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I Still Use RSS (atthis.link)
1033 points by todsacerdoti 22 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 356 comments



I think my digital life would be a mess without an RSS feed reader. Because of its existence I do not need to touch Twitter, Reddit, YouTube[1], or any Mastodon instance, for example, as I can just have the updates that interest me from these networks in the comfort of my Feedbin[2] feed.

While Hacker News does not provide an interface that notifies you when someone replies to you, hnrss.org provides an RSS feed for that[3], so I know when I get a reply. I also have a separate feed for Ask HN[4] and Show HN[5], so I never miss anything that may interest me, even if other people do not care about it. Heck, I found this post because it showed up on my feed reader!

As a system administrator, I can use RSS to keep up to date with security issues in Ubuntu Server[6], WordPress[7], and CVEs in general, but also to follow commits in SourceHut repositories[8] and releases for pieces of software I use daily, but do not have repositories for my Linux distribution.

I sure as heck hope it never go away.

[1] In the YouTube case, with RSS, mpv, and youtube-dl, I never even have to see their web interface.

[2] https://feedbin.com/

[3] https://hnrss.org/replies?id=${YOURUSERNAME}

[4] https://hnrss.org/ask

[5] https://hnrss.org/show

[6] https://usn.ubuntu.com/usn/rss.xml

[7] https://www.exploit-db.com/rss.xml

[8] https://git.sr.ht/~${USERNAME}/${REPO}/log/rss.xml


I’ve never had as peaceful a work life as back when I used yahoo pipes to organize all the RSS feeds from GitHub and Jira and others into a unified view of what’s happening in all my projects.

It broke due to a fluke because a network engineer decided to try to implement a software based firewall that blocked rss files. This was such a weird error but the engineer didn’t know what rss or curl was if that tells you something. I changed jobs before fixing it and by the time I cared about such things again pipes was gone.


I don't want to spam the project, but since you mention Pipes like that: I tried to bring it back with https://www.pipes.digital/. Can't do everything the original could and some things it just does differently, but merging RSS feeds and filtering them is exactly the main thing I use it for myself.


Thanks for sharing this, awesome project. The feature set looks pretty comprehensive from the screenshots.

Is there a way to export the created canvas from the editor?

I’m imagining a workflow where people/teams create the RSS processing canvases and then share them using an export.

Also is there a CLI tool?


Hey, thanks :) The project's web application is currently not separated enough into backend/frontend to forge a CLI tool from that backend. There is an export function, but it's meant as a data export for all the pipes (to not hold data hostage), not per canvas, and to my knowledge no one so far has tried to work with the JSON representation the site exports.

However, you can fork pipes in the site UI and then edit them like that. And if a team would share an account to manage a set of Pipes together there is nothing that would prevent that.


Thanks for the details.

The sort of thing I was thinking about was something similar to how post production workflows are setup in film vfx.

You have teams of artists working on 2d and 3d software packages locally. They then save their project, which produces a file that can be rendered on the render farm.

In this rss news equivalent, teams could mash together RSS feeds. Then send their local project export to a backend infrastructure, that would do something with the export, maybe generate a static site, or something more complex .


I mean, RSS fits well to prepare data to go somewhere. Just the offline part you probably do not need. Create your pipe, share the account, or let the other developer fork the pipe. The tool that in the end consumes the feed can just work with the online feed directly from Pipes - those tools expect an url anyway.


God, Yahoo Pipes is a blast from the past. Yahoo did so many things that were new and interesting, but never seemed to be able to bring them altogether into a cohesive product.


Sometimes I think of them as Xerox Parc as they obviously had some smart people sort of tooting around on neat stuff, not worrying about money.

They made so much money, until they didn’t. It’s interesting how these large organizations are able to sort of be patrons of certain activities. Other companies may have spent the surplus on hookers and coke, yahoo let engineers build stuff.


Some parts of it were due to an Israeli startup they bought, called Dapper. Seems to me like they bought it just to take some patents and kill it.

It was interesting, but does it align with Yahoo's interest?

Kind of like Google buying of freebase. They made a few interesting projects on top of it and then killed those...


I remember I discovered a page of just amazing project after amazing they released with most recently abandoned and the rest following shortly thereafter.

I don't think any of it was so groundbreaking it would be useful today but there were a number of wheels that would end up being reinvented between then and now.


Off Topic:

>yahoo pipes

So many "Low Code" or "No Code" project but nothing even comes close to Yahoo Pipes.


I never experienced Yahoo Pipes however, I looked at some videos on YouTube and it appears to be similar to Node-Red. It may not be as intuitive but it looks like it may provide a similar experience.

https://nodered.org/

Possible example: https://dannysu.com/2016/12/29/huginn-to-node-red/

There are also a few RSS discussions in the Node-Red forum: https://discourse.nodered.org/


I use Huginn to consume and email me RSS feeds too.


Pipes was radical. Loved it.


I mentioned it above but you may find Huginn an interesting tool.


> I think my digital life would be a mess without an RSS feed reader.

Then again, staying on top of everything is overrated.

For example, knowing every time someone responded to you on HN is most likely a net negative. They're likely to just be arguing with you. Better to navigate to your comment history on HN when you feel like arguing than getting notified on each reply.

This comment is a good example. You were just enjoying your Thursday and I found a bone to pick with your comment. Why would you want this pushed into your life instead of pulled into your life when you're in the mood to deal with it? ;)

You of course can open your RSS reader only when you're in the mood for it. But I think there's value in the disorganization of distractions. You forgot to check NYTimes or HN replies or whatever in 2 months? It's not like you missed anything important.

I found it nice to just have a list of links in a Notes.app file that I check every once in a while for leisure.


At the risk of proving your point: why would I bother commenting if I didn't want to have a conversation? I'm either shouting into the void to hear my own figurative voice, or I think other people might actually be interested in what I have to say.

I'm really grateful to the GP, because I didn't have a solution for getting notified when I have a reply here, so I mostly wound up missing them.


Same here, RSS is the center of all my internet content consumption. How else could one keep track of things? There isn't any substitute.

I get HN via RSS but didn't know about the replies feed, cool!

I use rss2email to turn everything into effectively a mailing list, so convenient.

Very sad that craigslist broke their RSS feed a few months ago, so I can no longer shop for anything advertised there for sale.


Using rss2email crossed my mind a few times since I already spend most of my day in the terminal anyway, but it always end up being left for tomorrow.

I should take a look at it tomorrow.


I run a paid email forwarding service that allows you to redirect mail sent to a burner address to be published as an RSS feed. Link in my bio if you're interested.


With very rare exceptions[1], I prefer to self-host everything I use and pay a licence fee instead. If that is an option, let me know.

[1] Feedbin being one of them.



I feel like I’m plugging huginn all over this thread but they have a phantomjs agent that makes it fairly straightforward to scrape a Craigslist search


Reeder (Mac, iOS) is one of the first apps I install on any new device where I didn’t migrate everything with Apple’s setup assistant. It’s absolutely crucial to my digital life that I have an RSS client, as it’s the first step in my chain of tools for consuming content. I usually won’t bother bookmarking a site that has periodic updates but no RSS feed as I deem such sites not to be worth the effort.


I’ve been getting back into RSS feeds so I could follow news sources and blogs of people I know without an algorithm dictating what I see like all the news apps you get these days. You just gave me some real cool resources to add. Thanks!

I didn’t appreciate RSS enough back when it was a hot new thing, now in these days of the algorithmic internet it’s a blessing and a relief.

I really like Mastodon as a platform for the largely same reason. It’s “neutral” with its chronological feeds and you control what you see, especially if you run an instance.

Saw a post recently that sums it up nicely and could equally apply to RSS: “On Mastodon the content is the product and you’re the algorithm.”


Thanks I'm an RSS nut too but didn't know about hnrss. Super useful to keep track of replies.


Yeah, I found so many cool projects that did not get any atention on Show HN because of hnrss.org. Definetely a feature Hacker News itself should add — they do have RSS for the front page[1], though, with a volume of about 3460 articles per month.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/rss


Damn, as someone who has only ever subscribed to RSS feeds on the odd occasion in the past, your comment here has really shone a light on just how powerful this tool can be.

Thanks for sharing this insight!

Is your daily driver OS also Ubuntu? How do you organise / consume your RSS feed(s)?

Seems like you've really streamlined your setup to the point of it having minimal friction - I'd be keen to try emulate this.


I use Ubuntu as my only operating system, yes, on both the desktop and on servers.

There really is nothing special about my workflow, though, I just keep Feedbin open in the browser and check it throughout the day, acting when necessary[1]. I am currently subscribed to 182 feeds, so I spend a considerable amount of time reading and acting on what I read.

