DJ Adams -- Tinkering with RSS and NNTP

Posted on Jan 30, 2003

From DJ Adams:

RSS via NNTP is certainly not a new concept - I first read about the idea on Matt Webb[1]'s site almost three years ago[2]. More recently there's been mention over at Jon's (Crossing the bridge of weak ties[3]), and Ben's (RSS to NNTP[4] and HEP Messaging Server[5]). [...] After deliberation of such matters, I then wrote a very simple plugin for Blagg[19], which would post each weblog item to one or more newsgroups. For my purposes, I solved the question of what to call each newsgroup by using the 'nickname', required for each feed, in Blagg's *rss.dat* file which controls the aggregation activity. [...] There are plenty of possibilities for experimentation: combining the various weblog trackbacking mechanisms[22] with NNTP article IDs to link articles together in a thread; replying (to the newsgroup) to an article might send a comment to the post at the source weblog. Hmmmm...

The difficulty with this approach is a general one about maintaining state about which news articles have been read by a particular reader. If you move from one NNTP client to another, or from one client system to another, you have to work to take your state with you (it's stored on the client). If the articles are stored in IMAP mailboxes, that state is stored on the server, so different clients or systems can share the articles in a much more useful and consistent way.

Perhaps IMAP would be a useful back-end datastore for a new RSS aggregator (customised Mozilla ?).