It's time for an RSS revival
April 5, 2018 8:04 AM   Subscribe

It's time for an RSS revival. Long before Facebook, Twitter and Instagram weaponized the newsfeed, we had a technology that let us aggregate the news without annoying, creepy algorithms.

For more of a throwback feel, you might try The Old Reader, which strips down the RSS reader experience while still emphasizing a social component.

Disclaimer: I have not connection to The Old Reader other than being a user. I noticed it now has a Premium plan, but the first 100 feeds are free.
posted by mecran01 (106 comments total) 71 users marked this as a favorite
Really, if I only had access to two websites, I'd want them to be Metafilter and The Old Reader. Everything else is superfluous.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:10 AM on April 5, 2018 [11 favorites]

Irony: Dave Winer defends the Facebook feed.
posted by mecran01 at 8:11 AM on April 5, 2018

One of my links on The Old Reader is to The Best of Metafilter!
posted by mecran01 at 8:12 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I used AOL Reader pretty happily until they shuttered it recently and then lept to the pretty good Digg Reader and then IT got shuttered. Now established with Feedly, in the free plan. Far less of the content I consume comes to me that way any more, but it's still essential. MeFi RSS FTW!
posted by stevil at 8:14 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Irony: Dave Winer defends the Facebook feed.

That's ... he's ... but ... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 🌵🌵🌵
posted by feckless at 8:16 AM on April 5, 2018 [7 favorites]

I moved from Reader->Feedly after quitting Facebook after only 2 months. RSS still works great.

Dear Facebook, If I wanted to hear my idiot cousins' political rants I'd still live in Illinois.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 8:20 AM on April 5, 2018 [33 favorites]

I may have possibly eponysterical'ed myself there.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 8:21 AM on April 5, 2018 [10 favorites]

@feckless when did we get emoticons? [mind blown]
posted by mecran01 at 8:23 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I use thunderbird both for emails and RSS. The way I interact with the internet has been pretty stable for more than 10 years. Recent events have tended to validate my approach (at least in my eyes).
posted by Alex404 at 8:24 AM on April 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

I've been running a Tiny Tiny RSS server on an ancient Acer nettop (remember those?) ever since Google Reader died. I can't imagine life without RSS.
posted by jessssse at 8:25 AM on April 5, 2018 [7 favorites]

Went to Feedly when Reader died. While I still miss Reader, Feedly is pretty good. I've curated my feeds into a pretty good daily newspaper replacement. And if you're a company that pushes out relatively rare updates you want me to see, you've GOT to have an RSS feed. Facebook NEVER surfaces those to the top of my feed and I never see them; but if you post a blurb to your RSS feed about new updates to your game or a new product release or whatever, I will never miss it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:29 AM on April 5, 2018 [8 favorites]

I never stopped using RSS. I read a lot of webcomics and the easiest way to keep up with them is a folder of feeds in my RSS reader.

After Google Reader was killed, I ended up switching to FeedBin. It’s $30/year, but it’s independent, actively developed, and isn’t likely to go away or use my reading info for nefarious purposes. If I needed a free option, though, I’d go and try The Old Reader again.
posted by SansPoint at 8:29 AM on April 5, 2018 [4 favorites]


Feedly really does work great. Unfortunately a lot of modern sites don't publish Atom/RSS feeds any more, or never did. I'm still mad that Twitter no longer publishes my tweets as an RSS feed.
posted by Nelson at 8:33 AM on April 5, 2018 [7 favorites]

I hopped to NewsBlur from Google Reader when that died for a manageable donation. So far it hasn't died out from under me, so there's that.
posted by Karmakaze at 8:34 AM on April 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

Last a week I was talking with a nerdier friend about how they manage to stay on top of automated alerts from computer jobs, without drowning in email. I proposed having servers write out an RSS feed fo reach job and then letting sysadmins & developers subscribe to whichever feeds they like.

He replied that his shop set up a Net News (nntp) server internally and sends all their job output there for everyone to read as if it was a 1990s-er USENET 'froup.

Reader, I swooned.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:34 AM on April 5, 2018 [23 favorites]

I use palabre but the issue I face is frequency of content. Some blogs push out multiple pieces a day, and some push out one piece every few weeks, or months.

That's why a "Best of" round up would be so great. I donno, it's complicated.
posted by rebent at 8:38 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I still use RSS (feedly) on a daily basis. It still works great for a lot of stuff, particularly for sites that are built on blogger or wordpress.

