A Practical Guide to RSS
how to get started in 2 minutes and what feeds to follow
So, you want to do one or more of the above: 'get off social media', avoid spending so much time doomscrolling and chasing dopamine, get a broader media diet, read more widely, etc. And you want to do this now before you lose motivation? This is the post for you.
This post is for people who've already decided to use RSS. If you haven't decided yet, read my other RSS post.
There are only 2 steps in your RSS journey:
Pick a RSS reader
There are many. You want one that is easy-to-use, and cross-platform (so you can use the same one on your phone and computer).
You probably want to use Feedly. It's easy to use, looks decent, and can be used on every major platform. Here are the links for iOS and Android so you can get it now.
If you don't want to use Feedly for some reason, also consider: Flipboard, or Newsify (iOS), Palabre (Android), or Flynn (Android).
I use BazQux myself, which you can trial for free, but it's not for everybody.
Find some feeds
If you're using Feedly, as you probably should be, finding some feeds to add is as simple as typing some search terms into the search bar. You can search by topic: 'technology', 'Australia news', 'sourdough', 'pokemon', etc and Feedly will suggest some relevant feeds. You can also try adding feeds from sources you already know, such as your local newspaper, or some other website or blog you know.
So you can get started quickly, I've included some of my recommendations categorised by topic below.
RSS feeds are URLs to a chunk of text in a special format that RSS readers parse. Depending on your browser and the feed in question, they might display in a human-readable way, but in others they might just display as some unreadable XML text, never finish loading (because they try and fail to load as webpages), or your browser might try to download them as a file.
What you want to do is just copy the URLs below and paste each one into your RSS feeder. In Feedly, you paste it into the add new feed / search box. Feedly should detect the feed, and you can then add it.
Consider adding some less well-known sources above. One of the benefits of RSS is it lets you keep up with many feeds no matter how niche they are or unfrequently they update, whereas these may be lost or deprioritised in your standard social media newsfeed.
It's possible to share all your RSS subscriptions at one go (including categorisations) via an OPML file, and some people do make theirs public, but I have a lot and some are private and specific to me so I've extracted the ones that will probably be most useful to you below.
I'll add more feed categories soon.
Update (16 August 2022): I learnt that You Need Feeds also provides starter packs of feeds on a wide range of topics and interests. Do check them out.
- Wikipedia: Current Events: https://www.to-rss.xyz/wikipedia/current_events/
- Project Syndicate: https://www.project-syndicate.org/rss
- Rest of World: https://restofworld.org/feed/latest
I don't follow these myself because they pump out too much content and I usually learn about events from other sources anyway, but you might want to consider:
- BBC (World): https://feeds.bbci.co.uk/news/world/rss.xml
- NYT (World): https://www.nytimes.com/svc/collections/v1/publish/https://www.nytimes.com/section/world/rss.xml
- WaPo (World): https://feeds.washingtonpost.com/rss/world
- Al Jazeera (World): https://www.aljazeera.com/xml/rss/all.xml
- SCMP: https://www.scmp.com/rss/3/feed
- SupChina: https://supchina.com/feed/
- Kyoto Review: https://kyotoreview.org/feed/
- Interconnected: https://interconnected.blog/rss/
- Chinese Characteristics: https://lillianli.substack.com/feed/
- Asia Uncovered: https://asiaundercovered.substack.com/feed/
- China Talk: https://chinatalk.substack.com/feed/
- Bridget Welsh: https://bridgetwelsh.com/feed/
- Sinocism: https://sinocism.com/feed
- Mothership: local tabloid
- Straits Times: most widely-read newspaper
- CNA: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/rssfeeds/8396082
- Rice Media: https://www.ricemedia.co/feed/
- s/pors journal: https://s-pores.com/feed/
- Singapore Policy Journal: https://spj.hkspublications.org/feed/
- The Parrot Review: https://www.theparrotreview.com/op-ed?format=rss
- IPS Commons: https://ipscommons.sg/feed/
- AcademiaSG: https://www.academia.sg/feed/
- Coconuts: https://coconuts.co/feed/
- Singapore Internet Watch: https://newsletter.singaporeinternet.watch/?format=rss
- Camden Newsroom: https://news.camden.gov.uk/tagfeed/en/tags/headlines,pr
- Private Eye: https://www.private-eye.co.uk/rss/
- Politeia: https://www.politeia.co.uk/feed/
- The Guardian
- The Independent (UK News): https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/rss
- The Telegraph (UK News): https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/rss.xml
- The Critic: https://thecritic.co.uk/feed/
For general technology news, I like:
- The Verge: while you can subscribe to all posts, the Verge does post a lot, and I cannot read 150+ articles from a single source a day, so I just subscribe to a few specific sections and topics
- Ars Technica: generally more technical, but still pretty accessible
- NYT (Tech): https://www.nytimes.com/svc/collections/v1/publish/https://www.nytimes.com/section/technology/rss.xml
- The Register: UK outlet, focuses on enterprise tech news, but with an light-hearted writing style; may not be accessible if you don't have a tech background though
- MIT Technology Review: https://www.technologyreview.com/feed/
- WIRED: https://www.wired.com/feed/rss
- OneZero: https://onezero.medium.com/feed
- Debugger: https://debugger.medium.com/feed
- Axios (Tech): https://api.axios.com/feed/technology
