Quick review of Fever, the RSS reading app

 
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I was looking for an application to read RSS feeds and to be able to move some browser bookmarks into RSS reading mode. I also wanted to self-host the application to be in full control. The application should also not only read RSS feeds, but also generate some kind of stream in which more important (= content similar to stuff I read frequently in the past) is put on top and less important RSS stories are automatically removed from my sight. I wanted to stay on top of the the item-flood which is typically piling up in RSS readers.

The application should be capable of replacing my facebook feed. Currently I removed all personal posts from my facebook feed and use it to read content from facebook Pages I subscribed to. facebook determines quite good what interests me based upon what interested me in the past. Recently facebook decided it wanted to make more money from advertisers and the post reach of facebook Pages declined. Thus I can’t rely on facebook’s algorithm anymore to deliver the most engaging stories from all subscribed pages into my feed.

Finding Fever

I found Fever. It costs 30 US$ and fulfills all of the above needs. One can enter a lot of RSS feeds and Fever determines which of the posts are valuable enough to show them and which are not. Fever sounds like it does what it should, but I am writing this review to help others not spend the 30 bucks.

How does it work?

Fever lets you put feeds into two categories. Let’s call the categories “main” and “supportive”. “Supportive” contains feeds from outlets which typically re-blog content from outlets in the “main”-category. Fever assumes that outlets from the “supportive” category do this by back-linking to the original story. Fever now counts the amount of back-links to the original story and uses this count to determine how important the original story is.

The general idea is good and works similar as Googles Page Rank, which uses back-links to assess the relevance of a website. But it also means that you have to add as many normal blogs and websites as possible to make the algorithm work better. If you don’t add any feeds to the “supportive” category, Fever doesn’t work.

Fever is useless

Fever comes up with a good idea: use RSS as an established base and then compare the linking between different items to determine what’s important. No more unread feed items in the thousands. Convenient. But.

But it’s not convenient. Because to achieve the above Fever asks the user to actively research as many blogs as possible which just repost content from the big outlets. That’s pointless. I’m reading the big outlets because I want the original story. And I avoid blogs which just repost content without creating their own value.

All in all I would not recommend Fever. Not in order to find the most valuable content in all your feeds, and not as a pure RSS reader – 30 bucks is too much for a simple RSS reader.