Dinosaur feeds

As recommended at 43 Folders, I’ve added a Dinosaurs page to my now very patched Feed On Feeds – pick it up here. At some point soon I will be forking this off under the name MonkeyChow since it is no longer the same reader.

Right now I have the last-update check hard coded to 30 days, but the idea is to make this user customizable. At the right you can see it in its current incarnation, where you have a list of the old feeds with their timestamps. It’s trimmed down a bit because after seeing it in action I actually deleted about 10 feeds before realizing I needed a screenshot to post here…

dinosaur feeds

The question then is, should this be something that will alert us each time we load a page? I’ve ignored the recommendation to list broken feeds since we can easily see a feed’s last successful update time in Feed on Feeds’ left frame, but I may revisit this in the future if it appears that this Dinosaurs page would be a good place to summarize it. I’m not keen on the idea of feed expirations because that means a lot of housekeeping every X months/days/weeks to renew feeds and I go through a lot of feeds. I would rather prune feeds with individual per-feed article expirations to help keep the database size small. Feed On Feeds doesn’t bother you with feeds that aren’t updating, so keeping them around until they show up as dinosaurs is harmless.

Now, a note about organization. A feed reader needs to be considered a tool that helps you save time and keeps you organized. The “flag all up to this item” feature of Feed on Feeds lets you mark away bulk items and the new starring feature lets you mark articles to read later. If you are finding that you can’t keep up with some feeds, well then that’s a sign that there may be a low signal to noise ratio in that feed and it may be time to drop it. A feed that updates daily, but which you don’t read anything from is just noise – no filter will show you this. If you see a lot of articles that DO want to read, but don’t know if you have the time to, that is a sign that it may be time to drop that feed. Too many starred articles can be a bad thing, and no filter will show you this. Like the rules for email, feed articles should be handled immediately or discarded. This is a tool to help you handle the flow of information. With all the reblogging going on these days, surely there are other feeds available that provide the same real information, but spit out less noise. Lastly, if you find that you aren’t able to clear out the articles list on a regular basis, you are falling into the same trap that keeps people from clearing out their inbox at the end of the day. Check out 43Folders’ Inbox Zero articles on how to regain control of your inbox – the same applies to RSS readers. Start deleting more often, abbreviate your reading, and subscribe to less. Control your own flow of incoming data.

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5 thoughts on “Dinosaur feeds

  1. Not to sound impatient, but is there any chance you could put up a release at SourceForge? I have a wish list as long as my arm of things I’d like to add to FoF/Monkeychow, but obviously it’d be better if I could work off of an official release and/or CVS repository.

  2. I’m planning on getting to it this weekend. I haven’t had a lot of time with work and all, so I only get to play with it on weekends. I’m looking to do SVN rather than CVS, BTW. Looking forward to your wishlist.

  3. Well, just off the top of my head:

    Authentication. I have friends who write friends-only posts at livejournal.
    Categories, so I can easily separate the science weblogs from the political ones from comics, and so forth.
    Being able to rearrange the list of weblogs into the order I like.
    Killfiles: ignore or promote certain articles depending on the subject, the author, etc. Perhaps a scoring system.
    I’d like to be able to subscribe to comment threads, and have those subscriptions expire after 30 days, or after 15 days with no further comments, or something like that.
    Keybindings. I’d love to be able to do everything without touching the mouse.
    A better “skin”, because frankly, FoF isn’t all that pretty.

  4. * Authentication. I have friends who write friends-only posts at livejournal.

    Yes, at some point I want this to have a real authentication system behind it so that this will be as ubiquitous as PHPNuke, only without the horde of bugs. Sharing is key. Alternately, what do you think of having a feed similar to the starring system we have now, only idetified by a long random key that you share with only the person you want.

    * Categories, so I can easily separate the science weblogs from the political ones from comics, and so forth.

    Take a look at the tagging that’s in there now. The drop list doesn’t do anything right now, but the idea is to select something from there and have the feeds.php below it only list the feeds matching that tag.

    * Being able to rearrange the list of weblogs into the order I like.

    You mean something besides alphabetical order? What other kind of ordering could there be?

    * Killfiles: ignore or promote certain articles depending on the subject, the author, etc. Perhaps a scoring system.

    Yes, I think of filters every time I see a bad meme or story posted across every blog in sight. What filtering interface do you like best? Maybe something like Thunderbird’s message filters?

    * I’d like to be able to subscribe to comment threads, and have those subscriptions expire after 30 days, or after 15 days with no further comments, or something like that.

    OK, so we’re talking about setting the alert triggers mentioned in the 43Folders article. This is similar to what I have now in the dinosaur feeds, but I’m guessing you would like to see it show up as red text somewhere on the interface that links to the dinosaurs page where you can take care of extending it. In that sense it would be good to add a feed prune field in the edit pane. I like this idea.

    * Keybindings. I’d love to be able to do everything without touching the mouse.

    I’m a little fuzzy on this. I never got into mouse gestures, but if you know of a certain popuular model model for keybindings, let me know.

    * A better “skin”, because frankly, FoF isn’t all that pretty.

    Do you have any mockups of what you would like to see? Or example pages? FoF uses CSS, so I don’t see why we can’t extend that to using different styles that users can pick from. Gregarius is certainly much prettier, and I realize that not everyone is into the minimalist “cram it all into one page” look that I’ve gone for so far.

    If you know anyone else that might be interested, by all means get them to chime in so that we can get these prioritized.

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