For other stuff - like local stores, tvshows and sports news, there's still no alternative. I've tried adding a site with sports news, but fuck me, around half the content that appeared were fluff pieces... created to drive traffic from their social media presences. For a lot of stuff, it's a game you can't win. At best you settle for a tie or a narrow loss.
It's not like I can't live with the fluff, but I'm ok scrolling past a photo of Terry Crews on B99, some kid DESTROYING the opposition in sportsball, some mildly amusing anecdote, etc. Having that as an item on feedly, not so much.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:44 AM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

If I could get feeds for events from local music and arts venues, I'd likely abandon having a personal FB account altogether.

I've been using Newsblur for about 5 years now, and love it. It's much more calming and pleasurable interface, but there's just a lot of important stuff for me that I can't shoehorn into it due to the lack of a feed (or the inability to kludge one together).

RSS! Really a cornerstone of the Web being usable at all for me - I'd love to see a broader renaissance.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:45 AM on April 5, 2018 [8 favorites]

Oh this is a good time to plug that we had a who are the bloggers of Metafilter discussion awhile back. User COD made an OPML file of all their feeds (you can import it into most readers). If that doesn't import, try my slightly edited version.
posted by Nelson at 8:47 AM on April 5, 2018 [8 favorites]

It's time for an RSS revival.

I'll get to the RSS revival when I choose to which will be neither when it is a top story nor when it is most recent.
posted by srboisvert at 8:48 AM on April 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

I've been using RSS for the last few years, mainly as a form of self-defense against the trend where everybody and their dog was going to that godawful flat-school design aesthetic that meant you needed a compass, satnav system, directions from a grizzled local, and a goddamned dowsing stick to find the most recent articles on any given site. Now I get everything in chronological order from the sites I care to keep up with, and it's great.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 8:48 AM on April 5, 2018 [8 favorites]

I'm interested only in RSS/Atom so I decided on The Old Reader after the demise of Google Reader. In that same vein, now that the url shortener is being shuttered, I decided to jump into the wayback machine and return to TinyURL...
posted by jim in austin at 8:51 AM on April 5, 2018

I've been using NewBlur since the demise of Reader and love it. RSS has been at the center of my web reading since before Reader and I'm not about to stop now.
posted by octothorpe at 8:58 AM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I stopped reading so many different things that I used to follow for years when Google Reader died. I kept meaning to move to The Old Reader or Feedly, but I never got around to it and everything just fell off my radar. This is a great reminder to get something set up.
posted by Arbac at 8:59 AM on April 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

@feckless when did we get emoticons? [mind blown]

When the Unicode Consortium standardised emojis, basically.
posted by Merus at 9:08 AM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I never used Google Reader (or any web-based RSS reader), so I never paid much mind to its demise. I've always used a desktop RSS app—I started using NetNewsWire around 2004, until it was sold off to a different company that decided to rebuild it from the ground up and seemingly got sidetracked (funnily enough, the original author is now writing another feed reader app). I transitioned to Reeder. It took a long time for my fingers to get accustomed to the different key commands.

I don't understand how other people don't use RSS readers.
posted by adamrice at 9:08 AM on April 5, 2018 [9 favorites]

Google News alerts feeds seem to push a lot of duplicates and crap, so its dependent on the quality of feeds you subscribe to. It does beat obsessively checking whether the irregularly scheduled comic has updated.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:12 AM on April 5, 2018

adamrice: Since I switch between devices (desktop, phone, tablet, work computer), having a cloud-based RSS reader is useful. That said, Reeder is my desktop RSS app on my home Mac, and I love it. The iOS version, well, I'm glad it's still around, but it really needs a proper rebuild to make it work like a modern iOS app. I've been rolling with Lire lately on iOS and love it.
posted by SansPoint at 9:12 AM on April 5, 2018

I was amused to see this post about an RSS revival pop up in the MeFi RSS feed on Inoreader. Speak of the devil angel...

(I used Google Reader for a long time--once it shut down, switched to NetNewswire--then recently returned to web-based via Inoreader. Can't imagine my web experience without RSS. My only [self-inflicted] issue: pruning # of subscribed feeds to a manageable level.)
posted by ilicet at 9:20 AM on April 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

Yes, but the jokes. How can I reRSS jokes?
posted by pashdown at 9:26 AM on April 5, 2018

Newsblur rocks!

