Reader. https://tt-rss.org

4. Winds - A Beautiful Open Source RSS & Podcast App powered by @getstream_io. I haven't tried self-hosting it yet, but it looks really great. Also, under very active development. https://github.com/GetStream/Winds

5. FreshRSS - Lightweight PHP/SQlite self-hosted feed reader. Looks great as well. https://freshrss.org

6. Kill the Newsletter - Subscribe to a newsletter with a one-time generated email address, it generates a RSS feed for you. Your inbox stays clean. https://www.kill-the-newsletter.com

7. OPML Generator - Generates OPML Files using subscriptions on other sites. Supports GitHub stars (generates a file you can import to follow releases from all your starred repos on GitHub) https://opml.bb8.fun/ (Personal project, so count this as a shameless self plug)

8. RSS never really died, so revival is a misnomer in that sense. All major news publications still support RSS. The entire Podcast ecosytem works on RSS. You should also look at WebSub and ActivityPub (both W3C recommendations) if you're interested in this.

9. And finally a cool new idea - build a Telegram Channel to RSS Feed generator. Will open up so much hidden content to the open web.

10. Bonus: https://www.youneedfeeds.com/ Info site that you should share with your friends to help them get started with RSS.

[0]: https://github.com/RSS-Bridge/rss-bridge

[1]: https://github.com/RSS-Bridge/rss-bridge/pull/741

[3]: https://twitter.com/captn3m0/status/1018850458675408902

I'd like to mention https://contentgems.com - a free web service that follows any RSS feed you want. It then gives you powerful filters to include/exclude content you're not interested. You can also connect your twitter home timeline to extract all articles linked to from a tweet. And finally, there are workflows that you can use to re-mix RSS feeds and produce new ones. Paid plans give you more resources, however the free plan is super valuable for individual users. Disclaimer: I'm one of the co-founders.

I've tried to use RSS before, but the big hangup for me is most sites don't put the full article in the feed, just a title and summary. To me having to go back and forth just kills the whole thing.

Feedbro Reader has built-in partial->full article conversion engine that lets you get full articles within the reader (must be enabled per-feed basis in Properties). Check it out at https://nodetics.com/feedbro/

> the big hangup for me is most sites don't put the full article in the feed'

If you're using Android, check out gReader Pro. You can have it automatically download and store the full articles for later reading.

I also run my own RSS aggregator, tt-rss (this is how I replaced Google News after Google ruined it). tt-rss has a plugin that will also download and store the full articles for later reading. It provides its own RSS feed as well as a web interface.

How many times a day do you visually rescan over the same stuff? The minimal time spent going back and forth (alt+tab) is nothing compared to the time saved never having to reconsider the same headline more than once.

I don't get your point. If two sources post an article about the same event, I am going to get the "similar" title twice.

If they go to the same url, any decent reader will recognize it as already marked read. But that's not what I meant. Most news sites have much of the same stuff on the front page for hours, sometimes days. How many times do you skim over that looking for new stuff?

Oh. That is actually quite annoying. Have been wanting to get my rss setup of quite sometime, but couldn't get the motivation.

RSS is great and I use RSS to read some parts of Twitter but you can't really compare the two (at least not in its current form) but it could be extended to allow feedback, etc...

I load in RSS feeds on my HN alternative ( handlr.sapico.me ) , one company is using it as a knowledge feed ( accounting niche). So I definitely agree with the title of this topic.

WordPress now powers 30% of websites. Get an RSS feed from a WordPress site by adding /feed/ to the URL. You can also get RSS feeds from WordPress categories and tags.

Twitter is basically Outrage as a Service, it is not a good information platform.

I still miss Google Reader, I think it was a serious mistake to kill it off, and doing so largely killed RSS too.

I'll take this chance to recommend Blogtrottr as a perfect alternative to Google Reader, if used along with Gmail Reader.

They're different things with different purposes. Both are useful. This is clickbate.


1 page of blocked items on my NoScript 23 blocked items on my Adblock Plus

And now I can read the article..

RSS is like articles without comment sections, completely pointless nowadays. If you can't read corrections, conflicting opinions for something, you might just as well go watch TV. The whole point of Twitter is that it's commentary, not a feed of published articles.

90% of internet comments are low effort garbage that simply isn't worth anyone's time. The other 10% of high quality, high effort posts take more than 280 words, and need 5 to 20 twitter posts to get a full idea of their concepts.

RSS is a different network of users, so it really can't be compared to Twitter. But those mega tweet 10 posts in a row threads would be far better served by a classic blog and RSS feed... Rather than 280 word chunks that have to be tracked and edited separately.

Then comes the blogs out there which pretty much use Twitter as a glorified RSS feed. They just post announcements whenever they post a blog post. This is necessary because of the network effect, but I would argue that RSS is a superior technology for this use case.

