For the past few releases, we've had work items in the RSS Bandit roadmap around helping users deal with information overload. We've added features like newspaper views and search folders
to make it easier for users to manage the information in feeds they
consume. Every release I tried to make sure we add a feature that I
know will make it easier for me to get the information I want from the
feeds I am subscribed to without being overwhelmed.
For the Jubilee release I had planned that the new feature
we'd add in the "dealing with information overload" bucket would be the
ability to rate posts and enable filtering based on this rating. After
thinking about this for a few weeks, I'm not sure this is the right
route any more. There are tough technical problems to surmount to make
the feature work well but I think the bigger problems are the expected
changes to user behavior. Based on my experiences with rating systems
and communities, I suspect that a large percentage of our user base
will not be motivated to start rating the feeds they are subscribed to
or the new items that show up in their aggregator.
On a related note, I've recently been using meme trackers like Memeorandum and TailRank
which try to show the interesting topics among certain technology
blogs. I think this is very powerful concept and is the next natural
evolution of information aggregators such as RSS Bandit.
The big problem with these sites is that they only show the current
topics of interest among a small sliver of blogs which in many cases do
not overlap with the blogs one might be interested in. For example,
today's headline topic on Tech.Memeorandum is that a bunch of bloggers attended a house party
which I personally am not particularly interested in. On the other
hand, I'd find it useful if another way I could view my subscriptions
in RSS Bandit pivoted around
the current hot topics amongst the blogs I read. This isn't meant to
replace the existing interface but instead would be another tool for
users to customize their feed reading experience the same way that newspaper views and search folders do today.
If you are an RSS Bandit
user and this sounds like a useful feature I'd like to hear your
thoughts on what functionality you'd like to see here. A couple of
opening questions that I'd like to get opinions on include
- Would you like to see the most popular links in new posts? For an
example of what this looks like, see the screenshot in Nick Lothian's post on
Personalized meme tracking
would you like to classify new posts; unread posts or items posted
within the last day? The reason I ask this is that you may already have
read a few posts that linked to a very popular topic, in which case
should it be ranked higher than another link for which you haven't read
any of the related posts but hasn't been linked to as much?
- Would you like a 'mark discussion as read' feature? Would it
be nice to be able to mark all posts that link to a particular item as
I have a bunch of other questions but these should do for now.