SearchFox – Personalized RSS Reader

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Company: Search Fox
Founded: December 2004
Launched: in Private Beta
Location: San Francisco

SearchFox is in private beta testing of a potentially disruptive RSS reader. It’s the first product I’ve seen that does a good job of prioritizing new content from feeds based on your historical reading behavior, as well as data gathered from the SearchFox community as a whole.

This is a very big problem that I’ve written about many times. RSS readers are great for sorting through content, up to a point – after a couple of hundred feeds there is simply too much information to go through quickly. Companies are now trying to tackle the problems faced by the power users – those reading hundreds of feeds daily, in the hope that in solving their problems they will create a product that addresses the needs of the masses as well.

Since they are in private beta, you’ll need to request an invitation to try the product out now. Esteban Kozak at Search Fox tells me they still have a few left, but they have almost invited the quota.

There are a number of preset feeds when you log in for the first time, which I promptly deleted. Adding new feeds was fairly simple – no problems with adding feeds one at a time. Although there is functionality to import an opml file (the standard file format for RSS feeds), I was not able to successfully import my file. I’ll be trying again and it may be an issue on my end.

I’ve only been using it for a couple of days, but I am already seeing how the prioritization works and I’m fairly happy with the decisions it is making. Estaban tells me via email that after a couple of weeks of use the results will be even better:

Our RSS reader learns by watching what individuals and the entire community find interesting, taking into account various inputs such as source, author, and topic of the an RSS entry. Existing RSS readers only show information chronologically, which quickly leads to information overload. Our goal is to that you see what’s interesting to you on the first page, rather than on the 20th page. Initial studies show that our personalization engine surfaces 50% of the interesting posts to the first page after a week of use, and reaches the 90% level after two weeks of use.

Search Fox also has a nice interface – inlcuding easy links to save, mark as read, email link, and delete. One of my favorite features is the ability to expand or contract a post without a page refresh.

Robert Scoble wrote about Search Fox last week, and Matt Marshall mentioned them briefly as well. You should also check out TechBlog, which does an excellent comparison of a number of web based readers, including Search Fox.

The Search Fox blog is here.

Attensa and others are talking about releasing products in this space. Search Fox may be ahead of them.

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