In praise of AideRSS

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aideRSS_logo.gifI've been reading feeds since 2004, relying on my trusty Bloglines (and now, Bloglines Beta) to keep me up to date with what's going on in the world. I used to read over 600 feeds, but I keep keep getting smacked in the face by the obvious -- keeping up with that many feeds takes an incredibly log time. I've been working to limit my feed regimen to about 20-30 minutes a day, and have unsubscribed from over 150 feeds in the past year.

Unfortunately, feed subscriptions tend to be a binary, all-or-nothing sort of a thing. if a feed starts to get too high-volume, there's no obvious way to deal with it but to unsubscribe. AideRSS changes the equation.

AideRSS is an easy-to-use tool that allows end-users to filter feeds by PostRank, a proxy for post quality determined by the number of comments, del.icio.us bookmarkings, references on other blogs, etc. Users can choose to filter arbitrary feeds, seeing only "good" posts, "great", or "best" posts. Depending on which filter one chooses, it's possible to reduce the volume of posts by over 90% without a substantial reduction in quality.

The PostRank algorithm is finicky, and works best for blog content that's regularly commented on, linked to, etc.; it does a particularly poor job of dealing with relatively unpopular blogs, but that may be ok; in my experience, low-popularity blogs are more likely to be lower volume to begin with. I've been using AideRSS for several weeks now to reduce the impact of popular high-volume feeds, and it's been doing a great job. I'm reading some feeds again after a gap of years.

AideRSS is a reasonable tool for a smallish group of somewhat tech-savvy users, but I suspect the technology would be most effective integrated directly into feed reader software. Users should be able to dial down the volume of feeds directly from within their reader, instead of having to muck around with editing feed URLs. I could see that happening either via an outright acquisition by a feed reader business, or by AideRSS' transforming itself into an API that can be licensed by feed reader makers.

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