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Looking for the Next RSS Reader

I've been using Snarfer for a while now, preferring an offline reader so that I use a few spare moments to catch up on reading without having to plug in the air card. It works well enough, but lately I've been wanting something better, really driven by one idea - Snarfer doesn't encourage me to post comments. Comments are the feedback all blogger's love, me as much as the next person. I don't need - or want - to comment on every post I read, but I comment on maybe 1 in 50, and that is too low. In Snarfer I have to click the link to see the original article, scroll down, sometimes click another link for comments, and finally write something. Not that hard, but that minor road block inhibits rather than encourages me to comment.

I've been starting to look, and at the same time I ran across this post by Dare Obasanjo (interesting blog too) about RSS readers being modeled after email clients being broken,which was a follow up to a Slate article called Kill Your RSS Reader. Not sure they have the answer, or an answer that fits me, but there is something missing. I follow about 200 SQL blogs plus another 30-40 on various topics. I don't read all of them every day. Some I read every post, some I scan the titles and only read what looks good. Definitely at times it's information overload. I don't have an easy way to mark something directly for follow up except to email myself the link or copy/paste it into a task.

I can see there being three categories for me:

  • Blogs I want to read every post, even if I fall behind (easy to identify)
  • Blogs that I want to treat more like a newspaper, I read it that day or it goes away (easy to identify)
  • Blogs that split the difference (hard!)

Features I think I want:

  • I like not waiting on pages to load. Building them as a PDF and emailing them to me could be interesting (in aggregate I mean)
  • I need it to be very easy to comment, and to manage my subscriptions to comments (the latter doesn't seem to have an established standard?)
  • I'd like it to scan for links to blogs that aren't on my list and hold them for review along with why/where it came up
  • Would be useful to know which ones I'm connected with (LinkedIn, Outlook, all the others)
  • How often I've read something on a blog, could be used to prioritize my reading later
  • Ability to write rules ala Outlook
  • Have it learn what I like and at least prioritize that for reading first
  • One click access to add it to my task list (even if that's in the software and not external)

I'm not much interested in sharing blog lists as far as a social feature, but definitely ok with sharing or finding with blog posts. Seems like so far the emphasis is on just managing the feeds and making them visible, not doing something more with them. Or maybe I'm either using the wrong tool, or the wrong viewpoint. Would I be better off with a handful of Google alerts?


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Steve Jones on 26 May 2009

That's interesting. I had thought of RSS as a quick aggregation of things to look through, but you have some things on there that I might like. I'm not really an offline reader, but the ability to comment from the reader as well as manage them a bit would be nice.

I use Google Reader, primarily to keep a central list in synch with multiple computers. However, pulling them offline would be nice.

Posted by Brett Flippin on 26 May 2009

The Feedly Firefox extension might get the closest to what you're wanting.  

It promotes feeds based on what you comment or recommend. You can post links to twitter, view pages inline with a preview window, plus a whole ton of other features.  There are numerous ways to organize, view, and share your feeds.

I've been a fan for a while and I evangelize it as much as possible.  It changed the way I use my feeds.

Posted by Brett Flippin on 26 May 2009

Forgot, you can also tell it what feeds to promote and prioritize.  I didn't see the part where you are less enthused about sharing.


Posted by Steve Jones on 26 May 2009

Just saw this as well


Posted by Andy Warren on 26 May 2009

Brett, I'll look at it. Sharing is ok, just not my focus. Tools for me is what I need!

Posted by Andy Warren on 26 May 2009

Saw the Gears thing, haven't loaded yet. Did load RSS Bandit, too early to say. Seems there is a comment API, need to see what/who supports that.

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