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Using Siftlinks and IFTTT to Aggregate Links From Your Twitter Timeline Into a Slack Channel

Fri, 15 May 2015 05:03:42 +0000

Ever wonder if there was an easy way to get the links people post to a Twitter timeline fed into a Slack channel? Wonder no more! For this Rube Goldberg machine to work, you’ll need 3 components: A Twitter account. A Siftlinks account tied to your Twitter account. Siftlinks is a paid service that makes an RSS feed out of the links posted to your timeline (as well as an RSS feed of links from your Twitter favorites) and offers a 30-day free trial. After that it’s $10 a year. That’s 83.3 cents a month. Cheap cheap! An IFTTT account. A Slack team and a channel to post links to. After following the instructions below, you get something looking like this screenshot my #links channel from a few minutes ago: Instructions Login to Siftlinks with your Twitter account. If you haven’t already, activate the Slack channel in IFTTT. Create a channel in Slack just for links incoming from Twitter. It might make sense to use an existing channel, but the large amount of links in my timeline doesn’t justify it, so I post to a separate #links channel that I dip my toes in every couple of hours. Create a new recipe in IFTTT. Select Feed as the trigger channel. Select “New feed item” as the trigger. Title the recipe “Filtered Siftlinks to Slack” Siftlinks provides the RSS feed for you to paste in at this point. It’s the URL in “Here’s the latest links in your Twitter feed. You access them via RSS by adding [your secret URL here to your RSS Reader.” message at the top of the screen in Siftlinks. For the Action, select the channel you want to post in. As the Message, use just {{EntryUrl}}. Leave the Title, Title URL, and Thumbnail URL fields blank. Slack will gather the title and some information about the link on its own. At some point, Siftlinks promised to add a feature to filter out image links (, Instagram, etc.) and other URLs like Foursquare/Swarm and Untappd checkins. I couldn’t wait, so I use Yahoo! Pipes to filter out URLs that start with certain domains and used the RSS feed it produces in place of step #8. (That list is up to 16 domains, by the way.) What this won’t show is who posted the link. That means you can evaluate whether you should click through based on its content, not who shared it. Why not use Slack’s built-in RSS integration? That integration pulls in the metadata (like title and description) from the RSS feed itself. The metadata-gathering Slack does itself when presented with just a URL is much prettier. I pull in a few other RSS feeds this way—i.e. using IFTTT—and have them post URLs to Slack channels, like a Talkwalker alerts feed for news about the game Ingress and an RSS feed I made out of using XPath (I wasn’t the only one who did that). Slack is my second-favourite RSS aggregator these days1, a fun way to see what links get posted to my Twitter timeline without having to visit Twitter at all. Previously: Using Slack as a 3rd-party Twitter client Getting sports alerts in a Slack channel Also published on Medium on May 14th, 2015. Reeder for both the Mac and iOS is my #1 fave at the moment. ↩︎ [...]

A Group of Feeds That Follow Everything

Tue, 04 Apr 2006 23:36:38 +0000

Regular readers know I'm a fan of both PubSub and baseball (alright, I don't talk about the latter a lot, since none of my TV channels show any games). PubSub lets you subscribe to feeds of searches that match 'on-the-fly', that is, once someone writes about something you're interested in, it matches against a search, and pings you either by RSS or—okay, RSS is the way that the overwhelming majority of people using PubSub get their notifications. PubSub is theoretically faster than Technorati because the former matches posts to your search where the latter matches searches to a database. (I say theoretically because PubSub doesn't have the instant gratification and pretty website that Technorati has. PubSub over IM would kill, by the way, but Adium—for example—doesn't yet support Publish-Subscribe.) Today PubSub announced PubSub Baseball, which pre-defined feeds for all the Major League Baseball teams including all of their players. See the Toronto Blue Jays page as an example.


I'd be interested to know if they account for trades during the season for what if Eric Hinske gets traded to the Cleveland Indians? Do both the Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays pages get updated? If so, the OPML feeds would work great as 'reading lists' for individual teams, as any player that gets traded gets removed automatically from the list of players I follow and new players get added automatically. It can happen automatically and immediately after the trade because I would find out about the trade via the team's main feed.

