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Google Reaver
June 20, 2013 3:20 PM   Subscribe

With the deeply unpopular shutdown of Google Reader less than two weeks away (previously), plenty of would-be replacements have jumped into the mix, including the newly web-based Feedly, Newsblur, Digg, and possibly even Facebook (a particularly bitter irony, as obsession with defeating Facebook has been the alleged impetus behind CEO Larry Page's abandonment of beloved Google hallmarks like 20% Time, Google Labs, and open platforms like Reader). But while there's no shortage of attempts to replicate Reader's look and feel, there's one little-known aspect that none can match, and that will be lost forever come July 1st: the vast cache archive of every article from every website, living and dead, that has ever been subscribed to in Reader.

This immense collection of tagged, organized content, the foundation of Reader's powerful personalized search, cannot be exported with Google Takeout. Luckily, the unofficial API provides a way to siphon this data safely into local storage.

Labnol.org offers a simple text form to convert any RSS feed into a JSON list of stored content (more info), while Archive Team is mounting an ongoing crowdsourced effort to discover and save as much content as possible before it's destroyed. If there's any old site with an RSS content stream you'd like to save -- an old personal blog, a defunct website, anything that's obstructed by paywalls, formatting errors, poor organization, or hard-to-find content -- act now... before it's too late.

More reading:

The Guardian: Killing Google Reader is like killing the bees: we'll all be worse off
It's a mistake to think that just because a small number of people use a product that they don't matter - and Google's attempt to push Reader users to Google+ is a mistake too.
TechCrunch: What If The Google Reader Readers Just Don't Come Back?

Forbes: How the Shutdown of Google Reader Threatens the Internet

GigaOm: Google Reader lived on borrowed time: creator [Ed: and Mefi's Own] Chris Wetherell reflects
Google Reader was doomed to fail from the very beginning: the company never really believed in it and it took big effort on part of a small team to make it work. Chris Wetherell, original creator & part of the Reader team reflects on past & the future.
MuleRadio Podcast: You Have One (1) Unread Eulogy In Your Feed
Jason Shellen, part of the original Google Reader team, joins Mike and Leah to talk about the recent announcement of Readers’ death sentence. We also discuss why Reader and RSS get conflated, whether the window for consumer adoption of RSS has passed (spoiler: It has), and whether social media is the right tool to carry the upcoming load.
James Whitaker: "Why I Left Google" (previously)
The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.
Could Firefox be next?
posted by Rhaomi (148 comments total) 82 users marked this as a favorite

 
Could Firefox be next?

BITE YOUR TONGUE.
posted by kate blank at 3:23 PM on June 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


While I don't think that Google owes me anything, the reader shutdown reminds me that I don't owe them anything either.
posted by incster at 3:31 PM on June 20, 2013 [33 favorites]


Could Firefox be next?

Would they really hand that default search volume over to Bing or Yahoo? Surely not.
posted by jaduncan at 3:34 PM on June 20, 2013


BITE YOUR TONGUE.

Check the date. I believe they renegotiated.

Also, I think the archive that is being celebrated and preserved was the downfall of Reader. Wetherell stressed the enormity of storing all that data for people.
posted by zabuni at 3:37 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Probably would be Yahoo, too; Marissa has already seen this playbook.
posted by jaduncan at 3:38 PM on June 20, 2013


Reader was cool because it was one tab over from my email (and I was already logged in). Now whatever I use is at least one step removed. Feedly's ok so far.

One good thing is it prompted a serious spring cleaning of my feeds. Increasingly I think "eh, if it's good I'll see it linked to elsewhere."
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:40 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait?, we're a highbrow forum now?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:40 PM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


Maybe I'm just dumb, but I can't figure out how to swipe a single article to mark it as read in Feedly; it looks like no matter what you swipe it marks all as read?

I hope Reeder updates with the Feedly backend integration soon.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:48 PM on June 20, 2013


oh god please let it not be facebook, I really want social features on my feed reader but I don't want to have to go back to having a facebook account oh god oh god
posted by threeants at 3:58 PM on June 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Maybe I'm just dumb, but I can't figure out how to swipe a single article to mark it as read in Feedly; it looks like no matter what you swipe it marks all as read?

This among a dozen other UI things are what makes me hate Feedly. But if I recall the answer is "don't swipe as far." Yeah.
posted by ish__ at 3:59 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Reader was cool because it was one tab over from my email (and I was already logged in). Now whatever I use is at least one step removed.

Just FYI if you use Chrome then you can basically have the same thing with the Feedly app. That still ties you to Google, though.
posted by planetesimal at 4:02 PM on June 20, 2013


Theoldreader seems pretty similar to reader. No mobile app which is too bad. Haven't tried the web page on my android phone yet.
posted by jclarkin at 4:04 PM on June 20, 2013


Google Reaver?

Euron Crow's Eye will bring us back the dragons...

What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger.
posted by thewalrus at 4:04 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


yeah, google user authentication is an open API - it's just OAuth. So any web app maker can use your google login cookie to log you into their product.
posted by GuyZero at 4:04 PM on June 20, 2013


A two-year old article on google renegotiating with Mozilla?

It's the old line that if a headline asks a question, the answer is always "no"?
posted by GuyZero at 4:05 PM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I made the switch to feedly back when Reader got the death sentence and tried a couple others and have stuck with feedly.

feedly is not Reader; it tries to be cuter and magaziner and doesn't do things the way Reader did things. It gets the big things right (at least for me): frequent feed updates and syncing across devices.

So far the killer feature has been the aggressiveness of the developers to seek out user feedback and then implement it. feedly users have gotten an awful lot of what they've asked for in a very short time (off the top of my head: familiar Reader display options, keyboard shortcuts, a stand alone web app, tagging).
posted by notyou at 4:06 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


A two-year old article on google renegotiating with Mozilla?

I've linked it here (and elsewhere) because of it's interesting "what if?" analysis of Mozilla's finances, not because it's some kind of breaking news. Still, even with the renegotiation, it remains a temporary deal, and I see no reason why the newer, leaner, less sympathetic Google would feel the need to continue funding a direct practical (and arguably ideological) competitor.

As for Feedly, its inability to import all of my starred items leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But I don't think any service does. Too bad I have literally thousands.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:09 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Feedly is useful but way over-designed. Reader was excellent in its like unassuming simplicity. Feedly's all "look at my weird magazine layout that isn't useful"
posted by xmutex at 4:20 PM on June 20, 2013 [12 favorites]


While I miss Reader, I took the shutdown notice as a wake-up call as to how much I wanted a single company to manage and mine my search, email, phone/SMS, etc. Google now only serves as one of my Android app stores and as a mapping provider (though I suppose they're also an indirect provider of search results.) For Reader, I went with a self-hosted solution - selfoss - which still has some bugs, but has been under fairly steady development. It's using about 10MB of disk split evenly between the codebase and the database, but I only track 40-some feeds with 30-day retention (aside from starred items.) I also converted the JSON export of all my old Reader starred items into plain-old bookmarks, which might not be an ideal solution. I hope that in the long run Reader's demise spurs the various replacement services to compete on features and give RSS some new market share, even if it is fragmented.
posted by sysinfo at 4:22 PM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wanted something that NetNewsWire hooks into so badly, and I'm just not going to get it. 10 days left to make a decision, and it's just never going to be as good.
posted by immlass at 4:36 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Feedly has a goodbye card to Reader that you can sign or pee on its grave.
posted by planetesimal at 4:44 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Currently I'm using inoreader and commafeed - each has their strengths and weaknesses. I tried oldreader, but cannot stand to see that godawful mint/beef color thing they have going on, with no way to change it, sorry folks... Not gonna use it.

