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The Secret Feed (Warning: Boring)

You're viewing a secret post! Read more about RSS Club.

You've Been Inducted

Since I now have a secret feed just for RSS subscribers (welcome!), I figured I should put something in it.
If you're not sure what I'm talking about - well, first of all, how did you get here!? More importantly, check out RSS Club.

RSS? 🤢🤮

To be clear, I don't feel that way about RSS, but I imagine some people do.
So why RSS?

I think social media is an unmitigated negative drain on society. Yes, there are bright spots, and for certain underrepresented groups of people, it can be a positive. But, in terms of the larger societal impact that social media has had, the negatives are... well... unmitigated.

That's not even to speak of the centralization and control that companies exert over content. Even ostensibly free content platforms like Medium began paywalling free content written on their platform for free by unpaid individuals who just wanted a place to share their thoughts and ideas.

Ultimately my point is that the less control we have over our content, the more likely it is to be taken away from us.

I know that running an RSS feed will not be for everyone. Maybe it's even too late to bring RSS back from the (almost) dead. My Inoreader subscriptions say otherwise, but perhaps it's a faux glut of content and it's going the way of the dodo. In any case, this web - one where the content is available on my terms, in a web browser for free, and in an RSS feed, delivered to readers for free, without restrictions - is the web I want to use.

If you want to join those of us who want a freer, simpler web here's how to participate (although I should note that - because this web is freer and simpler - I literally cannot make you do anything you don't want to do):

  1. Don’t Talk About RSS Club
  2. Don’t Share on Social Media
  3. Provide Value

Don’t talk about it. Let people find it. Make it worthwhile.
These rules are completely unenforceable, and that's the way I like it.

How's It Done!?

Like Dave, I'll provide the few details I have about how I made this work.

I use Contentful to store my content and a custom front end to generate the posts, so it was initially as easy as adding a field to my post types.

The new RSS Exclusive field showing a Y/N indicator and 'boolean' type
Pretty easy to set up. Only concern would be maxing out the number of fields for a content type, but the free account on contentful has fairly generous limits.

Once the field was set up, it's now just a matter of telling Contentful that this piece of content is RSS Exclusive.

The RSS Exclusive field in use on a piece of content, showing a set of radio buttons - 'yes' and 'no' and a 'clear' link. 'yes' is selected.
This post is marked as RSS Exclusive

At that point, the content is fetched from the Contentful API with the field included, so I just have to remove it from the main index.

import { sortReverseChronologically, isRssExclusive } from "../../common/Post.js";

function getPosts( promotion = "production" ){
	return sortReverseChronologically( [
		...getLongForPromotion( promotion ),
		...getShortForPromotion( promotion ),
		...getImageShortForPromotion( promotion )
	] ).filter( ( post ) => !isRssExclusive( post ) );
}

// common/Post.js
export function isRssExclusive( post ){
	return post.fields.rssExclusive || false;
}

Then, I just add a little header to the posts so the body itself has some descriptive content that I don't need to copy/paste to every post. I'll just show one here since all the post templates use the same code.

${post.fields.rssExclusive ? html`
		<code>
			<x-icon icon="rss"></x-icon> You're viewing a secret post! <a href="/rss-club">Read more about RSS Club</a>.
		</code>
		<br />
		` : ""}
	${unsafeHTML( post.fields.content )}

The same header is placed in front of the RSS item so it shows up right at the beginning of the RSS content, too.

Of course, I don't want to create another silo and break the web, so all of these posts just have regular URLs. Maybe that means this isn't really a truly secret RSS Club, but URLs are more important than our special club; that's sort of the whole point of this.

Welcome to RSS Club

So there it is: my first RSS Exclusive post.

Welcome to a simpler, freer web!