25 votes

It’s time to get back into RSS

18 comments

  1. [3]
    NaraVara
    Link
    One of the things the death of Reader inflicted on us, and neither Feedly nor other social media has been able to truly duplicate, was the social feed. This is what really made RSS sticky was the...

    One of the things the death of Reader inflicted on us, and neither Feedly nor other social media has been able to truly duplicate, was the social feed. This is what really made RSS sticky was the ability to have a personal feed of stuff you could share to your friends. This was good in several ways over Twitter and Facebook.

    1.) No 👏 fucking 👏 commentary. You just share the story. If anyone wants to talk to you about it they can IM you. If they want to have a group chat about it they send out an email to the people they want to discuss it with. The lack of commentary means I’m sharing articles because I think the article is interesting, not because I’m trying to get whatever hot take I have about it out there. There was an option to include a comment about the article when you shared it, but most of my friends used that to talk about why they’re sharing it, not to make a hot take. This is because people couldn’t share your hot take to make it viral, they could only share the article. If I have douchey comments to make that I want propagating, I have to start my own blog and share a link to that instead. It also means people subscribed to my feed because they liked my taste in articles, not because they’re appreciative of my sarcastic commentary. This has the effect of prioritizing good, engaging articles rather than meta-conversations about the articles. It also means I don’t have to think about sharing articles at all. I don’t need to compose a tweet or anything, I just hit the share button and the article is shared. It’s on the headline writer to make it worth reading.

    2.) Reader’s social feed was linked to your contacts in Gmail and GChat. Basically everyone you email or IM with can very easily follow your feed, which means it’s easy to connect it with all of your friends as long as they also use GChat or Gmail (which, if you were using Google Reader, you probably were). Other RSS readers now have trouble getting that kind of instant scale and reach to all your friends. You could even initiate a GChat with someone whose article you’re reading right from Reader. But it’s an IM convo, not a public wall or retweet, so there’s less incentive to be performatively funny or sarcastic or whatever the way there is on Facebook or Twitter where “everyone” (but really no-one) is watching.

    3.) Back then, RSS feeds let you read everything within the reader. Nowadays the feeds just have a headline and a paragraph and you have to click through to the site to read the whole article. This really kills the flow of it. You can’t insert tracking or ads into RSS (without getting extra clever) so it’s running against the dominant business model for online content nowadays. Not even sure how we can reverse that trend.

    4.) No feedback on your shared articles was nice too. The only way I ever knew people appreciated the articles I shared was because they fucking told me about it in person! Imagine that! Using our words to communicate feelings instead of a gamifying interaction and driving people to collect 👍s

    24 votes
    1. [2]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      Interesting. I used Google Reader's purely as a single-person RSS reader and somehow never got into it's social aspects at all. But before I came to Tildes I was using Google+ and it was nice...

      Interesting. I used Google Reader's purely as a single-person RSS reader and somehow never got into it's social aspects at all.

      But before I came to Tildes I was using Google+ and it was nice using something hardly anyone else uses and getting only occasional feedback. A handful of upvotes is plenty as far as I'm concerned, enough to get past the "why bother" aspect of link sharing while still being very low pressure.

      I don't think "no commentary" would work on Tildes. Maybe the closest thing we have are YouTube music links (since the titles are uninformative if you don't recognize the artist or song) and I don't click any of those because there isn't enough to sell me on spending time on them.

      5 votes
      1. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        It was just a nice side feature it had. I didn’t actually think anyone was reading mine for the longest time and only used the share button because they didn’t have a built in “read it later”...

        Interesting. I used Google Reader's purely as a single-person RSS reader and somehow never got into it's social aspects at all.

        It was just a nice side feature it had. I didn’t actually think anyone was reading mine for the longest time and only used the share button because they didn’t have a built in “read it later” button early on. I had a very weird experience at a party where my friend mentioned he really liked an article I shared. I was like “what? I never realized anyone read those.” Then tons of other people started chiming in about how much they appreciate the articles, how they can tell when I’m having a slow day at work, etc. I suddenly became very self conscious hahaha.