I saw that tinytinyrss (ttrss) has an app on android, so I'm leaning to self-hosting with that.

Fever looks pretty, but it's too smart for its own good (or for my good, rather).

selfoss looks pretty, I may try that out (thanks sysinfo).

I think, in the end, self-hosting is ultimately where it'll be at for me. Only because I'm tired of being at the mercy of giant corps who want to use me as a product.
posted by symbioid at 4:47 PM on June 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've been meaning to try setting up Newsblur on EC2 or something, since I heard that was one of the best and it's open source. Need to get around to that. Honestly I don't really like the idea of putting more of my stuff on other people's servers. Since I can set up my own, it's not needed, but it is time consuming. What I'd really love to see is a system for personal servers that make installing 'personal' cloud services as easy as installing apps on your cellphone. There's no technical reason it couldn't happen, it's just a question of making money off of it.
posted by delmoi at 4:52 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


GuyZero: "A two-year old article on google renegotiating with Mozilla?

It's the old line that if a headline asks a question, the answer is always "no"?
"

Firefox browser share is in decline. They have almost nil chance of gaining any mobile presence in markets advertisers care about. Google has the ability to kill Mozilla, and most users would continue using google and chrome. The major reason Mozilla is safe, and the reason their contract renegotiation sky-rocketed, is Bing.
posted by pwnguin at 4:54 PM on June 20, 2013


Reavers ain't men
posted by Damienmce at 4:54 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


All I want is a reader that lets me customize the order of my shit on the left just like Reader. The closest I've seen is The Old Reader but that still keeps folders separate from the uncategorized.
posted by Talez at 4:54 PM on June 20, 2013


we're a highbrow forum now?

by comparison to the rest of the Web, certainly... think "classy hooker".

As I've declared before, I'm self-hosting with tt-rss and it has been nearly trouble-free, which is a good thing because the single developer behind it had been working in near-isolation for years and when it started attracting attention as a post-GReader alternative, the inflow of noobs and their stupid questions on the user forum made him crankier than Dave Winer. Then again, those forums are funnier than most of the webcomics I'm following...

I'm also working on self-hosting my cloud storage and everything else I can. (With local backups.) It's a good time to bring out the old X-Files poster*, "TRUST NO ONE".

*no, not "I WANT TO BELIEVE"
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:56 PM on June 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Firefox browser share is in decline.

Sadly, "slightly less shit browser than IE" wasn't a particularly hard bar for Chrome to leap over.
posted by Talez at 4:56 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


After a few weeks with feedly, I'm loving inoreader the most right now. It's super lightweight, stays out of my way, and integrates with instapaper & evernote. I only need it on my desktop/netbook though - I don't know much about their app options.
posted by dialetheia at 4:57 PM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Google has the ability to kill Mozilla ... The major reason Mozilla is safe, and the reason their contract renegotiation sky-rocketed, is Bing.
Well you just said it yourself. Bing means Google can't kill Mozilla.

However, Mozilla is doing a perfectly good job of killing Firefox itself with it's crappy performance. Lately for some reason I've noticed that when some pages load the whole browser will lock up until a lot of stuff loads. I assume it's because pages are doing more JavaScript on initialization, but the main content will have mostly loaded and it's annoying that it locks up for a second and I can't read stuff or as widgets load, or even just switch tabs and wait for it to finish.

Also, doing annoying things to copy chrome like removing 'http' from the URL and getting rid of the <blink> tag for no reason - which is mostly just a nostalgic Easter egg for people who were around when the web was brand new.

Obviously, Google has a bigger budget to spend on performance, and I know Firefox is working on making each browser use it's own process like Chrome, but it is annoying.
posted by delmoi at 5:00 PM on June 20, 2013


I paid to join Newsblur, and I am mostly pleased. Still have to figure out how a few things work, but for the most part I'm finding it very intuitive.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:01 PM on June 20, 2013


Can I just chime in and say that Google has not, in fact, killed the 20% Time projects. They instead have made them private (by killing off Labs) so that they don't feel obligated to support alpha/prototype software. What the linked article is talking about is Google now allows managers to temporarily prevent an employee from working on their 20% project if they determine it too distracting. Apparently this "time-out" is limited to one (fiscal?) quarter. That sounds fair if the managers aren't being jerks about it.
posted by spiderskull at 5:21 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why don't Google offer Reader as a paid service?

I'd happily pay $20 a year or something to keep it.

Surely that could make Google loads of dosh.
posted by sien at 5:21 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's interesting that before Google announced the end of Reader, the general sentiment was "nobody uses RSS anymore," but now everybody and their grandmothers are launching new RSS readers. Maybe Google should kill off a few more things in the interest of innovation.
posted by beagle at 5:22 PM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sadly, "slightly less shit browser than IE" wasn't a particularly hard bar for Chrome to leap over.

Do you people have any idea how unbelievably complex and difficult it is to write a browser? I tried once, just for fun. I couldn't even get a functioning grammar spec working, and I've written compilers before, let alone the clusterfuck that is Javascript. Give them some time -- they have a *lot* of shit to deal with.
posted by spiderskull at 5:23 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why don't Google offer Reader as a paid service?

I'd happily pay $20 a year or something to keep it.

Surely that could make Google loads of dosh.
The speculation is that it used some kind of internal google technology that was getting phased out.

It's interesting how Google developed all this stuff like map reduce, bigtable, etc, and now you have things like Hadoop and HBase which are standardized, and because developers all know how to use them it actually works against Google since they need to train devs on their internal tech. On the other hand, they do end up with years head start on various big-data technology.
posted by delmoi at 5:24 PM on June 20, 2013


It's interesting that before Google announced the end of Reader, the general sentiment was "nobody uses RSS anymore,"

It just goes to show how often the general sentiment is COMPLETELY WRONG.
posted by JHarris at 5:26 PM on June 20, 2013 [16 favorites]


I think Facebook coming out with their own google reader clone could be really interesting. The thing is, they could actually do it right and integrate social sharing features with your facebook friends. I didn't really get into the social features on reader - but being able to click a link and send an article to someone on FB might be nice.

There are a lot of organizations/groups that publish Facebook pages in addition to their blogs, twitter and now tumblr. If I could actually read FB posts through a reader-like interface I might actually be interested in adding them. Right now if I were to add them they'd all end up spamming my news feed, making the site even more annoying (I should point out I hardly ever use FB anyway)

Here's the thing about reader vs. Facebook/G+/etc. It's not just the open nature of RSS, which is obviously important, but the fact that you get to chose which to feeds to read in which topics and so on. There is an "active" model of "consuming" media that Reader implements well, verses the "passive" model of Facebook, Google+ and even something like twitter where they try to guess for you what you want to look at next.

And, they're algorithms might actually work pretty well. But what I'm interested in reading about isn't necessarily constant. Sometimes I might want to read about politics, sometimes I might want to read about tech, for example. But if everything is crammed together on one page, I don't get to make that choice and it's annoying.

It may very well be that more people prefer the passive model - but I wonder if it's not just a question of not even caring enough. It could very well be that a lot of people won't bother looking at anything if they have to actively engage.

But I think what Google missed here is that a lot of the people who drive culture online as well as offline are probably people who prefer the active mode of searching for content. I remember people bringing this up when they first announced reader was going offline.

The thing is, hardly any of those people give a shit about Facebook at this point. No one talks about it as being a cool thing on the internet. They might discuss it as something "grandma" uses, but not as something they might actually have an interest in. And you hear a lot of people talk about how they don't really like Facebook, they're bored by it and they're just worried they'll miss something if they don't check it.

And it's not just, for example, tech bloggers but also the masses of people out there who produce all the 'user generated content' - at least the good stuff, as opposed to rants from racist uncles in newspaper comment sections.

