RSS is due to make its leap back into popular, mainstream Internet culture. In recent years, it’s certainly been undergoing its very own renaissance as it adapted to the current digital landscape.
What this means specifically – an embrace of social media and sharing functions, and a greater control over how users receive, sort, label and filter their feeds. As a result, RSS readers are now close cousins to task management applications like Trello, Todoist, Evernote and Monday.
What separates RSS readers from these applications is that they’re specifically created to manage a high volume of information successfully through automation and integration with other platforms and services through clients like IFTTT and Zapier.
But with RSS having lost its appeal with site owners, the pool of available RSS feeds has shrunk – a challenge that appears insurmountable, but in fact has numerous workarounds.
Otherwise we wouldn’t be writing this article in the first place. Have some reservations as to why go through all the trouble? Allow us to answer the question –
Short answer – because you can, the tools are there, RSS readers are now working towards turning feedless sites into RSS feeds with a click of a button (more on this last point in the second half of this article).
Long answer – you’re helping yourself career wise and mental health wise. RSS readers persist to this day, because users prefer to maximize the value against the input of time and effort in going through their most frequented websites.
This value has a direct impact on their work output and relieves associated stress. Excessive Internet use has been linked to anxiety, depression and sleep disruptions in general. In the workplace, it’s low productivity, low energy, accumulation of work deadlines and a shattered focus.
If you’ve ever lamented how much screen time you’re amassing in a day, a week, a month – you’re one step away from solving it. Turn to RSS even when there’s no RSS feed available (just make one; it’s easy) to enjoy the full potential of…
Everyone deserves to have an easier, more relaxed day at the office, or outside the office, if work takes you on business trips frequently. It’s what automation in the office preaches – doing away with what’s mundane, menial, repetitive and utterly wasteful with a person’s time.
Automated email templates popping up, when you hit reply on a work email, automated data entry and automated reporting are only some of the tasks reimagining office work. The keyword here to consider is convenience and RSS delivers on convenience, because you’re cutting out several short but incredibly dull and repetitive tasks:
Marie Kondo emphasizes the importance of order and tidiness, and extolls its virtues on the psyche. Decluttering and restructuring shouldn’t apply only to our physical spaces, but also our digital spaces – you know, the medium where we spend more and more time on. It’s not a surprising thing to say our time on the Internet is more than it should be and it’s stressing us out.
Part as to why this happens in the first place is the disordered way in which we see articles, news and other media pop up across multiple apps. Our phones are designed to more or less keep us in the same loop of open applications and feeds. RSS consolidates virtually all types of feeds across platforms into a single place – sites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, podcasts and YouTube; all can be added to an RSS feed reader.
Radically reducing the time and mental energy exerted to keep up with the world at large or in your social circle improves one’s stress levels and reduces the overall time spent online. Another benefit is the increase in control you receive as modern RSS feed readers often come with powerful tools for customization and sharing, which further enhances your experience online.
There’s not a reason why not to add every single site to your RSS reader. But what do you do when faced with a site without an RSS feed no matter how hard you’ve looked?
RSS has been relegated to obsolete technologies so much so that Mozilla stopped support for the protocol roughly three years ago. Websites have been following in these footsteps ever since the early 2000s first with Twitter removing natural RSS feeds for public accounts. After the halcyon days of Google Reader, fewer sites want to lose out on hits and ad revenue by supporting RSS and now it’s only the sites built on WordPress or blogs like Blogger and Tumblr that offer RSS.
Users are in the position where they have to make their own manual search into whether an RSS feed is even present, though now RSS feed readers step in to overcome this obstacle through search in their databases. Feedly, Feeder and Inoreader are prime examples as to how you can search through their directories for RSS feeds rather than go to the site to investigate.
What does one do, when there’s no registered subscription? You turn to workarounds, of course. Twitter users have their own special set of tools to generate feeds for anything from searches and public profiles to the tweets a specific user likes. As long as a site publishes content or it can be classified as a thread (a forum thread, a comment thread, a Twitter thread), users can realistically turn it into an RSS feed.
First to mind is RSS.app – a simple little tool made to generate an RSS feed in seconds. Copy and paste the site URL in and click on a button. If you prefer a bit more coding and creative control, Feed Creator stands out with its features to modify and configure RSS feeds the way you want.
Still… that’s too much work delegated to the user. Inoreader eliminates workarounds and gives its users a direct way to subscribe to feedless sites – Webfeed!
As advertised, webfeeds directly subscribe a user to any site / or page on a site of their choosing without having to go through third-party tools for the job. The only requisite for webfeeds to work has to be that a page needs to publish updates.
We understand this most readily with articles or blog posts, but this definitely expands to classified ads, job offers, weather alerts and even product updates from e-commerce sites like Amazon. Then and only then Inoreader will be able to translate it into an RSS feed just like any other. If there are any new links posted, they will be crawled and returned to your dashboard.
Does an Inoreader-generated feed behave any differently than regular RSS feeds? The answer is a resounding no. Users can apply all the existing features to organize and filter as they’d do any other RSS feed:
Grouping feeds in folders? Yes.
Read each update as a regular post and share it on social media or save it on Evernote for a later time? Absolutely!
Reading it in offline mode? We’re not having it any other way.
What about rules, filters and keyword searches? You have all these available as well.
Working with webfeeds has been designed with user friendliness in mind. Users follow an intuitive UI that walks them through each step. Here is how subscribing to a site without an RSS feed looks like broken down in its core steps.
Your journey begins at the search bar, where you paste a page’s URL to subscribe to regular RSS feeds via URL. If Inoreader doesn’t find a corresponding feed, then we move onto the next step – the RSS feed generation.
A pop message will appear ‘try our Web Feeds’ and that’s the tool. Once you click on the button and it will present you with three sample feeds, which showcase a list of links formatted in different ways. Choose the one that appears easiest to read and subscribe. That’s all to it.
Users may encounter difficulties with some pages where the parser is unable to automatically get an RSS feed or perhaps they want to subscribe to just part of a page.
The Manual Setup tab comes to the rescue as it generates a sample rendering of the web page, where you can toggle the Mobile view setting for a better experience. Through this feature you can select what part of the page is most relevant to your needs and subscribe to it. Then you proceed as before with a sample feed and subscribe to it then.
Webfeeds augments your overall experience consuming media on the Internet. Casual users have a better control over their preferred reading sources, especially when they have such limited time on their hands to divide their attention between sites and social media platforms.
This function can extend to professionals as well. Journalists can track breaking stories not just through news sites, but other sources often ignored. Professionals might be thinking about a change in their career and turn to RSS to manage their job search better. Through turning specific searches on job boards into RSS feeds, they’re able to follow each new posting wherever they are without having to waste time.
A specific example concerns drop shippers, who rely on product deals from e-commerce sites such as Amazon, eBay, Ali Baba and Zappos to form their catalog of goods. Drop shippers seek out the best deals in order to turn out profit through selling such products to customers without having to pay for storage as traditional brick-and-mortar stores have to do. Rather than have to manually go to each of these platforms, users direct their attention to Inoreader’s saved new RSS feeds.
As you can see the possibilities are nigh endless.
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