This is a retro post from June 18, 2006

I initially made this post on another blog. Posting it here now because someone asked me too.

RSS Filtering

I love RSS – it’s one of the best ideas of the last decade, I think. But I am suffering RSS overload, as I know many others are. I think RSS should be extended to support filtering, like you can do on a Google or MSN search. Example: I like reading Dave Winer’s blog, but not when he talks about politics. I like Engadgets feeds, but I don’t care about reviews on Digital Cameras (got a great one, not in the market) or Video Games (got an Xbox, Xbox360, and PS2 – don’t need another one).

I think you should be able to subscribe to an RSS feed with negatives, like “Scobleizer –HDTV – Adobe” – this would give me all of Scoble’s blog entries, EXCEPT those that match “HDTV” or “Adobe”. Feeds containing those terms just wouldn’t hit my radar. RSS Readers should be written to allow me to place “Global Negatives” – where regardless of the feed I can exclude something like “politics” or “DRM” – whatever I want. I should also be able to set “per-feed” negatives.

Actually, I just had another thought related to this – there should be two levels of filtering allowed – one based only on “Tags”, or “categories” that would exclude, say HDTV tagged articles, but not articles that contain “HDTV” but aren’t actually flagged as an “HDTV article”. The second level of filtering would be global, and would prohibit ANY post that simply contains the “negative” keywords. It’s all about getting the user the content they want, and giving them the tools to filter out stuff they know they are not interested in!


  1. Paul Claessen says:

    You’re not the only, nor the first, who wants this: see suggestion #4 and the replies.

    I don’t think, however, that this can be done with a plug-in.

  2. Paul, I use an IE plug-in called OnFolio – it’s now a Microsoft property, so it definitely isn’t open source! I can point you to RSS Bandit ( is probably the best RSS reader offered Open-Source. I would switch to it if it did what I mention above!

    I use OnFolio mostly because it just sits in my browser AND it has single button “next message” navigation. I can’t believe how many readers leave this critical little feature out!



  3. Paul Claessen says:

    Rob, which rss reader are you using? If you can point me to an open source one, I could have a look. In essence what you want is extremely simple to do. For me the hardest part would probably the GUI part where you let people specifiy the keywords (not much of a gui person, but I DO know my regex’s).