Say Something Interesting… Feedscanning and Commentary on Feed Management Interfaces.

I recently joined about 80 other folks in the blogosphere and imported Scoble’s OMPL file into my newsreader.  Why would I do this?  I like reading Scoble’s blog, and he tends to find some interesting posts.  I thought it might be interesting to take a peek through the ScobleFilter and see the raw stream of data.  Interesting?  Yes.  Overwhelming?  Yes!

I added an extra <Outline> element to the file so that Newsgator would keep the feeds contained to a subfolder, and then loaded it in.  My first impression had nothing to do with the OPML file or the list of feeds.  I was reminded that Newsgator Online doesn’t have a “Delete All” function (that I could find) anywhere on the web interface.  What a pain!  I remembered that the mobile interface does have that magic “delete all”, so I browsed to the Mobile URL and waited forever for it to load all the feeds, and then hit the “delete all”.  It timed out a couple times, but eventually I was left with a clean slate.

After watching these feeds for a while, I must say that there is quite a large volume of content coming through Scoble’s blogroll.  I decided that I would basically put all feeds on probation.  I’ll read the first one or two posts that come through on each feed.  If I’ve already read something on this topic elsewhere in my blogroll, then I unsubscribe.  If the post is nothing more than a thinly veiled advertisement, I unsubscribe.  Scoble has many interests reflected in his blogroll that I have no desire to read about, so those feeds go away too.  How does a feed stay in my list?  They have to say something interesting and relevant to me.  It’s a very personal choice, and I can usually make the call one or two sentences into a post.

I think I’m picking up about 1 in 50 from Scoble’s list as the feeds come through.  There are many that I had already subscribed to, so that number is a little lower than it would have been otherwise.  The ones I’m keeping are going into a second “probation” folder.  They have to prove themselves before I’m going to commit to keeping them on.  

All in all it’s been a fun little exercise.  I’ve been pairing down my blogroll over the last year, and it had started to seem a little stale.  It’s good to get an infusion of new content, and many of these folks I would never have discovered if not for Scoble’s blogroll.

This entire exercise has left me with a short wishlist for Newsgator’s feed management interface, or for any rss aggregator.  If you know any that fit the bill, feel free to leave a comment here.

  • I’d like to tag my feeds.  Not just posts, but feeds.  Then let me build “Views” that are combinations of tags. 
  • Let me manage my feeds as I read them.  This should include deleting feeds, moving to different folders, or tagging.  I generally make decisions about feeds when I’m looking at the articles.  I hate having to go to the “Organize Folders” in Newsgator. Give me an AJAX’y little icon that pops up a submenu.  Doesn’t take much real estate, but gives users much more control.
  • Let me add feeds without jumping through hoops. Again, a little AJAX’y popup dialog from a small icon at the top.  Let me paste in a URL, and then retrieve it and offer me a choice on importing individual items (if it’s OPML) or placement into a specific folder (for RSS).
  • Let me “catch up” or “delete all” from any view.  And then let me roll back my read state to a specific date/time if I feel that I missed something.

I’ve also got some new ideas on OPML, “Views” and attention, but I need to hash them out a bit and try to pull together something coherent.



2 thoughts on “Say Something Interesting… Feedscanning and Commentary on Feed Management Interfaces.”

  1. Thanks for the pointers on NewsAlloy and the Newsgator bookmarklet! The bookmarklet isn’t a perfect solution, obviously, but it’ll reduce some pain in the near term.

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