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RSS Improvements

I am a heavy RSS user, and for years I've consumed Tumblr primarily through RSS. I'm thrilled that cohost has non-experimental RSS feeds now, but I think there are a few changes that could make them much better:

  • Shares are too transparent. Currently if a user transparently shares a post, the RSS feed will link to the original post rather than a view of the transparent share. This has two downsides: if I reshare the post it doesn't give credit to the friend I saw it from; and more importantly, I can't see my friend's tags. Tags are an important channel for small followers-only in-jokes and conversation, and missing that in the RSS view makes it much less useful than it could be.
  • Show me the tags. Related to the above, tags should be visible in the feed itself rather than requiring me to click through.
  • Show me the context. Reshares (transparent or not) only include the contents of the immediate post in the feed. This means that reading the feed on its own is largely useless, because you're missing half the conversation. Even posts that aren't reshares could be and the only way to check is to click through.
  • Account-specific feeds. If I'm logged in, I should be able to access an RSS feed that includes a token that identifies me as the reader and applies my own filters and blocks to the feed. I have some filters applied that are so crucial to my mental wellbeing that I will simply not follow someone's RSS feed if the alternative is seeing stuff that would get filtered out on the website.
  • Private page feeds. This is the only suggestion I'm not totally confident in. On one hand, the pages I most want to make sure I see everything from are my friends' private pages. On the other, the best way to make this work is to generate a feed that's locked to my account but could in principle be shared with anyone. Whether this is an actual security risk or not is debatable—after all, I could always screenshot their private posts instead—but it's certainly a PR risk if nothing else. There may be a better solution to this underlying problem than RSS.

13 people like this idea

I think account-specific and private feeds would both need authentication. My reasoning is that:

  • for the former, if anyone could access your account-specific feed, they'd possibly be able to derive information like who you have blocked, which seems like a privacy anti-feature.
  • for the latter, as you mentioned, if the url is not authenticated, then the private pages are no longer private. Contrary to your second point, there's a significant difference between a bad actor's ability to (manually or with software) send screenshots or otherwise proxy content to other folks (e.g. people the poster has blocked), versus the ability to just obtain and send a url to a live feed of that user's content.
My understanding of security in networking is limited, but I'm thinking something like a 3-way handshake between the feed aggregator and the feed source, requiring the user to log in as their cohost account, should be sufficient. That way, in order to share a private feed, the hypothetical bad user would need to also share their account credentials with the inauthentic readers of the feed; and if they're willing to do that, then the RSS feed doesn't really give them any additional power.

i would like to specifically express my support for the 'show me the context' entry here

currently, if a post is a response to something, i have to work out from context clues whether a post is a response to something at all. sometimes, this is not at all obvious, and entirely the wrong impression is given as a result

also, i like catching up on rss feeds in situations where i don't have an internet connection, where there's no way to even check to see if there's context i'm missing when i suspect there might be. this is particularly frustrating

putting past context into attributed <blockquote>s before the post content would, i think, be the ideal solution, for my reading habits at least. if i encounter duplicates, i can scroll past them, like on the website

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having recently started setting up cohost RSS feeds I definitely think the biggest thing here for me would be the fact that it's impossible to tell if something is a reply (maybe some kind of edit to the 'by' field? to make it look like ^@[RSSfeeduser] or something to remind me to click through before figuring it out myself would do

having recently started setting up cohost RSS feeds I definitely think the biggest thing here for me would be the fact that it's impossible to tell if something is a reply (maybe some kind of edit to the 'by' field? to make it look like ^@[RSSfeeduser] or something to remind me to click through before figuring it out myself would do

Something I've noticed about shared posts, is that the RSS feed is actually just pulling everything from the original post. I've subscribed to my own RSS feed to see how my posts show up to others, and shares appear out of order compared to my profile, with shared posts back-dated to their original post date.


On private/personal RSS feeds, something I would *really* value is the ability to curate RSS feeds based on filter rule-sets. I'll say upfront that this would be best kept as a Plus feature to mitigate any processing overhead & feature abuse.

High-level example:
Posts by [Users I Follow]:
  Include [Type:Image] OR [Tag:Art] OR [Tag:Photo]
  Include [Type:Text] AND [Match:CSS]
  Exclude [Shares]

Filter for [User 1], [User 2]:
  Exclude [Type:Image] AND [18+]

Processed top to bottom, this would produce an RSS feed by people you follow, updated with all Image posts, posts of any type with the tags #Photo or #Art, and Text posts that have "CSS" somewhere in its tags (CSS, CSS Crimes, etc). All shared posts would be excluded from this feed. It would then filter the list for posts by two specific users ONLY IF they are Image posts marked 18+, while leaving all of their other included posts intact.

In order for private/personal RSS feeds to remain private, users would need to understand that their curated lists are only as secure as they are. If they share their personal RSS feeds with anyone else, they do so with the understanding that they are voluntarily giving up the privacy of their personal feeds.

As for private page feeds, a lot of news readers/aggregators support using credentials when fetching feeds. If cohost supported that, it would allow people to access the feed while still keeping it relatively private. If a user wanted to share the feed with a friend, it won't include their credentials. They'd have to go out of their way to deliberately share their credentials, which I'd like to think most people wouldn't do.

It would require people to enter their credentials into their reader/aggregator when adding the feed, though.

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