Why is RSS so underrated?

Hi everyone, since I started listening to MPU and signed up here at the forums, I got hooked onto the idea of RSS, tried a few apps, and have been loving Reeder. There are also other good apps.

However, I don’t see anyone I know using RSS to consume news/content from the internet. People use various apps or go to specific websites to read things. Why is that? Is RSS frowned up or something? Except for people here in MPU, I do not know anyone using RSS since Google Reader died.

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I agree. I find RSS a really compact way to get a variety of news and information threads. I use Newsreader and I refer to it several times a day.

But many people do scoff at RSS.

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I think RSS is great but I wouldn’t say it’s underrated. Many RSS feeds aren’t as well made as they should be. Many still try to prevent full reading via RSS (seemingly less so now that it’s not as relatively popular.) Choosing and setting up a client is an endeavor. Many sites are missing RSS leads and turning web scraping into RSS is either an outright pain or expensive, and with some it’s completely unachievable. RSS is poor at intelligent feed ordering, which, as much as I despise Facebook and Twitter’s moves in that area, has been proven to be more engaging and time-saving for most people.

We are not most people because we want to keep up with a bunch of sites at once, in the order they publish their articles, with some filtering and view preferences we control, and we’re willing to master the format and the quirks of various feeds to that end.

On the bright side, I bet you do know people who use RSS readers. I find if someone’s decently immersed in blogs and non-social-media publications they are often using a reader or a web app that does something equivalent.

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I also tried several apps and found also really good ones, but for me RSS is not as pleasant as going to the website and reading there.

This is basically because the charm and thought, which went into designing the website is gone using RSS. I like seeing the content as the author wanted it to be presented.

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I disagree :slight_smile: . A lot of websites have junky navigation bars, large ad banners, or unnecessary things that spoil the article reading experience. This is exactly the reason why all browsers have “Reading mode” now.

If you use Reeder, it’s such a pleasant reading experience, so nice to look at.

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I think both of you are right depending on the websites in question :wink: In my case, I follow some productivity blogs (from people like Cal Newport) and some tech blogs run by individual developers (like Linus Lee), most of which have nice website experiences.

That being said, I’m too lazy to go check all of the blogs (especially since there’s no set posting schedule for most of them) so having RSS notify me when new ones come out and gathering them all in one spot is nice.

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THIS :arrow_up: is the primary reason. Reading mode is a complimentary feature of RSS.

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Unfortunately I don’t believe that RSS is approachable for your standard user (less technically minded) or even publicised for them. Ironically while the death of Google Reader made the market more robust, it also decentralised it and made it more difficult (for a normal person) to set up RSS

To add something to your RSS reader, you have to find the feed, copy it, and then add it to your feed reader of choice.

Apps like Feedhawk make it easier to add feeds though on iOS

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I believe RSS readers to be a secret weapon for connoisseurs. The possibility of chunking the news/reading firehose into a single app, with categorizastion and reader mode is a winner.

My only tip: separate verbose feeds from the most occasional ones.

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I use almost nothing but RSS for consumption - NetNewsWire.

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Blockquote

I just copy-paste the website into Reeder and it finds the feed automatically. Maybe a Reeder feature. Never had to go and find the feed link. Have like 100 subscription

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In addition to the excellent NetNewsWire (free), can also recommend News Explorer (paid). Great for tracking stories on many sites at once. Also wish to say a good word for not only RSS but also the JSON Feed standard.

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I use RSS a lot

  • to import content into Devonthink
  • with an iOS shortcut which imports RSS feeds into my Safari reading list so I can peruse over breakfast.

Both work fairly well for me, but RSS is a niche interest. Truncated feeds are still an issue (although with Safari not really a problem as I view the relevant page in reader mode rather than the feed content). And a few sites I use don’t have a (working) feed at all so it’s an incomplete solution.

It might be that Twitter (and other social media) has replaced discovery for many people - having the advantage of surfacing content beyond selected websites. On the other hand, it is a firehose that - for me - produces more heat than light.

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I think part of the problem (which has been exposed here) is a lot of misconceptions about RSS.

  • It is too techy
  • It is too hard to find feeds
  • The articles are truncated or broken
  • You can’t see what the actual website looks like
  • And others….

In my experience, none of these are true. There are a large number of RSS readers and like all software each one has its share of issues and super features.

I don’t feel “religious” about RSS, but I believe it does save me a lot of time and effort. In one place I have my local newspaper split article by article, newspapers in places my kids live split article by article, the Washington post, a dozen blogs for various software products that I use, several general tech blogs, etc.

I have Apple News+ but I feel like I am far more “focused” in my RSS reader.

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The vast majority of people consume headlines at best

And the vast majority of news readers stay in their silo of a few sources

The % of Internet users who read the details of an article and do so for articles from multiple sources is quite small (albeit probably a lot higher on MPU than elsewhere on the net). Among that subseti of readers, RSS is alive and well.

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Okay, well, thanks for your mention of News Explorer! That’s my new favorite RSS reader! I’m amazed that so many people settle on Reeder. It’s popular in the “community” but I don’t think it’s popularity is justified… seems like a band wagon thing. Sidebar based RSS readers seem like a waste of space with horizontal screens (especially on a larger iPad). So much of the screen is left unused until you’re reading an article. It’s one thing I really came to appreciate about the visual design of Apple News. Full use of the screen with an attractive display of images and text for a newspaper kind of feel. for the longest time I’d used Newsify because it has a very similar newspaper like layout that uses the full screen. But as RSS is where I spend a lot of time I make it a point check other options and have spent a bit of time with Lire. Again, not happy with the sidebar but appreciate other aspects of the app. Checking out News Explorer I see that it offers a beautiful grid design view, smart folder features, and excellent search. Also, Twitter feed and YouTube!? Checking that out. The iCloud sync is very fast. And seems to get regular updates, has been updated for iOS 15.

Really liking this app!

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I like RSS, but it’s too expensive and everything is subscription based. Luckily NetNewWire is free, but most feed services are subscription based, and then a decent reader app is a subscription on top of that.

I think you can now do feed syncing on NetNewsWire without a service though, so I might drop Feedbin and try that.

Yes, I’ve also thought about this before. It’s a power-reader’s tool!

Can you elaborate. a bit on this? I use Reeder and have organised them by folders including one I call ‘under review’ for those new feeds that I am evaluating.

I see its on Setapp. If you’ve tried Reeder by any chance, how does this compare?

I agree this can be an issue but Reeder can load the full article within the app as long as its not paywalled (I think).

I have also used Feedly (and still use it (free) as Reeder’s backend) and find their interface to be cluttered and less comfortable for reading.

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Each to their own, but I think that this is worth it to save me time having to go and look at different websites. Do I wish it was free, yes. but I’m happy to spend a bit of money to support good services and apps.

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I love Fiery Feeds as an app.