Many RSS users complain of information overload with too many RSS feeds cluttering their inbox. Fortunately, a number of RSS organization tools can tame even the wildest of feed collections. Some of the most effective methods include using “folders” and “views” in aggregators, filtering web apps, and prioritization tools.
This article covers some of the Internet’s best tools for organizing, filtering, and prioritizing feeds. In short, by combining a variety of methods, RSS use can be made more efficient, without wasting time with feeds that focus on information you don’t care about. For example, Facebook articles tend to plague my RSS inbox, although I care little for it. A simply remedy is to use filtering software to eliminate all incoming articles that contain the keyword “Facebook”. When used as part of a multi-pronged strategy, you can dramatically reduce the amount of time spent reading subject material you don’t have an interest in.
And for those who don’t know what RSS is, or would like to squeeze more information out of their existing feeds, check out our free guidel on RSS.
Ways to Tame Your Wild Growth of RSS Feeds
Personally, I use Feedly to manage my RSS feeds. Aside from costing nothing, Feedly also offers a wide number of Chrome and other browser extensions. These features turn it into an ideal platform for consuming RSS feeds for almost everyone. In addition to its extensibility, Feedly also combines well with a number of complementary organization methods and web apps. For the whole lowdown of this popular Google Reader replacement, go over to our unofficial Feedly guide.
I prefer using Feedly with automation enabling web apps, IFTTT, and Yahoo Pipes. It also works devastatingly well with RSS filtering apps, like the powerful Feed Rinse. However, most RSS readers will offer the same integration, so if you don’t like Feedly, be sure to peruse our list of browser-based RSS readers. Or if you prefer it on the go, catch our list of Android-based RSS readers.
Using Folders and Views in RSS Aggregators
Many RSS aggregators allow feed organization using what’s known as “folders”. Folders allow the grouping of similar feeds into customized categories. These categories can then be viewed or read according to the reader’s preferences. This allows users to lump high priority feeds into categories that can be quickly skimmed or display images and text in magazine-like orientation.
“Views” in aggregators such as Feedly, permit users to view their RSS feeds in three ways: Magazine style, as cards and in list form. High priority feeds generally are best read in a magazine-like style, which includes the full-text and its images. Low priority feeds are best read using list view, which displays only the titles of the articles. “Cards” view offers an intermediate between list and magazine-styles, offering some visual elements with a splash of text.
The process for creating folders varies between readers. In Feedly, simply click on the “Personalize” (formerly known as “Organize”) and click on “NEW CATEGORY” at the bottom of the page. After that, you can drag and drop items into each folder/category.
Several applications can narrow the number of feeds reaching you substantially, using a variety of filtering methods.
Yahoo Pipes: Yahoo Pipes provides all manner of organizational tools for RSS feeds. Out of all the RSS aggregation and filtering apps, Yahoo Pipes is easily the most powerful ever created. Unfortunately, it takes a great deal of knowledge to use properly. However, for its most basic functions, setting up a Yahoo Pipe isn’t very difficult. As a side-note, Yahoo Pipes can do some pretty extraordinary things — such as saving you money or finding a job.
Feed Rinse: Feed Rinse can either eliminate, or select articles from a feed based on keywords. For example, if I wanted to eliminate all Facebook articles from an RSS feed, I would choose the “does not contain” option with “Facebook” as the keyword. Alternatively, I could also set the feed up to only include articles containing a specific keyword, such as “Nexus 5″.
FeedSifter: Another option is FeedSifter, which functions in the same manner as Feed Rinse. Simply plug your feed’s XML or direct RSS link into the web app, and it will generate an abridged RSS feed, which you can insert into your favorite reader. From then on, you will receive feeds only including your chosen keyword.
For many RSS users, the RSS aggregator exists to put a buffer between high priority information, such as email and text messages, and lower priority information. However, some subjects that you might find in your RSS feeds could require immediate consumption. RSS aggregation software, sadly, doesn’t possess the ability to contextually parse its feeds for articles that may require greater attention. Fortunately, a variety of software can provide immediate notifications based on the presence of keywords.
For example, if you need immediate notification on articles containing the words “Nexus 5″, you can configure the notification software to shoot you a text or email whenever that particular word shows up. Out of all the apps out there, IFTTT is easily the best. It can even save or make you money. We even have a free IFTTT guide that shows you how to use it.
IFTTT: IFTTT can scan RSS feeds and shoot you either an email or text message (or both) whenever a particular keyword shows up in your feed. This requires some setting up though. You must first enter IFTTT, select “Create a Recipe” and select the RSS (it’s the orange icon labeled as “Feed”) icon from the list of options.
From there simply fill out the “that” action, which IFTTT performs upon receipt of the trigger keyword. The final step to create an IFTTT recipe is to click on the “Create Trigger” link at the bottom of the page.
For those of you sick of a flooded RSS inbox and tons of unread articles, fear not. Tons of tools exist that can de-clutter your feeds. In particular, IFTTT, Feedly, Yahoo Pipes, and Feed Rinse can dramatically improve the quality of your feeds. The key to any good RSS collection is brevity; reading a small amount of highly useful information beats reading a large volume of largely useless information.
Anyone else want to share their favorite RSS decluttering tools? Please share with us in the comments.