Reading Lists for RSS

Last week Dave Winer proposed the idea of reading lists for RSS, which are more-or-less OPML subscriptions. I like this idea – a lot – and in fact a few FeedDemon customers have requested this feature in the past.

In a nutshell, the idea is that you’d subscribe to an OPML document which contains a list of feeds that someone is reading, some organization is recommending, or some service has generated (such as “Top 100” list). Changes to the source OPML document would be synchronized, so that you’re automatically subscribed to feeds added to the reading list. Likewise, you’d be unsubscribed from feeds removed from the original OPML.

There are a number of implementation details that would need to be worked out (ex: would a FeedDemon user really want to be automatically unsubscribed from feeds dropped from the source OPML, especially if that user had flagged some posts in those feeds for future reference?), but details aside, I’m curious whether this is something you’d like to see, and if so, how do you think the idea can be improved upon?

Just to toss some ideas out, I’d like to see some sort of rating/ranking/popularity attribute added to each feed in the OPML. For example, if an OPML file is generated by an online aggregator, each feed’s popularity among the service’s users (or a subset of users that you trust) would be included in the OPML. Also, the ability to include a space-separated list of tags for each feed might be useful – that way you could say “automatically subscribe me to feeds with the ‘sports’ tag,” etc.

23 thoughts on “Reading Lists for RSS

  1. Bummer that Topstyle seems to be dead. It was such a great program, it’s a shame that it’s now so off-track and probably gone for good.

  2. Hmm. How do you handle deduping of feeds that I already subscribe to? Of course I don’t want to see the posts twice, but then, of course I do want to see all the posts that are in the OPML reading list (“Why is John talking about Sue’s post in the reading list that I don’t see?” “I know there have been posts to some of the feeds included in this list, but my folder’s still empty!”).

  3. Yeah, dups were among the details I wasn’t sure about.
    One option would be to handle a dup by treating it as a “shortcut” to the feed in your existing subscriptions, so that reading a post in one reading list would automatically mark it as read in every other reading list you’re subscribed to.
    The downside of this, though, is that it would complicate unsubscribing from the existing feed (esp. if the existing feed is in another reading list and has been dropped).

  4. The reading list is a great idea.
    Example Reading lists I would have liked:
    > Katrina blogs
    > Web 2.0 Conference blogs
    > Microsoft Professional Developers Conference 2005 blogs
    Example Permanent reading lists I would like:
    > Web 2.0 workgroup blogs
    > Search (D Sullivan, Google search blogs, Microsoft search blogs, etc.)
    > Visibility of the reading list.
    > The ability to approve any additions or deletions to the list for my own feed reader. Any feed deletion that I did not desire would be added as an individual feed.
    > A random function, that says give me any two of the feeds on a list daily. A random filter on a list so I can sample blogs on a certain subject without getting inundated. For example:
    > I would like to sample some political blogs from right, left and center.
    > I would like to sample some religious and spiritual blogs from across the spectrum.
    And of course, if I read a feed that I really liked, I would want the ability to add that feed to my regular list and continue to randomly sample the rest.
    Those are my ideas to start.

  5. It would be cool if you could drag-n-drop feeds from an OPML subscription into one of Feed Demon’s Channel Groups, therefore making it a permanent subscription.
    And yeah, like someone else already mentioned, if the feed already exists as a permanent subscription in one of your channel groups, it should be filtered out of the OPML feed, so you dont see it twice.

  6. Could it be hierarchical. eg the Top 100 list would consist of a pointer to several other OPML subscription files which had Top 50 and Bottom 50?
    I think dupes should be handled by a shortcut (although the feed info/rss would have it’s own metadata which tied it back to the OPML subscription)

  7. I don’t care about such a feature at all. The power of aggregation is the cherry-picking of feeds, and if you do this you lose that power.
    But that’s just me.

  8. I think the idea is cool. I can’t quite see a use case personally, but given the right list owner I think it would be awesome (and I vote for unsubscribing automatically).

  9. This sounds like a great idea. I could even see media sites like CNN offering an OMPL of all their different RSS feeds. Then when they create a new category, or remove an old one, users are automatically updated.
    I also like the shortcut idea for dups. Maybe the Reading List folder should have a checkbox for “automatically subscribe to new feeds” and “automatically unsubscribe from removed feeds” …and then maybe each aditional feed should have a “don’t remove this subscription” option. Sounds a bit complicated…but I know you’ll figure it out. ;)

  10. I like the idea of OPML reading lists–especially since Nick explained them rather easily and I was a bit behind in checking the details from Dave.
    I would like them in their own folder, though. Moreover, as far as ranking the article itself, I am a bit leery of that given the possible different ways the online aggregation services may be going about doing that. I do think, though, that there should be some way to maintain sync without complaining when a feed has been removed from the list. Maybe just informing the user that author x has removed feed y from the OPML reading list would be good enough.

  11. I think this is fantastic as well. In particular, however, I’d like to use it for syncing across multiple computers via services other than NewsGator or Bloglines (not that there’s anything wrong with them :) ).
    If I were to use a web-based aggregator that generated OPML files for my reading lists, it could be easily synced with FeedDemon as well as any other desktop aggregator that implemented something like this.
    To be honest, the fact that Bradsoft was bought by NewsGator makes me a little nervous. I’d hate to see FD get tied exclusively to a single service (although having improved features with a preferred one is cool).

  12. All these OPML sharing ideas are great. I’d really like to see, and would benefit from, the ability to automatically subscribe other FeedDemon users to feeds by having them simply subscribe to an OPML list. This would have a lot of benefit in corporate use cases. It brings some of the benefit of an online reader to the client reader.

  13. I see this as part of a bigger scheme.
    Each user keeps lists, like “blogs I never want to see again”. Those filter content and co-incidentally help you rate somebody else’s reading list. If he favours a few blogs you firmly reject you know that list could be off target for you.
    Then it would be cool to have widgets in the HTML display (generated by a style) that let you rate each item “in situ”. Behind the scenes these are tallied. When a blog gets unrelenting bad ratings, you can bring up it’s scores and put it in the “not again” list if you want.
    (Some of the blogs I like best, publish infrequently, when they do it’s very good. I also appreciate that they don’t give me iffy posts. Any system should cater to that sort of thing, like that other idea of unsubscribe if no posts for two weeks!)

  14. RSS for Subscribing to Anything

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  15. Can We Get Socially ORL?

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  16. I think I’ve just found my use case for OPML reading lists.’s OPML search results output. Sit back and bask in the possibilities of that for a second.

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