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RSS Feeds for TidBITS Comments

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In the wake of rolling out our in-article commenting system three weeks ago - see "Introducing the TidBITS Commenting System," 2009-07-03 - we've upped the ante with a pair of RSS feeds, one for comments on each article and another that displays all the comments posted on our site. The per-article feed lets you track comments on an article in which you're interested or upon which you've commented without revisiting its Web page repeatedly, and the full "firehose" feed lets you get an overview of what's being said across all our current articles.

On every article page with comments and new articles from now on, the per-article RSS feed is included in the page's header so Web browsers can detect it, and an RSS icon with a link appears next to the start of comments for each article. The firehose comment feed is included in all page headers.

To subscribe to one of these RSS feeds, either click the RSS icon next to an article's comments, or click the RSS button in the address field and choose your preferred RSS feed. (The RSS button in the address field appears in at least Safari and Firefox.)


Unfortunately, if you subscribe to the RSS feed for a particular article, you'll have to delete that feed from your RSS reader manually once comments stop flowing in. It would be nice if the RSS spec had a way to say, "this feed is no longer being updated," but that doesn't seem to be the case. Note that we close comments 30 days after the publication of an article, so no comment feed will remain active for longer than a month.

RSS isn't everybody's cup of tea: Adam Engst avoids RSS like the plague to avoid spending his entire day reading interesting posts, while Glenn Fleishman regularly scans through the headlines of several hundred feeds in his RSS reader. Nonetheless, if you're a fan of RSS, we hope you'll find these new feeds useful, and we welcome suggestions of ways to improve them. (It's difficult to simulate a threaded commenting system in a chronological and linear RSS feed.)

In the future, we plan to revamp our TidBITS account management system entirely to let you manage a variety of preferences surrounding TidBITS and Take Control. Once we have that new system in place, we anticipate providing some sort of email notification of new comments to subscribers.

 

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Comments about RSS Feeds for TidBITS Comments

Is it possible to subscribe to ALL the comments, because it looks like the RSS is specific to the article.
Glenn Fleishman  2009-07-29 06:52
We're considering that, but we're interested in thoughtful responses to articles, and thus if we offer a full feed for all comments, we encourage commenting in bulk.
From my perspective, if I have to go find every article posted and subscribe to its comments I just won't do it. WAY too much work.
Glenn Fleishman  2009-07-30 17:05
That implies that every comment will be of interest to you. I'm curious if you think that would be the case. I can see why every article could be of interest (hence a full RSS feed for the site).
Oh, no, I expect most comments will be completely uninteresting, just as most posts to TTalk are; if I have to go hunt out the ones that are by checking every single article, that's a huge time-sink. Subscribing to all the rss feeds for all the articles would be even worse.
A single RSS feed for all comments, grouped by article, would let me very quickly look at all the comments and reply to the ones that caught my attention without having to scrub the site.
Glenn Fleishman  2009-07-30 18:01
That is very useful to know.
This is just a test comment to see what the threading looks like for a multi-branching comment tree.
Glenn Fleishman  2009-07-30 19:31
We've thought about adding a "collapse" option for better reading.
I seriously doubt it's necessary. this post will probably have the most comments on any of them. And most of them are me! :) and the rest of them are YOU.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2009-08-03 11:39
You asked, we listened. :-) There's now a full feed for all comments, and I've updated the article to explain how to get it.
AHoffman   2009-07-28 16:36
Thank you.

I hope to use it rarely, but am very glad that it is available.
barefootguru  2009-07-28 19:00
I look forward to the e-mail notification. While I like RSS, using this system would require regular cleanout of old 'comment' feeds. Cheers.
Roger D. Parish  2009-08-04 18:05
The Full Comment Firehose would be much more valuable if the titles listed the article title BEFORE the name of the commenter. Then, the list could be sorted into a meaningful order. As it is, sorting the list puts it into Author order. Not much value in that except for narcissists.
Glenn Fleishman  2009-08-04 20:35
Good point. We weren't thinking about people using it in that fashion. And we're all narcissists, otherwise why would we have bylines?
Jeff Carlson  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2009-08-04 21:01
That's a great idea. Count me in as a supporter for that option.
Glenn Fleishman  2009-08-04 21:39
Where will and power are one, let it be! Check your RSS.
Roger D. Parish  2009-08-05 02:33
Wow! What responsive customer service! I could get to like that!

Seriously, thanks for your efforts.