Feedly v Craigslist 3–Maybe RSS is the problem

Well Feedly and Craigslist are at it again: broken now for another month.  I’ve tempered my whining because I’ve been using Newsblur, where Craigslist still (mostly) works.  Once again, all communication on this is dead silent, with no blog post, acknowledgement or answered Tweets – until early this week, when I took to Twitter to whine about it again after Newblur’s polling temporarily broke.

To their credit, Feedly did respond and engaged me in a conversation, of which can be found here.  However there hasn’t been any other movement on any front and I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that Craigslist feeds in Feedly probably won’t ever work again.

I would say that Craigslist bears most of the blame.  Taking Feedly at their word, for them to cut their polling down by a factor of 10 and yet still get blocked doesn’t make any sense.  Craigslist feeds still work with other readers such as Newsblur (which did come back later that night), and the Old Reader.  Craigslist is squarely blocking Feedly.  Craiglist can complain about being inundated, but they never pulled these tactics when Google Reader was the 800 pound RSS gorilla.  This smells like a pistol-whipping of Feedly. What makes things worse is that Craigslist doesn’t make it easy to lodge a complain or raise this as an issue.  I don’t understand how an internet company doesn’t act in their best interests to drive traffic (in this case, 2.5 million hits) to their site.  Craigslist has history of being jerks with RSS, as they went from having a full-text feed to a summary feed and required users to click into their site to view virtually any post.

Feedly isn’t blameless either.  They’ve been deathly silent, despite people bringing up the issue on their blog (commenting on the “we fixed it” post) and tweeting at them. Feedly also does have some options at their disposal to decrease their Craigslist load (such as not allowing subscribes for search feeds, or making Craigslist a Premium feature) – but they don’t want to go that route, opting for a scenario where no one can access Craigslist feeds through Feedly. Unless there’s some super-secret plan to counter this that is not being shared, Feedly is simply ignoring this issue.

Ultimately maybe RSS is to blame. Despite being a great solution to syndicate large quantities of content, it doesn’t seem to have any kind of following. Craigslist is visited by millions of people, but virtually no one complains about this efficient consumption method being shut off.  I’m coming to grips with the fact that despite a few savvy geeks who treasure this functionality – no one really cares about this issue. Either people enjoy going to a static web site and manually tracking posts that interest them, or they simply defer to a catered information source like Twitter of Facebook and let other people choose on their behalf.

Regardless, this inaction on both sides frustrates me, to the point where I’m canceling my Feedly Pro subscription. I only wish there was a way to vent my frustration to Craigslist, but they don’t care – and there unfortunately isn’t a better source to find bands that need drummers out there.

I just miss Google Reader, and long for a time when RSS was respected.

Update on Craigslist-Feedly: It’s Both of Them

A lot of my recent traffic has been due people searching for the Feedly/Craigslist problem, and I’m happy to learn that Feedly has finally responded on their blog:

Update Regarding Craigslist Feeds

It sounds like – technologically speaking – both sides aren’t playing nice and the behavior of Feedly polling is overloading Craigslist.  Hopefully this issue is as Feedly describes and both sides can get a resolution soon.  Far be it for me to make assumptions – but reading between the lines of the blog post tells me that Craigslist isn’t really responding to Feedly either. Not to pile on Craigslist again, but I don’t get how these big web site companies can be so inaccessible. I know having a large support at Craigslist isn’t feasible, but come on – would it kill you to check your email or monitor a Twitter account?

I’m not holding my breath. While I love Feedly, my Craigslist feeds are over at Newsblur right now.

Feedly vs. Craigslist, Round 2: Everybody Loses

Well, it looks like Craigslist is at it again, this time fighting with Feedly, the popular RSS reader that has assumed Google Reader’s mantle. Feely is my go-to source for keeping up on RSS feeds, of which include several Craigslist feeds for keeping up on musician happenings (including my search for a new project).

Last fall, Feedly stopped getting updates from Craigslist, and neither side really talked about it too much. Feedly alluded to their poller being blocked by Craigslist, and when users asked, they referred us to Craigslist. Miraculously, about a month later, Feedly was getting updates and balance was once again restored..  until now.

Last weekend Craigslist feeds stopped updating again, and I suspect the same issue has come back to rear its ugly head.  Of course, there is no communication about this from either Feedly or Craigslist.  A few people have commented on GetSatisfaction, but I have yet to see any official statement from Feedly on what happened. Of course it’s virtually impossible to get any kind of support from Craigslist – so here we are in the same boat again: two companies in another cold war while their customers lose out.

