Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Goodbye Google Reader (mediumequalsmessage.com)
77 points by cwebbdesign on Dec 27, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 72 comments

Wow. I use Google Reader every day, and I still can't quite figure out what I'm missing by not using all these other services. Somehow, I'm able to share, read what others are posting, and keep up with threads.

Most importantly, Google Reader keeps continuity. It has a history, a context that I find missing from the jumble of posted links and "in medias res" comments I get on my social share streams.

I don't see myself giving it up anytime soon. (Like others have posted, I do miss Bloglines...)

I used Google Reader for years and years as a central repository for all of the webcomics i read.

I switched to Newsblur this year and haven't looked back. It definitely has a better take on sharing.

Glad somebody mentioned NewsBlur. I run NewsBlur and have been aggressive in developing it into a world-class feed reader. Native iOS and Android apps, a nice shared stories feature, and it's actively developed.

See for yourself, since it's open-source: http://github.com/samuelclay.

And because I run my own feed fetchers, you don't have to worry about the inevitable sunsetting and neglect of Reader. Also means I can do far more interesting things to feeds and stories that other Google Reader API-based clients can't.

Try it out: http://www.newsblur.com

Interesting interface. With my almost 500 feeds, not sure yet if I'd like to use paid version, since Google one is free, but I'll take it for a test drive.

Some feedback: - "Original" button definitely didn't do what I expected. It just closed everything and took me to the target site. Maybe it's just for some "unframeable" sites but that's how it worked.

- "Keep unread" and "Mark as unread" definitely missing. Sometimes after I start reading it turns out the item needs more time than I have now and I want to get back to it later. Not the same as "Save" which means I definitely want to keep it - here I just don't know yet.

- Clicking on triangle and gear in the feed display seems to do the same thing? Why there are two of them then?

- In feed stats for some sites, it says: "IF YOU WENT PREMIUM, THIS SITE WOULD UPDATE EVERY". That's it, nothing after that.

- Something weird going on with stories display - folder with no unread content shows yellow "27" and clicking on folder that shows no content at all opens set of stories that seem to be unread stories from elsewhere.

Just to note that you can mark as unread by either right clicking in the story title or by hitting 'u' (get a list of all keyboard shortcuts by hitting '?').

Just got a premium account. Awesome service, and it's great to know that it's being actively developed.

Side note: I love the vim keyboard shortcuts.

Just curious, how come your premium to free user ratio is 1:2? Seems incredibly high to me.

Really nice interface.

And what might be interesting for some: The hosted version has 60 feeds in the free version, for more than that you'll have to upgrade to a premium account.

I've tried NewsBlur a couple times, but found it unable to keep up with feeds that update existing items in-place. When I asked why, the maintainer said I was using it wrong. shrug Back to gReader.

NewsBlur does a fantastic job of updating stories when they get updated. Not only do you get the updates but NewsBlur will show you the diff between the original story and the latest story. I'd love to know why you had a bad experience.

If you feel like digging, there should be a won't-fix bug under my handle. Includes sample data and everything.

Hmm, that might help. GitHub Link? I'd be happy to take a look!

But Google Reader has historical records that no other service has. That is the main advantage with them.

The main advantage of Reader is that third party clients sync with it.

They do? I've noticed that Google Reader only seems to keep about 30 to 60 days worth of items - at least for me.

The only thing that I can think of, in terms of historical records, in the UI - is the 'how often is this feed updated?' graph under feed information.

I disagree with you, their main advantage is that they're Google. So they won't get shunned/blocked by webmasters. Other people/services can and do get blocked occationally.

Other advantages are; GReader is pretty easy to get going with (I already had a Google account), the UI isn't too much in the way and the fact that they're "always on" (but the last one is true for all 'webapps'/'web services') so they won't miss a update from a feed.

I wrote an article showing Google Reader historical cabilities http://blog.databigbang.com/extraction-of-main-text-content/

Cool! I'll give it a thorough read

I continue to use gReader more frequently than any other news app. It's lightweight, on all the devices I use, and addresses my reading needs at least sufficiently.

My take on advertising likely differs from most here; I don't mind others paying the bills with my attention -- GOOG does a decent job of it, even. I understand and appreciate it goes deeper than text ads displayed contextually to the feeds' stories. Retargeting, psychographics and inference are OK by me, too.