> 90% of internet comments are low effort garbage that simply isn't worth anyone's time.

In line with blog articles and TV. At least on Twitter, it's easy to block someone forever.

>The other 10% of high quality, high effort posts take more than 280 words

That's simply not true. You can often deliver important information in 140 characters.

> But those mega tweet 10 posts in a row threads would be far better served by a classic blog and RSS feed... Rather than 280 word chunks that have to be tracked and edited separately.

That's not a huge problem compared to the issue of content quality and it's even less important when you accept that your previous statement is simply not true.

When ever I (rarely) take the time and effort to write a blog, then I drop a link to the new blog article to twitter and FB. Most of the people I follow on twitter do much the same.

I did a feed reader which supports blog comments years ago (https://bazqux.com) and first thing many people asked me is how to turn comments off. There are some good blogs with good communities and interesting discussions in comments but the majority of comments on popular sites are plain junk.

> the majority of comments on popular sites are plain junk.

That's a questionable conclusion from your little project and the feedback of a (non-representative) few users. The counter-argument would be the success of Twitter and FB, where most of the "junk" comments are. Readers want to decide themselves what is junk and what isn't and 1 useful comment easily trumps 20 junk comments. Ask all the newspapers that added comments to their articles despite all the moderation problems that brought with it.

RSS is a feed of subscribable information in a programmably ingestible format.

Imagine formatting your feed however you want, without distracting side content. A use case is using RSS for YouTube subscriptions instead of the horrible subscription page experience.

Many publications do not post full articles, but instead summaries or excerpts.

The HN RSS feed is simply a link to the original article and comments.

Hacker News, and similar sites (including Twitter), do a much better job of supporting commentary than any on-site comment system ever did.

rss subscribing to the commits of github repos is a great way to keep up with projects. i’ve been using reederapp ios without an external sync service for a year now, its great.

Would like to see `RSS + customizable AI` as a protocol.

RSS is fine and good, but it's not comparable to Twitter. Maybe if all you do on Twitter is follow newspapers then it's comparable, but that would be a pretty dumb way to use Twitter.

I'm the one who still likes RSS.

They should make commenting and karma like this and Reddit a standard in RSS. Let people comment on RSS.

For once, I thought this was something related to the political scene in India. Now that it's election season and the right-wing (BJP/RSS) actually protested against Twitter on roads alleging them to be left aligned or supporting the opposition.

RSS actually meant, mostly, that you had to have something worthy of RSS'ing ... a blog, an article, something.

Twitter? any old Joe can just post some bullsh!t that marinated in their minds for -0.5 seconds and that just gets added to Twitter and potentially my timeline.

Yes, RSS is far better than Twitter for some uses. Uses that are actually of value.

> RSS actually meant, mostly, that you had to have something worthy of RSS'ing ... a blog, an article, something.

Exactly this! I really miss the time of the internet before social media, when it was more about quality content then clickbait articles. I was a heavy user of Google Reader until it got shut down, but couldn't find any worthy alternative, so I used Twitter as a news feed reader from then on. It's ok, but it's hard to ignore the noise sometimes.

Add responses and maybe.

You mean “add rss to your own blog and set a link back on your blog roll”?

Internet 1.5 was pretty nice, in hindsight.

Yup. To add to that, posting a reply to your own blog and setting rel=“in-reply-to” and notifying the author with Webmention provides standard decentralized comments/notifications. See aaronparecki.com and the indieweb community for examples.

You can usually click the link to the article which opens it in the browser (if the feed reader itself isn't in the browser to begin with), and if you're logged in to that site (or the commenting system or ID provider they use) you can comment right away.

As for displaying comments along with articles, feeds can reference other feeds, and in theory nothing stops an application or website from from making use of that.

I've implemented displaying of blog posts comments in BazQux Reader (https://bazqux.com) years ago. But in general it works well only for niche sites with good communities. Popular sites have too many spam/bullshit in comments.

BTW: it's possible to read Twitter in RSS reader too and make it a "slow web".

How are you fetching the comments? RSS has no support for that as far as I know.

Atom has support for commments. Decentralized blog comments work like this: You post a reply to your own blog and set rel=“in-reply-to” then notify the author using Webmention. The authors blog software then adds the comment, which gets included in the feed. See aaronparecki.com for working example and the IndieWeb community in general for an example of a community doing standard decentralized comments on the web.

The future of the blogosphere remains bright.

RSS has <wfw:commentRss> for linking comments feed and <comments> for linking page with comments. Atom has <link rel=replies> or just <link rel=alternate type="application/atom+xml"> for comment feeds.

And I'm visiting blog post pages first to check whether they have Disqus comments (which processed separately via Disqus API) and <blog_post_URL>/feed feeds.

I had a comment for that further up in the thread:


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