I don't agree with the void-to-be-filled theory, because that void has been quickly filled already by Twitter, Facebook and other self-sufficing, closed and mind numbing services that have nothing to do with the fluid open nature of RSS. Many many users have quickly shifted to that mindset and they won't be back. Do you think those millions of BuzzFeed reader can give a crap about RSS?
So yeah, you can archive google reader closing shop in the "google's unforgivable mistake" directory.
Source: I'm a web editor (not for English speaking websites as you may have understood) since 2006. I've seen the shift all happen under my eyes. It's sort of disgusting.
I confess: I literally cannot understand this. There must be a thousand RSS readers, many of them allowing at least some privacy, some of them by e.g. not running on a remote server, which also means their existence and usefulness does not depend on someone always being kind enough not to pull the plug. What the bloody hell was so special about Google Reader?
Reader used Google's infrastructure so it was always running and your feeds were up to date when you opened them (unlike most desktop readers, they also adjusted the schedule automatically so frequently updated feeds were polled more frequently), and they stored everything with first-class search for history, which also came in handy if a popular site was overloaded since the cached feed content could still be viewed.
Finally, the real jump in usage happened when they enabled social features. Being able to see who else had publicly shared or commented on an item was a great way to find people with similar interests and there were many great conversations to be found. See http://www.buzzfeed.com/robf4/googles-lost-social-network for a rundown of just how popular Reader's social features were. I believe a key reason why Google+ never went anywhere was because Google actively killed the Reader network and a large percentage of early adopters, journalists, writers, etc. got the message that you should never invest more than transient time in a Google product.
Even better, they supported pubsubhubbub, and were a very early adopter. I think even now, most readers don't support this - it's one of the reasons I settled on Newsblur as a replacement. When I tested with my own feeds, I saw new items appear within seconds of publishing them.
Perhaps it's wishful thinking, but I think that with the impending Google+ restructuring, we might see Google Reader resurrected.
Not everybody wants to setup an RSS reader (or knows what one is).
I know I sound like an elitist schmuck when I say it, but I'm increasingly starting to think all this ease-of-use thing is getting a bit out of hand. If there are people are willing to sacrifice performance (Google Reader's UI was slower than Liferea's first versions, and that's something!), privacy and reliability (an installed RSS reader does always work, as opposed to a public, remote service, ran by an advertising company) just because clicking "Install" is hard for them, I honestly wish all these bad, evil companies they're outraged about mine the shit out of them, from their eye color to the size of their underwear. I get legitimate cases (e.g. you're behind company firewall and you're on your work computer so you can't install anything), but installing a program really shouldn't be a difficult task otherwise.
Most computer users forget that they have years and years of experience with computers, because they actually played with computers for their own fun for years. So the things that seem drop-dead simple for them are drop-dead simple if you have years of experience.
I'm certainly thankful my doctor has never told me "you know, if you can't be bothered to understand biology, I'll just let the diseases kill you", when he has 7+ years of knowledge that I don't.
The fact that pretty much any user who reads RSS feeds uses applications that do not come with the operating system by default is, I think, proof enough that installing an application is really not that difficult. Being one, I get why Slackware users have issues with that (hhehe) but we're really not talking about a complex maintenance issue here...
In any case, a web RSS reader that I run myself (tt-rss or similar) is a pretty good compromise.
 Yes, person who is about to reply, I know you personally didn't.
No, "everybody" uses Outlook because corporate IT likes how all the microsoft stuff integrates with itself.
Everybody also apparently uses their phones for email now, which I understand tends to use installed apps rather than the web browser.
 Yes, person who is about to reply, I know you personally didn't.
Right, ignore and marginalize all the people who have counterexamples to your claims.
Also, I think Outlook is much better than any other mail/calendar client I've ever used.
I read HN, Reuters, Re/Code, Atlantic and New Yorker in Outlook. I love the mostly text-only experience and am finding that I read content in a less prejudiced way when all the color distraction is gone.
Maybe you should have said "Some people," then.
To get all that, you need your own server. Ideally a home server, but many ISP forbid you to send e-mail at all (they close port 25). The next best thing is a remote virtual machine with root access. Either way, good luck installing Postfix and Dovecot. I have, and there's no way the "average user" could do the same.
