When RSS feeds go bad

Perhaps I am the only one but when good RSS feeds go to summaries instead of full feeds there quickly earn one fewer subscriber. The value proposition must be there as good bloggers like Guy Kawasaki are now sending out only summary feeds. Not long ago I responded to one of Kawasaki's posts and helped to expand a project he was working on. Now, however, the feed will simply fall out of my reader and someday be replaced by another.

RSS wish list

My new killer application would be TiVo for my RSS feed. Actually there's one part of TiVo that my RSS reader needs - ratings. There are a number of RSS feeds that contain both useful and not-so-useful information. Today it is an all or nothing proposition. The reader either gets all of the feed or none but can not easily say "more like this".

Actually the full ratings system would be great and would allow a newsreader to find "suggestions" ala TiVo. Long before that there could be a great application for RSS feeds of job postings. Suppose I want to see job postings in the Seattle area. I would subscribe to a feed for all jobs in the newspapers in the area. When it comes to postings for drivers or cooks which I lack the skills for simply mark the first few as "thumbs-down". As the system gets trained it learns that I don't want to see ads related to sales positions but sales engineers or sales support postings would be interesting.

This could be done on the reader side or on the server side. Even in middle ware could be developed to handle aggregating the feeds and then disseminating posts along with an added tag line for "thumbs up" and "thumbs down".

Banning blog leaches

On another website I recently noticed that another party was sucking in the RSS feed and publishing it to their site. Not a headline or two, not a snippet and a pointer, but the whole thing. They are doing it with dozens of sites. It's the RSS equivalent of framing sites.

Fortunately most of the folks who are doing this sort of thing have their own server and all the requests come from their server. If that's the case it's pretty easy to tell Apache to make the site dark for all their requests. By adding something like the following in httpd.conf the offending leach is cut off.

    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
    Deny from nnn.nnn.nnn.nnn

I'm curious to see how long it takes before the operator of the leach realizes they have gotten 403 errors for weeks now.

How about some RSS

Dave Winer comments on the state of web news on the mainstream news sites. Hey Dave how about a RSS newsreader? :).

My NetNewsWire is filled with the other stories about what is going on elsewhere. Sure there are more JonBenet stories than there need to be. I'm probably more accepting of them since I lived near Boulder for more than a dozen years and the case is one from the old neighborhood.

There is a serious side to this too. Dave's commented a couple of times on the overload of JonBenet coverage. Since I get my news from the radio and the RSS feeds I read I've not seen an overload. Sure, there's a story each day, but there are plenty of other real news stories too. I found myself wondering if this story would have crossed my desk if it weren't for the current coverage.

River of news

This post mentions Earthlink's new RSS news reader says "Until yesterday these were the only aggregators that worked this way." Well, that too is not quite correct. Drupal has for at least a few years included an aggregrator that works in the River of News format. Granted that Drupal's aggregrator doesn't have some of the other features for easily marking posts as read, but it's been doing river of news for a long time.

Is this really tech news

Nicole Kidman engagement to Keith Urban

I've recently been considering deleting either the Yahoo Top News or Yahoo Tech News feeds from my newsreader. All too commonly it seems there is a great deal of overlap. This morning's item takes the cake. Is it Nicole Kidman's appeal to technologists that makes it a tech story?


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