AideRSS — a reader that filters for you


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I use bloglines to monitor blogs. I like a lot of blogs and even just browsing my subscriptions I can’t keep up with all of ‘em.  Enter AideRSS. It makes some decisions for you about how “good” the blog posts are and filters out the ones that it doesn’t think ard up to snuff.

It counts the number of diggs, deliciousness, number of comments, google action, tweets and recency and cobbles this into an overall score. It seems to take recency into account — i.e. a very recent post scores high no matter what, but if it hangs out a day or two without getting any comments the scores goes down. You set the threshhold, and posts below that score will not be shown. It would be much more useful to me if it let you customize what’s important to you.  UPDATE:  I’m told by AideRSS (see comments) that new posts don’t get any points for recency.   I was sure they did previously, and I thought that was a good thing–otherwise how is a new post ever going to get on the radar?

It is RSS eating it’s own tail. You can get an RSS of practically anything, including other RSS. It starts to get a little bit ridiculous.

AideRSS is a very well executed site. If you are not quite getting your head around what it does, it has a nice video tutorial. I exported the opml file from my bloglines and then imported it into AideRSS. Unfortunately this is a static import, i.e. AideRSS wouldn’t know if I added more feeds in bloglines.  It would be nice if it was an automated LIVE feed.   And it doesn’t have folders — I hope it adds those soon.

Weaknesses

AideRSS suffers from social tunnel vision by assuming popularity=quality, and worse, that quality is the same for all.     All these websites play the numbers, and I suspect the algorithm works well for folks who are clustered in that fat part of the curve around the mean.   As for me, if most people like something, that’s like a flashing sign above it for me to avoid it.  What “most people” like, I tend to hate.   I wish AideRSS would, as I said, allow a little more customization by the account holder as to what they think is important.  For example, READING LEVEL.  Is it pitched for a fourth grader, or does it have (wooooo!) big scary words?   Also topic.  Some people would weight “Brittney Spears Boob Jobs” as highly important, but I wouldn’t.  I’m told that tagging is coming.  So you could weight tags/topics as important or not to you personally.   Also I wish there was a way to flag an article as blatant link bait or otherwise overrated.   If you say something outrageously stupid, of course you’ll get bashers who just have to disagree with you,  and:

  • boom, inflated score on the comment count
  • biff, you’re popular,
  • bing, your hitcount goes up,
  • bonk, you’ve just wasted a lot of people’s time with more worthless dreck.

I personally do not care  how many comments a blog post has because the vast majority of long comment threads are either bashfests, or go off on some personal misunderstanding back and forth.  So until AideRSS has something to offer a misfit 4σ * such as me,  I wouldn’t totally rely on it, because it will skim above new posts, esoteric posts, posts on niche topics.

Keep your eye on AideRSS, they’ve got some heavy hitters and I expect they will get even better as time goes on.

*If you don’t know what a 4σ is,  you can do one of three things:

  • complain,
  • use google,
  • go off and read something important, like which celebrity is screwing which other one.

3 comments to AideRSS — a reader that filters for you

  • Thanks for the write-up!

    Actually, a small correction regarding recency — it actually works in reverse — new posts get low rankings that increase over time. This is because our scores are based on engagement, and it takes a while for people to read and react to posts. So posts don’t tend to have many diggs, bookmarks, tweets, comments, etc. when they’re new because people haven’t seen them yet. Once people start responding to a post, the PostRank score goes up.

    We’re currently working on a big upgrade to the site, so stay tuned for that. We’ve no plans to add folders, per se, but we do like the Google Reader model of allowing tags, which is a bit more flexible.

    Melanie Bakers last blog post..PostRank saturation in Google search results up 500%!

  • admin

    Hmmm…. I wrote this writeup a little while ago and it seemed to me that the new posts with no engagement at all ranked high to give people a chance to see them. Maybe it was before AideRSS tweaked something.

    So if one’s new posts come in at below the threshhold and people use AideRSS as their main blog reader, how will subscribers ever see new posts? Twitter???

    Tags are better than folders. As long as you can dynamically rss based on the selector it is fine.

  • Well, we’re not an RSS reader and we don’t want to position ourselves as one. Same as we don’t want to turn ourselves into a search engine. There’re plenty of people doing that really well already. We’re happy to partner with people and companies that DO create/maintain readers and other services, however.

    Bottom line is, if people have their filtering thresholds set relatively high, some posts will never appear, no matter how long they’re out in the wild, if those posts don’t receive a certain amount of engagement. Everyone needs to find a filtering level they feel comfortable with in terms of feeling like they’re getting all the news and info they want, but aren’t wasting their time reading the same stuff over and over or reading stuff that doesn’t interest them.

    For those who read their feeds early or quite often, our value is limited because it takes time for PostRank scores to develop to accuracy. Same for people who can’t bring themselves to trust filtering. Some people simply need to do the filtering inside their own heads, which is totally fine. We’re not the service for them.

    Ranking content by something like reading level isn’t something I can ever see us doing. Software that can gauge that certainly exists and is becoming more sophisticated, but I can’t see that ever becoming more than a niche request, since with the way the system works now, anyone can use it regardless of their interests or reading level. That and it doesn’t tend to take long to determine whether a site is written in a style you like or that you find annoying.

    Events like long comment threads (which, as you note, are not uncommonly flame wars), are something we weight for — as are any sort of engagement activity that’s unusual compared to the site’s history. In this way we ensure that the site’s content’s PostRanks aren’t completely skewed by one post getting a couple thousand diggs, or what have you.

    Melanie Bakers last blog post..PostRank saturation in Google search results up 500%!

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