Fun with feeds

Cut through the clutter by following various feeds.

2022-05-30
Last modified 2022-06-28

If you’re not already using a feed reader app, you should start.

Blow off the people telling you it’s old technology. So are doorknobs, radios, and commodes. Somehow, I suspect you still use all three, and many other things that are equally Tried And True.

Besides, a feed reader is useful for more than just seeing what they’re up to at a given website. Even as I request that you follow this site’s feeds (RSS or JSON, as you may prefer), I also suggest you learn how a feed reader can help you cut through online clutter. The examples below are truly just the tip of the iceberg.

YouTube

Are you subscribed to any YouTube channels? Your feed reader can tell you when they issue new videos. Go to a channel’s home page and copy its URL, then add it to your feed reader. The reader app will translate it appropriately.

The Fireship channel on YouTube has a home page URL of https://www.youtube.com/c/Fireship. But, when you copy that into a compatible reader app, it gets translated to what the reader really wants to use:

https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UCc0YbtMkRdhcqwhu3Oad-lw

Podcasts

You may already be aware that podcasts notify apps and websites of new content at least in part through RSS feeds. To get the URL for a podcast’s feed, find the podcast’s home web page; then, assuming the page doesn’t helpfully display the feed link (sometimes with text like “Subscribe”), use your browser’s View Source function and look for a line with content like this:

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml"

The URL you’ll find within that link is the one that your feed reader needs. For example, here’s the feed link for one of my long-time favorites, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe:

<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="The Skeptics Guide to the Universe &raquo; Home Comments Feed" href="https://www.theskepticsguide.org/home/feed" />

Reddit

Most subreddits have an RSS feed. All you have to do is take a subreddit’s URL and add .rss to the end of it. I suggest using the new designation so you get the latest posts, sorted appropriately.

The Eleventy subreddit, with the new designation, is https://www.reddit.com/r/eleventy/new. Thus, its feed URL would be:

https://www.reddit.com/r/eleventy/new.rss

Twitter

Getting RSS from a Twitter timeline can be tricky, depending on your feed-reading options. Some readers (e.g., my favorite, NetNewsWire) have built-in abilities to translate a Twitter timeline into an RSS feed.1 Otherwise, just use the Twitter RSS Feed tool on the RSS.app site — about which, a bit more at the end.

Mastodon

By contrast, it’s a lot easier to get the RSS feed from a Mastodon user’s timeline. Here’s mine from the mastodon.technology instance, where I use the handle of @BryceWrayTX (same as on Twitter):

https://mastodon.technology/@BryceWrayTX.rss

Never turn down free feeds

These are just a few of the more obvious possibilities for what you might want to follow with a feed reader. For others, I suggest, once again, RSS.app and, specifically, the numerous tools on its “Create RSS feeds” page.

Back in the Cretaceous Era, when I was working as a radio announcer and doing remote broadcasts — especially at locations where giveaways were common — someone gave me some good advice: “Never turn down free T-shirts or free food.” I would add to that: “. . . or free feeds.” All you have to do is go get ’em. If this post has at least sparked your interest in checking on that, my work here is done.


  1. Obviously, this could become a big pain, quickly, if you follow a very active Twitter timeline. Caveat emptor↩︎

Commenting by giscus.

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