As someone who has been using RSS since 2006 , I cannot see the web without it. There's too much internet for me to have to go to all these sites manually.
posted by deezil at 9:26 AM on April 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

This thread popped up in my Tiny Tiny RSS, which I set up in my hosting space when Reader died. Prior to Reader I used Bloglines. Put me in the "I couldn't function without RSS" camp.
posted by COD at 9:33 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Noone told me RSS was dead! I've been using NetNewsWire since 2002, couldn't live without it.
posted by amf at 9:40 AM on April 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

Sanspoint Every RSS reader app that I know of can hook into Feedly or other feed-aggregation services at the back end. I also have Reeder on my iPad and it's nice that the read-state is synced between the two.
posted by adamrice at 9:40 AM on April 5, 2018

Newsblur is superb. Seriously and brilliantly superb. If I was paying ten times the subscription Samuel Clay charges for it then I'd still be getting an unbelievable bargain. There is nothing more to say.
posted by samworm at 9:58 AM on April 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

I use palabre but the issue I face is frequency of content. Some blogs push out multiple pieces a day, and some push out one piece every few weeks, or months.

I haven't tried Palabre, but assuming it has folders that work like most readers I have a useful tip for that: sort your feeds into two tiers. Drop any fast-moving feeds in a "noisy" folder, and scroll through that first in a feed-reading session. Then you can mark that folder as read, open the unread articles view, and see just what's new from your slower feeds.
posted by skymt at 10:00 AM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I use TTRSS, because I'm tired of relying on other people's services for things of this nature, and I want to access it away from home PC so a web based reader is necessary.

That said, I really really really dislike the developer of it (he calls a subsection of his forum "the gas chamber" hardy fucking har, a genocide reference you're so fucking edgy).

So I'd like an alternative, but I haven't seen any self-hosting options that really do what I want.

In fact, I rarely visit my feeds anymore the past couple years, and not sure why, exactly. Maybe cuz one can only handle so much boingboing.
posted by symbioid at 10:05 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

My concern with RSS is that it would amplify the quantity, if not the quality of my web browsing. Also, how many sites have just dropped RSS entirely because it interferes with their ability to serve ads? Or just serving news snippets with links to their walled garden articles?
posted by leotrotsky at 10:12 AM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also, how many sites have just dropped RSS entirely because it interferes with their ability to serve ads?

Surprisingly few. People who use RSS feeds are not numerous, but they tend to see new articles first, and help spread the articles on social media.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 10:16 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I seriously don't know how I'd deal with the web without an RSS reader. It's not like you can rely on Facebook or Twitter to post anything in useful order or priority.
posted by octothorpe at 10:16 AM on April 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

I've been using The Old Reader ever since Google Reader went away, even paying the $20/year premium in the hopes it will never disappear, even tho I only follow... 19 friends and 22 feeds (some friends have agreed to "curate" some feeds, so I don't have to sift through all of a mediocre web comic for the once a week/month payoff, one of my friends will. And vice versa. Otherwise I'd probably have a lot more feeds).

Honestly, I can't even remember what Google Reader looked liked/felt like using, because I just picture it as exactly what The Old Reader is.
posted by Grither at 10:17 AM on April 5, 2018

Almost every RSS feed I visit is full text; Rock Paper Shotgun is the only one I can think of that's links to the article. But then I'm biased towards full text feeds. I tend to only follow feeds that publish a few articles a week; it's very rare for me to subscribe to something like RPS that's publishing 10+ articles a day. For those I just go to the site via a bookmark.

What RSS is really great at is following folks who publish only occasionally. I have 300+ personal blogs collected over the last ten years. Many of them are dark for months at a time, then one really fascinating post will show up. I suppose my own blog is like that for others. There's no other technology that does this well and it's an important tool for keeping track of the long tail of interesting online publishing.
posted by Nelson at 10:17 AM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Don't call it a comeback!

Never stopped RSS reading here, either. I just switched to a different backend (Feedly) when Google Reader shut down. Didn't miss a beat.

I only rarely encounter a site that doesn't have an RSS feed. I think it has to be deliberately turned off in most server setups, maybe? And if I come across a site that doesn't have RSS, I don't read that site. No site is so important or special that I'm going set aside time/start a habit to visit just that site.