        More than being useful for any individual person though, I think it really helped that generation of proto-influencer types. People like Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton, as well as lots of bloggers like Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias (back before they became media moguls) were clearly leaning hard on google reader and it’s social functions within their friend groups to share articles between themselves. This created a certain vibe within the blogosphere that contributed to certain things going viral. Most people didn’t use the social features directly, but they’d hear tons of stuff from people who knew people like me through a grapevine process where it ends up on forums or blogs or in IM chats.

        2 votes
  2. [2]
    SkewedSideburn
    Link
    I still get unnecessarily angry when I find a really cool blog and it does not have RSS.

    I still get unnecessarily angry when I find a really cool blog and it does not have RSS.

    15 votes
    1. edenist
      Link Parent
      As a bit of a tip, I've found that even if you can't find an rss/atom link or button anywhere, most CMS' have it on by default anyway, and if you simply use <domain>/feed.rss or feed.xml etc.......

      As a bit of a tip, I've found that even if you can't find an rss/atom link or button anywhere, most CMS' have it on by default anyway, and if you simply use <domain>/feed.rss or feed.xml etc.... you can still find an rss feed [even if the content producer doesn't even know it!].

      I use tt-rss and you can add most sites by typing the URL in and it will try a list of common combinations and will almost always find a feed.

      5 votes
  3. [3]
    skybrian
    Link
    It never went away for me, though Newsblur is only one destination I visit. I've tried using Newsblur to read Hacker News and it didn't take. RSS seems better for remembering websites that you...

    It never went away for me, though Newsblur is only one destination I visit. I've tried using Newsblur to read Hacker News and it didn't take.

    RSS seems better for remembering websites that you don't visit every day, such as blogs. It means they can publish on any schedule and it doesn't matter.

    10 votes
    1. [2]
      Pillowsyourfriend
      Link Parent
      I agree, RSS is much more of a "set it and forget it" tool than something to supplant everyday browsing. I used to be subbed to a lot of sites I would check outside the RSS reader anyway, so I...

      I agree, RSS is much more of a "set it and forget it" tool than something to supplant everyday browsing. I used to be subbed to a lot of sites I would check outside the RSS reader anyway, so I didn't really get a lot out of them.

      What I found RSS to be pretty useful for is fiction. A lot of writers update infrequently, so setting up an RSS feed for their sites allows for pretty easy subscription to their writings, and you don't have to remember all their different upload schedules. It also lets me know if new content is up after a long hiatus, long after I would have stopped checking the site. Most sites dedicated to hosting writing already have RSS feeds by default, so it becomes pretty easy to subscribe, same goes for webcomics and the like. Magazines generally also have RSS, sometimes even separated by topic, which is useful.

      The author seemed to promote Feedly a lot, and while it is a great option, alternatives like Inoreader and The Old Reader do exist. You can also get RSS reader apps for your phone.

      4 votes
      1. NaraVara
        Link Parent
        I do t actually care for Feedly that much. I find the app cumbersome and the browser version tries way too hard to be cute. I miss the straightforward presentation of Google reader. I tried...

        I do t actually care for Feedly that much. I find the app cumbersome and the browser version tries way too hard to be cute. I miss the straightforward presentation of Google reader.

        I tried switching to The Old Reader, but it’s kind of a pain to use on a mobile browser. I tried using it with the Reeder app on my phone, but it doesn’t actually work at pushing new content and when it does it fails at syncing what I’ve read between my device and the browser despite their claim that it’s supported.

        So Feedly it is, only through the Reeder app so I can avoid their buggy iOS offering.

        1 vote
  4. Deimos
    (edited )
    Link
    I've been using Inoreader as my RSS reader for a few years now, and I'm really happy with it overall. They even added a couple of features recently to help keep up with non-RSS things: Subscribing...