In fact, in a way, actively engaging with content in an interactive way is really similar to the process of creating user generated content.

Facebook's main flaw is that the content can be boring. If you're into cars a comment from someone you don't know on a car-related subreddit might be more interesting then hearing about your friends dinner or their kid or whatever. On the other hand a new mom might find more interesting stuff on a new mom forum then reading about how someone they knew from high school just upgraded their break master cylinder or whatever.

So, if Facebook can create something that gets people generating interesting content, and a way to deliver it directly to people with the same interests, they could end up getting a lot more people to use their platform.

I think it would be completely hilarious if the tool that ends up helping them fix the problems with Facebook ends up being something google threw away in favor of it's own Facebook clone that sucks and no one gives a shit about.
posted by delmoi at 5:31 PM on June 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


I gave Feedly a serious week or two, but the browser plugin thing weirded me out and I just kept running into weird little "oops, why did that happen?" issues with the mobile app UI. So I went back to Newsblur, which by that time seemed to have gotten over the speed and stability issues of its earliest days. I've been happy enough with it to have stopped using Actual Reader, and signed up for a (reasonable!) premium subscription.

I sure will miss being able to search through everything, though. It was like magic being able easily find the source of just about anything I faintly remembered having read somewhere.

I think many techy people still thought of Google as a generally altruistic company (or perhaps more of a public utility) intent only on building neat and useful things (on open standards) with cash piled up from ads clicked on by Other People. Maybe it's better for everyone in the end if the death of reader is also the end of the image of Google's as that same innocent, neutral, university project.
posted by intendedeffect at 5:35 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


It just goes to show how often the general sentiment is COMPLETELY WRONG.
I think some people in the tech world only see things as "relevant" if Startups can make a shitload of money through exponential growth, which is obviously easier if you're working in a space that's undergoing exponential growth itself.

So everyone talks about mobile as if it's going to totally overtake the desktop, when in reality all that's happening is that mobile browsing was growing. Maybe in the future people will sit on their couches with a tablet rather then sitting at a table with a laptop.

No one was making any money off RSS, so it wasn't a "thing". And of course no one was making any money because Google completely owned the market. But obviously millions of people were using R. Maybe not hundreds of millions but it was definitely a thing.
posted by delmoi at 5:36 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I switched over to NewsBlur within a few days of the announcement about Reader and have been pretty happy with it. The Android client was pretty clunky but it's gotten much better and faster recently and the interface it close enough to reader's that it's been a pretty smooth transition for me.
posted by octothorpe at 5:36 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm digging NewsBlur as well.
posted by brundlefly at 5:40 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not completely understanding how one guy and his dog at NewsBlur can provide me with a perfectly usable news reader and Google can't seem to that but whatever. I'm happy to give that one guy and his dog $20 a year.
posted by octothorpe at 5:44 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't be a free user. (Newsblur comes closest to the Google Reader sharing I knew and loved).
posted by ecmendenhall at 5:44 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Grammar quibble: "enormity" doesn't mean "big" - it means "The great or extreme scale, seriousness, or extent of something perceived as bad or morally wrong."

Even though more and more people use it to a noun for "big", I try to preserve the original meaning because there simply isn't another word for the concept, and there are shit-tons of words meaning "big", even nouns (size, greatness, hugeness, vastness, enormousness, extent, quantity, etc)

Back on topic, I have to say that as an ex-Googler myself, I'm somewhat skeptical about how big the metadata for Reader could be compared to, say, YouTube, Picasa, or Google Maps. I haven't really conceptualized the data model but it's all text, isn't it? How many feeds do people really have? And how much information is stored per "node"?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:05 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger.

That's what she said.

It is known.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:13 PM on June 20, 2013


Why all the Firefox hate?

You can pry my Firefox from my cold dead hands. If only because Firebug in Firefox is the most awesome tool ever.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:14 PM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I feel like such a dinosaur, but I couldn't give a fuck about sharing, or archiving, or starring my feeds. I just want a neat way to check across sixty or so sites that doesn't include going to each and every one of them to see if they have updated. I don't want a magazine, I don't want a social network, I don't want suggested feeds. I want to be able to j/k up and down, and once it's read it's done and it will only update with a new entry.

If I wanted an algorithm to tell me what to read, I'd be using Zite.

If I wanted a social network I'd be using facebook/twitter/tumblr.

I don't want those things. I don't want to self-host either, I just would really like Google Reader in it's most basic format, sans this need to share and promote and analyse and 'assist'.

These are the websites I like. I would like to know when they update - it might be six times an hour, it might be once a year, but please put the entry in my feed where I can read it and then do what I like with it by going to the entry. That's all I want.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:28 PM on June 20, 2013 [29 favorites]


The guy who wrote that screed about 20% time being dead is the infamous Michael O. Church, an engineer who left the company under less than stellar circumstances and frequently grinds his anti-Google axe on Hackernews (and, interestingly, is a noted Wikipedia troll). I wouldn't really trust anything he has to say on the topic of Google.
posted by kdar at 6:37 PM on June 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


However, Mozilla is doing a perfectly good job of killing Firefox itself with it's crappy performance

Firefox performance has remarkably improved (both in terms of benchmarks and anecdotally, from my perspective, on every machine I use it on, which is ALL OF THEM) in the last year or two. Sorry to hear you're experiencing the opposite, but a fresh install might improve things, maybe.

I will admit that Firebug (which is so integral to my website dev hobby that I literally can't imagine not using it) is slower than hammered dogshit these days, for me at least.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:38 PM on June 20, 2013


Also, nice post, Rhaomi!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:38 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like such a dinosaur, but I couldn't give a fuck about sharing, or archiving, or starring my feeds. I just want a neat way to check across sixty or so sites that doesn't include going to each and every one of them to see if they have updated.

I seriously do not understand how people internet any other way. You...type each url? Like, individually? Or you just check your...tumbltwitter? Is that what the kids do now? But how do they know what tweets are which or from who, especially since only a couple clients allow column sorting?
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:39 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think some people in the tech world only see things as "relevant" if Startups can make a shitload of money through exponential growth, which is obviously easier if you're working in a space that's undergoing exponential growth itself.

I couldn't favourite this enough. Simple summaries might show that, I don't know, 95% of people are reading their content on Facebook or Twitter now instead of raw RSS. This ignores the that all the actual original content people are "liking" on Facebook or "retweeting" on Twitter is coming from the 5% of users savvy enough to use an RSS aggregator.
posted by Jimbob at 6:42 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think a lot of people who don't use RSS either follow blogs via Facebook or Tumblr, or they do, indeed, just visit a few every day to see if there's been any updates. Those are the same people who feel the need to mention on their personal Facebook every time they've updated their own blog- "Hey guys, come check it out! Another entry!" And there I am, the creepy friend, being all, yeah I know, I've read every entry you've ever written for the past 5 years, 15 minutes after you post it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:42 PM on June 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm glad that people are recognising this aspect of Reader's demise. I've a number of friends who've rashly decided to discontinue blogging, deleted years of work (without backing up) who've been surprised when I tell them that I've got every post (photos and all) back to 2008 still accessible with reader.
posted by Tasmanian_Kris at 6:49 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The time to answer the question of what will be in the intersection of the Venn diagram of supported in Reeder (iOS app) and supported in NetNewsWire (Mac app) is shrinking quickly.
posted by ridogi at 6:59 PM on June 20, 2013


Switching readers is a mild annoyance. Beyond that, I don't share the confidence that the doomsayers have when proclaiming the death of RSS. If anything, the technology stagnated because of Reader. This could allow it to explode or die, but only time will tell.