(Okay, maybe Twitter)
posted by Ampersand692 at 10:18 AM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I use Dreamwidth, which lets you seamlessly integrate RSS feeds into your general reading page.
posted by one for the books at 10:21 AM on April 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

I came in to add to the Newsblur chorus. There are still a lot more useful RSS feeds out there than people realize. People who produce quality content aren't more happy with walled gardens and algorithmic 'feeds' than the consumers.

ps, if you use newsblur, message me your name on there, except deezil, I got him
posted by DigDoug at 10:22 AM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've just been using Dreamwidth as my "RSS reader", honestly -- same as one for the books. Gets a bit borky if there's enormous images in the source -- there's no automatic resizing or thumbnailing or whatever -- but it serves just fine.

That being said, I still visit a lot of blogs manually, as in typing in the full URL by hand and going directly to the page. Can't rightly say there's much rhyme or reason to the distinction.
posted by inconstant at 10:25 AM on April 5, 2018

RSS, the line goes, solved too many problems to be allowed to live.

This is a self-link, for which I ask forgiveness, but at least it's topical: I updated the software that underpins Planet Mozilla last year to support TLS/SNI, meaning "to work with modern certs and hosting" and making ours (I think?) the most current and reliable aggregator-site software around. So technically, at least, the aggregator approach is still viable, and it will continue to be as long as I have anything to say about it.

Source is here.
posted by mhoye at 10:26 AM on April 5, 2018

After trying all the alternatives, I landed on Inoreader. IMHO it's the best of the rest.

Also, pressing W gets you the full text of almost any article that does the "click for full story" thing in their feed. It's a life- (well, time-) saver.

They have a paid service, so I'm not afraid of it shutting down, and they've been 100% transparent about business and technical issues they've had. They even recent published a blog piece that geeks out about their new IT infrastructure.

Heartily recommend for those of you thinking of joining or rejoining the RSS bandwagon. Come aboard!
posted by General Malaise at 10:27 AM on April 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

I also am in the Newsblur camp.

I can't help but think someone would make a mint if they could figure out a way to create an app that would show me facebook/twitter/instagram posts from people in chronological order. I assume there is some specific technical reason this hasn't happened.
posted by dpx.mfx at 10:30 AM on April 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

For Twitter at least, I googled around and found a site, which seems to create RSS feeds for individual accounts. I assume you then put it into your reading list and then voila, chronological feed of/including Tweets.
posted by inconstant at 10:37 AM on April 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

"Also, how many sites have just dropped RSS entirely because it interferes with their ability to serve ads? Or just serving news snippets with links to their walled garden articles?"

I follow a lot of feeds, and only a few do this. A couple of design-related smaller blogs want me to click through to their site to see the article, and a state politics blog (THE state politics blog, really) that's a one-man shop and he does an amazing job and he needs to serve you his ads to keep doing it. In both cases there's enough text (a paragraph or so) for me to decide if I want to click through. Only pretty rarely am I unsure if I ought to click through, or do I click through and go "meh, not interested." One irregularly-published webcomic I follow where the artist prefers to control how it displays on her site, which is fair. (I don't always click through, though.)

Anyway, "you must click through to see my ads" has been pretty limited (in my experience) to small, special-interest blogs/websites where the advertising revenue allows them to create the high-quality niche work that I'm interested in, and they try to provide enough info to let me know whether to click through, so I don't mind. I've also corresponded with a couple of those blogs' owners and said, "Huge fan, read via RSS, not sure if you know this but your picture caption goes into the RSS feed and eats up a ton of your characters, so I can't read the full article summary when you have a picture" or whatever and generally they've been very receptive to making it easier for RSS readers.

I do sometimes see publications that are just "headline - click through" -- both major national ones and small special-interest blogs -- but obviously they're not going to get my RSS subscription and then I just won't see any of their articles because they're so intent not giving you anything beyond the headline.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:38 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Poking at it a bit, it [the service] doesn't seem to work great as far as showing that certain things are threads that ought to be clicked on and expanded. I don't know if perhaps one of those fancy readers that lets you expand by pressing a key would handle that conveniently.
posted by inconstant at 10:39 AM on April 5, 2018

I started using NetNewsWire around 2004, until it was sold off to a different company that decided to rebuild it from the ground up and seemingly got sidetracked (funnily enough, the original author is now writing another feed reader app).

