Silence is the virtue of fools. -Sir Francis Bacon
Question #89816 posted on 06/05/2017 9:49 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Is it possible to subscribe to a particular writer(similar to youtube) so that rather than actively checking a writer's work or recent statements you can just have a icon to click on the side bar that has notifications on any recent updates or comments by said writer? I realize this may seem a little like favoritism, but there are certain writers I really like reading since they're super funny(humor is subjective) and would prefer seeing a notification icon rather than opening up profile and seeing the most recent comment for my usual laugh. If not, that's fine. I totes understand. Keep up the great answers, and hope you guys have a great summer!

-Avid Reader

A:

Dear Aphid Reader,

As far as an on-Board solution goes, we don't have anything like that now, and we probably won't for the forseeable future (we've got a lot of other projects to work on). The best solution I could come up with is to bookmark the profile page of the writer(s) you're interested in following. It won't give you a notification when something new is published, so you'll still have to check for yourself, but it does filter the answers to those recently published by the writer.

I tried to make a notification system using Google Alerts. The idea behind Google Alerts is that you tell Google that you want to be notified whenever a certain topic or phrase is used on the internet. Companies use it a lot for marketing purposes; bloggers can use it to see what is or isn't being discussed about a particular issue. I set up an alert for each of the writers currently writing and asked Google to notify me as soon as a new post showed up. Almost a week later, I've had no notifications come through. I suspect the reason for this is because of Google's indexing rate for our site. See, it would take an awful lot of computing power, possibly more than we have available right now, to keep an eye on every single part of the internet all day, every day. Instead, Google has its search engine perform "patrols" of sorts, checking certain sites a certain number of times per day to see if they have relevant content to what you're looking for. For a popular website or blog, Google will likely check for new content multiple times per day, but for a small, backwater publication like us, they check far less frequently.

If I end up getting any notifications about the Board in the near future, I might add a correction to this post. In the meantime, it looks like Ento's got a pretty workable solution below.

-Frère Rubik

P.S. Don't be afraid to keep reading other writers than your favorites. There are some writers whom I didn't find very funny before that I now find hilarious.

A:

Dear Reader,

I think that the best way to do what you're trying to do would be to use an RSS reader that allows filters. The Board has a few RSS feeds, but you probably want to use the first one, which updates every time a question is posted. I tried a couple of different desktop solutions that were supposed to notify me when a question that met the filter criteria posted, but I never got them to work. What did work for me was Smart Feed Reader for Android (there's apparently also an iOS version, but I can't speak for how well it works because I don't have an iPhone).

You can subscribe to a feed by pressing the + in the top right corner, then pasting the URL into the field. After that, you'll want to create a rule to only get notifications for the writers you want. In the new rule form, you'll want to set "Match field" to content and the action to "Mark as read". If you only want to get notifications for one writer, you can set the criteria to "Does not contain" and then type the writer's 'nym in the "Compare to" field. If you want to subscribe to multiple writers, it gets more complicated. You'll have to set the criteria to "Contains" and type the 'nym of each writer that you don't want notifications for in the "Compare to" field.

-The Entomophagist

A:

Dear avid,

You must be talking about my wonderful, witty responses. I just wanted to publicly thank you for being my number one fan!

-Sunday Night Banter

A:

Dear wilde,

Unsolicited opinion: I'm not against this idea, but I'd rather we work on other things first. Maybe like

  • reversing the order of "Popular Questions" so that the most recent show up when you first click on them. The old ones are great, but I think it makes it hard for any current answer to join the ranks, and that perpetuates the myth that the Board had a Golden Age. 
  • letting the home page continuously scroll. I know, danger for procrastinators like me, but it could be good. 
  • a way to search "My Favorites," or "My Answers" for writers. Or maybe just more categories to save things under other than 'favorite.'
  • email notifications for when your question posts. 
  • upgrading the profile page of each writer. Maybe have their top answers listed along with their most recent. 

I have no computer or coding know-how, so I'm not exactly sure what I'm proposing. Basically I just want good things to be more accessible, and I lack skills to do anything about it. 

Take care,

-Auto Surf