RSS Feed Culling

Reeder, RSS

I remember back when Google announced the shutdown of Google Reader. Like many people at the time, I was angry and sad. I had used Google Reader for years to follow along and track updates to websites. But unlike many people at the time, I never abandoned the RSS format. Neither has David Sparks.

For several years now, the trend among geeks has been to abandon the RSS format. RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a way to queue up and serve content from the internet. The MacSparky RSS, for example, gives RSS applications a list of all the articles I post here since you last checked int. It is a great way to read blogs and the backbone of podcast distribution. As social networks took off, a lot of my friends that were previously big RSS fans gave up on the technology and instead relied upon sources like Twitter and Facebook to get their news.

That was never me.

I never agreed with the idea that Twitter and Buzzfeed, etc., were a replacement for a “Really Simple Syndication” (RSS) news feed. It just didn’t make sense to follow a live stream of 140 character updates to catch what was going on with writers whose content I enjoyed.

This decision by Google cemented my thoughts and my decision to put control of my online content back into my hands. I took some time to try alternative services for hosting my RSS subscriptions. This was part of a more considerable effort to reduce the privacy implications of using social media services.

It’s been a few years since the last time I reviewed and cleaned up my RSS subscriptions. Currently, there are 910 feeds in Feedbin. I think that’s too many! I think I probably read and enjoy the content at only a few of those. Many are news sites that update dozens of times a day. A deluge of content I can’t possibly read. I find myself the Mark All As Read button in Reeder whenever the number of unread items rises above 400. Some of the RSS feeds are dead. The author has abandoned the website and hasn’t submitted new content in months and, in some cases, years. It’s time for an RSS feed culling.


  1. This is one of the reasons why I no longer “surf” Facebook and twitter. I’ve defaulted to the old ways of the web. Back to a reading from a controlled list of bloggers and news sites.
    I have a list of photography, lifestyle, and security bloggers and web sites in my RSS reader. I recently culled the list to remove dead sites or sites whose focus had changed. When Trump won the election I added a filter for the keyword “Trump” to reduce the chance I would see blog posts about that.
    I started participating in the IndieWeb. The IndieWeb isn’t new. It’s just the web as I think it was meant to be.
    I don’t think social media is useless but I do my best to mitigate the risks of the downside. It sometimes fails. But … that’s how the universe works.
    Image CC0 via Unsplash

  2. Jack, I installed the Yarns Indie Reader just minutes ago. Setup was easy and of course, I used your site as the first test. Love it! This is a useful contribution to the IndieWeb.
    I have hundreds of feeds in my RSS reader. Have you done on test on how/if performance is affected? At some point I need cut back on my RSS list.
    Does the plugin support Markdown for formatting?
    Looking forward to how this develops.

  3. I moved from Google Reader to Feedly after checking a few out. Feedly was and still is interested in listening to community feedback and it was a similar feel to using Reader. @feedly

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