It's a great demonstration of a way to create, for example, a group of feeds that follows everything about an organization, that organization being anything from a small startup to a medium-size non-profit to a heartless, multinational corporation. Spam is a major problem—for all services, not just PubSub—and especially so with things that cost money. (I found this with books and music albums I was tracking, as stores would feed in RSS to all the services knowing that people like me would syndicate them on their sites and increase their search engine ranking.) Reading lists seem like a really great idea, if not so much to decrease the amount of information that comes in (hypothesis: most attempts to reduce the amount of information coming not only fail but make the problem worse) but to let subject-area experts handle the creation and maintenance of feeds of writing and video and audio that help the reader better understand that field. There is no doubt the political problem of what goes in and what stays out, but since it's should, in the near future, be fairly easy to create your own reading list, if you don't like what one person is doing, other than time and energy there's no reason you couldn't start your own.

Experiment in Aggregation: Pushing Out

Wed, 30 Nov 2005 01:40:18 +0000

Up until recently, Just a Gwai Lo's front page, had all articles from all my weblogs published in One Big Weblog. Now it's just straight writing, with links to the stuff elsewhere on the sidebar. (The RSS feed most are subscribed to still has all articles and I have no plans to change that.) Instead of pulling everything in, though, I'm pushing stuff out: anything I tag as 'geeky' in either or here on goes out to Undeniably Geeky, as happened with my Apple Mighty Mouse review article [Undeniably Geeky mirror].

On that site, you should see a "comment on this article at its original location" or something like that—all rights in shortening that phrase reserved—which links directly back to a place to, as it suggests, comment on the article. The reason: I didn't need to track two places where comments about that were happening, and wanted to make it clear that the article is a syndicated version. Plus there's the added benefit of links automatically created back to this site, but it's okay, because I'm using my own site to do it.

There might be some confusion for those subscribed to my individual sites' feeds, as articles may appear twice (or more?) on your radar. I assure you that's both unintended and will offer workarounds (since Drupal, the software that powers both sites, does a fairly good job of giving alternate feeds based on site section/content type etc. and the Aggregator2 module makes the magic happen). I have plans to incorporate this into PDXphiles, probably with the 'pdx' tag, and possibly Urban Vancouver, though as a Vancouverite, I get syndicated at the latter anyway.

It's more an experiment in syndication than an experiment in aggregation, but the lines between the two are blurring as Web 2.0 software incorporates more content delivery features across websites, using RSS as the mechanism.

RSS Feeds for Photos With Multiple Tags in Flickr

Wed, 21 Sep 2005 06:43:54 +0000

There is an updated version of my script available!. Thanks Timtom! In its RSS feeds, Flickr doesn't let you get photos tagged with all tags you tell it in an RSS feed, so I whipped up a script that, if you have your own server, creates RSS feeds of the tags you specify. If you called it 'multitags.php', and you put it on your site, say, the URL would look something like That would get you an RSS feed (in a format very similar to the format of the RSS feeds that Flickr outputs) of photos that are tagged with both 'vancouver' and 'seawall'. If you used a comma instead of a plus, it looks for photos tagged with either of the tags, so,seawall would get you photos tagged with 'vancouver' mixed in with the photos tagged with 'seawall'. There is a way to get RSS feeds of tags this way, but why figure that out. How to do it is in a forum somewhere, but I couldn't remember where, so I just coded that into the script. You'll need two things to use the script: the excellent phpFlickr library (support for uploading coming, nice!) and a Flickr API key, which you can get at You'll need to change the three variables at the top of the script, which follows, accordingly. A note about the code: the first little bit about the XML declaration making up multiple lines is a workaround for the code dispaly. And yes, there are a lot of print statements. It makes it easier for me to debug. It's probably best to keep the URL secret, so that the only person hitting the script is you. The RSS feeds work for me in NetNewsWire, but please do submit bug reports in the comments. enableCache("fs", $php_flickr_cache); } if ($_GET && $_GET['tags']) { $tags = urlencode($_GET['tags']); $tag_mode = 'any'; if (strstr($tags, '+')) { $tags = str_replace('+', ',', $tags); $tag_mode = 'all'; } else if (strstr($tags, "%2C")) { $tags = str_replace('%2C', ',', $tags); $tag_mode = 'any'; } } $photos = $f->photos_search(array('tags' => $tags, 'tag_mode' => $tag_mode, 'per_page' => '15')); header("Content-type: text/xml"); $rss_feed = "\n"; $rss_feed .= "\n"; $rss_feed .= " \n"; $rss_feed .= " Flickr Photos tagged with "; $rss_feed .= str_replace(",", ' and ', $tags); $rss_feed .= "\n"; $rss_feed .= " Script by Richard Eriksson\n"; $requested_url = 'http://' . $_SERVER['HTTP_HOST'] . $_SERVER['REQUEST_URI']; $rss_feed .= " $requested_url\n"; $rss_feed .= " \n"; foreach ( $photos['photo'] as $id) { $u = $f->urls_getUserPhotos($id['owner']); $rss_feed .= " \n"; $link = $u . $id['id'] . "/"; $rss_feed .= " $link\n"; $rss_feed .= " $link\n"; $rss_feed .= " "; $username_elements = explode("/", $u); $username = $username_elements[4]; $rss_feed .= "

