The Waving Flag: Twitter, RSS feeds and "Getting a Life"

Saturday 27 May 2023

Twitter, RSS feeds and "Getting a Life"

As I've said before, things change and sometimes not always for the better.  Recently, I've been trying to figure out what to do about the changing nature of Twitter.

I've used Twitter since Dec 2010 which, for a web service, is a long time.  I recently wrote about my dissatisfaction with the current direction of Twitter and how I'm using Mastodon more and more.

Since then Twitter has got worse.  The tools I use(d) to make Twitter bearable (IFTTT & Tweetdeck) have been adversely affected by the recent changes and free tools are disappearing fast.

I've also been increasingly concerned that my use of Twitter has become a waste of time.  So my plan is to stop using Twitter; if at all possible.  I've been cutting back my usage for a while now but I was still checking Twitter too many times a day: not ideal.

The tipping point came when, at the end of the football season, I decided to stop using Twitter to archive articles about my local non-league team.  As a result my active use of Twitter has declined drastically.  I'm now almost exclusively a passive user and hardly tweet at all.

What to do in the short term
I still need to use Twitter to message some people but I wanted a quick way to review the rump of my Twitter interests (without using Twitter directly).  Ideally, I wanted a solution based on RSS and one able to filter the items.

And, as of Sat 01 July, 2023, I'm still looking.  See comments.

To passively read Twitter the solution was simple:  Nitter can access any public Twitter profile or list and offers RSS feeds.  All I had to do is figure out how best to use the feeds.

I'm lucky that, as one of the very first users, I have an excellent free account with the online feed reader that I use on many times a day but it won't allow me to follow feeds (they charge for Twitter integration so this makes sense from their viewpoint) or filter news items.

For the Nitter feeds I set up Thunderbird as a desktop feed reader.  Annoyingly, it failed to validate one Nitter feed (see comments) but does provide feed filtering.  The advantage of a desktop feed reader is I can now set about disciplining myself to use it just once or twice a day.  I've also added feeds from many of my favourite hobby forums to save even more time.

Initially I set up QuiteRSS but I realised it hasn't been updated in 3 years.  Given it renders web pages this is not good news.  Thunderbird has the advantage of being properly maintained and will remain so for the foreseeable future.

Variations on a theme
As regular readers will know, I'm a big fan of RSS.  I use RSS daily to read news from around the internet.  I also use RSS to download history and music podcasts.  I have accumulated quite a collection of feeds; perhaps too many.

Recently, I've been weeding my RSS feeds.  There were far too many that weren't that interesting.  Using a feed reader makes reviewing items very quick but I felt it was time to increase the signal to noise ratio.

I've also weeded my list of podcasts.  I had far too many that only offered the odd episode of interest.  My dedicated podcast app allows me to suspend downloading episodes but this also stops all notifications.  So, I copied the podcast RSS urls to a feed reader: job done.

Closing remarks
I hope all these changes will save me some time.  Time will tell.


Vexillia said...

Post edited to reflect the switch of desktop feed reader from QuiteRSS to Thunderbird. as the former hasn't been updated in three years.

Vexillia said...

I have "fixed" the Nitter feed that wouldn't validate. All I had to do was create a new list (in Twitter) with most of the accounts from the old list. Amazingly this resulted in a valid feed!

Vexillia said...

One month in and these changes have succeeded in changing my habits and freeing up a lot of time.

I'm using Twitter far less; the combination of Nitter & Thunderbird has shown me how much trivia, and rubbish, I was scrolling through.

The filtering of RSS feeds with Thunderbird has proved a god send. One diverse miniatures forum has been tamed and its RSS feed now shows only those parts I'm interested in.

Vexillia said...

The Twitter meltdown continues. They have started blocking unregistered users. You must now log in to read posts. This breaks Nitter completely. Bugger!

Vexillia said...

After the demise of I'm now using Thunderbird to read only two types of RSS feeds.

[1] An set of eBay searches (via The main one is a basic search for "15mm" in the historical wargaming category filtered by Thunderbird to cut the crap. Works well.

[2] A feed from the Lead Adventure Forum. I use Thunderbird to filter out the many sections that don't interest me. This too works well. I also "ignore" any uninteresting threads that pass the first filter. This works too but not as well I would like.

After a few weeks of this approach it's beginning to dawn on me just how little of the LAF now interests me. It's so little I'm beginning to wonder why I bother reading LAF at all and I'm considering switching off the RSS feed.

I'll probably still post on the LAF to "advertise" this blog.

Vexillia said...

A member of a well known DBA forum keeps posting image links to a private Facebook group. He says it's to advertise the group. What with FFS? There's nothing to see unless you're already a member of the Facebook group.

This has finally tipped me over the edge: I've deleted my account and my digital life now involves even less wasted time.

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