In response to Peter’s earlier request I have created a new RSS feed that contains only comments on postings, not other types of reactions such as likes, mentions, and ping- or trackbacks. It was a bit of a puzzle to get it all working, having me dive down the rabbit hole leading to the maze that is the WordPress documentation. With some suggestions from Jan Boddez, I now have a result. The new feed is listed on the right hand side. Subscribe to it if you care to follow conversations on this blog. The feed with all interactions, so including likes etc., is also available.

I documented how I created the feed over in the wiki.

Peter asked me if it is possible to change my RSS feed for my comments. Right now it contains any reaction, which come in the form of webmentions, likes, reposts, as well as actual replies and comments. Essentially it is currently not a comment feed, but a reaction feed. As part of my site tweaks I will see if I can turn it into a real comment feed (that includes webmentions that are replies), and how to change the way some things are displayed (I had that but it got overwritten by plugin updates).

For now I have renamed the comment feed, so new subscribers have the right expectations.

In the past days both Heinz and Ric alerted me that my RSS feeds wasn’t reachable for them. My log files quickly showed what was happening, Netnewswire, FeedBin and TinyTinyRSS were blocked by my hoster as ‘bad bots’ whenever they tried to reach my RSS feed:

[Thu Mar 26 03:43:49.372015 2020] [:error] [pid 501480] [client 95.143.172.147:48116] [client 95.143.172.147] ModSecurity: Access denied with code 403 (phase 2). Matched phrase "tt-rss.org" at REQUEST_HEADERS:User-Agent. [file "/etc/httpd/modsecurity.d/modsecurity_localrules.conf"] [line "2"] [id "350001"] [msg "Bad Bot Rule: Black Bot detected. "] [hostname "www.zylstra.org"] [uri "/blog/feed/"] [unique_id "XnwW5ZujCwgIM-xP-57OfAAAAAE"], referer: http://www.zylstra.org/blog/feed/
[Thu Mar 26 04:06:25.506843 2020] [:error] [pid 452702] [client 157.230.163.157:51478] [client 157.230.163.157] ModSecurity: Access denied with code 403 (phase 2). Matched phrase "Feedbin" at REQUEST_HEADERS:User-Agent. [file "/etc/httpd/modsecurity.d/modsecurity_localrules.conf"] [line "2"] [id "350001"] [msg "Bad Bot Rule: Black Bot detected. "] [hostname "www.zylstra.org"] [uri "/blog/feed/"] [unique_id "XnwcMZhpXdX8450kb5sLbgAAABI"]
[Thu Mar 26 05:45:54.289670 2020] [:error] [pid 681301] [client 69.172.186.78:39628] [client 69.172.186.78] ModSecurity: Access denied with code 403 (phase 2). Matched phrase "NetNewsWire" at REQUEST_HEADERS:user-agent. [file "/etc/httpd/modsecurity.d/modsecurity_localrules.conf"] [line "2"] [id "350001"] [msg "Bad Bot Rule: Black Bot detected. "] [hostname "www.zylstra.org"] [uri "/blog/comments/feed/"] [unique_id "XnwzggS4@-ngUalhqeVluAAAAA4"]

I submitted a ticket with my hoster Thursday but they have been unusually unresponsive this time. So for the time being I created a Feedburner RSS feed http://feeds.feedburner.com/InterdependentThoughts, so at least those that have this issue can resolve it. However Feedburner has been part of Google since 2007, which means the service hasn’t evolved apart from that it tracks your reading habits. So I’m on the lookout for a replacement service that does the same as Feedburner, except that it isn’t Feedburner, so sans the tracking.

[UPDATE 2020-03-30: the blocked feedreaders are now unblocked again. I’ll keep the Feedburner feed alive for now. Will likely rename it to something under my own domain [no longer possible], and my try to replace it with something like granary.io]

A few weeks ago Kicks Condor released a major update of his Fraidycat feed reader. Like Kick Consor’s blog itself, Fraidycat has a distinct personality.

Key with Fraidycat is that it aims to break the ‘never ending timeline’ type of reading content that the silos so favour to keep you scrolling, and that most feed readers also basically do. Fraidycat presents all the feeds you follow (and it is able to work with a variety of sources, not just regular RSS feeds from blogs) in the same way: the name of the feed, and one line of titles of recent postings.
The pleasant effect of this is that it shows the latest postings of all your subscriptions, not just the latest postings. This means that regular posters, oversharing posters and more silent voices get allocated much the same space, and no single voice can dominate your feed reader.

For each blog you can toggle a list of recent postings.

It’s not just that Fraidycat doesn’t present a timeline, it actually only presents some metadata from each feed and does not fetch the actual content of a feed at all. So as soon as you click a link in a list of links, it will send you to your browser and open it there. This runs counter to my habit of reading feeds offline, which requires being able to automatically download content to my laptop. It does make for a clean experience though.

A neat addition is also that it shows sparkline graphs next to the name of a blog, so there’s a visual cue as to the frequency of posting. This is something I’d like to see in other readers too. It’s a functionality that might be extended with an alert of changes in the normal posting rhythm. E.g. someone falling silent, or suddenly blogging up a storm, or covering a live event could perhaps stand out with a visual cue (such as changing the color of the sparkline graph). The sparkline is the only cue concerning the number of postings, there’s no indication of how many ‘unreads’ there are because Fraidycat doesn’t know that (as it doesn’t fetch content). This is a good way of preventing any type of FOMO cropping up.

In the current times it is I think worthwile to follow blogs more, and social media timelines less, attenuating both the noise and the way stuff reaches you.

Pleased to see that my step last week to fix my RSS feed so it shows my words first, not what I’m reacting to, actually has the hoped for effect.

My feed goes to my micro.blog account, and there my own words are shown now first too. A post in this new form yesterday created a nice conversation involving 4 others on micro.blog. That would not have happened had my post started and ended with “Read: some url”.