The most "unusual" piece of the workflow is probably YouTube, since I watch without access their website. When a new video is posted, Feedbin notifies me and I copy the URL of the video from inside the application. I then paste that on a terminal to feed mpv or youtube-dl depending on when I want to watch it, and move on. Since I use a tilling window manager and the browser I use for day to day use is on a workspace where an empty terminal window is always open next to it, everything happens faster than it probably reads from my larger than it should description.

[1] Acting means either reading an article, notifying customers, or testing and updating servers based on releases and vulnerabilities in this context.


> Since I use a tilling window manager and the browser I use for day to day use is on a workspace where an empty terminal window is always open next to it, everything happens faster than it probably reads from my larger than it should description.

This was the key insight I was hoping for - thanks!

Also, TIL that I can watch YT with MPV and terminal-fed URLs. That's a game-changer for me. Cheers.


> This was the key insight I was hoping for - thanks!

You are welcome! I separate workspaces by their purposes so to speak, so the one with qutebrowser[1] is divided in four squares, with qutebrowser, aerc[2], profanity[3], and an empty terminal window.

When I need to focus on one, I just switch it to full screen with a keyboard shortcut.

> Also, TIL that I can watch YT with MPV and terminal-fed URLs.

  mpv --ontop --no-border --on-all-workspaces --autofit=1280x720 --geometry=98%:98% "${YOUTUBE_URL}" &> /dev/null &
Just to complete my previous comment, the command above gives you an YouTube video played by mpv in picture by picture mode, which should always persist on top when switching workspaces in i3wm.

[1] The browser I use daily for personal things. Work stays in another browser in another workspace.

[2] Command-line email client.

[3] Command-line XMPP client.


You sir, are a legend, thanks for all the useful tips.


> Also, TIL that I can watch YT with MPV and terminal-fed URLs. That's a game-changer for me. Cheers.

You can even pass youtube-dl parameters using mpv. The one I use the most is --ytdl-format which corresponds to -f on the youtube-dl side.


Cheers thanks!


Another very happy Feedbin user here. I've subscribed for several years.

I recently moved all my YouTube subscriptions to Feedbin. World of difference. I see what I ask for, and nothing more.

Same with Twitter. I quit the platform more than a year ago, but there are just a few accounts that I actually want to keep track of. Feedbin does it seamlessly.


For those who require very custom, niche feeds, you might want to try rss-proxy [0] which automatically maps HTML markup to RSS feeds.

[0] https://github.com/damoeb/rss-proxy/


> While Hacker News does not provide an interface that notifies you when someone replies to you, hnrss.org provides an RSS feed for that

That's awesome, just recently started using RSS seriously (less than 6 months) I'll definitely have a look. Also for replies, I think hnreplies[0] isworth mentioning. Discovered it by interacting with the author here on HN.

0: https://www.hnreplies.com/


>As a system administrator, I can use RSS to keep up to date

Along the same sentiment, I've taken things further and update my RSS feeds on demand. I use a suite of tools that pull entries[1] using Newsboat[2] and send them over SMTP (with a `sendmail` tool), optionally saving the emails[3] that couldn't be sent to disk.

Combined with a local server[4] relying on NewsAPI[5] that can pull news from sites that don't provide with an RSS feed (AP, RT…), it's a great decentralised and modular setup!

[1] https://github.com/lenormf/newsboat-sendmail [2] https://github.com/newsboat/newsboat [3] https://github.com/lenormf/sendmail-tryqueue [4] https://github.com/lenormf/news2rss [5] https://newsapi.org/


Great collection of rss feeds.

I build my own rss feed for HN, because i want only see posts which reach >500 Points in a week [1].

So i did for a few other websites: Reddit r/programming (at least 500 points / week)[2] Producthunt (at least 300 / week)[3]

What I'm searching, is a rss feed where i get notified when a book author release a new Book. Unfortunately i didn't found one.

[1] https://us-central1-social-channel-notifier.cloudfunctions.n...

[2] https://us-central1-social-channel-notifier.cloudfunctions.n...

[3] https://us-central1-social-channel-notifier.cloudfunctions.n...


I am also interested in something similar for other subreddits. Is this open source ?


Big fan of RSS. Feel free to try out my RSS reader tool: http://freerss.robdelacruz.com/

Drag/drop rearrange rss feeds in an album-like layout. Open source too.


Woah .. thanks for [3]. Who made this ? Why don't they Show HN ? It has been submitted only 3 times ( including 5 minutes ago by me ) and never had more than 8 points ... this is pretty cool stuff, some fruitful exchanges assuredly go to waste for lack of someone checking their comments from two days ago ...


Aww man, I just wrote my own replies fetcher script in php the other day before I heard about hnrss


Care to ( can you ) share what that looks like ?


Certainly. Here's the whole thing: https://pastebin.com/ZZAscpyk

I host it on a generic cPanel webhost.

It's not very robust, there's no error checking, and it only grabs the first page of replies, but it's sufficient to prompt me to look at all the comments if needed.

If I ever become a celebrity then I will revisit this script :-D


> Hacker News does not provide an interface that notifies you when someone replies to you

This can't be an oversight, the feature is too obvious, too easy to implement. This has to be a deliberate choice.

Does anyone know why HN made this choice?


I think the whole commenting system was added as an afterthought. HN is not really a discussion forum, it's a news aggregator where you can discuss posts.

I think that makes it a bit more civil.


The day I discovered feedbin can follow twitter lists and you can use it to subscribe to mailing lists, it got me in.


I've mentioned this on HN before, one pattern I've noticed is a lot of sites tend to truncate their RSS feed so you have to click through to see the full article etc. This is mostly OK but kinda frustrating, as in the before-covid times I used to ride the London Underground a lot where no celluar signal is available in the tunnels - so my offline RSS reader would be useless.

So I wrote a little web service accepts an RSS feed, and then crawls each link in it, parses the HTML to extract the text using one of those text extraction libraries, and then "republishes" a new version of the feed (with the full article) which I then subscribe to in my RSS reader so I can read the articles offline, e.g.

example.com/rss?feed=foo.net/artcles/rss

I've never open sourced it though because I guess it's a bit of a grey area - the sites want you to go to the full URL so they can show you ads etc


I still heavily use RSS, but usually unsubscribe from feeds that truncate (unless it is a very long article).

It isn't a religious thing - the vast majority of the time, the truncation is way too short to properly advertise the content. The mystery doesn't move me to click-through, quite the opposite - it is annoying, so I remove the annoyance.

I understand the tradeoffs for folks who want to be paid via ads, but the utility just isn't there for me - I do not lack for reading options, and if something is really good, it'll find me some other way.


I use Feedbin, and read Feedbin on my Mac and iPhone using the Reeder app. Both are able to extract the full text (automatically on a per site basis if wanted) of most sites without issues.

I guess they just follow the URL, extract the body text the same way that sites like Instapaper do it, and give that back.

Probably more RSS readers can do the same.


I personally truncate the RSS feed for my site, because it's mostly interactive experiences, and I would rather them experience the interaction. I don't have ads on my site though. I've been trying to come up with a good middle ground though.


I've worked on something similar for some years: http://ftr.fivefilters.org

An older version available on BitBucket: https://bitbucket.org/fivefilters/full-text-rss/src/master/


I'm a huge fan. Here's my Docker-ized take: https://github.com/alrs/full-text-rss-docker

EDIT: full-text-rss + newsboat + nyt screenshot: https://lsngl.us/@alrs/105652475456016345


Oh that's fantastic! I've been meaning to look into providing a Docker version at some point, will definitely look more at how you've done things here.


clicking through is what killed it for me too. I just never went through the trouble of setting up crawlers and stuff. Looks like open source is to the recue nowadays. I am pretty sure there was nothing as easy as that back in the day. Thanks for sharing this!


Are you also behind the other fivefilters.org tools? I use Push to Kindle often and I've paid for the Android version. Thanks!


Thank you. Happy to hear it's been useful for you. And yes, I work on Push to Kindle too.


Newsblur has a setting per-site which allows you to have it use either the feed body or attempt to pull in the full text. When I was commuting on the subway (prior to ubiquitous underground coverage) here in DC, I used that heavily. One nice thing is that downloading it on your client avoids the site having to get in the middle of the copyright concerns about replicating their servers.


nice! I've been using newsblur for a few years now but I've never delved into the settings. is this option only available on the web version? i can't see anything on the android app


It’s in the site settings menu on the website. I haven’t used the Android app in years, so I can’t help there.


I have used both of those methods when publishing... I do hesitate on the full article approach, but I don't run ads. (And to be clear, I do provide a whole-article feed)

One thing I don't like about the whole article RSS is that I get requests to narrate my whole website or blog experience, in addition to the normal writing about stuff.