I completely appreciate the wish to pay for a service in place of having one's contrail sold. Believing your attention and behaviors don't get sold -- or wont get sold -- because you pay should not be a presupposition (c.f. cable tv and [your ISP here]).

From the post -- "and I certainly don’t buy products that aren’t in some way designed to be functional" -- I don't understand how this would be otherwise: would you buy something without intended function?

There also seems to be no attention paid to Chrome Sync (yes, they're likely selling our contrails), Delicious, and other services that've come and gone.

I will provide my attention in return for services I find of value. gReader's been such for several years. Until there's a clearly compelling alternative, I'll stick with it.

In case there's any confusion, the article's actual title is "Goodbye ubiquitous digital service" and uses the phrase "most ubiquitous RSS service of our time" as a euphemism for "Google Reader", hence the headline here.

I was wondering about that. Why would the author want to mask the name of the service in question?

I think it's just an oddly passive-aggressive writing style. He also keeps talking about services not selling his personal information, implying (I think) that Google does. However, that's of course not true, as it would violate Google's privacy policy and be a moronic business move in general.

Honestly, I think it's great if the author wants to sing the praises of some new products or services he found to replace his old ones, but that's not really how this read. It had this awkward tone of thinly veiled innuendo, without really saying anything. If the author found new services he thinks are better, I'd find it much more helpful as a reader if he actually expound on what makes the new choices so good.

When people imply that Google will "sell" your personal information, they don't mean that they will pass on your email address and your phone number to a third party but rather engage in "selling" to third parties by using your personal information.

Google sells advertising, including targeted advertising, not access to personal information. Claiming that Google sells your information is like claiming that Medicare rate setting boards are "death panels." It's grossly inaccurate and purposefully inflammatory.

I miss Bloglines, honestly. I switched to greader after bloglines started having DB problems several years ago, but never really liked the UI - seemed too bloated and slow. I switched to using Reeder as a frontend, but in an effort to switch to local services I started using Fever + Sunstroke (iOS app). My main beef with Fever is that if you're reading an article and it does a feed refresh it will refresh the view and take away the article you were reading (since it was marked as read).

My main problem with Fever is that Inman is now a indie game developer. While his previous projects (like Mint or Fever) don't necessarily call for constant attention, and they're probably not providing a large enough cashflow to justify it, and I'm glad that he chose to keep them running rather than shut them down and focus on game development completely, it does suck knowing that they're basically in maintenance mode and won't be seeing anything other than security updates going forward.

Does scoring (i.e. "designed to surface interesting content") really work out for you guys? I tried this back in the jurassic age with GNUS etc., and even then I always felt like I might miss something…

So right now, my prime metric for any RSS reader is how easy it is to get through my items and filter them out. Right now I'm using Google Reader for that again, and between vi-like keyboard shortcuts, "v" to open a tab in the background (w/ simple FF hack) and using either "starring", instapaper or pinboard for "read later" functionality, I'm pretty happy. Sure, if I'm away from my computer for quite a while, things pile up. But as I've said, just reading those scored "important" while just marking the rest as read would worry me a a bit. Never mind that syncing + webapp really makes it easy to keep up with things, even if I'm away from my computer.

I guess you need more support if your subscriptions are that huge or if you're aggregating aggregators.

Still, just like with gmail, I wouldn't mind seeing a good self-hosted replacement. Preferably one that doesn't have more requirements than a Van Halen tour rider.

Fever's scoring doesn't really work for me. I think my requirement is much like yours - I just need to be able to skim quickly through content. I can read quickly and skip over items of no interest. It helps to keep my list of feeds culled to the best so I don't get a lot of dupes. Having a responsive UI is important too; greader's web UI was not that great for me in that regard.

I still use Google Reader, but only vicariously through the apps that utilize it as a backend, after having switched away from using GR directly quite a while ago. In all honestly, if both apps[1] I use swapped backends to something else, I likely wouldn't notice.

[1]: apps: Reeder (mac, iphone); Mr. Reader (ipad)

I've recently found The Old Reader: http://theoldreader.com/

Feels like greader would be if they kept driving it forward. They also do an import of all your greader feeds in one step, so I was able to just drop-in replace greader.

looks nice but without google or facebook accounts how can I use?

