cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Bert Werk

Cut to the chase- unless something drops from the sky, the lights on my RSS feed service Feed2JS will turn off by June 1, 2013. Between now and then I will get the word out, attach a small alert on feeds fed, offering alternatives, suggesting self-hosting (including investigating what it would take to make an EC2 AMI, thanks Scott for the suggestion). I do cringe at the thought, but any site that does not change anything will likely spin in a spiral of non connection.

Call me a rat.

It’s not the money. Well partly it is. In September 2011, when my free hosting for the service disappeared, I put a call for donations and got way more than I expected, enough to get me through June 2013.

But then the $184/month for the dedicated server hits my pocket, which currently has not a steady inflow.

The site gets banged really hard, and it would not be here were it not for expert tech admin done for free by Aaron Axelsen. He added a Cloud Fare setup to help distribute the load, and it is still getting banged hard. Some people were telling me it went out for them. And as I started looking at the stats, the big users were some link bait farm sites that had something like 20 calls to the site to bring people in and maybe click ads on the sidebar. Or whatever. I’m not sure why I am trying to give them a free ride.

My real audience are the personal sites and the educators just trying to add a dynamic source of content to their sites. I don;t know how to provide it both ways.

It’s not about the money. I could ask again. I could get money for text ads on the front site. I could convert it to a fee-based service.

Frankly, my heart is not in running a service. It’s not my bag. I start things. If I took one of those aptitude tests for management or implementation, I would register in negative numbers.

That said, this puppy has been running as a free service for over 10 years now- I think I was tinkering with it in early 2003 as I first stumbled into the RSS hole via Stephen Downe’s seminal An Introduction to RSS for Educational Designers. I was already tinkering with the first RSS2JS when this blog started in April of that year (kind of sobering to see how stark and not very interesting my early blog writing was).

The code is old. The MagpieRSS parser is old (an experiment to switch to SimplePIE killed the server a few clicks back). I’m way past the limits of my tech skills to carry this out, I was done a while ago.

I feel a bit of a sellout, closing up an open resource, leaving a lot of sites and people hanging

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Scott Beale

and maybe as suspect as Google for giving up on an RSS service. I’m the pot, I’m the kettle, and blackened.

So barring any miracles of angles or rainbow toting unicorns, the next steps will involve me:

  • Putting a link to a notice at the bottom of feeds, like I did back in 2011 (I will offer the CSS to hide it once you have gotten the news). I dread doing it this way, but its what gets attention.
  • recommending other services that are viable (might need a refresh)
  • posting details on how to run this on your own domain, including the settings so you can restrict the use of it
  • Get with the current age and move the code to GutHub where all the cool code lives.
  • investigating what it would take to run in the Amazon cloud with similar features for personal/single organization parameters

When it closes on June 1, 2011, traffic will likely bounce to my domain registrar. I’m hanging on to the domain for a while!

I’m open to other ideas and suggestions, but 10 years has been a good long run, and I’m ready to let this puppy go.

Launch the rotten tomatoes my way.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by [nicolu]

Sorry.

The post "At the Crossroads for Feed2JS" was originally pulled from under moldy cheese at the back of the fridge at CogDogBlog (http://cogdogblog.com/2013/04/crossroads-for-feed2js/) on April 1, 2013.

19 Comments

  • D'Arcy Norman darcynorman.net

    dude. this is not selling out or copping out or giving up or looking for handouts. you stewarded Feed2RSS out of your own pocket for most of the decade it ran, and gave many many hours of your time to the project. if it’s going to be sustained after June, it can’t be at your expense.

    thanks for feed2js. I run my own copy for my personal use (which is locked down because of the insane spam traffic it generates when left open – I can’t even imagine how much the primary feed2js server gets!)

  • Alan, just to say that Feed2JS is how I first encountered you online, years and years and years ago, and it has played an INVALUABLE service for people dealing with course management systems like Desire2Learn that just don’t get RSS (there is still no RSS-in feature! argh!!!). The Dean of our Tulsa campus set up his own instance of Feed2JS years ago, so people here at OU will be able to keep using it.