In effect the full-article RSS audience has its own experiential needs, which include "tell me about what you added to the non-blog sections, tell me about the new tools in the sidebar, or the new article footer format, or even hey I never heard about the new design," and so on. Sometimes I also alter the CSS for a single post, when it makes sense.

Some of this narration is just expected if your main format is traditional, plain blog. But personally my blogs tend to evolve and incorporate other stuff. And for sites with even more of an experiential aspect than my own, I can see why RSS could drive the publishers a bit mad, increased exposure or no.

Because of this experience, personally I would rather try reading via a page-download tool or format, even automated w3m or something, and see if that's an improvement. You'd get the full article in plain text, but you'd also get some of the other stuff around the site, including links which you may even be able to mark for later download.


This would largely have saved RSS for me. I'd argue there was a glorious era in late 2000s where you could almost replace your browser with a good feed reader and get vast majority of news/info this way. It was just so nice to have a single UI surface for all news stories rather than poking through many different websites.

I understand my using the sites that way contributes nothing really to their bottom line, I never saw any ads, but that of course was half the appeal. The early days of "web2.0" people often just naively dumped everything in the RSS feed.


A lot of web pages are just completely unusable or unreadable now.

It uses all sorts of manipulations to auto play video ads, pop ups, picture unders, user tracking, page interaction telemetry, etc.

All kinds of nonsense to display an article to you, which if it really is important, then another writer would have also written about it.

Some websites I just avoid completely, when I see the url.

These websites should just go with a pay-to-read subscription model instead. If their junk is interesting enough, then they’ll find enough people willing to pay a few cents to read it.


I still find feeds from truncated useful as I can scan through the headlines quickly; I rarely want to read everything a publisher puts out there. When something catches my eye my RSS viewer, Feedbin, can attempt to fetch the entire one for me and if that fails visiting the site directly is tolerable.


There are a few services that get full text from RSS feed items for you


> I've never open sourced it though because I guess it's a bit of a grey area

For whatever it's worth, I do click-through RSS feeds on my blogs just because I was too lazy to set up full text feeds and figure out how stuff like video would work and whether or not it would be a better end-user experience to alter the content in some way on style-heavy pages. Right now I'm constructing the feed myself. But if someone ever wanted to use a tool like you're describing on my blogs, I would have no objection. Don't feel guilty about scraping a site I build or building tools to do so, if anything it would make me feel less guilty about never getting around to setting up full-text RSS feeds. :)

I don't run ads or analytics anyway, but even if I did, as far as I'm concerned anyone who has the right to visit a page also has the right to download it, and to use automated tools to download it on their behalf[0].

I don't see any moral difference between using an adblocker and scraping a web page. Both are hitting the same endpoints and selectively displaying content that the user wants to see.

[0]: https://anewdigitalmanifesto.com/#right-to-delegate


> I've never open sourced it though because I guess it's a bit of a grey area - the sites want you to go to the full URL so they can show you ads etc

I honestly would not mind much if sites just included ads in their .RSS feed? Some bloggers I follow have their rss 'sponsored' and will do a sponsor post once a week. If ad insertion is really so important a site could just have labeled ads as part of the content stream. It's not ideal, but I'd prefer it to a feed that only has 2 or 3 teaser sentences and then forces me to click through.

I actually took Wired and Slate off my RSS feed just because I got annoyed at how often I would click through and get a paywall. Usually I was using up my free articles just to see what the article was about without reading it.


Some RSS readers implement something similar. I currently use nextcloud news, that does this: https://github.com/nextcloud/news/pull/563

Basically, for feeds where I have "full text" enabled, it fetches the article page with mozilla's "reader mode" implementation and extracts the full text.

It isn't really usable with aggregators such as planet kde/gnome, though.


I thought the whole point of RSS was as an index to new content. It never occurred to me to put the whole article in the feed... surely a good summary and a link gives the consumer the choice to load the article or not, rather than having to load all the articles all the time?


> I've never open sourced it though because I guess it's a bit of a grey area

I'm maintaining the TT-RSS plugin feediron https://github.com/feediron/ttrss_plugin-feediron that fetches full-text data, so my thinking is this:

At the end of the day if it's a openly available website and you are personally (through your own server) fetching the resources I don't think anyone has a right to complain.

Now if you were offering it as a service it might arguably be a bit more grey, but only if you're ignoring the robots.txt file


I think this kind of service is actually harmful to content providers. They can not benefit from the content they created if readers always consume it on the RSS readers. That's one of the reasons many blogger/website don't provide RSS feeds anymore.

The RSS aggregators should encourage readers to go to the original website. So when I got the chance to build my own RSS reader(https://feeds.pub) I only shows a title and link of an article to readers to drive them to the original website.


Do you allow for a feeds list format? In other words, can I just see a list of feeds and folders, and when I click on the feed, it will display a list of articles from that feed? Or is it like Twitter, where everything is squished together.


Yeah I always go to the site regardless. I always use list view so all I get is a title and an excerpt.


That's an interesting use case. My POV has always been that the site itself is the best representation of the content and completely ignore the feed content.


For me it also depends on the content. Some sites I'd rather just read from in the feedreader such as a news site, but for things like YouTube videos I would rather watch on YouTube than watch via the embedded player.

However I find news sites are the most common offenders of the truncating which I guess I can understand.


Interesting.

I am not sure if there are many doing something similar to mine. My pattern is to Open all my interested Links in New Tabs. That is why I thought RSS Reader should always be within a Browser or as Web Services like Feedly.

I do offline Reading for long articles only. And Saved via Reading List on Safari that does automatic downloading. But it is quite problematic for me because most of the time I need to look up something related while I am reading on things that I dont understand or assumed wrongly. And this is still best done on a PC with Browser.

So I now only listen to Music, Reading Novel or WebComic / Manga for offline.


I used to live in London (8 years ago) and I did exactly this because of the Jubilee line. I had written a perl program rss.pl that I would give several URLs to generate custom RSS feeds for those websites that provided poor, summary only, feeds. I had it running in a crontab and just posted the feeds to my own webserver. This brings back memories. I live in Tokyo now where there is internet access everywhere so I retired my perl program.


One of the reasons I went from placing a full article in my RSS feed to truncating it into a descriptor and leaving the link as the "source of truth" was I found that there a bunch of intentionally crippled readers, like Thunderbird, that strip all the markup and turn my article into an unreadable mess.

Traffic to both the feed and to the main site increased noticeably when I reduced it to a descriptor.


> a lot of sites tend to truncate their RSS feed so you have to click through to see the full article

This is unacceptable to me, and if a site does this I unsubscribe immediately.

Great tool you have! I was considering building something like this (but directly in a feed reader), by any chance do you intend to release the source for it so that people can run it themselves?


Can you share which libraries you’ve had success with for the content extraction? I’ve always wanted to play around with one


> I've never open sourced it though because I guess it's a bit of a grey area - the sites want you to go to the full URL so they can show you ads etc

Another reason, which I think is fair, is that with full articles in the RSS feed, the feed can quickly become a fairly large chunk of data.


Out of curiosity, did you manage to implement auto crawler that can always find the correct html element for any site and remove rest? Or did you have to create per-site rules for it?


On the one hand, I hate that as a user. On the other hand, I'd love to know how many people actually read a story.

I haven't found a good solution, but I just suck it up and serve the full text anyways


This exact problem applies to podcast analytics. "Downloads" is only a proxy for "listens" / ad impressions.

It seems to me like there needs to be a standard pingback endpoint (either in /.well-known or, better, right in the podcast/rss XML) that your client pings when it seems like you've consumed the content (scrolled through most of a web page, listened to 80+% of a podcast), but only if you've opted in to that.


I never subscribe to feeds like that, unless I guess I really care about the source, but it hasn't happened so far.


I don't think it's a grey area. They could show you ads in the HTML, they choose not to, and instead choose to let outside companies execute arbitrary code on your machine to track you. "Sites want you to go to the full URL so someone else can track your web use" sounds way less innocent and, to me, downright hostile. No one should feel morally obligated to allow that to happen.


Hugo, and other static site generators that support RSS, can easily be modified to provide the full content.


Miniflux does something similar


I'd like that. This pattern you mention bugs me.


This is literally the only reason I can see somebody using this pattern. The similarities with a paywall are remarkable.


