Canadian startup AideRSS is taking the ranking algorithm in its feed reader, PostRank, and turning it into an API for other developers to integrate into their own apps. At the same time, it is releasing an extension for Google Reader built on that API that shows the ranking of each post and feed within Google Reader.
PostRank measures different ways that readers engage with a post. The ranking is based on how many times a particular post has been linked to, voted up on Digg, commented on, Twittered about, or bookmarked on del.icio.us. Starting today, PostRank also takes into account how many times a post has been viewed and clicked on in feed readers like AideRSS and now Google Reader that take advantage of the API. (Basically, whoever uses a PostRank-powered feed reader contributes to the overall ranking). PostRank also now measures activity on Ma.gnolia and Pownce as well.
AideRSS co-founder and chief architect Ilya Grigorick says:
Any developer can now integrate PostRank into his/her application to take advantage of our social engagement analysis. We see PostRank as the de facto engagement ranking platform.
More efforts like these are needed to help reduce the noise being created by the proliferation of information sources and communications services on the Web. The Google Reader extension, for instance, lets you sort by all, good, great, and best posts and feeds. You can also see rankings for entire feeds, folders, and collections.
All of the ranking is based on passive user behavior. The idea is that you and everyone else using a PostRank reader is already ranking each item based on how you consume and share it. There is no way to explicitly rank a story or feed by marking it good, great, or poor (which should be an option for those so inclined to rate every item).
PostRank is also a one-size-fits all solution. Everyone sees the same rankings. It doesn't take into account your personal reading preferences, historical consumption patterns, or the engagement patterns of your specific social network. But that's what APIS are for. Anyone can now make PostRank better.
Here's a video below showing what PostRank can do on Google Reader (and how to install it either as a Fireefox add-on or a Greasemonkey script):