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Miniflux: the experience

This is post no. 62 for Kev Quirk's #100DaysToOffload challenge. The point is to write many things, not to write good ones. Please adjust quality expectations accordingly :)

I installed Miniflux (the RSS reader) on my server around... the end of 2019. I added a few feeds (e.g. my YouTube subscriptions); it looked neat.

And then nothing happened for about 1.5 years or so.

How not to use an RSS reader

To begin with, it was sitting inside my home network. Which was great, but... most of the time I ended up wanting to browse random articles, all I had was my phone. Which... could technically have connected via VPN, but... this was all really inconvenient, so I just never did it.

It was also very empty. YouTube feeds are kind of a bad use of RSS readers: if you want to watch videos, you go to, well, YouTube itself. (... or your favorite Invidious instance; in terms of overall experience, they give you about as much control and niceness as an RSS reader but it's designed for videos).

I think the turning point was when I started using Tailscale (... see the above article about inconveniences) and slowly started filling it up with actual feeds. As of currently... it's not quite the level of Infinitely Doomscrollable, but it's definitely worth looking at.

Curation and Work

What I found is that RSS readers (and Invidious instances) are very different from FB / YouTube / etc. in terms of experience. They feel empty first because there isn't a constant effort to grab your attention, from anyone. You explicitly need to add a feed or follow someone who you think is interesting; you got to make a decision to do so. We seem to have just forgotten to do this, actually; the assumption is that we keep getting more of what we were clicking on before.

However... due to the much more intentional nature of it, it's a lot more effortless. You're in control. There are no ads, recommendations, shiny distractions. It's a list of stuff you've subscribed to; if it runs out, you have nothing more to look at. Which makes it easier to stop looking at things.

It's definitely more work to put together a list of feeds you're interested in; the end results are a lot neater though.

... and Miniflux itself?

I haven't really tried any other RSS reader, but... Miniflux is great enough so that I didn't really think of switching yet. I do like their opinions (e.g. "who cares about anything that's not Postgres" and "keep things ugly"). It's fast. It works really well on mobile. Also, it can fetch full articles from feeds that don't have them.

... comments welcome, either in email or on the (eventual) Mastodon post on Fosstodon.