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 It would be nice if the RSS spec had a way to say, “this feed is no longer being updated,” but that doesn’t seem to be the case.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.