So, of course you don't use an e-mail client.
Can anyone name an ISP that forbids their customers from using SMTP to send mail?
My guess is that the person I'm quoting is confused by the longstanding spam-control measure in which the ISP requires the outgoing mail to go through a mail server designated by (and usually run by) the ISP rather than going directly to the recipient's mail server.
But if I'm wrong about that, I want to know!
Call it pedantic, but yes, they do forbid you to send e-mails. Instead, they force you to ask them to send e-mail for you (that's how SMTP relays work). They're not completely forbidding you to use SMTP, but they do require that you go through their servers. That's quite the restricted SMTP usage.
The snail mail equivalent would be to forbid you to ship your mail yourself. Instead you have to give it to the official postal services so they can ship the mail.
Why would they do that? I see only one reason: they want to control your mail. They look at the destination, and maybe decide they won't ship the mail after all. They look at how much mail you send out, and maybe they won't send more than a dozen per day. They may open the mail (or otherwise X-ray it), and take "appropriate" action depending on the content, including not shipping it, building a customer profile of you and your recipients, writing your name on some black list, or archive the mail, just in case.
Spam mitigation? That's just a pretext they use to snoop over your private communications. (Or, more accurately, control their network. They will always push for more corporate control, that's what corporations do.)
Of course, you can bypass the limitation by using HTTP to ask another big corporation to send your mail. And receive and store your mail too. And deeply analyse it so they can show you customized banners. And give it to the authorities whenever they ask for it…
Such an Orwellian nightmare would never fly in the physical world. In the digital one however, they can capitalize on people's ignorance.
I do use a standalone client. IMAP is nice enough with the messages and I don't mix my personal and work contacts, so the addressbooks are easy to sync. Unfortunately, save for Roundcube, which sucks in moderation, I'm not aware of any single webmail client that doesn't suck.
The same goes for my RSS feeds, but I do have a setup that is probably hard to replicate for someone who doesn't work with computers for a living, so that doesn't count in the argument :-).
P.S.: I actually use webmail for work account because IT hates me. It's not too bothersome. The only thing stopping me from migrating my personal accounts to their respective webmail interfaces is not being able to import my abook contacts :-).
The operating systems involved include iOS, Windows, and Linux.
Which standalone RSS feed will allow me to keep track of what I've read on all places?
I suspect it also powers things like Flipboard and Zite (no idea of people still use those).
RSS was there before Facebook and Twitter.
RSS will be there after Facebook and Twitter.
One of the neat things about RSS is that I don't have to care whether it's the Most Popular Thing. I just need a reader, and someone publishing it. No "boil the ocean" required. I used RSS back when the number of publishers could be counted in the dozens. It was still a useful technology!
If you're then inclined to argue "but what if everyone stops publishing it?", a "boil the ocean" of its own, my response is that I'll worry about that when it happens. That would take a lot of people to stop publishing it, and... in modern times, it's so easy to publish RSS, and you own it, not like your Twitter or Facebook integration, so I don't expect the value proposition to go sour for everyone for a long time. (And I don't really have to worry about all the readers going belly up, there's enough open-source desktop readers if nothing else. To say nothing of the open source server-delpoyable ones.)
But publishing it takes effort, and if usage isn't high enough people might stop.
And, frankly, that's already a dubious claim and getting more dubious. An RSS subscriber is very "stickied", and thus very valuable in a lot of ways. I mean that even beyond mere money. A lot of the other putatively "better" approaches are a great deal less powerful, again, because you don't own it, the "better" service does. Witness the way Facebook decides whether or not your "subscribers" get to see your posts, making them a great deal less valuable than an RSS-subscribed reader. I expect this to play out over and over, and for RSS to retain its position of indicating "I am a serious subscriber" for a good long time.
Facebook et al can offer you a better short-term outcome, but as such things scale up, the incentives pretty inevitably turn towards trying to capture the value of your subscriber base themselves. RSS disintermediates that fairly successfully. And since nothing particularly stops you from offering that on the side... why not?
It's much easier to go to /rss and get the content than have to coordinate with however many teams and organizations it took to create all those sites.
Probably not coincidentally, that's about when I started using HN.