I do agree that there is no alternative to an RSS reader. But there are plenty of alternatives to Google Reader.
posted by yath at 7:37 PM on June 20, 2013


I'm probably going to spend an AskMe on this, but in the meantime Rhaomi's excellent post didn't tell me the one or two things I need to know before I switch: mainly, whether any other RSS reader has the ability to import my tagged items from Reader as well as my starred ones?

I had this terrible-in-retrospect habit of tagging and starring recipe posts and I'd prefer to have one unified archive with old stuff and new that can handle both tagging and RSS. In other words, I'd like something that emulates Reader as much as possible that ideally can also handle importing tags/starred items from them. I'm...not really over Reader yet so I'm thinking my expectations are too high here.
posted by librarylis at 7:39 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm probably going to spend an AskMe on this, but in the meantime Rhaomi's excellent post didn't tell me the one or two things I need to know before I switch: mainly, whether any other RSS reader has the ability to import my tagged items from Reader as well as my starred ones?

Feedbin and Newsblur import stars, and possibly others do as well. I don't know about tags.
posted by ridogi at 7:47 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The guy who wrote that screed about 20% time being dead is the infamous Michael O. Church

Here's something I found that he wrote on his Talk page on Wikipedia.
It really doesn't matter. Most of the sysops on this site are incorrigible idiots, and they will eventually lead to the demise of this fucking thing. The wiki concept has a lot of potential, but this so-called "democracy" often makes the most horrible selections possible regarding who is to be given power, and eventually it will melt down. User:Jerzy is just one example of administrative incompetence on this board; User:Kmccoy is another. This whole project is in decline, soon to devolve into endless bickering and a massive flamewar. Also, the vandals are getting more organized and better at what they do. Speaking personally, on every day that I'm blocked, I add college traditions that never existed, transpose digits of population figures or world records, and create articles on bullshit "folklore" that is often absurd; this is what Wikipedia will have to put up with if I am to be blocked from it. About 1 in 3 of my vandalisms survives for a year, and several have been reproduced on other articles.
Charming guy. I guess Wikipedia will never be completely reliable... because of people like him. Congratulations on making your point, I guess.
posted by zixyer at 7:47 PM on June 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


Don't be a free user.

How obnoxiously wealthist of you.
posted by JHarris at 7:59 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I switched from Reeder to Newsify on iOS a while back (seriously, it is way better for my needs) and I couldn't be happier that they support the new Feedly backend. I switched over yesterday and everything is smooth so far. I paid for Newsblur as well, but I really don't want to change my app consumption habits.
posted by stopgap at 7:59 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I see no reason why the newer, leaner, less sympathetic Google would feel the need to continue funding a direct practical (and arguably ideological) competitor.

Then you have no idea of how Google's money-making business actually works.
posted by GuyZero at 8:03 PM on June 20, 2013


Admittedly, all I ever really used Reader for was as a sync host for my desktop readers, as I hop between a Linux/Windows desktop and a Linux/Windows netbook.

Still haven't found a hope in that respect/
posted by Samizdata at 8:05 PM on June 20, 2013


j
posted by goHermGO at 8:30 PM on June 20, 2013


Confession that will prove me the most uncool person on MeFi, ever: I've been using My Yahoo as an RSS reader for at least a decade. Works well enough for me.
posted by mneekadon at 8:34 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


feedly blows. inoreader is the big winner so far, imo.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:21 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't be a free user.

Unbiased and selfless advice ... from a paid service.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:22 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Why all the Firefox hate?

Because something happened a few days ago and now I can't add favorites - which isn't the worst possible thing that could happen - and the Click To Show New Comments thing doesn't work - which is crappy. I assume it's some sort of JavaScript issue and I should shoot the Mod Squad an email asking if this has come up before, but until I do, you have made a dumb, rather impotent enemy, MozillaCorp!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:25 PM on June 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seconding Newsify, already my favorite iPhone RSS client and they made migrating to the Feedly backend almost totally transparent.
posted by nicwolff at 9:35 PM on June 20, 2013


I'm just exporting my starred items to the bookmark folders on my various machines. Also, Metafilter's front page.

The big loss is the cache. Deep search, long-term storage, all that accumulated knowledge. Gone.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:11 PM on June 20, 2013


I wish Takeout was better – JSON files aren't exactly friendly reading for most people.

As many have outlined, the undocumented API allows for retrieval of most of the streams in Reader. I've actively chatted with former Reader engineers about us creating a small service to export starred and shared items as HTML with a simple keyboard-driven browsing interface.

It'd be Google "Delivery" instead of Takeout – the only wrinkle has been timing. None of us have been able to dedicate more than a few minutes over the past month to making it real. Sigh.
posted by massless at 10:13 PM on June 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


20% time isn't dead. I just released a new build of iTerm2 like 20 minutes ago.
posted by jewzilla at 10:29 PM on June 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


No netvibes lovin? I used it for a while and got to like it ... until the day Feedly did a web client. Adios netvibes (and google reader too!)
posted by Admira at 2:08 AM on June 21, 2013


Tip of the cap jewzilla, long-time iterm2 user here. I just opened it up and...yep there's a new version.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:13 AM on June 21, 2013


Am I the only person who has moved to Feedbin? It seems to work reasonably well, both with a web UI and talking to Reeder.

Does Feedly do anything it doesn't do well?
posted by acb at 2:33 AM on June 21, 2013


The Feedly discussion confuses me a little bit. People keep talking about Feedly's backend. As far as I can tell it doesn't have one, nor do I have a Feedly account per se. Every time I log in to one of their reading platforms (be it the browser plugin or the iOS app) it just asks for my Google login information.

What am I missing here? How will Feedly continue to function in July?
posted by Gin and Comics at 6:26 AM on June 21, 2013


What am I missing here? How will Feedly continue to function in July?

IIRC, as of Monday, Feedly had activated their backend and everything is running off of their servers. It used to be when you starred and marked items as read in Reader, it would carry over to Feedly and vice versa. If you do so now, it only affects the platform you are currently in. Feedly still requires your Reader login for the initial sign-on, but it seems to be it's own beast now.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:50 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Feedly has it's own backend -- in fact, several of the alternatives mentioned here will be hooking into it.

They are using your google ID for login credentialing and to ease the transition for legacy Reader users.
posted by notyou at 6:51 AM on June 21, 2013


As well as OPML files and feed URLs, Archive Team needs lists of words and queries, which we use to (robotically) search for feeds using Reader's Feed Directory: https://www.google.com/reader/view/#directory-page/1

If you have lists of things/places/people/topics/words (in any language), or have particular interests, you can upload your query lists to the same http://allyourfeed.ludios.org:8080/ - it's your chance to preserve feeds related to whatever you're interested in.
posted by ivank at 6:58 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good riddance. My client's test posts on their blog were UNDELETABLE for any one using Google Reader. Anyone who subscribed to their feed were assaulted with 3-4 cutesy, inappropriate blog posts that were deleted by my client within 10 minutes of posting, yet Google Reader's cache kept them on view FOREVER. No matter what we tried, we could not have them deleted from Google's Reader feed.

A pox on their house. Feh.
posted by SPUTNIK at 6:59 AM on June 21, 2013


No matter what we tried, we could not have them deleted from Google's Reader feed.

It's been a while since I looked into it, but I think you have to release a new post with the same unique item ID or GUID (I think this is required in Atom feeds, but optional in RSS). So you can't simply delete a post; you have to release a new (potentially blank) item with the same ID so RSS readers know to drop the old version.
posted by stopgap at 7:07 AM on June 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm another happy Newsblur user. I look forward to seeing Digg's new effort too, but I'm not moving wholesale again until at least November when my $24 runs out.

