Personalization in RSS feeds

The very cool kbalertz site now has RSS feeds. Theoretically this is cool, and yet I don't think I'll be switching from the e-mail based version. Why? Because you either subscribe to one giant feed of all KB items, or you subscribe to one feed per KB category. I certainly don't want all items, but I don't relish the idea of adding 50 new RSS feeds to my blogroll either. OK, that's an exaggeration, I think I monitor about 10 categories currently. But even that's a lot of new feeds to poll, and I could easily see that number going up over time.

So that raises a notion that I haven't really seen yet - fully personalized RSS feeds. What I really want is select the categories that I'm interested, and subscribe to one RSS feed that includes all of those categories. For individual web logs, this kind of filtering isn't as useful (although I could see filtering on post categories). However, as more companies provide RSS feeds, I think this type of customization will become increasingly useful. I'd love to see it on the MSDN Feed, for example, so I don't have to slog through posts about developing for Visual FoxPro. Trade feeds like InfoWorld, eWeek, and PCMag would also benefit greatly from this kind of personalization. 

Personalization would of course complicate the back-end, and I don't know how the client would identify itself to the server (cookies? query string? authentication?). But it would be pretty sweet.



  • Just an idea...

    On kbAlertz, have a number to represent each feed and call an rss.aspx page with a csv list of numbers which could represent what categories to get. This is nice, but would have a the URL length limitation.

    Another solution, is to enable registered users to set up "RSS Preferences" which would contain what categorys they want in thier feed. Then, the user would request "rss.aspx?[SomeSortOfUserID]" and get a feed customized to them.

    The downside to both of these solutions, is that a caching system would be difficult to implement.

    Just some food for thought...

  • Great ideas. I'm working on a solution for personalized RSS feeds, but the main problem is server load, and a cache mechanism. I think I have it figured out, but the code isn't done.

  • I recently turned on the personalized RSS feed feature for my personal site ( and it's working well. It allows a visitor to check their interests on a profile form. Their RSS feed is then personalized with links just to articles that match their interests.

    I write about personalization and one-to-one marketing, so when we added this feature to our content management system, I decided to publish a personalized RSS feed on my site.

    While having multiple feeds -- one for each topic -- is one way to tailor RSS content, it's frustrating when a site includes an article in several of their feeds that I subscribe to. I'm sure RSS personalization will catch on when sites realize that their readers are becoming overwhelmed with content, and that multiple feeds is not the answer.

  • A willingness to use markets as a channel to drive change. ,

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