Measuring post popularity with AideRSS.com

PostRank (ex–AideRSS) had been acquired by Google in June 2011 and shut down in May 2012.

aiderss_icon My previous post on coping with information overload was probably too much theory and no actual tools (even no fancy pictures). So I decided to do small follow-up about online service that may help you deal with giant RSS feeds.

AideRSS takes any RSS feed, does some calculations and assigns so-called PostRank for each post. Sounds simple but there are lots of issues here.

Input

aiderss_postrank
AideRSS takes feed and looks on each post. It tries to get information from actual post (number of comments) and social media (digg, delicious, google, etc). Claims to track number of clicks in RSS readers but there is no mention of ones used.

Calculation

aiderss_header You don’t see actual process and most of info (only few values like number of comments are shown) but in the end each posts get 1-10 score. These scores are only valid for specific feed:

  • 1.0 is usual post for this feed;
  • 10.0 is one of the bests posts in this feed.

Main problem is that feeds only have 10-15 latest posts. AideRSS keeps tracking feed after first submission so:

  • wait for some time before looking at data, let it accumulate decent number of posts;
  • if you are publisher (blogger) submit your feed even if you don’t plan to use service.

Overall calculations may be not very accurate. There are lots of complains about it missing comments, bookmarks and such. Again – the more data it has the better results are going to be.

Output

There is plenty of different things you can actually do with results – sign of good service in my opinion.

You can simply take a look on site on latest post or filtered lists (good, great, best, top 20).

aiderss_top20

There are widgets (that you can put anywhere with JavaScript support) for top posts and filtered by PostRank feeds.

aiderss_widgets

They seem to promote PostRank system outside their own service as well so there is info on integrating it with NewsGator Online and Google Reader.

Overall

Use it with giant feeds from sites that produce dozens of posts per day or mashup feeds from multiply sites. Suitable for analyzing your own feed as well.

Don’t use it with usual feeds from separate sites or blogs – you are going to miss too much.

Discovered via problogger visit for brief video overview of AideRSS.

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10 Comments

  • I also read about this on ProBlogger, I love the service. Proves a handy way of analyzing your works and other peoples works.

    Truly something people should consider using often.

  • Really cool! I gonna give it a shot.

  • As you said in the post, the problem is that it’s missing many thing, StumbleUpon among them. For instance, once I got thousands visitors for a post that only got a score of 7 out of 10 using their service.

  • @Andre Ward

    Yep, what I like in concept – it does something that it’s pain to do manually. Computers are good at doing such boring things like gathering and comparing data.

    @Ky

    Problem with number of visitors is that only website owner has reliable access to that data. :)

    AideRSS clearly far from perfect in current state but I like core idea and if they keep working at it (which they seem to do looking at activity on support page http://getsatisfaction.com/aiderss/ ) it may mature in truly great tool.

  • I’m not saying it’s bad, just that AideRSS could be greatly improved.

  • @Ky

    Yep, that’s exactly my opinion as well. :)

  • Thanks for the very comprehensive write-up!

    The issue with missing comments and such is a pain, but unfortunately since there’s not just one reason why that can happen, we need to address it on an individual feed basis, so we encourage everyone to ping us either on the Get Satisfaction site or email me.

    We do keep adding new sources of analysis, but unfortunately we are limited by the data availability. We’ve received a number of requests for StumbleUpoon, for example, and would love to add it, but have yet to get access to an API.

    For those who can tweak their RSS settings, we can display a great many items (more than just the 10 or 50 or 100 that seem to be standard).

    Re. the rankings, the popularity of a single post isn’t quite the whole story. For example, if one post gets a flood of bookmarks or comments or what have you, yes, it will certainly come up scoring high, but at the same time we analyze it in terms of past site performance, so we take anomalies like the “digg effect” into account so that it doesn’t completely skew all the other posts’ results (automatically making them 1s, for example). And if there’ve been other posts that have done well recently, then compared to them, a highly engaging post will do very well, but won’t be head and shoulders better than the previous ones. Hope that makes sense.

    As always, we’re always interested in questions and feedback as we continue to work on improving things. We will also be launching the next version of our site soon, which will have a lot of really cool new and improved functionality. Stay tuned!

  • @Melanie Baker

    Thanks for dropping by. :)

    If I may voice my opinion about data issues – service is not clear enough on data sources and how they influence score.

    For example I got 10 on this post
    https://www.rarst.net/web/engineering-windows-7-ray-of-real-news-on-os-future/
    but there are only two comments on it and all other values shown are at zero. I understand that something had worked with this post but I have no data on what it was.

  • Well, unfortunately the explanation very quickly gets into the propriety stuff, so it’s never been easy to offer one that people are totally happy with. :)

    One “theme” re. how rankings work is that PostRank scores are calculated based on a number of posts, not based on a span of time. Another is that within a group of posts being analyzed, with relatively consistent engagement performance, PostRanks are most inclined to rise, rather than go up and down like a typical graph might.

    At the moment we’re also working on fixing delicious analysis as well. Some things stopped working when they released their new version.

  • Still to please power users you’ll have to offer some details. :) Probaly not like google analytics or feedburner (overkill) but some…

    I’ll be waiting for that next version, good luck developing. :)

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