I provide an RSS feed for my blog. From my access.log, I see that there is a decent number of subscribers to my feed. Here is the data I could pull from it:

  Feedly           91 subscribers
  Inoreader        16 subscribers
  Feedbin           6 subscribers
  NewsBlur          4 subscribers
  The Old Reader    3 subscribers
  BazQux            2 subscribers
  WordPress         2 subscribers
  -------------------------------
  Total           124 subscribers
I get about 4000-6000 hits to my website on a normal day. It increases by 5 to 10 times if a post hits the HN front page. When I publish new post, I see from the HTTP referer information in the logs that about 30 or so hits come from users who find a link to my post in their feed reader. These are very small numbers but they are good enough to keep the feed alive.


I came here to say exactly this: my numbers are similar to yours (and from headers only, like you[1]), and a decent proportion of my views come from feed clients. My blog generator takes care of the feed for me; I haven't thought about managing it in years.

[1]: https://www.yossarian.net/snippets#vbnla


I have about the same distribution of RSS clients on my blog as well. Feedly seems to be the largest, with about 10x reported subscribers than their competitors. Newsblur, The Old Reader and Inoreader are all about the same, but far behind. Then there's a sea of various self-hosted readers like the TinyTinyRSS and desktop programs.

Note that these are all self-reported numbers from the user agent string - as far as I can tell, Feedly might be inflating their numbers to give an impression of a large user base and to appear on top of lists like this.


How do you identify Feedly subscribers? Isn't there a single request from Feedly that it uses for all of its users?


Here is what I see in my access logs:

  [30/Jan/2021:12:58:03 +0000] "GET /blog/rss.xml HTTP/1.1" 200 22757 "-" "Feedly/1.0 (+http://www.feedly.com/fetcher.html; 91 subscribers; like FeedFetcher-Google)"
  [31/Jan/2021:12:58:04 +0000] "GET /blog/rss.xml HTTP/1.1" 200 22757 "-" "Feedly/1.0 (+http://www.feedly.com/fetcher.html; 91 subscribers; like FeedFetcher-Google)"
  [01/Feb/2021:12:58:13 +0000] "GET /blog/rss.xml HTTP/1.1" 200 22757 "-" "Feedly/1.0 (+http://www.feedly.com/fetcher.html; 91 subscribers; like FeedFetcher-Google)"
  [02/Feb/2021:12:58:19 +0000] "GET /blog/rss.xml HTTP/1.1" 200 22757 "-" "Feedly/1.0 (+http://www.feedly.com/fetcher.html; 91 subscribers; like FeedFetcher-Google)"
  [03/Feb/2021:12:58:30 +0000] "GET /blog/rss.xml HTTP/1.1" 200 22757 "-" "Feedly/1.0 (+http://www.feedly.com/fetcher.html; 91 subscribers; like FeedFetcher-Google)"


So feedly tells you how many subscribers they have when they hit your feed. That's neat of them.


Not only Feedly does this. Most of those feed readers do it.


In fact, Feedly was the only large centralized feed reader that didn't do subscriber count reporting via UA string for the longest time. They made you do a GET request on some API endpoint if you wanted to get your subscriber count.

They implemented it some time back, but it's still kind of buggy - at least for my blog. Two or three different IPs periodically do a GET on my feed URL with the Feedly UA and they all report different subscriber counts.


It might not be Feedly?


Seems unlikely, since they are all from the same subnet: x.x.x.25, x.x.x.26, x.x.x.27


It is unfortunate that it's so tough to track RSS viewers. I'm always tempted to convert the feed to cut-back version just so I can see what posts are actually popular.


An idea I had is to just embed a pixel into the item body. You can self host it too: just analyze the apache logs (or whatever you have) for requests to that pixel.


Feedburner was always the way. Then Google bought it and I’m not sure what happened next


Almost literally nothing other than the domain changing. Don't remind them they have it, they might shut it down :P


Something I'd be curious about: how many of the hits on a new post are by RSS readers before the post hits HN vs. after? I know RSS is the most reliable way for me to notice a new post on blogs that update infrequently, and I wonder how many HN submissions come from people seeing a new post in their feed readers.


What is the topic of your blog?


I don't write very often but when I do it is usually tech or math. I didn't link to it here because it might look like self-promotion. In case you are interested to take a look, please see my profile for the link.


Hey! I read some of your articles a couple of days ago :) I liked your blog.


Thank you! I am glad you liked my blog. :)


This quote is exactly right:

"Having only the content I want to see only be shown when I want to see it with the freedom to jump between readers as I please, all with no ads? For me, no other service comes close to the flexibility, robustness, and overall ease-of-use that RSS offers."

I always wonder why they aren't as popular now. It takes more work to add site to a reader, and more effort to even use one I suppose. And maybe it's also missing the social aspect that people seem to love?

I assume they'll be popular again some day like vinyl and static web sites.


As far as I can tell, because RSS requires the cooperation of actors who have no incentive to cooperate. If I use an RSS reader to support content, then it is under my control when I read it, if I read it, and what format to read it under. I can view the content however I'd like, and no tracking is there.

All of these are unambiguously good things for me, and are anathema for the advertising industry. I cannot use RSS to read a site unless that site provides an RSS feed. Sites whose primary goal is to bring in ad revenue, rather than building a community, have no incentive to provide RSS feeds.


I'm perfectly happy just getting headlines with links, which seems most common these days, at least for what I subscribe to. It requires I go to their site to get the content where they can (try to) shove anything they want in my face and run whatever trackers they normally do.


Absolutely the same, and that's how I usually use RSS feed a anyways, as a source of headlines. Even there, though, it means that my choice of which articles to read isn't influenced by their snazzy new (and slow) layouts, their eye-catching (and emotionally jarring) images. It means that my daily habit is to check my RSS reader, rather than refreshing their site to see if anything has been posted.

With a limited amount of attention, even just exposing the headlines through RSS means that it is more my choice where to distribute my attention, rather than having my attention be drawn elsewhere through dark patterns and marketing tricks.


This why I personally gave up RSS. I used to enjoy reading things in my RSS reader where I could set things up to be clear to me.

Once they started providing only links back to the WWW browser where everything was hard to read I gave up and now I just suffer reading in the WWW browser and frankly don't read nearly half as much online content as a result.


I understand that perspective. And I agree that it would be nice if all sites offered the full-text content in the feed. But on the flip-side, I still use RSS feed readers (Feedly) daily and simply click through the content.

The value of the RSS feed reader is still there because it allows you to monitor potentially hundreds or thousands of sites for content and then skim through to see if any new content was created today that interests you.

This makes it particularly useful for monitoring personal blogs or sites that only publish a few times per month or year. I personally LOVE reading people's personal blogs, but since most people only publish a post a few times a month (or less), I am unlikely to check their website every day. I also don't want to give them my email address and have them clutter my inbox with new posts. So the feed reader is nice because I can go once a day and see what new content exists. I skim through the posts and click through on a handful of content that interests me. If the content is long, I add it to my "Pocket" (getpocket.com) to read later.

In the feed reader I usually get a preview of their content (the first few paragraphs). I can read the content and click through if desired. So the feed reader still provides value for monitoring all these sites that have sporadic posting schedules.

I understand the value of reading the content entirely in the feed reader, but I don't mind clicking through the content once I know it is something that interests me. The feed reader allows me to skim, filter, and screen content so that I am only clicking through on interesting content (similar to how HN works, we still have to click through content). If content is interesting, there is value in supporting creators by visiting them on their site to get the experience that they designed and potentially supporting them with an ad or two. If ad use is egregious then I might retaliate by blocking ads for their site or simply removing them from my feeds.


To me, the time saved not having to rescan headlines alone is worth it. Even if the title was just "New Article" for every item and I had to open each one to see what it was, the time saved would still probably be worth it.


So I take the opposite view of preferring to read on the actual pages.

I'm curious though, I've built a feed reader that caters to my preference, but I'd like to make it useful to more folks. If you could automatically open articles in "Reader Mode" (FireFox supports this for instance) would that make reading in the browser more palatable to you?


Aren't there RSS-readers that offer something like the reader-mode you get on web-browsers?


Yeh, Reeder on mac supports this I think


News Explorer has scraping modes for sites that only publish headlines.


NewsBlur does this


> As far as I can tell, because RSS requires the cooperation of actors who have no incentive to cooperate.

Do you mean in the sense that content providers want to dictate more than just information delivery to consumers, or something else?


Yup, that is exactly the sense that I mean. Ad-supported web sites have an incentive to have information viewable only when viewed alongside advertisements.


>I always wonder why they aren't as popular now.

IMO it's a lot of reasons.

A big one, that was the case even before social media, is the inherent geekiness of it. "RSS" is an acronym after a geek's heart, most people don't like it.

The subscription process is complicated. Go to the site, find the feed (which one? There might be a bunch! eg, main feed, topic feed, comments-per-post feed, etc), take that URL and paste it into your feed reader, then look at that and... you got linked back to the site you were on? Yay... There have been various attempts to streamline this via in-page "add to reader" widgets back in the day, browser plugins, etc. But it was never as frictionless as the Facebook/Twitter/Reddit "follow" button.

