Please don’t put blogs in my news feeds

Aggregators – sites that combine information from multiple sources and serve it up in one place – are enormously handy things, and one of my favourite ones is NewsNow.co.uk. It’s a simple idea that works well: news feeds from various sources, big and small, organised into category. Brilliant.

It’s not perfect, of course. Nothing is. In the case of NewsNow there’s always been lots of duplication, because different news sources tend to cover the same stories as one another; you get the odd problem with ancient articles popping up as brand new ones because of site malarkey; and quite a few of the linked headlines are to registration-only sites. But worst of all, over the last few months it seems to be giving blogs the same weight as news sources.

I like blogs. I read loads of them. But in the overwhelming majority of cases, blogs aren’t news: they’re commenting on news, or on things that have nothing to do with news. That’s great – in fact, that’s what I like about them – but it’s really annoying when you’re looking for hard news and just get screens full of shite. For example, the top story on NewsNow’s internet section yesterday was a blog post which basically said:

Here’s a mouse mat. It’s a new mouse mat. Do people still use mouse mats? I don’t use a mouse mat. Do you use a mouse mat? If you do use mouse mats, this is a new mouse mat. But I don’t use mouse mats, so I wouldn’t buy this. But if I did use mouse mats, I might buy this mouse mat.

The most important technology story in the WHOLE WORLD!!!!!111111

It’s been bugging me for ages, and the reason it happens is obvious: the NewsNow system is entirely automated, and like most automated things it’s as dumb as concrete. What’s missing is people to make fine judgements about what is and what isn’t relevant – or if that’s not doable, a button that enables you to filter out the blogs (or the news sites, if it’s blogs you want to find).

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