I agree with massless regarding Takeout not providing much value to a lot of people. I wrote a crappy python script to render all those json's to flat HTML files so I could reminisce. I've run it for a few friends when they sent me their giant takeout files. Feel free to do it for your own selves if ya'd like.

PS: I'm digdoug on newsblur if ya'll want another blurblog to follow
posted by DigDoug at 7:14 AM on June 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel like Feedly has gotten a LOT better in the past two weeks. I've been taste-testing several of the frontrunners, but this week I finally stopped using Reader itself and started using Feedly full time. I haven't tried the app yet.

Firefox...damn it. Over the past 2 years but especially the past 2 months, it's become increasingly non-functional on my aged MacBook, even with all manner of fiddling and reinstalling. At this point, I get maybe 15-20 minutes before I have to force-quit it because of the cascading "unresponsive script" errors. So now I've had to switch RSS readers and browsers all at one time and it's too much change. In fact, I'm in it right now because I forgot to start Chrome instead.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:25 AM on June 21, 2013


No matter what we tried, we could not have them deleted from Google's Reader feed.

It's been a while since I looked into it, but I think you have to release a new post with the same unique item ID or GUID (I think this is required in Atom feeds, but optional in RSS). So you can't simply delete a post; you have to release a new (potentially blank) item with the same ID so RSS readers know to drop the old version.
posted by stopgap at 10:07 AM on June 21


Tried that, wasn't able to get that to work either.
Which isn't actually the point. Google Reader was the ONLY RSS reader that presented us with this problem. Why should anyone be forced to do 10 more steps to erase a bug (certainly not a feature, right?) that nobody else seems to have hard coded in?
posted by SPUTNIK at 7:29 AM on June 21, 2013


Samizdata: "Admittedly, all I ever really used Reader for was as a sync host for my desktop readers, as I hop between a Linux/Windows desktop and a Linux/Windows netbook.

Still haven't found a hope in that respect/
"

I was wondering why this isn't possible? Why do you have to have a full fledged reader in a browser? Why couldn't you have whatever client you want, and it would be separate from your OPML? Why do you have to import an OPML each and every time, instead of having you OPML on a central server/file of your choosing and then just point to it, and whatever you're reading at the time, would know what to fetch? I imagine something to do with whether something is read or not?
posted by symbioid at 7:45 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because something happened a few days ago and now I can't add favorites - which isn't the worst possible thing that could happen - and the Click To Show New Comments thing doesn't work - which is crappy. I assume it's some sort of JavaScript issue and I should shoot the Mod Squad an email asking if this has come up before, but until I do, you have made a dumb, rather impotent enemy, MozillaCorp!

Until you find what's wrong, try CTRL+D to add favourites.
posted by ersatz at 7:53 AM on June 21, 2013


The speculation is that it used some kind of internal google technology that was getting phased out.

They didn't invent RSS, own RSS, or control RSS. About half of what goes to RSS is too heavy to push to Plus unfiltered. So in my opinion, it's all about pushing stuff to Plus, which is the format they did invent, do own, and can control.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:38 AM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was wondering why this isn't possible? Why do you have to have a full fledged reader in a browser? Why couldn't you have whatever client you want, and it would be separate from your OPML? Why do you have to import an OPML each and every time, instead of having you OPML on a central server/file of your choosing and then just point to it, and whatever you're reading at the time, would know what to fetch? I imagine something to do with whether something is read or not?

As far as I'm aware, OPML doesn't keep track of read counts or user-supplied metadata attached to individual posts. For a while, I was using RSSOwl set up to synchronize via dropbox, but the system broke ungracefully when I accidentally had it running on two different machines. There's other problems like the fact that I'm switching applications to read the webpages, and my bookmarking and sharing stuff also happens using webpages or dynamic bookmarks.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:50 AM on June 21, 2013


I was wondering why this isn't possible? Why do you have to have a full fledged reader in a browser? Why couldn't you have whatever client you want, and it would be separate from your OPML? Why do you have to import an OPML each and every time, instead of having you OPML on a central server/file of your choosing and then just point to it, and whatever you're reading at the time, would know what to fetch? I imagine something to do with whether something is read or not?

This is what the Reader unofficial API and now the Feedly official API offers, with the usual note of caution about one-company solutions attached.
posted by jaduncan at 9:00 AM on June 21, 2013


What are people with iPads using?
posted by Legomancer at 9:52 AM on June 21, 2013


What are people with iPads using?

I use an ipad with Newsblur every night. The iOS app is pretty great. Every now and then I run into things that are easier with the web app. But just browsing my stuff to read, Newsblur's iOS app just works.
posted by DigDoug at 9:57 AM on June 21, 2013


But if I recall the answer is "don't swipe as far." Yeah.

This is the kind of thing Steve Jobs was talking about when he said design is how something works, not how it looks. Ugh. Thanks for the tip, I'll have to muddle through until Reeder updates.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:07 AM on June 21, 2013


What are people with iPads using?

Newsify, with Feedly on the back end. The Feedly app has improved quite a bit, but I don't like switching apps for no reason. Mr. Reader's new update should also support the Feedly backend and several others. I stopped using Reeder a while back once I found other apps that weren't so frustrating about refreshing my feeds, switching between articles, and clearing out old items.
posted by stopgap at 10:41 AM on June 21, 2013


I'm so glad Mr. Reader will be working with Feedly. Felix is a tireless developer, and he's made bar none the very best feed reader for iPad. Give it a buy if you can -- he deserves some extra bucks after the hassle Google has put him through.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:48 AM on June 21, 2013


Argh, none of the solutions really come close. To be clear, the anger goes to Google, because a lot of people have been doing a lot of really hard work since Google announced this, and they've come amazingly far, but really, what I valued in Reader was: and so far nothing replaces all four.

The closest two have been Feedbin+Reeder and Feedly+Newsify, but neither has search.

Worse, with Reeder I hit a horrible bug where items showing in the feeds and on the Feedbin site wouldn't appear in the app at all, and it was bad at marking items read that I'd viewed while offline.

Newsify/Feedly has similar issues: unread counts are continually resetting, and feeds I have subscribed to are unsubscribing themselves.

Not long now till July 1. Gragh.
posted by bonaldi at 11:08 AM on June 21, 2013


My approach with the starred items will be to individually right click each and send them to Pocket (which I've only just found and quickly fell in love with it). I've got maybe a couple of hundred, if that. Not much use for those with huge numbers of starred items I guess. gOd knows where I'll settle on the feedreader front though. I've joined a bunch but haven't devoted much time; I want theoldreader on 'feel', but its possible rocky future and its lack of mobile apps worries me. It's got to be cross device choice these days. I can't be bothered having to catch up the phone or the tablet or the pc with the true 'current' state.
Fuck you Google. I'll never use G+.
posted by peacay at 11:27 AM on June 21, 2013


Here's what I care about:And here are some things that a lot of people seem to care about but that I don't care about at all:All of those things that I don't care about would be fine if they existed; I don't mean to say I actively want something that lacks them. I just mean I don't care whether it has them or lacks them.

What feed readers might be for me?
posted by Flunkie at 12:00 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Newsblur question: do they add feeds to your profile? I keep getting this "Freshly Picked: Editor's" thing in my Newsblur, and I do not want. I read enough stuff, I do not need them adding additional things to my list.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:14 PM on June 21, 2013


Feedly, Flunkie.