NetNewsWire 4 was actually in development and available as a public beta before the sale. I never took to it either. I'm still using NetNewsWire 3, which has worked seamlessly until very recently. I could be wrong about the exact cause, but It seems to have a problem with sites that only support TLS 1.2. I'm stubborn enough that I found work-arounds to keep it going.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:42 AM on April 5, 2018

He replied that his shop set up a Net News (nntp) server internally and sends all their job output there for everyone to read as if it was a 1990s-er USENET 'froup.

This is something I could get behind. Has anyone built an RSS-to-NNTP gateway? My long-ago newsreader was a very functional piece of software.
posted by Leon at 10:43 AM on April 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

+1 for Feedly
posted by PhineasGage at 10:45 AM on April 5, 2018

I love RSS and was sad when it seemed to fade from public consciousness . Web browsers were starting to have built in support and then, all of a sudden, RSS/Atom was busted and old and nobody wanted it any more. These days I use Feedly to keep track of about 30 blogs I enjoy and much prefer it to the twitter's of the world. It seems more "Pull", where I can take or ignore things at my own leisure, rather than twitter or facebook's "Push" approach.

I wrote my own blogging software to run my site and one of the first things I implemented was the RSS feed.
posted by AndrewStephens at 10:49 AM on April 5, 2018

I use Inoreader, and it's great, but I wish Pinboard would have RSS capabilities. It would mesh so well with bookmarking and I like supporting them for political reasons.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 10:51 AM on April 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

After trying all the alternatives, I landed on Inoreader. IMHO it's the best of the rest

I moved to something like The Old Reader (but maybe not them?) after Reader shut down, but then they had a giant server crash and then they threw everyone off their service who hadn't donated money, without, like, any warning or giving anyone a chance. I wish I could remember who those chucklefucks were.

Anyway, I eventually ended up on Inoreader, which has been 100% satisfactory and stable for years. And they have a great search for feeds - I very rarely turn up a site that doesn't have a feed using Inoreader, much to my detriment since I now follow far too many sites.
posted by Squeak Attack at 10:55 AM on April 5, 2018

Huh, I used to use Google Reader pretty often, then switched to Feedly, then just sort of stopped.

I think I got lulled into a sense of complacency by Facebook.

Time to kick the tires on RSS again.
posted by oddman at 11:11 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

RSS is also the only solution I know of for 'let me know when this one blog I like that updates once in a blue moon posts something new' as a problem.

Given my random taste in blogs, that's a lot of manual checking I'd have to do without my precious Feedly account.
posted by Happy Dave at 11:12 AM on April 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

I use Feedly but my main RSS consumption comes from IFTTT. I have a few recipes to email whenever there is a new post on some low volume feeds and I have others to add Pinboard bookmarks for some medium volume feeds.
posted by soelo at 11:12 AM on April 5, 2018

I get my news via Feedly more often than not. On FB, anytime a friend shares a biased site, left or right, or even those cute animal sites now, too, I just block the site/page.

At this point, I rarely see anything except original posts on my wall. FB is more or less usable as a place to keep in touch with these friends, i.e. the original purpose for being on FB.
posted by linux at 11:17 AM on April 5, 2018

I wish Pinboard would have RSS capabilities

It does!
Here is an example of a Pinboard RSS feed.
posted by COD at 11:19 AM on April 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Just joined Feedly. News without video!

Thank you!
posted by freakazoid at 11:21 AM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Seconding Tiny Tiny RSS. I run it on a Raspberry Pi.
posted by night_train at 11:41 AM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I do think RSS was and is held back by its name: the acronym makes it sound more technical and difficult than it is. Maybe if it had a friendlier name it would sound more accessible: something like "podcasts," which lives on now long after the death of the iPod.
posted by crazy with stars at 12:01 PM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

A lot of "RSS" feeds are Atom feeds anyway. And what could be more whiz-bang space-age than "Atom?" The name RSS stuck because it came first, and talking about "RSS or Atom feeds" introduces a complicating distinction that doesn't matter at all to the user.
posted by skymt at 12:09 PM on April 5, 2018

When Reader was shut down, I've tried The Old Reader, Feedly, NewsBlur, and Inoreader. Inoreader stuck, but all these pro-NewsBlur comments here are making me consider checking it out again.
posted by montbrarian at 12:19 PM on April 5, 2018

Atom's not bad, but a) refers to a particular standard as opposed to the general class of web feeds, b) is semantically unrelated to the idea of web feeds, and c) feels kinda dated ('whiz-bang space-age' is 50 years ago).

