I recently wrote app for the Mac called Feed Compass. It is an app that displays lists of blog feeds, allows you to preview them, and then subscribe to them in your RSS reader. It is designed to solve the problem of not having enough content in your RSS reader. The problem I’ve run into is that Feed Compass also has the same problem of not having enough content. In this case, it is not having enough lists of blogs to show to the user.
One solution to this problem is for users to take their personal listings of blogs from their RSS readers and upload them to a service for aggregation. The only service I know that does that currently is feedBase. Feed Compass already utilizes the Hotlist from feedBase. The Hotlist is the top 100 most subscribed listing. There are currently plans to do more feedBase integration to get more content from it into Feed Compass. What I want to talk about to day are curated or custom lists.
Feed Compass already has a small handful of curated lists that provide the majority of the content. Some of the best ones come from the iOS Dev Directory. They are awesome if you are an Apple developer. I think that Feed Compass needs more curated lists like this, but with a wider background of interests. The problem is that they simply don’t exist.
I think one of the things that makes iOS Dev Directory successful is that it has a process where people can submit blogs to be included in the listings. This process utilizes Github with forks and pulls for its workflow. In the end it produces an OPML file that can be used by RSS readers and Feed Compass.
This seems to me like a pretty good way to get a curated listing of technical blogs, but is too complicated for the lay person to use. I’d like to propose a new application to make it easier for for the average person to curate and publish a listing of blogs.
This application would be a Mac app originally, but could be ported to other platforms. It would be able to create and edit OPML files. OPML files have entries in them for blogs. All together the entries comprise a blog listing.
The application would allow you to drag URL’s from another application, such as a web browser, to it. It would then produce the correct OPML entry for that page, including finding the RSS feed in the page. There should also be a Safari plugin so the you can add the blog to the OPML listing without having to drag the URL.
For publishing, it would upload the OPML file to a Github Gist. It would also be able to edit OPML files stored as Gists. This gives us a way to distribute the OPML for free. As a bonus it also provides a full revision history.
It should also have a button to submit the listing to Feed Compass for inclusion which would produce a Github Issue that would be reviewed to see if the feed should be included in Feed Compass.
The application would be Open Source and MIT Licensed the same as Feed Compass.
This would give us a way to distribute and maintain OPML files without having to set up, pay for, or maintain a centralized server. As long as Github doesn’t drastically change its business model and start charging for Gists or Open Source projects that is.
If done correctly, it should be easy enough for your average person to add to and maintain the OPML file while they are browsing the internet. I envision people visiting their daily websites and adding to the OPML as they go.
It provides a workflow for reviewing lists via Github Issues to help prevent Spam from getting into the system.
Feel free to leave a comment below. You can also join the discussion on Github: We Need More Curated Lists.