RSS Feeds and Miniflux

By hernil

It’s 2024 and I’ve rediscovered RSS-feeds.

I do remember using them actively in what has to have been the late 2000 - early 2010s. Yikes. In that period i jumped a bit between Opera which had a built in reader if I’m not mistaken and Firefox using the Sage rss extension which actually has a site up and running although it looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2017.

So what happened? I just - stopped - I guess. Probably my keeping up-to-date with the various information sources I followed got covered by the “new” platforms. Facebook, Twitter and even Google+.

Fast forward a few years and I’m actively trying to cut out a lot of the platforms and big tech services and I find myself manually checking sites a few times per day and it’s not a very smooth experience.

What even is RSS?

We could talk in depth about where it came from, and especially why many of the big players who leveraged it early on is moving away from it to keep you locked in. But let’s just simplify things and say that it’s a standardized way of exposing a feed of a site, or part of a sites, content. For a blog it’s its posts, for a news site its articles and for a Podcast its episodes. Actually RSS is still the driving force of podcasts for everyone not using iTunes or Spotify but rather open alternatives. An RSS-feed or file is basically titles, descriptions, links and timestamps listed in a single file that anyone can query at will and know whether new items have been added.

But why RSS?

RSS allows you to pick and chose sources that generate content you are interested in and that you want to see. It’s the antithesis to the algorithmically generated feeds of the social networks that balances the thin line of min-maxing the dopamine-to-shit-ratio that keeps you scrolling endlessly. And as we have all seen them get increasingly enshitified curating your own little garden of content that you want to see from sources that you have vetted turns out to be a little corner of bliss amongst the scream-fest that is the Internet these days.

How RSS?

Turns out there’s quite a few “internauts” out there that never stopped using RSS feeds and thus there is quite the healthy selection of readers out there. Both mobile apps, web services and even native desktop apps. So you track down the feeds you want and start adding them to your preffered solution. Then you can start creating categories, and whatever customization you want. Some people have 200 feeds, some have 5. You decide.


After some pretty fast paced research (basically reading this article) I decided to spin up Miniflux on my server just to have a starting point. It calls itself minimalist and opinionated. Some might read that as basic and inflexible but for me it turns out it has been a great match so far. It’s very much minimalist which makes the interface super snappy and all focus is on the content. It has some very nice creature comforts like the ability to fetch the full versions of articles that are linked in the RSS feeds and you can provide it cookies in case of them being behind a paywall.

Miniflux screenshot

So far the best feature for me is the awesome keyboard shortcuts that makes it super quick to curate the feed and trim away stuff I don’t want to read.

It also has a PWA mode that basically mimics a native application on your phone so now I actually have my own little bubble of quality content when I want to “mindlessly scroll”. And I find that the minimalist part of Miniflux takes away the distractions that your typical social media site needs to incorporate for the sustained dopamine hits and actually lets me focus on more long-form content.

So now what?

I’m still trying to curate my preffered feeds and find primary sources of high quality that occasionally brings neat content to my feed. I’ll probably experiment with a “mindless scroll feed” with more “algorithmic content” for whan I’ve exhausted my feeds. One neat way of doing this would be having a seperate category hidden from the main “unread” view in Miniflux that could contain spesific subreddit feeds (yes, subreddits expose rss feeds) or some of these Hacker News feeds.

It’s also worth noting / in summary

  • there seems to be quite a few ways (services) for generating feeds for sites that don’t have them natively
  • there’s an extension for Firefox that tries to let you know in the address bar if there’s a feed available for a site
  • Wordpress still drives a lot of the content generation of the web and it has RSS built in unless you actively disable it
  • All in all RSS seems to still be suprisingly wide spread for something that probably hasn’t been on the top of anyones feature list for quite a few years (hint it’s not exactly a monitizer)
  • There’s a good chance I’ve just been living under a stone as we say in Norwegian and just haven’t been paying attention to RSS being right in front of me this whole time.
  • I hope that enshitification doesn’t end up claiming RSS to a degree where it becomes non viable as a way of consuming the Internet cause I’m quickly starting to enjoy this!

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