I think part of the problem is that it's not quite clear what 'RSS' refers to: the website offering the feed? the feed itself? the individual items in the feed? the client that aggregates the feeds? All these things, of course, but it's a complex idea to put into one word. 'Podcasts' chooses to emphasize the things that are delivered at the expense of the other components of the service -- so maybe a term that emphasizes the links/posts/articles/etc. that RSS delivers.
posted by crazy with stars at 12:34 PM on April 5, 2018

I got to this MetaFilter article using my RSS reader!
posted by Quackles at 12:36 PM on April 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

I’m using News Explorer on Mac and iOS (which keeps itself automagically synced between the two). And for CLI, Newsboat (nee Newsbeuter).
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:04 PM on April 5, 2018

Oh oh oh!

Need to find other MeFites on some of these services? Use the Social Explorer!

Here's the link for just NewsBlurians (if you have it in your profile, of course).
posted by deezil at 1:25 PM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Just signed up for NewsBlur. I missed rss feeds.
posted by sleeping bear at 2:32 PM on April 5, 2018

I still have a bunch of podcast feeds in my Newsblur that were originally in my Google Reader, back in the days when I manually downloaded podcasts to my PC and dragged & dropped them into my Sansa Player. Uphill both ways, consarnit!

The Google Reader Memorial Thread makes for interesting reading. And while the link is dead, the pullquote of this FPP about the shuttering of Bloglines is grim chuckle material, considering how well the 'social experience' has turned out.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:43 PM on April 5, 2018

nth-ing the Newsblur love. I’m acdha over there.
posted by adamsc at 3:19 PM on April 5, 2018

Super glad there's still technological effort behind feeds! But feels like we're still far from having a great solution, so I hope we all keep thinking about improving feeds and content. I'm increasingly convinced that any good solution to content sharing via feeds requires:

- Long-term planning and execution
- Lots of money
- A way to overcome feed barriers
- A way to overcome feed deserts

I dunno if this is true but given what's happened to news feeds in social media I'm more eager than ever to figure out the specs to a longer-term solution.

> A lot of "RSS" feeds are Atom feeds anyway. And what could be more whiz-bang space-age than "Atom?"

Before it became Google Reader I named the project Fusion due to this 'cause the app only supported Atom at first - whiz-bang ftw
posted by massless at 3:23 PM on April 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

RSS hasn't entirely gone away, and nor has it remained the last word in its mode of operation; not too long ago, some developers have proposed JSON Feed, a replacement for RSS which uses JSON rather than XML (as JSON is more concise and easier to code for than XML).
posted by acb at 3:41 PM on April 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I was a serious Google Reader user. Its termination was a blow.

So I blogged about the loss, asking for options, and ended up on Digg Reader. They were initially very helpful on Twitter, and it worked fine.

Now? I'm comparing Feedly and Inoreader. Leaning towards Inoreader.
posted by doctornemo at 4:39 PM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

massless- thank you for starting Google Reader. It gave me great joy back in the day.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 4:45 PM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I use FeedBin, largely due to it having been the first post-Google reader supported by Reeder on iOS, and I can vouch for it. It has a good web-based UI and an API for clients such as Reeder, and a sustainable non-surveillance-based business model (being based on a subscription of a few dollars a month).
posted by acb at 4:55 PM on April 5, 2018

+1 for Feedly
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:39 PM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Another fan of Feedly here. 90% of my Daily Reading comes thru it, I don't know what I would do if RSS went away.

Prior to Feedly I was a Reader devotee, before that I would use my LiveJournal as an RSS reader. That was the best.
posted by Elly Vortex at 6:04 PM on April 5, 2018

I have been using FeedWrangler as my RSS backend - it works well with Reeder which has both a Mac and iOS app (which I 🖤). FeedWrangler is a paid service, but it's worth it to me. It's rock solid and the developer is friendly if you have questions.

