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Monday, August 27, 2007

Feed Filters

I had previously discussed the Aide RSS Filtering Tool -
AideRSS looks at a variety of sources of information including comments, technorati, bloglines, icerocket and to determine what posts are generating the most interest.
I really like the concept of using different clues about what posts are generating interest to help sort through large numbers of posts. Certainly it's ability to find what are the posts generating the most interest on my own blog is helpful.

However, what I had hoped to find was a way for AideRSS to send me a feed of the top few posts across a large set of RSS feeds (like the 3,000 or so edublogs). Instead, AideRSS sends me a bunch of lower rated items along with the top items. It also does this on the site. So, I'm unsubscribing for now but will continue to use the widget.

At the same time, I would expect that Bloglines (the reader I use) and Google Reader will begin to incorporate this kind of capability soon. It would be fairly easy for them to provide a view of a set of RSS feeds sorted by "interestingness" based on a similar formula.

By the way, this post is also somewhat of an experiment. I subscribe to all links to my blog found through a couple of different sources. I was considering putting this information in a suggestion to Bloglines, but I thought a post would be better. However, I wonder how likely it is that someone from Bloglines will actually see this? Or someone from Google? Heck, I'm sure they both are already thinking about this functionality, but if this had actually been something that would have been useful, would they have seen it?

So, if you happen to be from Bloglines, make sure you comment. :)


Ilya Grigorik said...

Hi Tony, a follow up question about AideRSS. Can you expand on 'sending lower rated items along with top items'? Did you change your filtering preferences, or did you rely on our default filtering levels? I'm just wondering if something in our system is not working right, or if we need to make the filtering process more intuitive. I would appreciate your feedback.

Ilya Grigorik (Chief Architect, AideRSS)

Tony Karrer said...

Ilya - well you passed the test with flying colors. So far, no one from Bloglines.

To answer your questions - I did try setting filtering, but I ended up mostly leaving it at "Good" because it simply took too long to change for a large number of feeds. Maybe I was doing it wrong and/or I would have got better results if I had changed them all.

Some further thoughts & questions:

1. On the MyFeeds page - showing my my Top Stories, it doesn't seem like I can see all of the top rated items across all of my feeds? Granted this is hard because you have to combine in date as a sorting factor (I don't want older 10s). But right now it almost seems broken.

2. Is there a way to change the filtering level across all feeds? Or better yet, what I really want my feed to do is simply send me all of the posts that eventually get themselves above a certain rank (selectable). In other words, for my large list of feeds, I tell the system not to send me any post that doesn't rank at least a seven. And only send that post once. That way in Bloglines I would get only those posts above that ranking and once I've read it, it's gone.

Tony Karrer said...

Oh and while I'm at it, if there was a way for me to see the numbers for my blog for all time so I knew which posts had the most bookmarks for example, that would be really great information to have.

In the past, I've done that by hand... as Indicator of Valuable Content - Importantly My Content

igrigorik said...


Just recently we added a 'batch' edit mode for changing your filtering preferences. It's not perfect, and we're working on a better UI for it, but it is nonetheless a big improvement over the previous system - you can find it in your 'My Feeds' section.

To address your other questions:
1) Currently 'Top Stories' shows all of your stories that pass your selected filters for the past 5 days (or the top 100, whichever). Have you found that some blogs are missing? Once again, we've released some updates just a few days ago - please take a look and see if the problem is still there.

2) Yep, I alluded to this in the previous paragraph. We do have a batch editing mode where you can quickly adjust your filters for all of your subscriptions.

In terms of integration with Bloglines, we are talking to their team about a possible synchronization API - this would really streamline the filtering process. I can't give you a solid date on this yet, but it's in the works.

3) Last but not least! We are planning to offer much more detailed analytics and drill-downs to publishers like yourself in the future. Having said that, that's probably at least a few months off.

Tony Karrer said...

Ilya - thanks for input.

1) The Top Stories doesn't sort correctly then. If I click on PostRank it should show me all of the 10s across all pages. Currently, it sorts only for that page. You should also put a note somewhere that tells you it's for the last five days. That's an important detail.

2) If by Batch Editing, you mean the page that let's you choose the level (one at a time) for each blog, that is just way to painful for a large list. Add an option at the top to change all levels to the same. In fact, you can probably do it in JavaScript on the page pretty easily. Or if there's another page, then let me know.

3) Looking forward to some of the other changes.