Responding to things is harder. There's no comment/like/whatever button right there, you have to go to the site, figure out what's going on there, maybe sign up for yet another damn account if you want to comment. Some sites don't even have comment sections! Or maybe they point you to FB or Twitter anyway. Again there were partial solutions back in the day, but nothing as easy as modern social media.

Last for today, it's not nearly as addictive. Some people (including the author and myself) like that about it... but it doesn't drive adoption nearly as well.

>I assume they'll be popular again some day like vinyl and static web sites.

I think they'll always be niche-popular with geeks, long-form content creators, open web advocates (the "EFF crowd" I guess) and so forth. But I don't think it'll ever be mainstream. At best it could serve as the substrate for something else that becomes mainstream.

Anyway, just my 2 cents from hanging around this space for a decade+.


> A big one, that was the case even before social media, is the inherent geekiness of it. "RSS" is an acronym after a geek's heart, most people don't like it.

Like WWW, RCA, GE.. (the latter two of the most recognizable and successful brands of all time). got it. (And no one cares what an acronym stands for anyway.. you don’t need to know this to make use of it, it has no bearing. RSS is pretty catchy as far as branding goes.)

The subscription process is simplicity itself and there are still some tremendously mainstream popular and well designed for a general audience readers like Feedly. I’ve almost never had to manually cut and paste a feed link (I think the cases were dealing with someone’s broken Linux desktop). Clicking on a link on an iPhone will open it in a reader or take you the App Store to install one.

RSS is simply missing the key feature of social networking “engagement” and these walled gardens are heavily promoted and in your face. It’s not a geekiness issue it’s an attention issue.


RSS as branding - well, I've tried to sell people on it for years. I actually worked at an RSS aggregator startup for 7 years, so I spent a while pushing it. You say "RSS" to most people and their eyes glaze over.

>The subscription process is simplicity itself

You must've found some different sites than I have, because even sites that have a feed don't make it obvious how. For instance, check out Substack, ex: https://steady.substack.com/p/america-the-beautiful

Can I get an RSS feed, and if so how? The giant "Subscribe" button isn't it. So I guess grab the page URL and paste it into Feedly and see what I get. I don't mind this (much), but "mass market" it ain't. And this kind of process is very common in my experience. Back in the day sites would have the little "feed" icon sometimes and that helped, but it was still a 2-3 step process.


My web site has this:

  <html>
    <head>
      <link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" href="/updates.xml">
      ...
Unless I screwed something up, it used to be the standard way to tell browsers where the RSS feed for this particular web page are. Back then it was very easy to use, even for Grandma™: just click on the standard RSS icon in your browser, next to the URL bar, and there's your feed. That was your subscribe button.

Then browsers stopped working. No more RSS icon, at least by default. I had to add an explicit <a/> link at the bottom of the page, which when cliked on shows an ugly rendition of plaintext XML.


https://www.apple.com/rss/

Open this on an Apple or android phone. On iOS this will even prompt you to open the App Store to find a feed reader (#1 is still Feedly).

RSS icons were ubiquitous like fb and Twitter icons a few years ago, and anyone could use them. It wasn’t a geek thing, it’s just a market that faded.

I’ve never had the feed icon not work on a phone in the last 10 years or a typically installed browser on Mac or Windows.

I mean this is an absurd conversation. RSS was invented around 1998 and then it was an obscure “geeky” thing.. the only reason we’re having this tedious conversation (and arguably why you’d have had the opportunity to be involved in an RSS startup) is because it had a striking rise from obscurity in the late oughts.


Lol, my bad, you're right. It was wildly popular, random people on the street were talking about RSS, everyone in the general non-blogging populace was swapping their favorite feeds, it was amazing. That's probably why Google shut down Reader right at the height of that amazing, broad-based popularity and basically nobody talks about it anymore.


Even if RSS was popular, how could advertising companies like Google and Facebook make money off of it?

Those companies have no incentive that I know of to give their user a reliable (a.k.a non-personalised) feed that let them chose whether they'll get to click through or not. No, they want you to click through first, so you get to see the ads before you even start doom scrolling.


Google had a reader app, in fact the market-dominant reader app. They could sell advertising next to it, like they do with everything else (probably did, I'm not sure). They also owned a publishing platform (Blogger) and an RSS metrics platform (FeedBurner) that had paid tiers. So they actually did monetize it. Just not enough to bother with.

Facebook for a while was trying to be the commenting system for blogs. Which is not exactly RSS, but they were in an adjacent space and using it to drive traffic.

And yet it still died, or rather has slowly faded away back to the niche market that I originally mentioned.


> it was amazing.

It was, even Firefox users were using it. That's probably why Mozilla had to remove that functionality. /s


> I always wonder why they aren't as popular now.

1) Google makes really quite good RSS reader (Google Reader)

2) Everybody switches to it, competition atrophies

3) Google shuts it down


Google shutting down their RSS reader didn't really have an impact.

They shut it down back in March of 2013. If you look at the trends graph[1] for RSS it was dying out for years.

[1] https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=%2Fm%2F0...


Long-term Google trends graphs are kind of useless because they're a percentage of queries over a period of time when the demographics of the user base was changing as millions of new people got on the internet.

Here's the one for javascript:

https://trends.google.com/trends/explore?date=all&q=javascri...

Clearly javascript has been slowly dying out. But wait, that can't be right.

They're also a poor proxy for usage because the existing user base with feeds already set up doesn't have to do a search query to continue using it, so if a large number of them lose access at once, it's barely a blip because they wouldn't be doing searches for it either way.


Do you know a better alternative? I would like to know


You probably didn't want to come across this way, but we should note that the absence of a better metric is not by itself a reason to use a bad one.

If a metric is sufficiently decorrelated with the thing we want to measure, it should be ignored altogether, regardless of whether we have anything better.


"I always wonder why they aren't as popular now. It takes more work to add site to a reader, and more effort to even use one I suppose"

I know for me, I didn't know what RSS truly was until like.. last year? I remember seeing the icon and all that on various sites growing up but I never clicked them as I didn't know it was a straight feed of content.

Whereas last year I read some article or blog about it dying and I decided to look it up. Now it's the only way I read or watch any content becuase it's exactly what I want: straight content with no bs.


Probably for same reasons as why slot machines with minimalist aesthetics don’t exist


> Having only the content I want to see only be shown when I want to see it

I would rather not do my own content discovery and content curation: I see those as literal chores that have to be done before I can consume content.

Like all chores, I'm not keen to do them. Despite years of practice, I'm still not confident I am great at them on my own, and I have the option to employ someone more skilled.

Twitter has done a good job of these chores, making discovery and curation easier (like the parent article, I feel frustrated that Twitter is now broken from this point of view); TikTok does a great job, surely better than I could do myself.


I'm happily using Feedly ever since Google Reader got shut down. I genuinely would be missing out on a lot of content if people would stop providing RSS feeds, especially for blogs that only update very sporadically.


I pay for Feedly not because I'm interested in any of the Pro features, but because Google Reader taught me that you should pay for things you like so they will stick around.


Although your statement is generally true, I think the remaining flaw in that consideration is the subscription model. It makes you and your information source totally dependent on the whims of others. Sure, maybe they won't shut down, but maybe they will not refuse some insane buyout from a tech tyrant to capture the market and you and the information about you, if they aren't already selling that.

The general internet/application model of pre-fb is probably the only viable option going forward, where you pay or invest or buy into development projects like you would in one of those gofundme type things.


Sure. It's the old self-hosted vs cloud problem. I don't have the time or interest to host my own services, so I pay someone else to do it. That comes with its own risks, like you say, but I think the tradeoff is worth it. Having a functioning business model that isn't based on abusing their own users provides some insurance against those problems, I think.


Seconded. I've been a very happy user of Feedly for years.

If someone posts an interesting, valuable article, what's the probability they'll post more? Very high! I'm happy to subscribe to their content and enjoy their insights!

Related: I now subscribe to Hacker News users via http://hnapp.com/

Example: Jeff Geerling http://hnapp.com/?q=author%3Ageerlingguy


>I genuinely would be missing out on a lot of content if people would stop providing RSS feeds, especially for blogs that only update very sporadically.

For me, that's the real value of RSS even if, truth be told, I'm more inclined to just find stuff through Twitter, here, etc. these days. I agree on Feedly. For all the hate on Google shutting Reader down, I've always seen it as an effect of not many people using RSS rather than a cause.