A long time ago Feedly was doing some shady stuff with link sharing - so I dropped my account in favor of FeedWrangler. According to this article, they cleaned up their act but I was already gone.
posted by device55 at 6:41 PM on April 5, 2018

Another +1 to feedly. I bit the bullet on the lifetime pro membership when it was available (which I understand it may not be anymore?) and don't regret it.
posted by juv3nal at 6:44 PM on April 5, 2018

The last time I used RSS, in what was arguably its heyday, all you needed was an app. What do all these subscription services do exactly?
posted by valrus at 9:00 PM on April 5, 2018

But ... but... but the algorithms will make it better! That's what they've told us... That's what they've always told us. You self selecting an RSS feed means that you aren't training an algorithm to write stuff to build an overly aggressive echo chamber feedback loop of the content you get served providing you more of the content you get served... we rely on you not seeing the stuff that you don't see... that might contain a different point of view.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:11 PM on April 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

The last time I used RSS, in what was arguably its heyday, all you needed was an app. What do all these subscription services do exactly?

They’re web-based so they handle all the synchronization at the server so you don’t need to download all hose feeds repeatedly on your local. Plus you can access on your phone or your work computer or whatever.
posted by device55 at 9:22 PM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have four computers (including a phone) running three different operating systems. It's nice to have everything in sync and if you're going to open articles in a web browser anyway ....

If you want to run something on your own VPS, Tiny Tiny RSS is great as long as you never need support. FreshRSS is a bit lighter but less polished.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:59 PM on April 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Feedly works great for me!
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:06 PM on April 5, 2018

I rely heavily on Feedly and I don't know what I'd do without it, but I am worried how long RSS will last. More and more I come across websites, especially from non Euro/US countries, that are basically blogs, but without RSS feeds. I expect many owners of sites built on Wordpress etc actually have no idea that these feeds exist, or interest in maintaining them.
posted by tavegyl at 11:04 PM on April 5, 2018

Feedly every day. I think I pay for it. If I don't I should. I've not added any feeds in a while though. Maybe 1 webcomic?
posted by inpHilltr8r at 11:48 PM on April 5, 2018

I like federated services! It is how the web should be. A bunch of services which can work together regardless of provider. I want to be able to share calendars with any calendar service, get rss feeds from any site, email anyone else regardless of their email provider, share my location from Google Maps to Apple Maps and have my Bing Maps friend user share theirs with me.
Facebook is the antithesis of that. (Google is... ok at it, but a long way from where they should be).
I really should properly join mastodon.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 2:56 AM on April 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

That's ... he's ... but ... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 🌵🌵🌵

Can you help us out here? He's like "whatever" about cactus?
posted by thelonius at 3:17 AM on April 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Dave Winer wrote software doing RSS before anyone, and a cactus was part of the iconography of that company (Userland Software). Cowboy hats, too, I think.

He had a database-backed system called Frontier that was an early CMS, which he then moved into emitting RSS data, and then later on called it Web Radio. Or something?

I used Frontier through version 4.2.3, and made an intranet in like 1994-96 with it -- but after a big brouhaha over a public beta which h used to turn his free software commercial, I bailed on it.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:32 AM on April 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Firefox users might consider the Feedbro addon. It certainly works for me. I don't know how I'd manage without a feed reader - I've hopped from Reader to Digg Reader via several others and have a little panic each time one bites the dust.
posted by Boggins at 7:48 AM on April 6, 2018

I tried The Old Reader after GReader's demise, then became a proficient user of Feedly. When I looked into cost-savings, I found that Newsblur has about 90% of Feedly's speed for significantly less cash, so I switched. I also like how I can train the feed to highlight specific authors, which is a feature I can't recall ever seeing in Feedly or TOR.

Anyway, I'm dskasak on Newsblur.
posted by stannate at 8:17 AM on April 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

stannate, the training is the one part of NewsBlur that I don't use/need/care for. I get how powerful it is, but I'm content doing my own curation. Give me all the things. I'll see which ones I like.
posted by deezil at 8:22 AM on April 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

What is the appeal of Feedly's paid options? I've been happily using the free version of Feedly since Google Reader's demise and I haven't ever been tempted to spend money.
posted by mmascolino at 8:24 AM on April 6, 2018

Here's what Feedly Pro gets you for $5.50 / month. I'd say the main thing I care about is having > 100 feeds; I must have 1000 or more. The search is very useful too. My impression is Feedly set their business up so the free level is fine as a trial but if you really use it you should pay and in exchange you get the full product and no ads. If it works for you without paying, good for you!
posted by Nelson at 8:32 AM on April 6, 2018

Interesting...I must be grandfathered in because it says I am following 343 sources.
posted by mmascolino at 8:54 AM on April 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

> The last time I used RSS, in what was arguably its heyday, all you needed was an app. What do all these subscription services do exactly?

