Jake Deichert

RSS Feeds & Slack

This past week, I've been experimenting with Slack as a notification center for my girlfriend and I. As we all know, Slack is a very powerful tool for teams. However, it also has many useful features that families, couples, and even individuals can take advantage of (although it's not intended for it). Today, the feature I'll be talking about specifically is the ability to add RSS feeds to channels.

Before I get into the details, I'll give you a little background about my old RSS consumption workflow. There's an RSS reader called Feedly in which I had around 80 feeds split into categories: tech, gaming, webdev, comics, toronto, podcasts, music, videos, and conf videos (the amount of videos from dev conference talks each year can be overwhelming). Each night, around 10pm, I would open Feedly and flip through my categories one by one. At the end of each category, I would hit the big "Mark all as read" button which signifies to myself that I at least saw all the headlines. I never missed a headline. Any article that I actually wanted to read, I would send to Pocket to save for offline and read later.

There's a few disadvantages to this workflow. Sometimes a few days could go by where I didn't get the chance to get through my Feedly categories. After 3 or 4 days, I would normally have somewhere between 300-400 new headlines patiently waiting to be marked as read. This would take a large chunk of my time to get through... usually 45 minutes or more depending on how many I read inline. Another drawback is that I would still throw a lot of articles into Pocket which further bloated my backlog of unread items. And the final flaw is that I didn't hear about any breaking news until the end of the day.

Just last week, I realized that Slack has built-in integration for RSS feeds. Here's a quick break down of the commands below.

Add a feed to the channel you're currently in:

/feed subscribe https://jakedeichert.com/feed.xml

List all feeds in your current channel (with IDs):

/feed list

Remove a feed by ID:

/feed remove ID

After realizing this, I've been experimenting a little with moving some of my Feedly feeds to Slack. From what I can tell, Slack periodically checks each feed in 5 minute intervals. Whenever a new article is posted from one of my feeds, the RSS integration posts it to the channel I specified and sends me a typical notification. Just like my Feedly categories, I have the feeds post into related channels: rss-tech, rss-gaming, rss-dev, rss-news, rss-podcasts, rss-music, and rss-videos. These are all private channels just for me; I don't want to bother my girlfriend with notifications about topics she's not interested in.

Currently, I have 65 RSS feeds enabled and I have yet to hit the limit, if there is one. For now, I've kept my higher volume RSS feeds in Feedly to prevent getting bombarded with too many notifications. I also haven't had to mute any of my RSS channels yet, although that ability will come in handy in the future.

How's it going? I think it's going well so far. A few pros and some minor cons, but I think it's worth it. Instead of setting apart a chunk of my nighttime to go through Feedly, I now get near-instant notifications about breaking news. Also, rather than bloating my Pocket as much as before, I now find myself skimming through articles throughout my day when I have time. Distraction you say? So far, not too bad. Taking 2 minute breaks here and there is nice.

Slack is slowly becoming a central hub for my day to day needs. Now that my RSS feeds are taken care of, my next goal is to integrate daily top posts from Hacker News into Slack. Maybe that will help prevent me from adding so many HN threads to Pocket...

Any questions or comments?
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