(I'm also sympathetic to the srsly Google? How much effort would it have taken to keep it going? argument. But, as has frequently been mentioned, working on Reader would probably have been career suicide or at least a guarantee of stagnation for anyone involved given the way Google operates.)


I am using inoreader.com and never looked back. Even the free version is great. I use the paid version and it gives me all what I need. I can only recommend it.


Visited, signed up, kicked the tires, installed it on my phone, and just upgraded to a supporter account. Has some very useful features.


Agree, especially handy with the support for email newsletters!


+1 Big fan of feedly. I pray they never get bought by Google or someone that will shut them down.


I might be wrong but my impression is that feedly exists precisely because google closed its google reader service and offered to export your subscriptions to feedly. It would be majorly funny if they bought it "back".


Feedly is best of both worlds - you can use it as a plain linear feed reader, or let it use AI to sort your stuff by popularity and even discover feeds by keywords. Its price is on the steeper end tho, if you want to go pro.


I personally went the self-hosting route using FreshRSS and quite enjoy it. I couldn't really justify the monthly Feedly costs when I had server resources sitting around being wasted.


RSS lets me see the content I care about without black box algorithms getting in the way.

This is so important to me that I wrote a feed reader as a browser plugin so I don't need to worry about a service disappearing some day.

If you're curious it's Brook[1], and if you like hacking on things, it's open source[2]. There's a branch that works on Chrome, but I really like Firefox's support for showing content in a sidebar.

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

[2] http://github.com/adamsanderson/brook


This looks great! I would definitely put RSS in the wording somewhere, I would not have thought to search for "feed" instead.

Does it utilize firefox sync at all for multiple devices? I see an import/export option at least so I can get the same feeds on my laptop and desktop.


It doesn't use firefox sync yet, but it probably could.

I think it's fairly restricted on how much data you can sync and I'd want to make sure "normal" usage doesn't get too close to that.


I really like this, well done! I was actually thinking of getting something like it the other day.

Can I suggest keyboard navigation (basically "go to next unread") and "only show unread items"? It would be great to be able to press a key and go to the next unread feed.


Oh, of course. That makes a ton of sense, I'll think about how to do that shortly.

If you're on Github adding an issue would help me remember, if not I'll try to keep it top of mind until I put the kids to bed.


Done, thanks!


Oh, finally something that just works in a sane way, thankyou! I was searching on RSS in firefox plugins, never thought of searching on FEED.

Is it possible for it not to add an RSS feed you already have in the list?


I should work RSS into the title… feed encompasses RSS, Atom, and then a few other tricks I use to get feeds of content.

It _should_ tell you you're already subscribed if the feed is in your list. It gets a bit tricky with redirects and non canonical urls.

If you use github, drop an issue there detailing what you're seeing. If not, then let me know in a DM or this thread.

Also thank you for using Brook, you now account for 2% of the world wide usage ;)


Is RSS really so obscure as the site suggests?

Every website I am interested in updates from provides a feed.

Apparently YouTube content creators receive more money if they have more subscribers, but I don't subscribe and simply use the RSS feed; it's easier.

Perhaps YouTube also factors in the number of RSS requæsts they receive.


As a maintainer of an RSS reader app which has its own inventory for suggested feeds, one of the uphill battles is sudden removal of RSS support from various sites. I have a list of feeds which are updated once a month and everytime some sites (both niche and big ones) drop RSS support (Reuters and YouTube removing option to export subscriptions as OPML are major blows in last few months).

The reason for these removals is also never given. If you look at those sites now, you'd feel RSS support never existed and nobody used them. So the reason for removal could be anyone's guess. Perhaps RSS icon didn't look good with other social media icons on home page, server serving the RSS feed shut down and no one bothered to check, forgot to add RSS option in new design/refactor or some PM didn't find RSS feed engaging enough and actively killed it.


> Perhaps RSS icon didn't look good with other social media icons on home page

If web browsers didn't stop supporting RSS, that icon would not be needed in the first place. We used to have a standard HTML header to advertise the presence of RSS feeds, and the RSS icon was displayed by the browser, next to the URL bar, always at the same place, accessible by everyone including Grandma™.


Perhaps people working for these publishers forget about it, maybe there are bugs or small maintenance issues, and they opt to remove support rather than fix it or monitor it for issues.


Yeah, RSS is used pervasively. Despite not being a mainstream technology in the way people expected it to be, it's still alive because there is just no replacement.


Its still alive because most blog software generates one by default. I found out my blog has rss and I didn't even know


IIUC YouTube compensation is based entirely off the number of ads watched/clicked through on your videos. (Saving special one-off contracts that YouTube may offer)


In order to reach a level where youtube would compensate a user you need to reach 1,000 subscribers.

If everyone used rss feeds new creators would never get paid.


This may say more about paid conversions than anything else, but Ars Technica's main feed, with truncated article previews, currently has 470k subscribers on Feedly. Their full-article feeds, available as part of their paid subscription, were estimated at only a few hundred users, when they briefly broke a few years back.

https://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1371767


> Ars Technica's main feed, with truncated article previews, currently has 470k subscribers on Feedly

But how many of them are actually using their feed? You reminded me that I signed up for a Feedly account years ago right after Google shut down their RSS product. I just checked and indeed I am subscribed to Ars, among a dozen other feeds.


I pay Ars firstly for the full article RSS feed and second help support them.


I suspect that it's only there because WordPress includes it.


The fact that Wordpress adds it automatically is a huge win because half or more of all websites are Wordpress. So there are a lot of content creators that don't even know what RSS is and yet you are able to subscribe to them because Wordpress automatically provides a full-text RSS feed for every Wordpress blog.

I built my personal blog on a static site generator (Gridsome) and had to add RSS to my site intentionally. Luckily there is a plugin that provides this functionality easily now, but you still have to know about RSS, decide to offer it, and then install the plugin and configure it to compile your RSS feed with each site build. So it is something the developer or maintainer of the site has to think about (at least initially, now that it is configured it updates automatically).

I am not a huge fan of Wordpress, but I am grateful that they continue to offer it "automatically" for all Wordpress sites. This means that I am able to subscribe in my feed reader for small sites that might not even think about RSS.


Same. I had to add my own RSS feed, and didn't do it until I needed it to crawl my own content. Even then, I won't waste screen space with an RSS icon.


Yeah, just looking at my RSS list, most of them I discovered from just checking the usual /rss endpoints that are completely unadvertised on the website where you see in the XML it's generated by Wordrpress.

I have no doubt that it's the only reason most feeds exist.

Any RSS reader really needs to be able to crawl websites to create its own feed as only consuming websites that support RSS is a pretty weak prospect.


None of the RSS that I follow are from blogs, however.

Most of it is from webcomics that I follow, YouTube channels, and media aggregator websites that inform me whenever a new episode is out of a television series I follow.

All of these websites surely added it themselves deliberately.


Most news sites I checked on my RSS reader use Wordpress or another PHP framework like Drupal.

Example of what I'm talking about where I think the RSS feed isn't necessarily deliberate or perhaps it's vestigial:

- [Wordpress] https://maldita.es/ (https://maldita.es/feed/)

- [Drupal] https://vanguardia.com.mx/ (https://vanguardia.com.mx/rss.xml)

My point isn't that everyone is incompetent and doesn't even mean to host RSS feeds but rather I'd wager that early turnkey CMS were the reason we have RSS. I'm rather thankful.


"Another use-case I was surprised to develop was managing collaborative projects"

This is one of the biggest under appreciated things with RSS I think! I used to have issues with a project having out of date dependencies that included some critical security features. I added the GitHub releases to a folder in my RSS reader and now know almost instantly when there's a new release and whether it's security critical or not. That would have been lost in a disordered social media feed where it might get buried under tons of other contents and I can't mark things as important, filter them out into tags or folders, etc. Right now several of us can just all have that in our feeds and create an issue to upgrade, investigate, etc. when new releases of dependencies come out, but I've thought it might be fun to put that feed directly into an issue tracker at some point too so issues get made for any new dependency update to be investigated.

Email and RSS still manage to do better than anything else at keeping my messages organized and important stuff at the top, after all these years.


Gonna paint with a REALLY broad brush here; but I think that a LOT of the same people I see lamenting the web closing off into silos are the same people who, over the last decade or so, helped push everything into said closed silos.

this thought is a result of a conversation I had with an investor I was building a site for. He was really upset that over the years his RSS habits had gotten less and less useful to him. I find a little ironic justice that people who built this closed off ecosystem in pursuit of 10x returns are also feeling some pain as a result.

Guess I am just petty. Also I really fucking miss Trillian, RSS readers, and podcasts that didn't care where you were listening to them from; and I don't think I will ever stop resenting this industry for breaking that.


