Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2016 scientific society talks in London blog post

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Workarounds for people who used RSS feeds from Twitter - and now can't


Edit: 12 June 2013 - Twitter has now killed off all RSS feeds as far as I can tell. 

Today is the day that Twitter apparently switches off support for RSS feeds that take content from Twitter and let people read it somewhere else (however anything that takes RSS feeds from somewhere else and sends them to Twitter is fine - this is how @DiabetesTrials works, using an RSS output from the ClinicalTrials.gov website, via Feedburner into that dedicated Twitter feed - all automatically, set it up years ago).

Most people won't care that the RSS feed outputs from Twitter have been stopped as people generally use the really nice widgets that Twitter provide - if you've ever been on a website and seen a little panel of 'latest tweets' that's what they're using and you can get your own at https://twitter.com/settings/widgets/new

Some people though will have set things up years ago to take an RSS feed from a user, search result (eg hashtag) or something else and send it to their website or RSS reader - at some point this will suddenly stop working. Assuming they notice they might not know how to fix it. RSS, standing as it does for 'really simple syndication', was extremely easy to use and 'portable' - you didn't really need to know much techy stuff beyond knowing how to click a button or use copy and paste to get a feed up and running.

I'm curious to know what easy workarounds there might be, if any, for people who've found that stuff they previously did with RSS isn't going to work much longer.

Back in October 2012 I wrote this post "Has Twitter killed RSS feeds yet? Possibly not, but not working awfully well" and it's had over 5,000 views which is off-scale for any of my blog posts (although my most popular, with almost 100,000 views is the one about what happens when you block someone on Twitter!) as most of them get in the low 100s. From the comments it seems a few people will be a bit annoyed, unless they've found alternative. What are those alternatives?

I have put out a call for problems that people have experienced, and any solutions! Please send yours :)

Case 1 - staff intranet
An organisation has a staff intranet and there's an RSS feed from the company account that goes to the intranet - this lets staff see what's being discussed. The RSS feed has been replaced with a bit of code (if I can get hold of it, and permission, I'll post it here).
Solution: problem solved

Case 2 - Following lists by RSS
Used to be possible, RSS support for lists has already been switched off and no plans to reimplement it.
Solution: unknown
Interim: Twitter's widgets allow you to add a list's tweets to your website. This is also easy on things like Blogger (just select a new html/javascript 'gadget' from Design / Layout / Add a Gadget) though from previous experience it's impossible on a Wordpress.com website (fine on WP.org self-hosted).

Case 3 - Reading tweets in an RSS newsreader, such as Google Reader
It's expected that Twitter will switch off support for all other RSS feeds (user timeline, mentions, search etc) today in which case, if that happens, the RSS feeds will simply stop and be unavailable to Google Reader etc. If someone is using Google Reader to read a collection of feeds, which until now had included Twitter feeds, they might be quite reluctant to move to a different way of reading them.
Solution: unknown
Interim: as above, Twitter lets you add a widget to your own website for user timeline | favorites | list | search but I think this is just your own tweets, faves etc.

Another solution is to read tweets by email using Twilert which will send you a daily email. Use the advanced search options to 'search for', 'From' (ie a user's timeline) or 'To' (ie at-mentions)

Case 4 - An embed-your-tweets into Wordpress.org widget
From @alexmoss writing here "I am the developer of the Twitter Feed Plugin for WordPress (http://3doordigital.com/wordpress/plugins/wp-twitter-feed/). It has been downloaded over 80,000 times and is powered completely by the RSS feed. This process suddenly changing will affect a lot of WordPress sites if not supported in the same way." 
Solution: after some to-ing and fro-ing on the discussion page Alex mentioned that he'd found a workaround for the problem, though I have no understanding of what he's done -
"I eventually ended up developing an updated version that uses the embedded timeline but also developed Twitter Feed Pro that uses the new API to output the tweets the way they used to. It was a shame as a lot of webmasters will not understand the implications of turning off the RSS feed."
Interim: not sure but person from Twitter responded with some information about how to GET statuses/user_timeline, unfortunately I've not worked out what it means yet either. But if it's as simple as just using a different web addrress then I'm all for it.

Things to investigate, though I don't understand much that's on these pages:
User timeline: https://dev.twitter.com/docs/api/1.1/get/statuses/user_timeline
Search: https://dev.twitter.com/docs/api/1.1/get/search/tweets
Favorites: https://dev.twitter.com/docs/api/1.1/get/favorites/list
Lists: https://dev.twitter.com/docs/api/1.1/get/favorites/list (same link as favorites)
Embedded timelines: https://dev.twitter.com/docs/embedded-timelines 

A friend of mine has been doing some API tweaking for Errordiary so I shall ask him more about how one does this, but I suspect coding skills are needed whereas RSS just sort of magically appeared, hidden behind a little orange button and was pretty easy to implement for most people.


Case 5 - your own tragic tale of RSS woe
Ping them over, let's find solutions and workarounds. Thanks :)






6 comments:

  1. Hi,

    This Google spreadsheet for generating a search archive works with the new Twitter API and should update automatically:

    http://mashe.hawksey.info/2013/02/twitter-archive-tagsv5/

    Also if you look on Git Hub there are a few projects for Twitter archiving, but they'll likely remain a bit DIY since Twitter's TOS has gotten strict in this area.

    ReplyDelete
  2. A very manual workaround I found that might be useful for those who read RSS feeds in a browser:
    Type the following URL, replacing abcdef with the Twitter alias or a search keyword:
    http://search.twitter.com/search.atom?q=abcdef
    You'll then be able to subrscribe to the Twitter feed of that person of for that specific search.
    As of 30 March 2013, it is working for me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. We're using a DotNetNuke module on our intranet which aggregates RSS feeds (News Feeds (RSS)) so with no twitter RSS feed, no tweets could appear. I wrote some C# code to authenticate and get our corporate tweet timeline via the twitter API 1.1. The JSON response was then parsed (thanks to JSON.net - http://www.codeplex.com/json/) and converted into an RSS feed. It's a pain, but possible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Tim - it does seem that there are ways around this if you have programming skills and perhaps access to a server, and know what an API really is. My annoyance with Twitter's move to kill off RSS feeds is that these feeds were used with ease by people who didn't necessarily have those skills or resources (or at least didn't need them).

      I understand that not many people used them though, and it may be that they all started using Twitter's easy-to-implement widgets on their websites or intranets etc.

      Delete
  4. Have you seen http://www.labnol.org/internet/twitter-rss-feeds/27931/ ?
    Looks like a nifty google docs solution to generate the RSS feed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I hadn't seen that. It also looks like it's something that people who aren't technical but who can follow instructions can get involved with - all the coding and having a server is probably beyond many of the people who'd have wanted to do something with RSS. But from a quick scan of that it seems all you really need is a Gmail account!

      Delete

Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).