As I've mentioned before, my love affair with RSS has been pretty short and not very sweet. After an initial phase where I loved subscribing to and reading multiple news feeds, I've taken to ignoring most of my different feed reading tools and now mainly browse only the sites I use on a regular basis to see what's new.
And it appears that I'm not alone. In the very unscientific poll I did on who still uses RSS, 33% of the respondents said that they never use RSS feeds, with ten percent having stopped using them altogether.
Of course there were plenty of respondents who still love their feeds but quite a few of the readers who responded said that having to manage the hundreds of new posts every day had driven them from their feed readers. So is there any way to get control over the flood of new posts from multiple RSS feeds?
That's where a new free online service called AideRSS comes in. Using AideRSS, a user loads in all of the RSS feeds that they read on a regular basis. AideRSS then analyzes the feeds and ranks the posts—from Good Posts, to Great Posts to Best Posts to a Top Twenty Posts list. AideRSS also provides additional centralized information such as Bloglines links, del.icio.us bookmarks and Diggs.
Once AideRSS has analyzed the feed, you can choose to add it to your My Feeds in AideRSS and you can add all posts, or add just the Good posts, the Great posts, the Best posts or just the Top Twenty. Users can then go to their AideRSS desktop, which shows all of their feeds, and see aggregated posts and information about the feeds they are subscribing to.
While AideRSS can work as an online feed reader and aggregator, that isn't the expected main interface. AideRSS creates an RSS feed of the selected My Feeds and makes it possible to receive in your feed reader of choice a feed comprised of only the top stories from the blogs and site feeds that you subscribe to.
AideRSS does this with a technology called PostRank, which appears to combine information such as comments, external links, traffic, general blogosphere awareness of a post and how a post compares to past posts on that blog or site. Based on this technology AideRSS attempts to guess the overall quality of each post within a feed.
AideRSS also makes it possible to create a widget (such as the one below, based on top eWEEK Emerging Technology posts) in order to post the top feeds of a blog or site directly to your own blog or site.
Based on my tests the technology is hardly fool-proof. On many blogs that I read, some of the posts that I liked the most didn't make it past the Good level on AideRSS.
For blogs that I read on a regular basis, I will probably still stick to regularly visiting their sites to view all the new content, both popular and unpopular.
However, AideRSS is definitely an intriguing technology for gaining control over RSS. And its ability to provide some level of must-read filtering for feeds does make it more likely that I will take a look at other feeds and blogs that have until now fallen off my radar completely.