Celine Roque wrote a great article about how to fine tune your RSS subscriptions and prune them down to the feeds that provide you with the most value. I spent some time over the Thanksgiving holiday reviewing my feeds and getting rid of the poor performers, which really helps me get more value while spending less time in my RSS reader. However, pruning is not enough. I also use quite a few filtering techniques to further reduce the clutter.
My favorite filtering techniques involve Yahoo Pipes, which looks and sounds much more complicated than it is. Jackson West described Yahoo Pipes pretty well when he called them “hard to grok, but snazzy“; however, Yahoo Pipes doesn’t have to be quite so difficult for people to understand. The first time I looked at Pipes, the interface scared me away until a friend of mine gave me a very quick demo that showed how easy it was to use. After using Pipes for while, I gave similar demos to help other friends get started and even recorded a 2 minute introduction to Yahoo Pipes that shows how to use Pipes to filter RSS feeds. How complicated could it be if I can explain it in a 2 minute screencast?
Here are a few of my favorite filtering techniques that I use to find the most relevant content.
Filter high volume feeds. Many of the big technology news blogs have a huge volume of stories in the feed. The aggregated feed for the entire GigaOM network, for example, contains dozens of posts every day. I have a hard time finding the content relevant to me when I have to sort through a large number of posts, so I use Pipes to search these stories to find the ones that matter to me. The example pipe below shows how to filter the entire GigaOM network feed down to the few posts containing certain keywords.
Aggregate and filter less relevant content. There are certain categories of blogs that have outstanding content, but they rarely publish posts that I want to read. For me, this is true of industry analyst blogs. While I really want to hear about the latest research in online communities and social media, most of the reports published are on topics that are not interesting to me. The Pipe below is one that I use to aggregate 17 industry analyst blogs together into one feed while filtering the posts for a few keywords relevant to my interests.
Find the posts everyone else is reading. For news junkies like me, it helps to be able to find the posts that are generating the most buzz. PostRank, a service that used to be called AideRSS, simplifies this process by finding the most talked about posts from any RSS feed. I often use PostRank in conjunction with Pipes to rank and filter posts at the same time. The example below ranks the posts here on WebWorkerDaily with a feed containing only the posts that are generating the most conversation.
Both Yahoo Pipes and PostRank have an option to get the output as RSS, so I make sure that the results from these tools make it into my RSS reader. With these more efficient filtered feeds, I can remove some of the aggregated and filtered source feeds from my reader. By using these filtering techniques to further prune my feeds, I plan to spend less time catching up on feed reading and more time working, exercising, or spending time with friends and family.
What are your favorite filtering techniques?