    THANK YOU FOR ALL THE WORK YOU DID and for the VISION to create this service and offer it to us to start with!!!

  • Tim Owens timmmmyboy.com

    You’re being way too hard on yourself. Seriously. The fact is the code is open source and out there and that lives on beyond the closing of the hosted service. That puts you way way ahead of Google and the rest of the schmucks that would rather shutter a service they can’t monetize than allow people to build their own solutions. If someone wants Feed2JS to live on there’s nothing stopping them from firing that code back up and setting up a public entry point for users if that’s something they’re passionate about doing. That’s not something you should feel you have to own, especially out of your pocket. I’d say have the domain redirect to the code page or put up a simple static site explaining the history of it, why it was closed, and ways people can still use it.

  • Chris L chrislott.org

    What they said. And I think it will be great to have the code in github and maybe get some of the phenomenal programmers out there a chance to work some magic for all of us who run it locally.

    You done good.

  • Mad props to you for getting this idea and service out for a DECADE! Leaving the code out there for anyone else to run on their own is a fantastic gift to the commons – absolutely no need for apologies … in fact, celebrations for a job well done.

  • Darren Kuropatwa adifference.blogspot.com

    Alan, “Thank You!” doesn’t do it. I started using Feed2JS back in 2005 for my classes to aggregate shared links/resources. It was awesome! It still is. I got the idea from you and you made the tool to make it work.

    Like Chris said: “What they said.” I think Tim really nailed it too.

    You’ve always been a class act in everything you do. No less in this. It’s not enough, but thanks buddy. Move on with your head held high. ;-)

  • Caryn

    Thanks so much for providing this for so long — it not only provided a great service but prompted a new realization that our content could be set free in many different ways. Good job!

  • LizP

    Wow, thanks so much for keeping this going, and going, and going…I’ve been able to provide, with little overhead a nicely laid out RSS feed on our library catalog workstations for 5 years now. feed2js made a huge difference for us for a service we couldn’t get any other way. I’m not sure what we’ll do (no in-house server, etc.), but it’s been great. Thanks for all the fish.

    • LizP

      And, if you can pass on the anti-nag code (if it’s different from last time), let us know. (It’ showing to my patrons right now it and it looks sad….oh well. It was free, after all.) Thanks thanks thanks.

  • Brian Teller

    Alan,
    I understand the burden of running a large service (even beyond monetary restraints).
    I’d be interested in partnering with you to help run the servers (on my network) or take over the network completely from you if that’s what your looking for. Either way I just would hate to see this resource go by the wayside. Maybe it does need updated, and a good team of programmers could help in that effort. Regardless I think its a valuable service to many people. With your blessing i’d love to keep it going. I’d love for you to even stay involved, but again that’s all your decision. If this is something you’d be interested in please contact me via email.

    At the very least I think we can donate some server/bandwidth resources to keep the service up until you decide your ultimate plan with the project.

    Thanks so much,
    Brian Teller

  • Sylvia

    The post was on April 1st, I really hope this is a joke! Otherwise, noooooo please!!!

  • Travis

    How about you set a donation page at The Point? That way, people only donate if you meet your target.

    http://www.thepoint.com/

  • Srinivasan

    I took the code from Feed2js and running it from my hosting site for a very long long time. Last week I migrated to another hosting plan and then I needed a little help to redo things and with great doubt came searching for your page. Amazing you kept the page feed2js still going. Thanks for that. I know how difficult to keep it going. Putting it in GutHub will keep it alive for years. Alan, You are just wonderful. Keep Going.

    • Alan Levine aka CogDog cogdogblog.com

      I’m happy to hear the old code still works; I do not give it any attention these days! The site files might be due an upgrade to maybe a bootstrap theme. Happy feeding

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