Thoughts on Systems

Emil Sit

Mar 17, 2008 - 2 minute read - Hacking Technology pipes tools twitter web2.0

Clean up a Twitter feed with a Yahoo Pipe

Twitter provides RSS/Atom feeds of your posts; with these feeds, your posts can be easily tracked in news readers like Google Reader, monitored in aggregators like FriendFeed or SocialThing!, and cross-posted into other blog services such as Tumblr. This idea works fine, except for the fact that Twitter has been co-opted to be not only an ambient intimacy service, but also a chat service. This can create noise in other people’s view of your feed—consider the chat versus status/micro-blog updates on, for example, Adam Darowski’s blog:

Twitter Microblog example

Lacking context for the replies, the individual message may be hard to follow. Using Yahoo! Pipes, we can generate a clean RSS feed that can be used in FriendFeed or Tumblr. Seeing that the hashpip.es service (that filters out #hashtags from a Twitter feed) was built in part with Pipes, I built a simple pipe called Twitter Feed without Replies that anyone can parameterize and use to filter their replies. Simply visit the pipe’s information page, enter your username, and get the results as RSS (under “More options”). The main downside of the current implementation is that the feed description and title can not be parameterized as well.

Incidentally, Yahoo! Pipes were really easy to use and seem nicely designed for easy integration with other services. The above pipe took an hour to build and it was my first experience with the service. With a little more work it would probably be possible to build a pipe that parses/generates JSON, for use in programs such as the WordPress Twitter Widget, as well as RSS for feed readers. On the other hand, for those cases, it is probably easier in those cases to take Twitter JSON output and filter that directly.

Do @replies in microblogs bother you? Would you care enough to remove them?