$username has posted a photo:

\n\n"; $rss_feed .= "

"; $rss_feed .= "(image)

"; $rss_feed .= "\n"; $rss_feed .= ""; $rss_feed .= $id['title']; $rss_feed .= "\n"; $rss_feed .= " \n"; } $rss_feed .= " \n"; $rss_feed .= ""; print $rss_feed; ?> There is an updated version of my script available!. Thanks Timtom! In its RSS feeds, Flickr doesn't let you get photos tagged with all tags you tell it in an RSS feed, so I whipped up a script that, if you have your own server, creates RSS feeds of the tags you specify. If you called it 'multitags.php', and you put it on your site, say, the URL would look something like h[...]

RSS is a Poor-Man's API

Fri, 16 Sep 2005 20:47:00 +0000

Roland Tanglao first pointed this out, but it's something I've been thinking about for the last couple of months: Babak Nivi says that RSS is an API for content: RSS is like an API for content. RSS gives you access to a web site’s data just like an API gives you access to a web site’s computing power. Most important, RSS gives you access to your data that you have locked up on a web site.RSS is an API for Content Emphasis in original. Note that he says "like an API" in the text of the article but omits the "like" in the title. The "like" is more appropriate, since RSS normally doesn't give you access to a site's past data, nor should it: it shines best when giving you the most recent content—usually writing, but also photos and video and music—from a site. That's an important distinction from an API, which usually gives programmers access to a site's old data based on a certain set of parameters. You can put parameters in RSS feeds—"give me the most recent photos tagged with 'beautiful'" or "give me the most recent mentions of my full name"—but RSS is generally not as flexible as APIs ("give me all photos between certain times", "give me all mentions of my family name cross-indexed with the tag 'icelandic'". Generally if you want something that's flexible, you want something that's fairly complex. (It's not called "Really Complicated Syndication", but then again, what's in a name?) That's why RSS is a 'good-enough' solution for non-programmers or beginner-programmers who don't want to learn how to parse XML. I consider myself an intermediate-level—and just barely—and I still refuse to learn how to parse XML in PHP because there are so many libraries that do the work for me. Magpie RSS-PHP has saved so much work for me—in fact, there is no obvious way for me to donate to the project. I decided just now that I've benefited at least enough to give back at least in the form of a monetary amount sufficient to buy a nice meal for the principal developer of the library. My credit card came out and everything! Kellan, you're making it hard for me to give you money! There's a point to this, and it's already in the title, so it's not like it's hard to figure out, but RSS is a very easy-to-understand data format that, with tools like Magpie for PHP—which I use all over the place—and the Universal Feed Parser and even hosted tools that give you some Javascript so that you can 'syndicate' your stuff from elsewhere on your own site. I've finally moved on to figuring out APIs, but I'm still using libraries like phpFlickr to do caching to store in an object and arrays what is delivered by XML. Yes, there is dissent, in that RSS isn't really an API, but rather a data model. That's technically correct, but calling RSS a data model isn't very sexy. Dave Winer calls RSS "automated web surfing", and that's one of the things it is. In my just-barely-intermediate-programmer mind, though, it's an API, because web services like Flickr have RSS for everything. (Actually there are publicly available frequently-updated sections of Flickr that are not accessibly via RSS.) RSS is something that most people can use to get to most of the most compelling content of websites, which these days usually means the most recently-updated content. There are more exciting technologies out there, like Atom (data format), Jabber (messaging), Atom API (publishing and editing), but RSS "works today" as some of those around me like to say. [...]