* Bookmarking: Mozilla Sync. It works perfectly for all my web bookmarks. It's free software, free service (as free of charge), it's encrypted so no one else can peek there for advertisement or what not. And it obviously works right in the browser syncing between all your instances.

* RSS: There are many different FOSS RSS aggregators. What do you need to pay for there? Akregator for example.

* Social network: Diaspora. Ad free, privacy oriented, free software as well. Free service too (no fees).

In essence, not every free service is built on breaching privacy of users to sustain itself.

It's a real shame that Google Reader has been neglected for years now.

It is a shame RSS has been neglected for years as well. I blame Twitter basically doing the exact same thing, worse, and entirely in JS and with a platform lock to their service.

You could just as well argue that if there had been robust uptake of Twitter's RSS feeds it would not have been so easy for them to kill the feature.

I would argue RSS was neglected by Twitter doing certain things better, things that the average user cares about

RSS + IM/IRC were a lot better than Twitter today, even for how most current Twitter users use the service.

For HackerNews readers, and also for me that's probably true. However, the popularity of Twitter would indicate to me otherwise.

Twitter became popular because Firefox / Chrome got rid of their in-navbar subscribe button and Google didn't advertise Reader. They had incentives to monetize doing things their own way, and every average joe who would go to twitter would have the easy path to just using what is in front of them or having to discover feeds in the page info, install an addon to return the subscribe button, and find an RSS application.

Yeah, I think one could have built IRC and RSS into good enough products to essentially reach out to everyone currently using Twitter who never used IRC/RSS.

I still think there's an opportunity for something better-than-Twitter, IRC, RSS in the mobile space. Twitter is SMS mobile, but has what is honestly a shitty client experience on (everything, but especially) mobile.

I wish someone would do something with the same initial goals as Diaspora (self-control, etc.), but focused on mobile, with ease of use on mobile as the goal. Snap Chat is kind of a step in that direction, but I'd rather have something where users got to explore the continuum of ephemeral stuff (like Snap Chat) to semi-permanent (like Twitter) to more permanent (like a blog, designed to be referenced in the future) to really permanent (publishing).

Why are you just targeting "mobile"? If you were making a new global chat system, it would almost certainly be cloud hosted and baked into a web app. The main reason that xmpp / jabber don't catch on is that you can't treat it with delayed delivery like you can twitter, and you can't broadcast messages.

I don't understand how Firefox/Chrome getting rid of their in-navbar subscribe or Google not advertising Reader doesn't just put them at the same level of Twitter when it was just starting out. Twitter didn't necessarily need large marketing efforts to take off as far as I know.

I feel like this is a case of the tech savy being somewhat removed from the majority of the web's consumer base. Honestly, I've had a surprisingly large amount of trouble explaining something like IRC/RSS to someone like my parents or my non-techy friends. I try to explain that IRC is just like any other chat room, but honestly it's incredibly scary and unattractive to most people.

Twitter became popular because Firefox / Chrome got rid of their in-navbar subscribe button

When Firefox 4, the first version without the button, was released, Twitter had already 200M users.

Neglected? GOOG tore out all of the most awesome sharing/commenting features from reader around the time G+ was launched in order to force users into their facebook clone. They also highly messed with the UI around then, too. Of the folks I knew who were using GReader two years ago, at most 25% are still there. They destroyed Reader due to their crazed obsession with G+.

Neglected? Still a happy Google Reader user. What features are you dying for?

Yes, neglected. More features isn't the point, nor is whether I personally like it (disclosure: I still use it every day). Google Reader is apparently not being developed; it's in "maintenance mode" and run by a skeleton crew.

What kind of development does it need? It does what it's supposed to do, no?

I'd be content if they added back the feed/folder autocomplete on the search box which was removed after the UI refresh.

Interesting -- I never noticed it did this.

I agree.

Too bad most of the RSS readers on iOS just plug in to Google Reader for feed management. Somehow they went from manual RSS to manual + Google Reader to Google Reader exclusive.

I wrote this tool a while back to migrate my Google Reader to Twitter followings … since most of my RSS was pre-Twitter: http://tmnt.benguild.com

Then, I put only the 4 or 5 websites I check religiously into Google Reader, so that I can always get every update from those versus skimming the latest posts in my Twitter stream.