I absolutely love it. Unfortunately, I had to give up on using it last week since I had too many feeds to stay on the free version.
I'm now using Digg's Reader and I'm happy so far. Updates more often than (the free version of) The Old Reader too!
What mindset was there to begin with prior to the shift to Twitter, et.al?
Also, please, will you elaborate on the shift?
(My mistake on using adopt when it was probably better to say "use".)
I'd have liked more leveraging of the social graph with that app - they missed an opportunity
I use InoReader primarily because it de-emphasizes the social element; it's something I don't feel the need to use. It does still have an option to view "trending" content across (presumably) all users' subscriptions, it's just not in your face if you don't want it.
From a user perspective, the thing about RSS is that most readers/clients were designed as if they were email clients, where you mark articles as read/unread. Who wants thousands of extra "emails" in their inbox to check every day ?
From a site perspective, most sites were stuffing the whole web page in each RSS article such that RSS was not a summary. Then they realised that people reading RSS weren't reading ads so they either killed RSS or made each article one line.
From a programmer perspective, writing an RSS client became a hello world of applications programming such that there were millions of very bad clients.
RSS is very much alive and very useful; but maybe RSS as we used to think of it is dead. It's a background thing that browsers and applications should make use of
I think the big challenge for RSS and the web in general is link rot.
Me? And its more like dozens BTW not thousands?
There's a fundamental perception issue best described by analogy.
In many living rooms is a box that displays video. Some people insist that all humans only want to view streamed live content that someone else controls. Some people insist that all humans only want to view the output of a perfect DVR. Both extremist positions are of course wrong.
I have 104 relatively low traffic, yet VERY important to me, feeds in my newsblur rss reader. I'd be hyper pissed off almost beyond words if newsblur decided to only display the 10 most recent posts. I'd have to dump them and their attractive mobile client app and go back to self hosting a feedonfeeds installation, which doesn't really work on mobile, but at least it would display all the new news to me rather than a subset.
Most sites that screw up RSS don't have real content anyway. Just linkbait surrounded by ads. Not much of a loss.
My response to that is: Who wants thousands of Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinwhatevertube sites to check every day? Just have them all sent to one place, and check that.
I only want one inbox, total, ever, to check. All of my email, plus Twitter, Instabook, Whatevergram, plus all posts from any blog that I really want to follow, plus any Google Alerts of any topics that I follow — all of that, in one place. An RSS reader and some jumping through hoops lets me achieve two inboxes total, my email plus "everything else", and that's good enough for me at the moment.
This. It's akin to joining a gym - 'hey, this blog is good. I should read this regularly to make myself better' and we subscribe to the feed.
But life happens and we start ignoring the new posts. It builds up and everytime we open the feed reader we see thousands of posts unread. This makes us feel guilty.
Oddly enough I've been using the old reader:
There used to be a world where all things on Twitter and Facebook were published to RSS feeds, drastically lowering the barriers to entry for experimenting with content consumption ideas, or cross-content aggregation, or personalization, etc.
There used to be a world where big, public technology players like Google and Firefox were helping on-board new users, and appeared to be making a long-term commitment to the technology. When Google Reader was a thing, the rate at which non-technical users in my personal network were starting to talk about RSS was astounding. And _everybody_ was thinking about whether or not RSS was a natural fit for their product/idea/platform/drone/toaster.
There was a moment in history where RSS was poised to become as ubiquitous as e-mail. But that opportunity was taken away, because the big tech companies either couldn't or wouldn't innovate on their business models, instead they're focused on the near-zero-sum game of user acquisition and retention.
A similar thing happened in the late 1990s with the major ISPs - AOL/Compuserve/Prodigy/etc actively encouraged you to only communicate in-network, e.g. how their chat clients initially worked. Unfortunately for them (but fortunately for us), their core identity system was based on the already standardized technology of e-mail. And eventually the ability of others to provide better/different experiences via e-mail (Eudora, Hotmail, Gmail, etc) changed how people viewed those networks.
This time around, the big tech companies are much more self-conscious regarding user base degradation, and the risks of having their core user experience compromised by out-of-network innovation. Consumers always lose this game.
