How to Filter RSS Feeds
While we always hope that you’re enjoying the content we create at SitePoint — whether that is technical, business, design related, or web tech news, trends, or analysis — we also have noticed that a couple of you haven’t cared so much for the new direction that SitePoint has taken with its main page. As one of our commenters, heggaton, wrote last week, “Is there any way I can use Google Reader to filter out any posts made by Josh?”
You’re in luck, heggaton, because there is indeed a way to filter out my posts. (Though, as I noted in a comment on that post, I write almost exclusively for the News & Trends blog here at SitePoint. If you visit the SitePoint Blogs page you can subscribe to blogs for specific web dev topics, including blanket categories for Tech, Business, and Design, rather than the full blog feed.)
Of course, I hope you don’t filter me out of your SitePoint experience, but if the emphasis on web tech news, trends, analysis, application reviews isn’t your thing, this post will show you how filter our RSS feed in two ways to hopefully only get the content you’re most interested in.
Method 1: Feed Rinse
The best and easiest to use feed filtering app we’ve found is FeedRinse. At one point, FeedRinse was a “freemium” service with a pay option, but since November 2006 it has been completely free. A single free account can filter an unlimited number of feeds with up to 500 filter rules.
Filtering feeds is a pretty simple process. Start by adding feeds manually to the site or by uploading an OPML file. Then you set up the rules for each blog.
FeedRinse allows for pretty sophisticated filtering rules, allowing you to block or allow posts that match any or all of your specified rules. You can apply rules to the entire post, author field, title field, tags, or just the body. Rules can filter if the post contains, does not contain, starts with, or ends with any keyword you enter. So, for example, you can use FeedRinse to filter out any post in the SitePoint full blog feed authored by me (Josh Catone). The result of that exercise is here.
You could also use FeedRinse to filter out (or in) posts about specific topics. You could set up a filter to let any posts about Photoshop through the design blogs, but leave out any about CSS, for example. By using a separate RSS blending app like RSS Mixer, you could combine multiple feeds on a single topic (say design) then filter them for a specific sub topic (say Photoshop) and create a feed that is ultra targeted to your interest area.
Yahoo! Pipes can also do this type of feed filtering, but has a steeper learning curve than FeedRinse.
Method 2: AideRSS
AideRSS is one of my favorite RSS filtering apps. It’s not a precise filter, like FeedRinse, but instead filters posts using social interactions to determine what the crowd has deemed a blog’s best content. AideRSS currently looks at comments, Delicious bookmarks, Diggs, Google conversations, and Tweets to assign a “PostRank” (a numerical ranking out of 10) to each post. PostRank is figured relative to each blog, so while 20 comments may mean a high PR on one blog, for a more active blog it might make a much lower contribution to that post’s PR.
Once AideRSS analyzes a feed, it can then filter out the best content by PostRank and spit it out in a new RSS feed. This feed, for example, shows only the posts in the SitePoint full blog feed that AideRSS has deemed “great” over the past few days.
One of the great things about AideRSS, is that its underlying filtering algorithm has been released as a standalone API, meaning that enterprising developers can add social RSS feed filtering to their apps easily. NewsGator Online is already using PostRank, as is Trawlr, and there is a Google Reader plugin as well.
Clearly, I hope that you don’t plan to filter out any of my content from SitePoint’s feeds — and you can always contact me by email with any suggestions or concerns for the type of content you’d like to see on SitePoint’s News & Trends blog (firstname.lastname@example.org). But the option does exist and we hope that this thread has been helpful in that regard.
Remember that you can subscribe to any of SitePoint’s blogs, forum feeds, or newsletters from our subscriptions page.
The irony here, of course, is that if heggaton follows the advice laid out in this thread and decides to block my future posts, he’ll have decided to filter my posts at the precise moment he started to find them useful.