    I've been using Inoreader as my RSS reader for a few years now, and I'm really happy with it overall. They even added a couple of features recently to help keep up with non-RSS things:

    • Subscribing to email newsletters as feeds - this creates a dedicated email address that you can use to subscribe to a newsletter, and then the messages will all come into Inoreader like it's an RSS feed. I really appreciate this one since I subscribe to quite a few newsletters and never really liked having them in with my regular email.
    • Web feeds, which try to let you convert arbitrary pages into "feeds" it will watch for updates - this hasn't worked perfectly with the few sites I've tried it on so far, but it works well enough for me to at least know that the site's been updated so I can visit it directly. It's a nice option to have for sites that don't provide a proper feed.

    Definitely recommended as a SaaS reader if anyone's looking for one. There are a lot of a great features. The price for the paid plans might be a little high, but they have sales pretty regularly for Black Friday and other events. I don't think I've ever paid full price for it.

    5 votes
  5. rmgr
    Link
    Just because it doesn't get enough love I want to plug Miniflux. It's fairly basic but I find it's very easy to use and the site works equally well on a desktop browser and a mobile browser. I...

    Just because it doesn't get enough love I want to plug Miniflux. It's fairly basic but I find it's very easy to use and the site works equally well on a desktop browser and a mobile browser. I used their hosted option for a while and I've since moved to a self-hosted copy on an old SFF PC in my house.

    5 votes
  6. [4]
    jtvjan
    Link
    I recently switched to Thunderbird for RSS. It's really nice having all your daily reads (mail, feeds, netnews) in one place.

    I recently switched to Thunderbird for RSS. It's really nice having all your daily reads (mail, feeds, netnews) in one place.

    4 votes
    1. cfabbro
      Link Parent
      Thunderbird is what I use too. I have tried switching to other RSS software and even a few SaaS solutions, but the filtering in Thunderbird is just way too good, and a necessity for me because of...

      Thunderbird is what I use too. I have tried switching to other RSS software and even a few SaaS solutions, but the filtering in Thunderbird is just way too good, and a necessity for me because of how insanely large my feed has gotten over the years.

    2. Keegan
      Link Parent
      I want to fully switch to Thunderbird, but my issue is that I can't figure out how to set it up with my edu Gmail account. Everything else works great, but it's annoying to have to go to the site...

      I want to fully switch to Thunderbird, but my issue is that I can't figure out how to set it up with my edu Gmail account. Everything else works great, but it's annoying to have to go to the site to log in rather than just open Thunderbird.

      I'm going to email their IT people sometime soon since they seem to want to support IMAP access and based on their help guides, but the setting for IMAP in Gmail isn't present.

    3. ohyran
      Link Parent
      I got the same set up but in Kontact with Kmail and Akregator. Its a dream

      I got the same set up but in Kontact with Kmail and Akregator. Its a dream

  7. [4]
    fleg
    Link
    I really want to have the subscription list and read state synchronized across the devices, so I've set up TinyTinyRSS on a cheap PHP webhost. It's working out great. One thing that I thought...

    I really want to have the subscription list and read state synchronized across the devices, so I've set up TinyTinyRSS on a cheap PHP webhost. It's working out great.

    One thing that I thought about when the topic of "we need blogs back" was to create a sort of a "public RSS reader" (I think it was called a Planet in context to the open source projects). Basically, blogs have a problem of discoverability, and having one place where a stream of new entries would be always available would help greatly. I remember I was using a blogging platform once, which had a global "front page", on which your posts could have been available. It was browsed by many people, and if your posts had good enough quality, your RSS feed was added into their readers pretty quickly. Maybe having something like that would be the way to go?

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      Doesn’t Tumblr do this?

      Basically, blogs have a problem of discoverability, and having one place where a stream of new entries would be always available would help greatly.

      Doesn’t Tumblr do this?

      1. [2]
        fleg
        Link Parent
        Could be, I've never really used Tumblr. But wouldn't it be limited to blogs hosted on Tumblr?

        Could be, I've never really used Tumblr. But wouldn't it be limited to blogs hosted on Tumblr?

        1. NaraVara
          Link Parent
          Yeah, but tumblr is a blogging platform at heart so that makes sense.

          Yeah, but tumblr is a blogging platform at heart so that makes sense.