One thing is the singal-to-noise ratio, but another is the issue of infrequently updated content. Anybody that posts only once a month will get buried on any normal Twitter or Facebook feed. With RSS you can easily keep track of infrequent posters even if you have high-volume feeds in your reader.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if Facebook had an optional "power user" mode where you get a view that is not unlike a file browser, allowing you to conditionally hide/remove/manage parts of the information flow. Maybe I could be tempted by that.
But then again, I'm no usability expert. Maybe I'm just using reality wrong.
rather the _opportunity_ ... And _everybody_ was thinking
rather the *opportunity* ... And *everybody* was thinking
My RSS reader (http://kouio.com after Google's shut down) has always been my complete command centre:
- Google Alerts
- LinkedIn updates
- Every issue/comment/star on my Github projects
- The exact ages of my children every day (via http://howoldismykid.com)
- New questions per tag on stack overflow.
- New messages for individual Google Groups.
and so much more.
I was just lost when Google Reader shut down thinking I'd lose all that, RSS really is the universal API of web data.
RSS is a very good nice technology from users point of view. One place to get all your news but it's a shame that companies like want to move away from open protocols like RSS and XMPP.
I have so far not been able to solve the problem of reading Hacker's News and Reddit. The easiest way to read these news aggregation sites have been to visit their front page. I couldn't find anything that would send posts that come on the front page of HN and Reddit in my RSS inbox.
You can also push articles out to a whole ton of services at once, including Evernote:
As for HN and Reddit, RSS is perfect for these - HN has its own RSS feed dedicated to front-page items:
It gets even better with Reddit, each individual subreddit has its own RSS feed, eg:
With kouio I group together all the interesting subreddit feeds under a folder called Reddit - then I can view them individually or all together at once.
I skim only the top 10 of each day (meaning that you'll get only articles with more than 150 upvotes). It can be tricky if you are interested in good specific articles (that normally don't get 150 votes). In that way you need to see the top 20 of each day.
Thanks for the list of uses I hadn't considered -- I tend to lose track of mailing lists.
Then everything else goes into various folders, with a couple top-level main feeds that I don't put into a folder at all, here's a screenshot:
The majority of the population does not use RSS, does not realize RSS exists, and does not care about RSS. That's a fact, and has always been true and will likely remain true in the future.
When people say "RSS is dead", that's what they mean - it's a technology that never got a share of average users actually using it. So saying that RSS dies is ridiculous - by that definition, it was never alive.
People don't use RSS the same way that people don't use JSON: they don't know or care about it, but it's a key component of many of the services they use every day.
One of the things that made it hard to find a replacement for me for Reader was that so many new rss readers do too much while not offering a simple, compact list view.
As it happens I decided to go with The Old Reader despite some speed issues.
I went back and validated whether the feeds were alive or not and about half of them are now defunct. The sites that removed them seem to have moved on to the main social networks as seen in the various chicklets in the page that accompany the articles.
I wonder if they no longer value RSS or if its getting killed in site redesigns? My suspicion is that not enough people use RSS to warrant providing that functionality. There seem to be too many steps for users to use RSS while it is easier to get that content by using something more "standard" like Facebook or Twitter.
This is an exaggeration.
One of the biggest news sites in the world, bloomberg.com, serves up no RSS feeds.
Forbes.com doesn't have RSS anywhere on their home page, and has dropped it from, as far as I can tell, every single story page. They only have this page left: http://www.forbes.com/fdc/rss.html which is a dying collection of years old RSS links (on a page with an ancient template design).
I deal with RSS feeds a lot in my business, and many of the top sites are a mess when it comes to keeping their feeds properly linked to their site structures as they update.
Here's a typical actual source of news:
My local dead tree newspaper takes those reuters stories, wraps them in some style, some local color, some lasagna recipes, and tries to resell the reuters stories for the ad impressions. Its a dying industry because I can just subscribe to a reuters feed... Of course a feed like
Must be 1000 news stories per day, at least some days. MostRead is somewhat saner, maybe a post every two hours or so (depends on the day).
I would pay for a reuters feed. Maybe not much, but I'd pay something, maybe between $12/yr and $52/yr. I wouldn't pay a penny to a small time syndicator who merely adds lasagna recipes and local high school sports team stories.
One problem with a site like bloomberg is you've got something a cross between machine generated infotainment and a feed of news releases better obtained from the sources anyway. I'm not sure "journalism" counts as "news" anymore, if it ever did.
This is the same Bloomberg that sued the Federal Reserve to make them release the names of the recipients of the Fed's emergency loans.
I just wish they fixed a bug where pressing "j" does not mark as read the first post. Kind of annoying. I have to press "k" first, then "j".
An easy way to find RSS feeds in Firefox (this still works in FF 24 ESR, at least):
1) Click View > Toolbars > Customize
2) Find the RSS icon; drag it to someplace convenient on one of your toolbars
3) When you find a page/site to which you want to subscription but don't see a feed button, check Firefox' RSS icon. If it's activated (i.e., not greyed out), click it and subscribe.
Another solution that maybe is too obvious to mention: Search for (adjusting for your favorite search engine's syntax): rss|feed site:domainname.com
I see less and less the RSS button though, so I have to play with the URL /feed or /rss to get the feed. Too bad.
This is probably the most baffling of all the pathetic attempts I've seen to shoehorn a nefarious motive into the closing of Reader. If the contention is that shutting down Reader would force people to social networks, WHY would Google expect people to go to Google+ instead of the social network with multiple times the usage (Facebook)? I've never seen a piece of data that indicated that Google+ was doing any better than a distant second to Facebook (depending on how you count YouTube), and it does even worse on referral traffic (which is more relevant when you're talking about a replacement for Reader). This is probably the funniest tinfoil hat I've ever seen; Google shut down Reader so that people would be forced to use Facebook more.
TheOldReader brought that back.
And I still don't see how that even makes any sense: Googling something is an active search for a specific piece of content (even as broad as one site) and feeds of any kind are passive consumption of content which is brought to you. I can't imagine a universe in which someone loses their feed of content and increases their web search activity instead of switching to another (perhaps less-useful) feed of content.
If you set up a server-side aggregator, with keyword filtering (imagine a large list, something in the +thousands of words) and have your reader check for those words every few minutes, you're basically plugged into the search engine, completely bypassing their front end. You can suck up their results, then filter those yourself, again. Even when they give you a limited number of searches, you can still set up multiple smaller RSS feeds, then put them all in one big feed. Do this for multiple search engines and you never have to click on their pages again.
It's basically a free service with no return for a search engine, while they're paying for the processing.
Every time one uses a "web app" is giving control over to third parties.
> no one ever has to know what feeds you subscribe to.
There are other ways, though: images in the feed that call back to the server, for example.
If you selfhost your reader, you control the logs. If you use a reader, the server admin might now what feeds you have. But the server who hosts the feed (the blog) has no idea, tracking doesn't work easily - that is still an improvement.
cf. eg. : https://panopticlick.eff.org/index.php?action=log&js=yes
I'd elaborated on this in a blog post I wrote a while ago (When Google Reader shut down) -- http://dickfeynman.github.io/blog/writings/what-the-fate-of-...
It treats RSS like a newspaper instead of email. Here's a demo: http://riverpy-demo.s3.amazonaws.com/index.html
I'm biased, of course, but I think it's a pretty interesting take on what an RSS reader can be.
RSS is more active now than I ever remember it being when Google Reader was around. Really interested to see what the next few years bring.
RSS is here to stay as long as people using RSS continue to support it by building atop the infrastructure, funding innovative products, or even just requesting a feed from their favorite publishers if they don't have one.
So, what happened ?
These guys really care about the user experience. The mobile interface is spot-on.
I do not think RSS is going anywhere.
its also fairly effective at storing and working with geodata. I really like the Geonames rss to georss geocoding API.
shameless plug for attention on a for-fun doo-dad I built:
intelmap.com uses an RSS feed generated by a hackernews clone at news.intelmap.com and drops it on an openlayers map. a better example of geoRSS is syria.intelmap.com, that is a collection of more lively feeds.
RSS can never die, obviously, it is a technology.
What dies is it as a/the standard.
It simply isn't anymore, there are other ways to do what RSS does, similar to RSS except, whoops, it isn't RSS.
But it's dead anyway.