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The Autobiography of Russell
Life from a different perspective
Rant: Keeping track of updates through feeds
I've discovered that RSS feeds can be very useful for keeping on top of things, but many of the sites they would be most useful for don't provide a feed. Almost every site has a feed reader but sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and LiveJournal don't provide good, if any, feeds. Even Twitter has a feed.

  • vBulletin provides an RSS feed but it's limited to new threads. It doesn't include new responses and there's no way to filter it to only certain forums. It also has to be turned on by the forum maintainer first.
  • Blogger has Atom feeds which include links to feeds for the comments of individual entries, but most of the readers I see for Linux don't support them.
  • Both MySpace and Facebook have several feed reader applications (third-party plugins) but neither provide feeds. Anything that would normally be posted in the 'friend updates' would be very useful for exporting.
  • LiveJournal has Atom feeds of individual journals but they don't include feeds for comments on individual entries. Getting a feed of protected entries (through a authenticated gateway) takes some extra (understandable) work. They also don't provide a feed of friend list or friends of friends list. Someone implemented a style override that emulates an RSS feed but it doesn't work for the friendsfriends page. The emulation also can't provide information about comments each entry.

If I can't keep all my updates in one place then chances are I won't be hanging around a site for very long. I don't like having to load a dozen websites (tabs) and log into each one individually just to find out that only three of them have updated since the last time I visited.

Many people are moving toward web-based services such as Google Reader or even centralizing their feeds on Facebook, MySpace, or LiveJournal (which I was doing). I don't trust web-based services and would rather use a client to aggregate various feeds for local consumption. I especially don't care for Firefox's 'Live Bookmarks' feature that requires to you click on each one then manually compare (remember) the state the last time you loaded it to see if there are any new entries.

Current Mood: frustrated frustrated
Current Music: None

3 comments or Leave a comment
(Deleted comment)
zimzat From: zimzat Date: January 7th, 2009 06:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm... yes, it does take a comma-delimited forumids parameter. It leaves something to be desired if I have to manually find the forum id and add it to the list. There's an existing feature on the GameHavoc forum to configure which forums to show or hide, although it may be a third-party add-on. I use it in conjunction with the 'New Posts' search to list only new or unread posts.

Looking at the source for the externals.php file I also see options to view as 'lastpost'. The problem with it, though, is if two people post on a thread before the reader updates then I'll never see the first response in the RSS or have any way of knowing if there has been more than one post since my last visit. Again, leaves something to be desired.
lakeguy From: lakeguy Date: January 7th, 2009 08:20 am (UTC) (Link)
yeah I wish there were more feed readers :( or at least good ones
zimzat From: zimzat Date: January 8th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
There is definitely a lot to be desired, at least about the one I'm currently using.

For example:
  • Atom feeds have self-discovery elements to other feeds, such as a feed for all comments on an article or blog. I haven't seen anything in the reader that supports this.
  • Absolute minimum check times. Slashdot requires all readers to check no more than once every half an hour. Checking more frequently may lead to being blocked from the feed. My current client has a button to force reload all feeds but no way to exclude a feed from that.
  • Time sensitive update rules. Comics update around midnight so some way to say 'check every 15 minutes between 8pm and 1am' would be nice. In reverse it would also be nice to be able to say 'only check all feeds every hour between 8am and 5pm' (since I'm at work) but then say 'check all feeds every 30 minutes between 5pm and 11pm'
  • Both of the above rules should be applyable to all feeds, all feeds in a folder, or only a single feed.
  • Smarter scrolling. If I'm viewing the details of a single entry at a time and I scroll down while already at the bottom it would scroll to the next entry in the list. There would be something in place to detect a pause between scrolling so that the initial scroll to the bottom doesn't trigger it.

These are things I can think of off hand that have occurred to while using just Akregator.
3 comments or Leave a comment