(And to all of you, I apologize for being such a flunky for Feedly.)
posted by notyou at 1:07 PM on June 21, 2013


Thanks. I thought Feedly required you to log in with Google credentials, though? I understand that doesn't mean it will use Reader as a backend and thus explode come July, but I don't want to log in with a third party ID.
posted by Flunkie at 1:13 PM on June 21, 2013


Flunkie, as I understand it, Feedly is just using [or going to use] Google for OAuth services, i.e., you log in with your Google username, Feedly asks Google, "Is this person who they say they are?", Google responds yes, and Feedly shows you your stuff. The way this service works should not expose your Google account password to Feedly, in case that's what you were worried about.

(Initially, they do need to read all your Google Reader subscriptions from Google, obviously, but still, they don't get your password or access to your mail for example.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:20 PM on June 21, 2013


You should only have to do it once, so that it ports your feeds and starred (Feedly calls them "saved") items over.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:21 PM on June 21, 2013


Thanks, but I don't really care about automatic import, and while I understand that I'm not giving my Google password to Feedly, I nonetheless do not want to use a third party login.
posted by Flunkie at 1:22 PM on June 21, 2013


I've tried many different readers since the announcement, and have settled on Feedly. It is different and took getting used to, but I feel like they are really listening to their newfound userbase and getting most things right.

The one thing that really worries me about Feedly, however, is the current lack of an export option. Everyone seems to really want OPML export, and that is important, sure, but I am more worried about the rest of the data - my starred/save-for-later items, for example. I haven't went to get my most recent Google Takeout yet (though I suppose I should now, since Feedly has fully switched over), but last time I did, I know it had a lot of that kind of personalized data in it. Considering I currently only have 103 RSS feeds, reproducing the OPML is the easy part.

Also, everyone seems to hate on the JSON format of Takeout, but I really don't understand why. Any language I would personally think about using to process my Reader data has a capable JSON library in addition to XML, so I don't see that as a problem at all. When the number of data items are in the range of hundreds-of-thousands, you might even have significant space savings by using a more compact format such as JSON compared to XML, and it is generally just as human-readable to begin with. Though I do admit you lose out on the ability to apply a fancy XSL to the data. Also, most browsers have builtin capability to "pretty-print" raw XML, whereas you generally need a plugin to "pretty-print" JSON. Do non-programmers generally go around reading unstyled XML data, though?
posted by mysterpigg at 1:26 PM on June 21, 2013


Yeah, I really don't understand these complaints about JSON. It's a data format. It's designed for transferring data between programs, not for reading by a human.
posted by kmz at 1:41 PM on June 21, 2013


Newsblur folks, be aware of a serious issue with his service he has no immediate plans to fix: any feed left marked unread after 14 days loses its unread status.

That right there kills it for me. I'm assuming that I'll be back to a single, local list of feeds before this is over -- I want to keep using Reeder (the app, not the Google service), and that author swears he's getting his apps to work with another back end, but there's no evidence he'll be done in time. I guess I'll just set up NNW locally again and rock it like it's 2004.

I hate moving backwards.

ps: I wrote a bunch more about what I want in a reader service here.
posted by uberchet at 2:46 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a Reeder user on OS X and iOS, and am wading into the Feedbin waters as my back end. So far, only the iOS version of Reeder supports it, so I'm going to make due with the browser version of Feedbin for now, and hope that Silvio gets the desktop version updated soon. The browser client produces some weirdness sometimes, mainly in how post titles are formatted, but I can live with that short-term.

The closing of Google Reader was the catalyst for my decision to move away from Google for everything important: email, contacts, calendar, RSS, documents. I no longer feel like they're a company with my interests in mind (he said naively), and I'd rather pay money to a company that wants my business and may actually listen to its users.
posted by good in a vacuum at 3:52 PM on June 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Until you find what's wrong, try CTRL+D to add favourites.

The situation seems to have rectified itself. Which is weird, as I haven't touched any settings since I wrote my previous comment. Click To Show New Comments is working now, too.

WHY DO YOU MOCK ME MOZILLACORP?!?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:08 AM on June 22, 2013


Newsblur folks, be aware of a serious issue with his service he has no immediate plans to fix: any feed left marked unread after 14 days loses its unread status.

I guess that might bother people but if I haven't read something in my feed in two weeks, I'm probably never going to.
posted by octothorpe at 8:32 AM on June 22, 2013


So, 20% time isn't actually dead.

The article you linked to quotes a guy who is considered a bit of an outlier in, ah, many ways. It's safe to ignore that particular ex-Googler, I think.
posted by talldean at 8:11 PM on June 22, 2013


IIRC, as of Monday, Feedly had activated their backend and everything is running off of their servers.

Feedly is a bit confused on this issue, and I'm trying to figure out what best to do.

1. I had a Google Reader Account.
2. Some time in the past, I also joined Feedly, in order to provide their kinda cute, magazine-like interface to my feeds. And because I liked their iPhone app.
3. This whole Google Reader Closing Down shit happened - I made the switch to The Old Reader as my main online reader.
4. On The Old Reader, I took the opportunity to reorganize my feeds, clean out some old dead ones, add a whole pile of new ones.
5. People (as in this thread) keep telling me how great Feedly is, how they've improved it a lot, and sure enough, it does look decent. But despite claims that Feedly is now independent of Google Reader, it still relies on it. It only gives an option to import my feeds from Google Reader, not from an OPML file, like every other RSS reader on the planet. When I unsubscribe from a feed from within Feedly, it pops up an alert telling me I will also be unsubscribed from the feed in Google Reader. What?

Feedly really need to cut the ties and provide some OPML import, because at the moment they still just feel like a fancy interface to Google.
posted by Jimbob at 1:27 AM on June 23, 2013


I think you need to transition over to their 'cloud' (to butt) thing, Jimbob. See more here. I found the instructions somewhat confusing, but I farted around for a while, and now cloud.feedly.com works for me in-browser.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:36 PM on June 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, everyone seems to hate on the JSON format of Takeout, but I really don't understand why. Any language I would personally think about using to process my Reader data has a capable JSON library in addition to XML, so I don't see that as a problem at all.

Yes, Takeout is fine. And being able to import Google's XML file of your feeds should be a baseline requirement for any new service, imo. (I admit I have less need for the starred/liked/shared json files.)
posted by mrgrimm at 8:24 AM on June 24, 2013


AOL has a reader replacement in beta.
posted by empath at 9:36 PM on June 26, 2013


WHAT. This is surreal. Next thing you know YouTube will shut down in favor of RealPlayer, and Clippy v2.0 will blow Siri out of the water.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:16 PM on June 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ars Technica:
How Digg plans to conquer the mobile sphere with its RSS Reader
posted by XMLicious at 1:51 PM on June 27, 2013


Google Reader just disappeared from my iGoogle page with the message:

reader.xml
This gadget is no longer available.
Delete this gadget
posted by unliteral at 10:40 PM on June 27, 2013


Has anyone created a tool to download all starred items into flat HTML or PDF, saving the content and images from the Google Cache?

I have my Google Takeout data, but it's nearly useless. What I want is a copy of the content. If the Archive Team tool would do that for me, I would give it my feeds.

Would someone ask this question for me on Ask? I don't have a question available for another two days and that's too late.

I see digdoug's script above - but can't seem to get it to work.
posted by fake at 10:54 AM on June 28, 2013


Answering my own question, persistent.info has a "gather all data tool"
posted by fake at 1:57 PM on June 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's also this post stasher.
posted by fake at 2:22 PM on June 28, 2013


Thanks, fake. I was experimenting with simply saving the complete HTML web page of a Google Reader feed page scrolled all the way down, to have that data displayed in the same format. It seems to save okay -- looking at the source for a saved page shows all the feed items intact -- but the dynamic AJAX-y elements interfere with the rendering when the saved page is opened up, leaving nothing but a cryptic error message. You can halt the loading partway through to see a list of items, but you can't expand them or browse through them.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:00 PM on June 28, 2013


Anybody using Smashing Reader?
posted by cashman at 5:02 PM on June 30, 2013


Well, I haven't switched yet, although I have downloaded my feeds list so that I can easily start up again in some other reader. So, this morning, when I went to look at my feeds, I did so through Reader. And I kid you not: Unless there's still some time left and more are coming before the end, the very last entry in my Reader was coincidentally entitled "Full Stop".
posted by Flunkie at 8:21 AM on July 1, 2013


It's over:
Thank you for stopping by.