Same. I actually built a personal Python app that turns RSS feeds into a daily newsletter when I quit most social media. It's been fantastic, in part because it's NOT infinite. It typically gives me something between 1-10 links and... that's it.

There's nothing to "check" and it's not watered down with provocative crap that an algorithm thinks would make me stick around longer.


I recently got back into RSS.

I am running https://miniflux.app/ on one of my boxes and its been great.

Typically, most days I keep on top of my news/interest in close to real time but there are days where this doesnt happy, just too busy.

So I jump into miniflux which is pulling in news and I can quickly in a few minutes scroll and get a good feel for what's going on, what I have missed and explore further anything interesting.


I’m using miniflux too, deploy with Docker take a few minutes and it just works.


You can get an RSS feed of replies to your HN comments: https://hnrss.org/replies?id=YOUR_HN_NAME


I love RSS but I also believe there's not enough innovation in the space. Feels like most developers are burnt by Facebook and don't ever want to do anything other than providing you with a chronological feed of all feeds.

And then you subscribe to too many feeds, get information overload and miss content because you just "Mark all as read" when you're tired. Or skim through the headlines too fast.

I'd like an algorithm to process those for me. But specifically the sources I need. And there's nothing like that on the market.

Organize the entries by their importance so I could skim the top when I'm busy. Bundle the posts on the same topic. Create digest for high-frequency repetitive content. Combine RSS feeds, Twitter lists, and email newsletters in a single heap of organized content.


I like your ideas, however, there's nothing wrong with "I have 800 articles in my RSS reader and I just don't have the energy right now - mark all as read".

If something is truly important, it will get to you in some other way.

As with anything, don't let it become a chore when it should bring you joy.


That makes sense, but to me that just sound like an algorithm, albeit an extremely stupid one (only show the latest pieces and bury the rest).

I want it to be smarter.


Feedly does this, although as a college student their Pro+ plan (which organizes by topic) is too pricey for me :-/. I still love the concept.

https://feedly.com/i/pro/


It's not that good in my experience and it's just one of those things. Basically, just help me figure out what's important and not get distracted by an endless pile of stuff.


Newsblur also has stories training functionality and it's cheaper.


I've been loving Fraidyc.at for RSS

While https://rssbox.herokuapp.com/ is great, I wish more websites allowed RSS rather than resorting to hacky workarounds


Also love fraidycat, the approach it takes for keeping things “fair” is really nice.

It solves one of the problems I’ve had with other RSS readers around the overwhelm when adding a new source/neglecting an existing source. Opening up to see tens/hundreds of items in the backlog that you feel obligated to read isn’t fun.

I’ve got it set as my new tab page, which makes it easy to see new stuff at a glance, and then I can delve into the less important stuff when I’ve got time to waste.


Same here. Just wish fraidy cat worked on mobile.


NewsFlash is a good reader on Linux - https://gitlab.com/news-flash/news_flash_gtk or NewsBoat if you prefer the cli interface https://newsboat.org/


In 2020 I fell into a deep and unproductive habit of excessive YouTube binging. It was RSS that broke me out of it. I can subscribe to the worthwhile channels that would otherwise spur me to visit the site (and hence be subjected to the endless recommendation algorithm); yes, YouTube channels still support RSS! Then I can watch the video in my reader and be done with it. No "one more video", no morbid curiosity to check the comments. I can watch what I want and move on with my life.


RSS is awesome! I never got the hang of using a read-application, instead I use rss2email to get copies of posts delivered to my inbox.

There are a few different tools for getting the feeds to email, my own is a pretty simple golang application I run in a docker-container:

https://github.com/skx/rss2email/


I would actually like the opposite of this. Having newsletters and other such “no-reply” emails go directly to an RSS feed.


Feedbin[1], my feed reader of choice, has that. They give you a random email address that you can use to receive newsletters in your feed and automatically have them tagged.

[1] https://feedbin.com/


Newsblur[1] has this feature as well and it's a nice addition to any RSS reader.

1. https://blog.newsblur.com/post/146752875548/newsletters-in-y...


Here's what I use to do exactly that; https://kill-the-newsletter.com/


I could almost imagine running a small service that presented the contents of an IMAP folder as a feed, but I can't imagine actually using such a thing!


Are we making fun of Hey email?


To me, one of the most important features of RSS is not having to reskim over titles I've already dismissed. I don't even mind that most feeds don't have any content, the links are good enough for my needs.

I really wish AP and Reuters would bring back RSS, I'd no longer have any reason to open a site just to skim headlines. Some might argue that is the reason news sites stopped offering RSS, but I don't think it really lowers my engagement with a site, I very often click around after opening an item that caught my attention.


If you're okay with feeds generated from the home pages of those sites, the Feed Creator project I work on can generate feeds for them:

* Reuters: https://createfeed.fivefilters.org/index.php?url=https%3A%2F...

* AP: https://createfeed.fivefilters.org/index.php?url=https%3A%2F...

Relying on the underlying HTML attributes of the page to generate the feed does make these feeds much more brittle, but it's one option when the sites choose to switch off their own feeds.


Thanks, I'll give them a try.


It's really unfortunate that Firefox removed RSS support. While I never used Firefox's built in support to subscribe to anything, being able to preview feeds has well as having an icon in the address bar indicating that a site has feeds was really useful.


I'm so happy websites have kept RSS around, because even if it's mostly used for machine-to-machine feeds nowadays, we obviously piggyback on top of it and benefit. It could've been so easy for big sites to replace it with proprietary APIs for GitHub, YT, etc...


Just reached this HN entry via my self hosted tiny tiny RSS. Long live RSS! Fortunately RSS took off enough before social networks, so that many website still more or less support it.


I also still use RSS.

https://news.ycombinator.com/rss


There's also this:

https://hnrss.github.io/

Which lets you set filters so that you only see posts with a certain amount of activity, so you aren't spammed with every single HN submission in your feed.


hnrss is great. This is what most news sites get wrong, they might have RSS, but it gives you every new article and that can be over a hundred per day. And then they eventually conclude that no uses it and thus RSS is bad, when it's just their thresholdless implementation that's bad.


When we industrialized food production we all started eating too much and too shitty and now practically all of us have overweight and unhealthy bodies. Feeds, push notifications, aggregators, to-do apps, notes apps, etc are all artifacts of the exact same process happening to our minds. It is so incredibly easy, so trivially easy, to spend 15 minutes on the internet and locate an effectively infinite amount of high-quality shit to read or watch or listen to. There's really too much for us to handle, so we build tools and services to help us manage all that information streaming towards us. But what we've forgotten is that we don't need to manage all the information out in the world, all we need to manage is however much we can ingest and digest. The bottleneck in our informational lives is absolutely not inventory management, it's the bandwidth between our ears, which is the same is it's always been.


If you're an Emacs user, I'd really recommend checking out elfeed (https://github.com/skeeto/elfeed). You can subscribe to RSS feeds just by adding a line to an org-mode file, and then organize and tag all your feeds with all the usual org-mode features.

Also, I think the author is being a little pessimistic about the state of RSS. It might not really be "mainstream", but almost every blog I visit has a feed, also Substack offers feeds, YouTube channels, Reddit, etc. I only just started writing my own self-hosted blog, and within a week or so I got an email asking me if I have an RSS feed. RSS is very much alive and well, if niche.


There's a joke about Emacs being a great OS that has everything except for a decent text editor.


Ever since evil-mode came out, it's got a great text editor.


Firefox dropped RSS support and literally said “it’s too hard”. Lamest decision ever.


RSS onboarding is a struggle for new users. RSS, unlike commercial products, lacks a "front page" to explain the benefits and how to get started.

Two things that can help:

1. Have a prettified RSS feed that tells new users what it is, rather than showing raw XML. For example here's mine: http://interconnected.org/home/feed

2. (plug) Link to https://aboutfeeds.com which is a one-pager RSS explainer site, providing links to newsreaders and simple instructions on how to subscribe.


This is really cool, will have to add that to all the feeds I host. Too bad browers can't display RSS feeds themselves anymore without manually adding an XML stylesheet - Firefox used to be able to do that.


That's awesome. How did you do that?


I wondered the same thing. Turns out, there's a whole language for XML stylesheets: XSLT[1]. The stylesheet used to style that page is http://interconnected.org/home/static/styles/pretty-feed-v2.... (will probably want to view source).

[1]: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/XSLT


I've been a heavy user of RSS for a really long time. I can't imagine a world without it, and it frustrates me that it never took off with regular people in the way it has with those in the technical world.

Initially I just used NetNewsWire -- a beloved reader for the Mac that's had an amusing development life cycle -- but I moved to Google Reader and a variety of clients when that existed. When Google killed Reader, I moved to Feedbin for a back end, and found their web interface plenty good enough for me. On my phone and iPad, I use Reeder.