Products (things you can use and buy):
- 9to5Mac: https://9to5mac.com/feed/
- Android Police: https://www.androidpolice.com/feed/
- HardwareZone Singapore: https://feeds.feedburner.com/hardwarezone/news
- Liliputing: mobile technology, small portable computers
- Twenty First Tech: https://twentyfirsttech.com/feed/
- The Verge
- Bloomberg (Mark Gurman): https://www.bloomberg.com/authors/AS7Hj1mBMGM/mark-gurman.rss
Tech policy, trajectory, broader trends, etc (some of the above may also cover this):
- The Hill (Tech Policy): https://thehill.com/taxonomy/term/27/feed
- Protocol: https://www.protocol.com/feeds/newsletters/sourcecode.rss
- Stratechery by Ben Thompson: https://stratechery.com/feed/
- The Markup: https://themarkup.org/feeds/rss.xml
Asian tech news:
- KrASIA: https://console.kr-asia.com/feed
- Financial Times (#techAsia): https://www.ft.com/tech-asia?format=rss
- e27 : https://e27.co/index_wp.php/feed/
- Vulcan Post: https://vulcanpost.com/feed/
- Tech in Asia: feeds.feedburner.com/techinasia
European tech news:
Cool hardware projects, weird electronic hacks, etc:
- Core77: https://www.core77.com/home/rss
- Hackaday: https://hackaday.com/feed/
- Technophile: https://1technophile.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
- bunnie:studios: https://www.bunniestudios.com/blog/?feed=rss2
- Weekly Robotics: https://weeklyrobotics.com/atom.xml
- Hardware Things: covers hardware on the African continent
- Benjamin Cabé: https://blog.benjamin-cabe.com/feed
Some of my more niche feeds:
- About Chromebooks: yes, I like Chromebooks
- uses this: things people use
- North Korean Tech: https://www.northkoreatech.org/feed/
- Asian Century Stocks: https://www.asiancenturystocks.com/feed/
- Bits about Money by Patrick McKenzie: https://bam.kalzumeus.com/archive/rss/
- Collaborative Fund: https://feeds.feedburner.com/collabfund
- Market Sentiment: https://marketsentiment.substack.com/feed
- Monevator: https://feeds2.feedburner.com/Monevatorcom
- The Good Investors: https://www.thegoodinvestors.sg/feed/
- Software Stack Investing: https://softwarestackinvesting.com/feed/
People I follow
A non-exhaustive selection:
- NYT (Zeynep Tufekci): https://www.nytimes.com/svc/collections/v1/publish/https://www.nytimes.com/column/zeynep-tufekci/rss.xml
- Cory Doctorow: https://medium.com/feed/@doctorow
- Your Local Epidemiologist: https://yourlocalepidemiologist.substack.com/feed/
- Ed Zitron: https://ez.substack.com/feed
- Schneier on Security: https://www.schneier.com/feed/
- Bloomberg (Matt Levine): https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/authors/ARbTQlRLRjE/matthew-s-levine.rss
- McSweeney's: https://feeds.feedburner.com/mcsweeneys
- The O(logn)ion: https://www.theolognion.com/rss/
- Oli Frost: https://olifro.st/feed.xml
Drawings and comics:
- Abstruse Goose: https://abstrusegoose.com/feed.xml
- Arcade Rage: https://arcaderage.co/feed/
- Calvin & Hobbes: https://wdr1.com/blog/calvin_and_hobbes.rdf
- CommitStrip: https://www.commitstrip.com/en/feed/
- Monkey User: https://www.monkeyuser.com/feed.xml
- SMBC: https://smbc-rss-plus.mindflakes.com/rss.xml
- Work Chronicles: https://workchronicles.com/feed/
- XKCD: https://xkcd.com/rss.xml
- BAHFest: https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UC9v7v79mAlvKCrjrJvj-Fww
- Last Week Tonight: https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UC3XTzVzaHQEd30rQbuvCtTQ
- Stevie Martin: https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UC3ssq0RVd3Vrmy0-WiOHq4g
- The Mockingbird: https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UCQ-riBpJvn8ZA-UEtVm9mrQ
Yes, part of the reason you use RSS might be to get off social media. But you might want or need to subscribe to certain content that can only be found on social media. Here's how to do it via RSS:
- YouTube: you can subscribe to a channel using Feedly (and many other RSS readers) by simply pasting in the URL of the channel into the add feed box, e.g. https://www.youtube.com/snl
- Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: there are services that create RSS feeds out of public Facebook pages. There's rss-bridge, RSSHub, HungryHippo, etc. These services don't not always work, in part because the social media sites usually impose restrictions on access to their content by external services, but they're a decent alternative.
- Reddit: just plonk a
.rssbehind your reddit url, e.g. for reddit.com/r/DaystromInstitute/, it's reddit.com/r/DaystromInstitute/.rss
- Goodreads: for a given user such as goodreads.com/user/show/11004626-gwern, the RSS feed is goodreads.com/user/updates_rss/11004626?v=as
If getting certain content that's only available on social media is important to you, consider using a premium RSS service with social media feed extraction capabilities. Feedly Pro+ handles Twitter feeds well, and has an experimental RSS Builder that can be used to create RSS feeds from any social media site. BazQux handles Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram feeds well too (and comments on many sites, including Reddit).
Discovering RSS feeds
A lot of standard-issue software has RSS built in. Here are some tips for unearthing RSS feeds which are not clearly publicised:
- WordPress: (almost?) all WordPress installations have RSS enabled and a feed for the entire website located at
/feed. There may be sub-feeds for authors and/or tags as well.
- Browser Extensions: the following browser extensions can show you when a RSS feed is available on a website you are visiting
- Kill The Newsletter: very useful for converting email newsletters (or other regular email updates) into a RSS feed
Also, Feedly and BazQux are smart. Often, simply pasting the website's URL into Feedly/BazQux will do the job.