Google Reader has been discontinued. We want to thank all our loyal fans. We understand you may not agree with this decision, but we hope you'll come to love these alternatives as much as you loved Reader.

Sincerely,
The Google Reader team

Frequently-asked questions

What will happen to my Google Reader data?

All Google Reader subscription data (eg. lists of people that you follow, items you
have starred, notes you have created, etc.) will be systematically deleted from
Google servers. You can download a copy of your Google Reader data via Google Takeout until 12PM PST July 15, 2013.

Will there be any way to retrieve my subscription data from Google in the future?

No -- all subscription data will be permanently, and irrevocably deleted. Google will
not be able to recover any Google Reader subscription data for any user after July
15, 2013.

Why was Google Reader discontinued?

Please refer to our blog post for more information.


The timing, at least for me, is piss-poor. After trying to run it overnight and several times throughout the day, I finally got this awesome Python script working and was downloading my complete archives at a steady clip. The preliminary stage found 1,549,057 read items* in 113 content streams (many of which I'd unsubscribed from years ago) out of 3,319,757 total. There were occasional errors, but less than 0.1% -- at one point, I had 600,000 items saved with only 600 or so errors.

But when midnight (California time) arrived, it was only ~80% done. Now the errors are coming fast and thick -- 1.3 million downloaded, 60,000 failed, or almost 5%, a failure rate that will surely climb. I'm literally watching Reader's data disintegrate before my very eyes, just as I was on the cusp of saving it all. A final "fuck you" from Mountain View.

*(turns out my estimate lowballed. By half a million. Jesus fuck, Google is massacring a lot of data. "Making the world's information universally accessible and useful," my ass.)
posted by Rhaomi at 12:33 AM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


...aaand the script just froze. 1,342,885 items (7.37GB) saved out of 1,549,095 -- or, 13.4% of years and years of data lost forever. And I'm not even sure what *was* saved will be usable in the associated file browser in this incomplete state. Fuck a duck, I'm going to bed.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:50 AM on July 2, 2013


Jesus fuck, Google is massacring a lot of data. "Making the world's information universally accessible and useful," my ass.

So, it turns out that non-profit archivists are a good idea. I guess Google is losing the for-profit but promoters of public good sheen.
posted by jaduncan at 1:13 AM on July 2, 2013


A final "fuck you" from Mountain View.

Google didn't actually create that content, nor do they own it, nor did they ever agree to archive it indefinitely. Reader was an RSS reader, not an archiving service -- the archiving was really a side effect. If you want to be mad at people removing content from the web, be mad at the blogging services and/or bloggers that deleted their old posts.
posted by empath at 1:17 AM on July 2, 2013


the archiving was really a side effect.

Which I really, really liked and used to great advantage. Reader's final message was just rude.
posted by cashman at 7:39 AM on July 2, 2013


Google didn't actually create that content, nor do they own it, nor did they ever agree to archive it indefinitely. Reader was an RSS reader, not an archiving service -- the archiving was really a side effect. If you want to be mad at people removing content from the web, be mad at the blogging services and/or bloggers that deleted their old posts.

Even so, the classy thing to do would have been to offer the DB dump to Internet Archive. If I were dictator of the internet, etc etc.
posted by jaduncan at 8:19 AM on July 2, 2013


The insulting part of that goodbye is the last question. It links to the blog post as if that will explain everything. There are only a few sentences about Reader in that post, and only one sentence about why it's shutting down: While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined.

They could have posted that right there on the page. No need to link away as if they're providing a longer explanation that wouldn't fit there. This is poor behavior.
posted by pb at 9:08 AM on July 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is Feedly going weird on anyone else? It redirected me to its new cloud page, and then seems to have lost my feeds (I guess it was accessing them through the Google login the whole time? Ugh.) I can't find an import button for xml, they changed their layout to something even shittier and goddamn it I fucking hate Feedly goddamn them and goddamn Google for doing this.

(Digg reader can't even fucking get shit like "have a mark as unread" button right, Hive has real potential but is still early-beta-grade, The Old Reader still has too many issues with speed, I don't really like Newsblur's interface but it may be the only option left.)
posted by kagredon at 9:35 AM on July 2, 2013


I went with AOL and so far it's holding up and doing what I want.

I find it super weird that people are legitimately complaining that the archival data of GReader that is comprised entirely of other people's content and creations, should be yours and freely available. It's almost the exact opposite to how I used Reader for starters but also it seems at odds with privacy and control of one's content and so on. And that has to be an enormous part of the drag on Google for Reader - archiving all of that, not indexing, but archiving copies? Am I just missing something entirely here?
posted by geek anachronism at 5:37 PM on July 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I meant to say thank you (to Rhaomi and to anyone who answered my question up-thread a bit) so I'm thrilled this thread is still open.

I switched over to NewsBlur (and paid, since I've *no* interest in doing this again any time soon) which frustratingly imports starred items but not tags, can't itself tag, and doesn't have a search function. It's still the best of the lot for what I need, but I'm definitely holding a large grudge against Google (I would have paid you, Google. More than my Pandora account, even).
posted by librarylis at 6:56 PM on July 2, 2013


i can't get feedly to load on my ipad :(
posted by empath at 7:13 PM on July 2, 2013


Google Reader Founder: I Never Would Have Founded Reader Inside Today's Google

I wonder how much damage Google has done to itself with this and other moves, not only in the public eye, but to its reputation as a refreshingly open and innovative place to work.
I find it super weird that people are legitimately complaining that the archival data of GReader that is comprised entirely of other people's content and creations, should be yours and freely available. It's almost the exact opposite to how I used Reader for starters but also it seems at odds with privacy and control of one's content and so on.
RSS is supposed to be a public data stream. Anybody can subscribe to any RSS feed using any client, and potentially keep that data forever. The fact that Google amassed such a huge archive, made it easily searchable and widely accessible, and then destroyed it all without even offering a way to save that data is unconscionable for a company that claims to value the useful organization of information as their primary mission statement.

As for why? Reader's archives were very useful for tracking down specific things you remember reading, or for general interest searches relevant to you. It's a collection of information that is by definition stuff you're interested and likely to have read. Very useful as a research and answer tool. Not to mention all the data from dead websites that existed only in Reader's cache.
And that has to be an enormous part of the drag on Google for Reader - archiving all of that, not indexing, but archiving copies? Am I just missing something entirely here?
I don't get this argument. Reader's archives were plaintext only, and they only had to store one copy of any one feed. YouTube hosts orders of magnitude more content (and invites more difficult copyright headaches). Why would a company the Google's size be unable to host a comparatively small RSS database? They already store caches of a large chunk of websites in their search.
i can't get feedly to load on my ipad :(
They have an app, but do yourself a favor and buy Mr. Reader instead. The developer is responsive and industrious, and the features are perfectly suited for tablet reading, with gestures, an assortment of view types (remembered per-feed), and full sync with Feedly and other replacements. Worth every penny.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:24 PM on July 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I got Mr. Reader a couple of days ago, it's pretty good! Am trying out AOL Reader now, it's pretty good too. Weird that I just signed up for a new AOL service in 2013. Maybe the company is ready for a comeback?
posted by JHarris at 8:36 PM on July 2, 2013


I wonder how much damage Google has done to itself with this and other moves, not only in the public eye, but to its reputation as a refreshingly open and innovative place to work.
Google's magic has been fading for me very slowly as of late, but killing Google Reader has pretty much entirely killed the magic for me. I look back at the last decade, and am supremely impressed with Google's marketing. It's not marketing geared towards the masses, it's marketing geared towards geeks like me. They did a good job. We're not used to being marketed to successfully, but Google knew exactly the right buttons to press on me. But now it's done, Google has moved on from me and my geeky ways and is chasing after all the cool kids. And they're more blatant about Google caring about Google rather than Google caring about the Web, or caring about organizing the world's information, or caring about not doing evil. This is, perhaps not coincidentally, happening at the same time that I'm getting bitten by a severe Google bug, with no one to complain to or have a fix. GMail is taking messages that it thinks are important and keeping them out of the Inbox. And in the cases when GMail is right about the message being important, it's causing me to miss the emails for days. Many complaints of this sort show up on all sorts of message boards, but no fixes. And no one to talk to. And no one from Google helping on all of the Google Groups threads discussing it.

This move is likely going to kill RSS for me as well. I've tried a few other services, but really, the only thing that I really liked or cared about anymore was the Reeder app. It's a hard enough slog to get through news these days, so unless I really really want to procrastinate, I just don't go through it anymore. Really, I should probably just prune down to the really high quality feeds, but how do I even do that if I can't find a service that I like. In the end, I probably didn't need all that extra information, there were just a few really insightful people that had blogs that would update maybe four times a year, and whenever those people would come up for air from their research there'd always be something mind blowing, like a stats professor drastically improving the speed of a tool I use or a bioinformatician doing an exhaustive hash table library comparison because he needed the last bit of speed. I'll miss that, but won't miss all the noise.
posted by Llama-Lime at 8:41 PM on July 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I haven't gotten feedly to work on my iPad or iPhone in several days. I am so disappointed.
posted by bq at 10:18 AM on July 4, 2013


I got Mr. Reader a couple of days ago, it's pretty good! Am trying out AOL Reader now, it's pretty good too. Weird that I just signed up for a new AOL service in 2013. Maybe the company is ready for a comeback?

If you like their reader, try Alto Mail. It's also surprisingly good.
posted by empath at 2:21 PM on July 4, 2013


For bq and others encountering "Feedly is over capacity" errors on their iOS app:
Sorry. This is not a capacity issue but a bug! During the login, it tries to connect to Google Reader to help you migrate your feeds. Unfortunately, Google changed last night and is returning HTML instead of JSON and the feedly mobile client 16.0.522/530 has trouble digesting that, showing a error card instead[1] (note: if you are already logged in, you are safe as long as you are not logging out).

We fixed the problem in version 16.1. This new version has been already published to the Google Play store and the Amazon App Store - so please upgrade and you will be fine. This new version has also been submitted to Apple for review. It will take a few days for Apple to review it. We are very sorry for the inconvenience.

Work around? The third party apps are not suffering from this bug so If you are an iOS user, now might be the perfect time to try some of the new apps which integrate with feedly: Reeder, Newsify, Mr Reader and Byline
posted by Rhaomi at 12:42 PM on July 5, 2013


I've yet to find an ideal replacement...

AOL Reader: Have to sign in every time I visit, requiring three of four extra clicks or taps.

Feedly: Don't like the Android app and can't sign it to the web version from my tablet.

Digg Reader: Can't sign in to the web version from my tablet.

The Old Reader: Interface is slow.
posted by aerotive at 1:35 PM on July 6, 2013


Lots of insightful analysis out recently:

From Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper: Lockdown
Google Reader is just the latest casualty of the war that Facebook started, seemingly accidentally: the battle to own everything. While Google did technically “own” Reader and could make some use of the huge amount of news and attention data flowing through it, it conflicted with their far more important Google+ strategy: they need everyone reading and sharing everything through Google+ so they can compete with Facebook for ad-targeting data, ad dollars, growth, and relevance.

RSS represents the antithesis of this new world: it’s completely open, decentralized, and owned by nobody, just like the web itself. It allows anyone, large or small, to build something new and disrupt anyone else they’d like because nobody has to fly six salespeople out first to work out a partnership with anyone else’s salespeople.

That world formed the web’s foundations — without that world to build on, Google, Facebook, and Twitter couldn’t exist. But they’ve now grown so large that everything from that web-native world is now a threat to them, and they want to shut it down. “Sunset” it. “Clean it up.” “Retire” it. Get it out of the way so they can get even bigger and build even bigger proprietary barriers to anyone trying to claim their territory.

Well, fuck them, and fuck that.
Adactio: Battle for the planet of the APIs
In the web’s early days, AOL offered an alternative. “You don’t need that wild, chaotic lawless web”, it proclaimed. “We’ve got everything you need right here within our walled garden.”

Of course it didn’t work out for AOL. That proposition just didn’t scale, just like Yahoo’s initial model of maintaining a directory of websites just didn’t scale. The web grew so fast (and was so damn interesting) that no single company could possibly hope to compete with it. So companies stopped trying to compete with it. Instead they, quite rightly, saw themselves as being part of the web. That meant that they didn’t try to do everything. Instead, you built a service that did one thing really well—sharing photos, managing links, blogging—and if you needed to provide your users with some extra functionality, you used the best service available for that, usually through someone else’s API …just as you provided your API to them.

Then Facebook began to grow and grow. [...] And grow. And grow. And suddenly the AOL business model didn’t seem so crazy anymore. It seemed ahead of its time.

Once Facebook had proven that it was possible to be the one-stop-shop for your user’s every need, that became the model to emulate. Startups stopped seeing themselves as just one part of a bigger web. Now they wanted to be the only service that their users would ever need …just like Facebook.

Seen from that perspective, the open flow of information via APIs—allowing data to flow porously between services—no longer seemed like such a good idea.

Not only have APIs been shut down—see, for example, Google’s shutdown of their Social Graph API—but even the simplest forms of representing structured data have been slashed and burned.
GigaOm: Google Reader’s shutdown, the rise of walled gardens and the future of the open web
One of the depressing things about Google’s move away from RSS and from other open standards is that the search giant used to be one of the few large players on the web that seemed to be strongly in the open and interoperable camp — to the point where it fought a very public war with Facebook over the issue of giving users the ability to export their data. Now it seems there is more interest in duplicating a Facebook-style walled garden than in fighting for the open web.
And a bit of humor: The 7 Worst Google Reader Alternatives
posted by Rhaomi at 12:30 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


And now it looks like Google is not implementing Latitude in its new Maps.
"Location Sharing" (which was really only a tiny reason I use latitude so much) is now being moved into Google+.

I do not yet know what will happen to my obsessively collected archive of everywhere I have been, everyday, for the last several years.

It has got to the point where Google is too big and too all encompassing and not willing enough to support cool things for nerds anymore.
Also, I really hate walled gardens.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 3:22 AM on July 10, 2013


Of all the things I would miss if Google up and disappeared, I would probably miss Latitude the most. It was their most overtly Big Brother-esque piece of software, IMO, and for places I thought were truly memorable I just took a picture with a EXIF-capable device.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:55 AM on July 10, 2013


Whoops: I would probably miss Latitude the least.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:10 AM on July 10, 2013


I think the problem I have is the disrespect to users. The amount of resources freed up for Google is disproportionately small compared to the amount of disruption they are causing for people who choose to use their services.
posted by jaduncan at 5:22 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


But if Latitude dies, how will I ever know if I got to the moon? :(
posted by capricorn at 7:41 AM on July 10, 2013


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