Why am I quick to blame Craigslist – because they’ve done this before.  Craigslist, in their never-ending desire to look backwards on technology, has a history of hating RSS.  About a year ago, they changed all of their feeds from full-text to only providing summaries, forcing users to click through.  It’s a dick move, but one that’s tolerable.  Now they’re all-out blocking a useful tool like Feely from delivering their content to users.  At its core, all Feedly does is poll the feed, display the updates and then show the user where they last left off.  This isn’t different from any other news reader, except for the fact that Feedly stores this data in the cloud so different devices know when you last left off.

Craigslist, for being in the Alexa’s Top 15 for US web traffic, is a pretty terrible site. It’s bad enough that their design is still stuck in the 1990’s, but the fact that the battle aggregate technologies like RSS, then just block them without any reason or explanation.  The first time around I Tweeted their founder Craig Newmark (who doesn’t play any significant role in the company besides end-user support), and to his credit he did ask me to email him details and said he’d share this with the team – but I never got another response.  If their own founder is unable to get answers, then what hope do us lowly users have?  I love behind their peace sign logo and try to appear altruistic, but in reality they sacrifice the user experience to protect to collection of other people’s content.

Regardless at who’s at fault, whether this is malicious or accidental: would it kill either company to communicate to their users?

Update: Feedly responded on their blog, I react.

Friday Tech Roundup, June 21

I’m going to try something new here, and do a little recap of tech news, developments and my take on various tech news stories for the week.

Facebook announces video for Instagram

Normally I detest Facebook’s propensity to blatantly copy features from their competitors, but in the case of of InstaVine and in the interests of having a good video sharing product on Android: good on them!   I may hold a lot of unfair hostility towards Vine, but I can’t get past the terrible first impression they made upon Android users. If you’re going to make users wait for months later than your iOS users, you better make a pretty good first impression – but between the very limited functionality (like not being able to search), the problems with capturing and playing video (audio out of synch) and the lack of worthwhile options (like muting your videos by default): all you did was give me all the more incentive to look forward to something else.

If Twitter seems unwilling or unable to quickly improve their app, I’m more than happy to spend time with an app that can.  Instagram is giving me most of what I’m looking for, with a bigger user base. I’m more than happy to put my video eggs in that basket.  That said, I hope this is a wake up call for Vine and Twitter, as great products come from competition.


Feedly updated with Cloud sync and app support ahead of Google Reader shutdown

When Google announced they were shuttering Reader, I remember freaking out as I drove home.  In terms of getting my information: Reader was where I got the majority of my news.  Given that I consume it on multiple computers, my phone and tablet, I was concerned about how I was going to be able to sync my feeds.  I began my quest looking for the replacement, and am happy to be living in the Feedly space.  They’ve really stepped up and have done a great job welcoming Google Reader refugees, and have been very open about their roadmap and where they want their product to go.  They don’t deliver the exact same functionality of Reader (yet), but they are a great alternative that will soon get there.  I previously thought I was going to be counting down the days until Reader was shutdown, but I’ve been so happy with Feedly that I’ve all but forgotten.


Falcon Pro removed from Google Play Store

I don’t use Falcon Pro (I’m more of a Twicca man), but this news is distressing nonetheless.  The way Twitter has turned the table against the developers – on whose backs they built their service on – irritates me to no end.  While Twitter’s app has greatly improved, it still lacks a ton of features that their advanced users – who also have used Twitter the longest – count on every day.  By relying on these apps early on, people like me learned how to use Twitter reading from oldest-to-newest, and have come to rely on Twicca for this continued experience.  This back & forth between developers and their apps need to stop. Just be satisfied that 80% of your mobile users are using your app, you don’t want to piss off the other 20% with stupid stuff like this.

Did Digg change their RSS feeds?

This is a random technology gripe, but I wanted to throw it out there in case anyone else was experiencing this.

Did Digg change the way they’re presenting their RSS feeds?  I subscribe to all of the RSS feeds and keep up to date through FeedDemon (an awesome desktop RSS reader by the way).  All of the sudden on Thursday the feeds changed names (in a minor way) to “Digg Stories / / ..” and now are including associated images, which FeedDemon is displaying as thumbnails.

Personally I can’t stand the thumbnails view, and with a user-generated site like Digg there’s no telling what thumbnails will come up – especially if I’m viewing this in a public place.  Is there any way to turn the thumbnails off all-together, or subscribe to a Digg feed that doesn’t include these?  I looked on Digg and couldn’t find such a thing, so I’m wondering if there’s a setting in FeedDemon.  Browsing through the options I couldn’t find anything obvious, but maybe I’m missing something.

Did anyone else notice this?

Update: I meant to post a screen shot of what I was talking about: