Monday, December 15, 2008

"Featured posts" bot & feed

While this feed has existed for several months now, I've never bothered to document it. Fixing that now.

Idea here is to automatically troll a predefined list of sites for great original articles, & generate a notification when one appears. Notification is delivered via this feed.

The kind of articles this bot looks for take a lot of effort to compile. Even the most prolific bloggers cannot average more than one a week; often much less. It's not unusual for this feed to not deliver anything for several days - some days the feed itself is empty. That's nothing to worry; when a relevant post appears, it will be noticed.

Because of low volume, I allow this feed to pick up to 7 days old content (most of my other feeds are limited to 3 days).

Sites watched.

  1. Dave Langford's "Ansible": Monthly genre gossip magazine. I pick up new issue announcements.

    Because of monthly frequency, most of the news covered is already stale. But he still manages to find tidbits I didn't know! Also a quick read - takes only a few minutes.
  2. SF Signal's "MIND MELD" posts: These appear once a week, & are sort of a panel discussion on a specific question. Because many people are invited to answer, these posts tend to be very long.

    Whether a specific post is of interest depends, of course, on whether the reader finds the question asked interesting. Sometimes I read because someone familiar is answering.
  3. John Scalzi's "Big Idea" posts: Apparently at random frequency, he hands out his Whatever online platform to an author for promoting an about-to-appear book. Authors usually talk about how the central idea of the forthcoming book came about.

    Occasionally very enlightening, though a lot of his author guests are not able to hold my interest beyond the first para. Also, many authors appear to address only US audience; so US readers may find it interesting more often than I do.
  4. Edward M Lerner's "SF Tropes" series: They appear at random times. Each post on a specific trope. Very short posts, mostly familiar stuff. Never boring.
  5. Rich Horton's "Yearly Summaries" series for 2008: Each post is about a single fiction magazine's all issues during 2008. Statistics & best stories list (I personally find only the later interesting).
  6. Fandomania's "Defining the Genre" series: Each post talks of a specific subgenre of sf. Generally familiar stuff. What I find interesting is the included listing of representative fiction pieces.
  7. Eoghann Irving's "History of Science Fiction" series at Solar Flare: This has been dormant for a while.
  8. Jonathan Strahan's "All-Time Top 40" Short Stories series at Locus Roundtable.

Sites not watched because of problems with their feed.

  1. Mike Resnick's once in two months column at Jim Baen's Universe: Occasionally enlightening, never boring, always worth a look. He ruminates on personal experiences with the genre & its actors.

    I cannot pick this up because JBU's column feed is buggy (apparently special characters like '&' aren't escaped - so it's invalid XML). In fact, only their main feed seems ok; none of the department feeds seems to work.
Related: Bot SF magazine feed includes featured posts feed, among other things.