I find this a better/ideal solution, since that way it's 140 character summaries instead of entire articles that are unclear.

Interesting idea. I feel like I would get overloaded following every author on twitter as then you get more than just their latest blog post...

I tweaked my Google Reader to get back the functions that were dropped out. You can read more here: http://tek-that.blogspot.com/2012/10/getting-good-old-note-i...

Note sure if it helps, but thought I would share it..

This was good. Thanks Chris.

There's a lot of thought-less consumption of (supposedly) free technology going on. I keep waiting to see more backlash about it. Instead I see a person here or there figure it out, share with others, everybody nods their heads sagely, then we go on as always.

What with YouTube purging a bunch of fake video watches this week, it certainly looks to me from the business side that we're scaling the freemium model way past where it would naturally take us. We're creating empty houses full of sock puppets. Meanwhile somebody has to pay the electric bill.

Keep up the good writing!

Google has stopped doing anything with its interface but that hasn't stopped dozens of others who sync with Google Reader. I personally find that Newisfy (iOS) does everything I need for a Google Reader client. Don't like Newsify? Then choose from among many other apps on many platforms that sync with Google Reader.

I personally far prefer this arrangement to Twitter. I don't really like the Twitter concept to begin with but I can't even make it more palatable with a better client because they keep pulling the rug out from those who create better Twitter clients.

Fever looks interesting. However, the video that walks through installing recommends changing the permissions on a folder and its contents (complete with executable code) to 777.


Not sure I trust you with my feeds.

I use Tiny Tiny RSS[1] self-hosted and it's been running great. In many ways (design, key bindings, etc) it's a Reader clone, but it's fast, open source[2], has a good JSON API and it runs fine on nginx + Postgresql.

[1]: http://tt-rss.org/redmine/projects/tt-rss/wiki

[2]: http://github.com/gothfox/Tiny-Tiny-RSS

Hi Chris Webb, Thank you very much for sharing alternative apps.

I'm searching for a service which wouldn't be hosted or have a dns name in U.S., especially for mails, because subponeas are not controlled enough there. Is there any chance some YC start-up works on something similar?

"As a front-end developer and modern first-world citizen" -> This sounded douchey.

Feedspot.com anyone? New startup in the town. Looks promising.

Try it out http://feedspot.com

Interesting! Basically giving people who've been introduced to RSS by Twitter an overt "subscribe to what you read" interface part Twitter part Facebook. Clever.

I use Fever. Quite excellent, and very relevant in the context of what Instagram have been doing.

pinboard is great

What i'd like now is a better version of instapaper or the alternatives.

I truly enjoy using pinboard. I even have a launchbar task for searching my links quickly. And, while I wasn't looking for social bookmarks I have to admit I really like the pinboard popular links rss feed. I suppose it's more of a niche community thing which is why I feel like they are generally of a high quality. Second only to Hacker News as my source of what's going on.

What don't you like about Instapaper? There are many good alternatives, including Pocket and Readability.

Instapaper lately has been having many messed up conversions. I use instapaper because they have a pretty clear business model. They make money from subscriptions and app sales. Pocket and Read It Later both don't have paid apps nor subscriptions. So the only other option is that you are being sold.

I'd much prefer an app I run myself with user maintained site defined scraping definitions.

I like instapaper though, it's good for what it does. Could be better though.


I use it every day, it's almost perfect.

How do they make money?

Pocket used to be Read it Later, a paid app. Early this year they switched to Pocket, went free, and raised $5m. So right now, afaik, they don't make any money.

The founder has said in articles/interviews that going free was the right choice for pocket, they're not looking to be acquired, and not ready to talk about their future business model/revenue streams, heres him from July when asked about their plan:

We’ve known where we are headed since last year. But like anything we do with any product or feature, we don’t release it until it’s ready. This is a new, uncharted space and we’re not prepared to release something that isn’t right.

I'll admit, I'm pretty weary of the whole thing, but willing to see where it's headed, I guess. I think if their plan was to just flog off their users data, they would have started doing it already, but it seems like they have something else (Hopefully interesting/unique) planned.

Bad link in the link to Fever.

Sorry about that - thanks for letting me know! I fixed it in the post. Here it is as well: http://feedafever.com/

Twitter is my RSS reader. Frankly, I'm surprised RSS is even still around. Twitter won that war.

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