I get the sense that you may not be old enough to remember when the majority of people who used the internet used RSS feeds to consume their news and information consumption. That all changed with mostly facebook and Zuckerberg's charge to have "Facebook replace the internet". We are now totally shifted from a distributed consumer driven information market to a centralized autocratic supplier system (it's not even a market, but rather just centralized propagation of regime approved narrative).

I totally agree with the subject author and likely you, but I would go even further, that RSS or a similar user controlled distributed source subscription model is the only way that humanity can regain control over its freedom of information. And time is clearly running out. Regardless of what people may think of the likes of Elon Musk, the clear move (regardless of why) to the privatization of the internet through his skynet, or was it skylink???, project will lead to the atrophy of what is at least theoretically still a public internet, even though corporations have essentially totally coöpted it.


I'm 50.

There was NEVER a point when RSS was used by the majority of Net users, since it was introduced (just before the turn of the century) YEARS after the general public got net access (ie, the September that Never Ended, now over 10,000 days ago). It has always been the province of the somewhat nerdy.

The closest it ever got to mass adoption, ironically, was the support it got by way of Google Reader.


Starlink.


What I particularly like about rss feeds, is that I can keep up with anything whatsoever, It is perfect for any serialized content, what I find important is not the notifications, that is just a side effect. But about choosing what to stay up to date with. you have control over the content you consume, when you want it. The same way you'd use a bookmark in books.

I've also recently switch my rss feed client into just my email client, installing rss2email, throwing all the content to email, means I can use any phone whatsoever and have exactly the same content.


I still use RSS. One thing I've discovered is that nearly every site offers an RSS feed. I presume they're not aware of this, and that whatever CMS they use (WordPress, etc) offers it out of the box. Often times it takes a simple "View Source" to find it.

RSS doesn't seem to be dying, it's just that it's no longer mainstream since Google Reader died. I run my own instance of TinyTinyRSS on my server and couldn't be happier.


Had to give this a +1 before skimming on with my feeds (Feedly).

I feel my RSS feeds can largely be configured to serve me. The configuration is transparent. I am in control of what internet I consume regularly.

With my social media feeds, the configuration is limited and opaque (e.g. what exactly does "Not interested in this tweet" do?). I don't feel I have much control. I severely limit social media...too many chances to disrupt me.


RSS it's a great reminder that the web can be federalized but standard at the same time for readers; and not a big centralized monolith like Medium, Facebook, or Twitter.

Kinda the opposite side of social media where an Machine Learning algorithm selects items for your feed of what in the best interest of the metrics they try to improve (retention, CTR, etc).

One of the things that I will be always be thankful to Aaron Swartz.


I use FreshRSS as my client. Most news sites have feeds. For those that dont, there is RSSBridge which helps you make them or extend truncated feeds.


A ton of people still use RSS, they just don't know it. For example, podcasts.


I thought what the Internet stood for died when the Internet became more about the Web than vice versa.

RSS should have just been mailing lists. Mail is a much better protocol than HTTP + RSS. Think about it. Store-and-forward subscription-based eventful push messaging with a simple extensible protocol that has been around forever and is supported by everything. Or hell: NNTP! A protocol literally designed for subscription to syndicated news feeds!

Yet they landed on a pull-based, client-server, new complex protocol that didn't work with anything else, because for some reason web browsers can't deal with a protocol that's not running on port 80.

The internet will truly be reborn when we have a network layer that finally doesn't enforce limitations on the kind of traffic that can pass between any of its hosts. It will eventually happen. (It has to; we literally can't build all network technology for the rest of eternity on a single transport protocol using a single TCP/IP port) But hopefully I'm not dead before then.


Lots of discussion on feed readers but basic support should be built in to browsers really.

Doesn't have to be a full "reader", it can just have a little RSS icon that shows a (1) etc for new items, which shows the links to the posts when clicked. Show up a little marker on the same icon when a site has a feed you can subscribe to. Manage your feeds in the settings somewhere.


Firefox used to support RSS, but they removed it in late 2018.


Thunderbird supports RSS...and NNTP.


The feature could use some work however. I remember trying it recently and OPML support (especially when you have sub-folders) didn't really work.

Personally I use Smart-RSS [1], which is a clone of the original Opera (12) feed reader and runs as a browser extension (both chrome/ium and firefox). It has some bugs but it works well for my use case.

[1] https://github.com/SmartRSS/Smart-RSS


I've been using Newsblur since Google Reader shut down in 2013. It's a great service with many useful features

https://clumma.newsblur.com

I pipe my Reddit likes into it. Unfortunately almost all of the blogs I used to read are inactive, and I haven't found good blogs to replace them.

It would be awesome if HN supported RSS.


People share quite a bit of HN content via RSS on newsblur, hell I’m posting this from inside Newsblur right now.

The feed I follow is hosted by a newsblur user named Skorgu: https://www.skorgu.net/hn.rss

But you can get other tailored feeds at: https://hnrss.org


Love RSS - it's too simple. :) I run a small tool called Newsy

https://www.newsy.co

Which converts your un-used domain into a content aggregator. Originally I wasn't planning to do RSS and instead offer an API access. But none of my users ever asked for an API access, but they all wanted RSS feeds.


I have tried feed readers on and off over the years, and never really stuck with it. It just felt like too much coming in with no rest. (This was largely before social media...now that sentiment feels quaint.)

But I've recently gotten back into feed readers, and what I've realized is that I think a lot of my frustration was from news websites, which are just a constant stream of new content. Now I stick to a few blogs, HN top posts feed, and a couple other low-quantity feeds, and things are much better. I read the news directly off their websites once in the morning, and for the rest of the day I just rely on picking up major news via Twitter, etc.

Anyway, if you're looking for a nice, simple feed reader, I can recommend Liferea on Linux. I didn't have much luck finding a web-based client I liked, but recently I've started using a self-hosted instance of Miniflux, and I can also recommend that as well.


I really liked https://fraidyc.at/ because of how it gave frequent/infrequent posters equal space. I switched to miniflux for reasons, but I wrote a user script to reorder unread entries to simulate that. https://maya.land/userscripts/miniflux/round-robin-sort/


As many others here I've been a rss users since the Google reader days, but I use it on my android mobile phone only.

I use inoreader and News+ [1] because it allows to automatically sync each hour and notifies me of new content to check (and it shows the list of posts with the title, the first few sentences of the content and a picture if any, which allows to quickly check if I want to read it or not).

I'm happy with it, but it was the first option I tried, and I feel like I'm missing others. Does anyone know of another good alternative? It should have this 'sync each hour and notify if changes' feature, preferably dark/black mode and the title + cut description list.

[1] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.noinnion.a...


I'm a longtime, dedicated Inoreader user. I occasionally try all the Android RSS readers that support it, but none lure me away from the official Inoreader client [1]. Does it not meet your requirements?

[1] https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.innologica...


Thanks for the reply. I've tested it but I've been unable to make it to show notifications. I want the app to sync automatically each hour, and if there are unread articles show a notification, so I can simply click it and start reading (news+ does this)


Podcasts are another element keeping RSS alive. The recent exponential growth of podcasts should help keep RSS going. Podcasts rely heavily on RSS syndication for distribution. This reminds me of how the internet used to work, hope we get some of that highly distributed non-centralized world back.


Agreed. But I've also encountered quite a few "podcast" websites that only let you listen to the episodes in web players. Sooo annoying.


Actually the best user experience I get by using the telegram messenger as a feed aggregator. I use Manybot to only post the links, which plays nicely with telegram's instant preview feature (pretty much like reader mode/readability). Love this way to read feeds (also syncs across devices, etc)


Maybe my side project rss-proxy [0] might be interesting for you. It automatically transforms static HTML markup to RSS, so ideally you would not need to write a parser manually.

[0] https://github.com/damoeb/rss-proxy


I use emacs elfeed for my feeds, however I found it frustrating that my different feed categories - news, views, tech, podcasts, etc - all get jumbled up out of the box into one massive rss firehose.

Eventually I realised I could simply use bookmark.el to quickly create filtered search versions of my feeds based on their respective tags, and now I'm much happier. After setting it up, a `C-x r l` (bookmark-menu-list) later and I get a list that looks like this

  RSS: Daily News        @24-hours-ago +unread +news
  RSS: News              @1-weeks-ago +unread +news
  RSS: Not news          @2-weeks-ago +unread -news -hn
  RSS: tech              @2-weeks-ago +unread +tech
Bookmark.el was written in 1993 by a Karl Fogel in 1993, and it still interoperates nicely with a random newer package like elfeed.


Thanks for sharing this.


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