RSS Feeds have become an essential way to keep up-to-date with many different online sources of information – in fact without it, tracking blog updates would be next to impossible.
To those of you with a feed addiction, it may come as some surprise to learn that RSS adoption is still surprisingly low across web users”“ even those who spend a lot of time on the internet. Most people are unaware of the technology or if they are – even less interested. A lot of people simply prefer email subscriptions and depending on the target audience of a blog this can be nearly equal with RSS subscribers. Even here on MakeUseOf, a substantial number of our subscribers are using email for updates.
There are hundreds of interesting ways in which RSS feeds can be put to use. Yahoo Pipes is one great example and this is something I’d like to write about in more detail at a later time. For now however I’d like to introduce you to PostRank.
What is it exactly?
“PostRank is a scoring system developed by AideRSS to rank any kind of online content, such as RSS feed items, blog posts, articles, or news stories. PostRank is based on social engagement, which refers to how interesting or relevant people have found an item or category to be. Examples of engagement include writing a blog post in response to someone else, bookmarking an article, leaving a comment on a blog, or clicking a link to read a news item.”
The 5 “˜C’s are used to determine the popularity of any particular post, I’ll leave you to check it out for yourself if you wish to find out more detail, but in essence this criteria includes the following:
- The creation of a blog post responding directly to another blog post. This is the biggest determinate of a post’s popularity.
- Commenting on a blog post – the second most important measure of audience engagement and the quality of the article.
- Discussion – this involves mentioning a post on other social networking services like Twitter.
- Sharing – submitting a site to Digg, or bookmarking it using a service like Del.icio.us
- User activity on the page – clicks and page views, not given too much weight in PostRank.
Using this system, blog posts can be run through PostRank to determine just how popular (and therefore how good) the posts are. In the example mentioned above, this is how NewsGator implemented PostRank. When viewing one of your feeds online, you can choose to change the view to show only the most popular items – a useful feature for when in a rush.
Why Would You Want it?
For me the biggest issue I have is finding time to read all the feeds I subscribe to. While personal blogs may only get updated once a day, large multi-author blogs (like one particular blog you may be aware of) are updated much more frequently while other sites focusing on news will be updated constantly 24/7.
With this constant flow of information it’s become increasingly necessary to have the ability to filter out articles which are not of interest to you, and instead simply read the articles which are.
This is where PostRank comes in.
PostRank is both an online RSS reader, service and also an API which developers can choose to include in their applications if they wish. One notable online service which have done is this isa few months ago.
How Else Can I Use It?
To use PostRank on any feed simply submit it to the PostRank website. I’ve shown an example in the screenshot below.
If this is a fairly popular feed you’ve submitted then it’ll already be in the system. If it’s a bit more obscure than you may have to wait a day or so for it to be fully submitted (I’m actually only guessing, I have no real idea how long it takes. Perhaps someone else knows?). In my own experience any feed I wanted to use was already submitted so I’ve had no issues.
After this you can choose what to do with the feed. You can select from 4 different rankings:
- All Posts
- Good Posts
- Great Posts
- Best Posts
You can also filter the feed by any keywords you want.
After doing this, if you decide you would like to use this feed in your own RSS application then simply click the “˜create new feed’ button. Using this feed you can simply import it into whatever application you already use and replace the feed which may be overwhelming you slightly.
If you decide to create a PostRank account then you can use the site as your web based feed reader. You can save submitted feeds and change them as you like. If you don’t want to sign up then if you want to make any changes to the feed you’ve created you’ll have to start over again – although it’s not really that inconvenient.
Hopefully some of you can find this useful, I know I did. Has anyone else already been using it in this way?