Newsgroups & RSS –> why not?


Chris Sells made an excellent point last week when he said he doesn’t read anything that doesn’t have an RSS feed. You know, I was thinking just last night that I don’t get around to reading the microsoft.* newsgroups as much as I want to recently. I like looking through all the posts in a few selected newsgroups there and seeing the questions people ask and responses. I began to wonder to myself why aren’t there or hasn’t anyone seen any work done on making RSS feeds available of non-binary data in newsgroups. I did a quick search on Google just to confirm that indeed there wasn’t any significant or any work done on this, and my speculation was correct. The only thing that came up was this news reader that was able to read newsgroups and RSS feeds. So, I began on thinking, wouldn’t it be cool to be able to get an RSS feed going of say all the microsoft.* newsgroups? Or rather an RSS per newsgroup? I think that that’d be pretty nifty. I think in my spare time (if there is any) I may end up writing a RSS 2.0 Module and implementing it in RSS.NET for the newsgroup RSS feeds.

UPDATE #1: Since I posted this about 15 or so minutes ago, I started to look if there were any Web Services that would allow me to at least grab the articles off newsgroups. I came across this one that is supposedly specific to the Microsoft Newsgroups, but then again, the link is hopelessly dead. As I think about this even more, I think the best way for this would be to provide an XML Web Service for reading (at the minimum) newsgroups posts, and then “translating” or “bridging” those posts to a nice RSS 2.0 feed with a specific nntp RSS Module. I think that I will begin by writing a spec for this module…

UPDATE #2: Ok, looks like my search tonite has yielded nothing but dead links. I found a Newsgroup XML Web Service written by the always amazing Casey Chesnut… But his site is down. ARGH!!!! Hopefully this XML Web Service is what I’m looking for.

Comments (11)

  1. Care to make one that would plug into the ASP.NET Forums while you’re at it? Then the war of Newsgroups vs. Forums can start to come a bit closer to each other 😉

    I actually started working on a WebService that would shell out a specialized form of XML that could be used to making combining newsgroups and forums seemless. Then I saw RSS and thought maybe that would work and I’m sure it would, but my initial thoughts were to make an "aggregator" that would never have to go back to a webpage. Even the posting new messages would seemlessly go through the WebService, but it appears people don’t really care about that and I’m guessing RSS would make a lot of folks happy!

    It’s definitely a good idea…hats off to you! 🙂

  2. Nah, that still doesn’t solve the problem tho. Notice Outlook actually uses Outlook Express as its newsreader, not the Outlook shell. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to get any non-binary newsgroup as an RSS feed?

  3. The problem is how are you going to provide threading? I tried Newsgator, but it sucks because there’s no threading.

    Thanks for the rssdotnet.com link. I just finished implementing the entire RSS protocol myself.

    –Brian

  4. In reply to your UPDATE, I’m really curious if Microsoft is already working on this and if not, why not? They’re newsgroup data is stored in SQL Server, so NNTP is already just acting as a "gateway" to newsreaders. Why not just create a new "gateway" except as RSS?

  5. If you add a newsgroup as a feed with Newsgator, it ends up in Outlook, just like any other feed. No Outlook Express involved.

  6. In reply to some of the comments posted:

    Mike–> Ah, I see how Newsgator works. That’s pretty neat actually. I’m thinking of trading in my current aggregator (RSSBandit) for something better anyway.

    HumanCompiler –> My guess is that they must have some Web Service exposed for access to their newsgroups. The only question now is where is it?

    Brian –> Yeah, threading would be tricky. That’s where writing the spec for the RSS module would be important. My initialy thinking is that each new topic would get a new <item>, and underneath there any threads would lie as new items. Sort of a recursive structure. But then again, I haven’t really given this too much thought yet.

  7. Phil Weber says:

    Robert: Another option is to use an NNTP newsreader as your RSS aggregator. I use nntp//rss <http://www.methodize.org/nntprss/&gt; for just this purpose. For more information, see http://www.philweber.com/net/2003/04/07.htm and http://www.philweber.com/net/2003/05/21.htm

  8. Travis Laborde says:

    There is an excellent add-in for Outlook: NewsGator that grabs both RSS and NNTP feeds right into your mailbox. Of course using it for NNTP just makes me miss the features of good old Agent… But it is there if any of you want to take a look. For me, its the best way to get RSS.

    Travis

  9. I implemented a newsgroup to RSS feed tool for Newsportal, a PHP-based web interface to newsgroups. I’m always a bit surprised how few people have integrated newsgroups and RSS, but this works pretty well if you use PHP.