January 23, 2009

Feedscrub: Cleanse The Dirt From Your RSS Feeds

By Mike Fruchter of MichaelFruchter.com (Twitter/FriendFeed)

Last week I touched upon RSS overload and how it's starting to become a problem for a lot of people. That post mainly reflected on how to get the most out of your Google Reader in terms of organization and productivity. The overload part for many, comes down to feed management. In the past I suggested unsubscribing from feeds that bring you little value, or update with too much frequency.

That eliminates the problem, but also poses the risk that you might miss something valuable mixed in with all the clutter. I recently found a better solution, which I have been testing for about 24 hours now, it's call Feedscrub.com.

What is Feedscrub?

Feedscrub is a clever filtering system for your RSS feeds. It acts as a spam filter for your RSS feeds. With this system, you train it based on your content preferences. This application now allows me to still stay subscribed to the feeds I otherwise would have unsubscribed from ages ago. I'm always weary that I will miss something of importance if I abandon the feed completely. For instance, I'm subscribed to quite a few technology blogs, so the first thing I did with Feedscrub was train it to scrub posts that have anything to do with Apple.

The training filter is like an email filter that is based off words. I'm not an Apple consumer and quite frankly I'm overwhelmed with feed after feed pertaining to Steve Job's health or the iPhone. By scrubbing the posts in my feeds that have any mention of Apple, I'm training the system with my dislikes and hopefully I will never have to see another post relating to Apple in my Google Reader.

Getting started:

Getting started with the service is pretty straight forward. You have the ability to enter up to three feeds for scrubbing. Because the service is still in beta, and they are still working out the kinks behind the scenes, three should be suffice to get you going and to take it for a test drive. My advice for you is to test the service out with your feeds that update quite often throughout the day. This will show you the power of the filtering faster compared to feeds with less frequent updates. Don't worry,for power users they offer a PRO account which gives you unlimited feeds plus OPML import & export.

After you input your selected feed for scrubbing, they are displayed and stored under the "Manage Feeds" tab in the control panel. From here, you will also see three feed reader subscribe buttons under each feed. In order to train the system, you must subscribe to the Feedscrub feeds, replacing the original one in your feed reader. Here is what the Feedscrub feed looks like. It basically adds two buttons to the feed, one called "scrub it", the other called "save it". These are what you will use to train the system. If you like the article of content on the feed, you click save it, dislike it, click scrub it. Simple enough.

Training is not limited to the Feedscrub site:

You can train the system a variety of ways. When logged into the control panel you can click the corresponding feed. That will launch a new window with the feed as outlined in the below screen shot. The save it and scrub it buttons are located on the feed. Train away!

Power users will prefer training inside the comfort of Google Reader:

If you are using Google Reader, the feeds that you have selected for scrubbing, appear with the save it, and scrub it buttons. This is how I'm currently training the system. It's handy and convenient, and what better place for them to appear than in your RSS vehicle. This makes it even easier to train the system. Once you have your selected feeds into the Feedscrub system, you will not have to be logged into the control panel often to train and filter your feeds.

That concludes part one of a two-part post:

In order for me to give a fair review of the application, 24 hours was not enough time for me to make a full assessment of the filtering system. Feedscrub was courteous enough to supply me with a PRO account for testing purposes. I unloaded some 600+ feeds into the system last night, so it was a time consuming process. Out of the 600+ feeds, I'm selecting approx 50 of them for scrubbing. One week should be ample time to train the filters, and the data set should be rather interesting. I will share the results of my findings in about a weeks time.

Take the service for a test drive. We have beta invites!

Feedscrub graciously supplied us with 150 beta invites. These will go fast. Don't hesitate to sign up. Use invite code "louisgray" at the sign up process.

Read more by Mike Fruchter at MichaelFruchter.com.