You can still do that, there's plenty of local clients that just fetch the feeds periodically, no subscriptions or login needed. I like QuiteRSS, it lets you sort feeds into folders, choose update intervals for some feeds/folders, has proxy support, ad-blocking, etc
posted by Bangaioh at 9:22 AM on April 6, 2018

I've been using Newsblur quite happily since the demise of Google Reader as well. Here's a thing I've been able to tip a few people off to recently that others might like to know, given the rise of TinyLetters/SubStack/whatever-other-newsletters are around: Newsblur has a "forward your email newsletters to us and we'll treat them like an RSS feed" feature that can be really helpful for keeping that content around to be ready when time permits, without cluttering your inbox with it.
posted by Stacey at 10:09 AM on April 6, 2018 [5 favorites]

Oh, man. Userland Frontier. That's going way, way back.

Dave Winer originally wrote Frontier as a Mac scripting system, and I think he felt personally betrayed when Apple shipped AppleScript. He repurposed Frontier to be a sort of content-management system, except it ran as a desktop-based server app (and could still do the Mac scripting stuff). I remember wading into it and being fascinated but confused.

Eventually, in 1999, the very early days of blogging, he set up a sort of blog-hosting service based on Frontier technology called Edit This Page. I remember wading into that too and being fascinated but confused again. Dave Winer was indeed one of the pioneers of RSS. It seems he's always been quick to take offense, and he got into a very public dispute with Mark Pilgrim and the late Aaron Swartz over the vagueness of the specification for RSS 0.9. Aaron Swartz, cheekily, created an alternative he called RSS 1.0 (which was based on RDF and had nothing to do with RSS 0.9), causing Dave to come out with RSS 2.0 (which was a slight improvement to RSS 0.9 and had nothing to do with RSS 1.0). RSS, or proto-RSS, had been the technology behind "push," where content just magically appeared on your desktop without your intercession, which was going to be the next big thing in the mid-90s, and was really just "scheduled pull." But Dave Winer's idea for RSS was not so much that you could round up episodic writing in a convenient feed reader, but that you could republish other people's writing on your website (hence "really simply syndication"), which kind of relates to the concept of transclusion that Anil Dash was writing about in his recent post The Missing Building Blocks of the Web, which has been making the rounds, and also talks about reviving some technologies that people have forgotten.

Anyhow, Winer's employee Brent Simmons started his own company, Ranchero Software, and published NetNewsWire (mentioned above).

Because we're apparently living in the Battlestar Galactica universe, where what happened before will happen again, Brent Simmons is now working on an open-source project to revive Frontier.
posted by adamrice at 12:48 PM on April 6, 2018 [4 favorites]

Oh boy. Before this fpp, I couldn't even spell RSS. I opened Feedly account the night before last, and pretty much set it up to mimic my current bookmark folders: visit daily, visit weekly, visit periodically. This is so cool, and I'm not even doing anything clever with it.
posted by klarck at 3:53 AM on April 7, 2018 [7 favorites]

@anildash: "Google's decision to kill Google Reader was a turning point in enabling media to be manipulated by misinformation campaigns. The difference between individuals choosing the feeds they read & companies doing it for you affects all other forms of media."

also btw...
@ev: The rationalization of publishing - "Now that the ad-only experiment has decidedly failed, quality information providers will be able to build strong businesses, and consumers will be better served than ever."
posted by kliuless at 5:01 AM on April 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

I think that's a bit of a reach. RSS is and was niche-y stuff - even at the time blogs were all the rage on less tech-savvy people, I recall having to explain people what RSS was when they wanted to put Twitter or other blogs they had on the sidebar without having to put an ill-fitting widget (that used RSS to begin with). It's very likely they would have fallen for the "facebook as news source" trap regardless of Reader existing or not.

If anything, killing off iGoogle in favor of the mess that is G+ likely had more impact. considering on how a lot of people use Facebook as their homepage and often is "the internet" (since it has news, entertainment and connection with friends), I'm baffled why they didn't built their social media platform on something that at the same time was a feed aggregator, displayed emails, calendar, weather, chat program, etc.

Plus, all newspapers here still have RSS feeds (some more visibly than others). I have, however, very little incentive to subscribe to people who want to piss on me and tell me it's just rain.
posted by lmfsilva at 10:36 AM on April 8, 2018

« Older computational notebooks   |   The sadistic prosecution of Noor Salman Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments