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Feedly Found a New Way to Steal Page Views From Publishers (the-digital-reader.com)
144 points by user_666 on Jan 19, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 60 comments

Feedly to publishers:

> If you do not want to benefit form this feature, you can also sent me an email and we will quickly opt you out.

I think I will just quickly opt out as an end user by not using Feedly.

I'll follow suit. I never liked the UI anyway.

What do you use instead? or do you just use the sites themselves/Twitter etc?

After Google Reader shut down, I briefly switched to feedly but found the UI basically unusable.

Newsblur is a great alternative. The web client and Android clients are both nice to use -- no experience with iOS but I'm sure it's comparable -- and are open source, written and maintained by Samuel Clay (conesus on HN).

I pay for the service but there's a free tier as well.

Just a small notice: NewsBlur is actively hostile to power users.

1. There is a hard limit on a number of unreads per feed, which is pretty low (100-500 depending on a feed): https://getsatisfaction.com/newsblur/topics/feed_cut_off_aft...

2. When not hitting that first limitation, Items are marked as read after 30 (previously 14) days: https://getsatisfaction.com/newsblur/topics/do_unread_items_...

I think it's a bit strong saying it's "actively hostile" to power users. The developer takes a very specific view about why he has the limits set-up that way: I think a lot of people would like a different level but he makes sense over the fact that most people don't go that far back on RSS. And in fairness he's added a lot of other power user features like keyboard shortcuts.

Personally, I really like Newsblur. It's available on all the clients I care about, it's pretty fast and it's Open Source with a sane business model. I'd really like it to have search as that's the main thing that stops me finding good trends in my RSS feeds.

Is there a news reader that will preserve unread items forever? I like to collect months' worth of my favorite webcomics to read at one go, and I know the old Google Reader at least would just delete them after a while.

Newsblur's Android app can tend to get buggy - as you're scrolling through items by swiping right-to-left, sometimes it'll end up on a blank item, and the whole feed will be marked as read. It also sometimes shows some count X for a given folder, but will show less than X items.

On the upside, Samuel seems to be very quick to respond to issues, and pushes updates out pretty often, both to the app and to the site.

There are hundreds of great feed readers out there. Try out http://feedbin.me for example!

I have been incredibly happy with FeedBin as well. They don't screw with my feed.

Personally I'm going to use Digg Reader but there are several alternatives.

I've been using Digg Reader since the last time news broke about Feedly doing junk like this and I have really liked it. The only thing I dislike is that something steals focus away when navigating via j / k, so for long articles you have to click into the article pane to then use up / down arrows to scroll. It also seems to refresh feeds a little slower than feedly / google reader, but that's pretty minor.

Other than those two small issues, Digg Reader is fantastic.

I've been using Digg Reader for a few months and it works pretty nicely. I'd like it if the reloading of articles could sync in the background, and I'd like to be able to default to my list of feed articles rather than Digg's... however, it's free.. so I can't complain too much.

To Digg's favour, I do read some of their articles now (so presumably they get some ad revenue)...

I use my own install of TinyTinyRSS. The phone app is nicer than google reader ever was. That combined with having the data under my control means that it won't shut down on me again the same way that reader did.

I've been using Feed Wrangler paired with Reeder 2 on my iPhone. Why? Feedly automatically expires articles after 30 days. Feed Wrangler doesn't.

Ugh, is that why I never see old articles? How hard can it be to keep a reference in the database?

Here's a big list of readers to try out:


I've been a very happy user of bazqux for the past couple months. Minimalistic UI, all the features that I want and works great.

InoReader, I tried like 10 alternatives to GR and InoReader clicked.

I started with Feedly then switched to Ino. One interesting (paid) feature of Ino is essentially a "killfile" -- just like in the good old Usenet days -- for RSS feeds. E.g. say you want to read the newest Penny Arcade comic, but you don't care for the news articles also on the same feed, you can automatically mark those as read.

I've been using and loving FeedHQ.org. $12/yr is cheap, and the (Python) code is on Github if you want to run it yourself.

I am using www.inoreader.com

I was a big Google Reader user, and I found this a perfect replacement. Even has an Android App and its all synced.

Most of the Hackernews readers can install their own feed reader like TinyTinyRSS or ownCloud News, and they should.

I'm using http://Newsvi.be. Love it.

I read my RSS feeds in Mozilla Thunderbird.

bazqux.com! Beautiful, clean, simple UI. Pay what you want from $9 to $29 per year.


I like rumbleroll.com

And, I just switched from Feedly to Digg in both my Windows Firefox browser and Android app.

While not appropriate for folks on feed caching services (FeedBurner et al), it would be interesting to write a quick script/htaccess to detect when Feedly is loading your RSS feed on-server and redirect to a custom one which includes a warning above each story about Feedly stealing page views.

go on... I mean do we know their IPs? they could easily move to amazon and not provide any distinguishable Browser ID, etc..

By the way, Pulse News has done this for a long time.

Share something from the Pulse app and it generates a pulse.me link which functions as an URL shortener through a browser, but redirects to their app install page on mobile.

Their annoying UX on Android as well as on the “desktop” and their hijacking of URLs for sharing (enforced redirect) are the reasons I’ve stopped using feedly. This is just another nail in the coffin.

Sadly, stunts like these will drive even more people to publish only excerpt feeds, which is very frustrating for users and further impacts the already declining RSS ecosystem.

I find we're using "publisher" in a quite broad manner any more.

When I think of a publisher, I think of words on paper. Specifically a newspaper or book. As a publisher, I convey the words to some permanent form (a publication) which is then broadcast in some fashion.

The point here? I own the words. I put my name on them.

But now we're asked to believe that publishing involves some kind of deeper interaction. If I'm a publisher, I guess, I'm supposed to be creating an immersive, interactive (perhaps "sticky" or "addictive") model of content consumption. People who leave my words alone but take away my interaction with consumers are stealing my works.

This just sounds like a playground fight over who gets to be the newspaper delivery boy -- and the reason it's so important isn't because of the content, genre, or authorship of the work in question. Everybody agrees on that. This is important because content creation in 2014 is about a fight for eyeballs. Get them on the page, get them to join an email list, get them involved in the comments sections, get them coming back.

Publishers and publications, at least in the way the words have generally been used, have little to do with anything here. The fight is because everybody's looking to psychologically manipulate the poor schmuck who's reading the publication, not for any loftier reason than that.

I don't think that's valid. "Publishers" are those who publish content - that is, make it available to others in some form. The fact that this publishing is via RSS or a website doesn't change that.

You can bet that if you created a newspaper that was simply a selection of articles photocopied from other newspapers, you'd have IP issues. Same if you tried it with a book.

Didn't there use to be "clipping services" for executives that did just this? You'd pay them, they'd subscribe to a bunch of different print services, then they'd clip out what they thought might interest you, compile it, and send it as it's own custom publication?

If I gave my passwords to a poor person in a third-world country, might they not consume all of my digital content online for me, summarize it, and send me what's important, in plain text format?

Yes, but the clipping services needed to purchase a license to do this. In the UK there are two special bodies that handle this: the Newspaper Licensing Agency and the Copyright Licensing Agency.

Under UK law, the digital version is actually legal without a license, because the Supreme Court held that copies made by digital-clippings services were permitted "temporary copies": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_Relations_Consultants_A...

In the US the same case came out the other way around, holding that copies made in the process of digital aggregation didn't constitute fair use: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Associated_Press_v._Meltwater

In the US you don't need a license for the physical version, though, where you literally cut out news articles and mail an envelope of clippings to someone. Under the first-sale doctrine, you own the physical printed copy of a book, magazine, or newspaper you bought, and you can resell that copy (only) without further permission of the copyright holder. You can also modify it before resale if you'd like, since you fully own it: carve it into a book-sculpture, clip out pages and sell them independently, cut out the pages and reuse the binding, etc. You can even buy copyrighted paintings, modify them, and sell the modified version, as long as you're modifying the physical canvas you bought (not copying it onto a new canvas or making prints).

For the sake of providing a counter argument, not all publishers monetize page views; some simply want as many eyeballs as possible landing on their content. Additionally, it is almost impossible to guarantee that a request for your content results in a hit on your httpd process (even if you have the resources to send highly restrictive cache headers, browsers, proxies, etc. don't HAVE to honour them)

He brings up 75% of Twitter being mobile, which sounds like a good number. But, at least on the Google Play store, Feedly seems to have 1 to 5 million installs whereas Twitter has 100 to 500 million. So we're talking about 1% the number of users anyway. So it doesn't much matter what Feedly does since it won't make a dent on your page views anyway.

Depends on your audience. If you have a tech/iOS audience, Feedly users might be 10% of your visitors or more. Plus, Feedly might grow in the future.

And in any case, we should not encourage bad behavior, whatever the actual impact.

Isn't the point that the resultant tweets siphon traffic through feedly, regardless of whether the reader has feedly installed or not?

Not quite. If someone tweets from Feedly you have no idea how large an audience they would be reaching.

But how much of twitters tweets are webpage shares? That's the relevant comparison.

As an end user I personally hate the fact that I can't choose my own URL shortener and stuck with feedly.com links.

They say insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results.

These people have to stop doing this shit and realize it isn't doing anyone any good.

Because greed.

My viewpoint is a bit different on this. First off, Feedly has no way of showing the user the entire article, even if they first direct them to the feedly app. Feedly should show the preview with a snippet, then provide a "View Website" link.

That is, unless you output the entire blog post on your RSS feed. If you do this, then that's your own fault.

Therefore we are left with the question. Does this harm your site and/or metrics? Short answer. No.

Are your users going to your articles from Feedly short links? Probably not. Why would you link your users to a feedly short link to begin with?

In the end, what Feedly is doing is doing a disservice to their end user. It makes the process confusing by creating more hoops to get to the original content. Those short links frankly do not need to exist.

We all know what Feedly is trying to do, and in the end they should stick to building premium features rather than something like this.

> unless you output the entire blog post on your RSS feed. If you do this, then that's your own fault.

I understand the reasons against posting your entire blog on an RSS feed, but it hurts usability so much. If I'm opening my feed reader I would like to stay there and not have to continuously open a post in my browser and then jump back again. If a RSS feed does not contain the full posts I need to be extremely interested in the content to still follow it.

As a user, sure. As a publisher, full article feeds are incompatible with web ads.

I have seen special ads embedded into feeds. Sure, they are not dynamic, targeted and what not, but they are hand selected, probably relevant, and under total control of the content provider.

One alternative, for a site that earns money based on page views, would be to charge a very small subscription fee for its RSS feed. I would certainly pay that for some of the feeds I subscribe to.

I can imagine some of the technical difficulties can be challenging to overcome. Especially how do you identify your user? Often you don't see which user is fetching a feed, but only the service through which they are fetching it. For example I'm using Gwene to access my feeds in the same format I access my news groups.

But honestly is something I would pay for: provide me access to your raw content (with images, tags, categories and some mark-up) so I can just present it to myself in whichever fashion I want. I'm allergic to most web design and prefer things to be plain text, now I could do that without having to reverse engineer APIs or strange deals so the content-provider still gets page clicks. You also get a whole new eco system for third party applications.

If users get all your content without visiting your site (where all your monetization is: ads, upsell, etc), then you're giving your content away for free and losing money. However, if you only give a sentence in the RSS feed (ala CNET and others), it's really not a useful feed. I like that many sites have found a happy medium of including a few full paragraphs so you can get an idea if you'd like to continue reading the story.

And, no, ads embedded in the RSS feed itself won't work. You can't do that with any ad network ads at all, you can only do that with manual referral links and the like. It's more time-consuming (it involves manual work for every single ad) and makes far less money.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Just use http://feedbin.me. It's three bucks a month.

edit: because in Feedly's case you are the product.

And by that do you mean to suggest Feedly doesn't offer a paid version?



Wow, a RSS reader "steals views from publishers"? Call the police.

Guess what? If your article wasn't in my RSS, I wouldn't have read it at all. It didn't steal anything.

ShareThis widgets operate in a similar way.

Can we just please build an exact replica of Google Reader that can handle power users?

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