How I Consume Mastodon #

tl;dr: I use Masto Feeder to generate a nicely-formatted RSS feed of my timeline, and then I can read it in my preferred feed reader.

A bit more than 10 years ago I wrote a post called “How I Consume Twitter”. It described how I contort Twitter to my completionist tendencies by generating RSS¹ feeds for my timeline (for more fine-grained updates) and lists (to read some accounts in a digest). That allowed me to treat Twitter as just another set of feeds in my feed reader, have read state, not need another app, and all the other benefits that RSS provides.

A bunch of things have changed since then: (lots of) Twitter drama, product changes and feed reader churn (I’m currently using NetNewsWire), but the Bird Feeder and Tweet Digest tools in Stream Spigot have continued to serve me well, with the occasional tweaks.

When the people I follow started their migration to Mastodon in early November, I initially relied on Mastodon’s built-in RSS feeds for any user. While that worked as a stopgap solution until I decided what instance to use², it proved unsatisfying almost immediately. The feeds are very bare bones (no rendering of images, polls, or other fancier features) and do not include boosts. Additionally, having potentially hundreds of feeds to crawl independently seemed wasteful, and would require manual management to track people if they ever moved servers.

I saw that there was a Mastodon feature request for a single feed for the entire timeline, but it didn’t seem to getting any traction. After a couple weeks of waffling, I decided to fix it for myself. The Stream Spigot set of tools I had set up for Twitter feed generation were pretty easily adaptable³ to also handle Mastodon’s API. Over the next few weeks I added boost, spoiler/CW, and poll rendering, as well as list and digest support.

The end result is available at Masto Feeder, a tool to generate RSS feeds from your Mastodon timeline and lists. It can generate both one-item-per-post as well as once-a-day digests. It’s been working well for me for the past few weeks, and should be usable with any Mastodon instance (or anything else that implements its API). The main thing that would make it better is exclusive lists, but there’s some hope of that happening.

Mastodon viewed as a feed in NetNewsWire

As for Twitter, with the upcoming removal of all free API access it likely means the end for Bird Feeder and Tweet Digest. What this means for me is that I’ll most likely stop reading Twitter altogether — I certainly have no interest in using the first-party client with its algorithmic timeline. However, I’ve been enjoying Mastodon more lately anyway ( should find me), and with being able to consume⁴ it in my feed reader, it’s truly more than a 1:1 replacement for Twitter.

Update on June 5, 2023: Twitter API access for Bird Feeder and Tweet Digest was eventually revoked on May 22.

  1. Technically Atom feeds, but I’ve decided to use the term RSS generically since it’s not 2004 anymore.
  2. My dilly-dallying until I settled on mean that someone else got @mihai a few days before I signed up.
  3. It did pain me to have to write a bunch more Python 2.7 code that will eventually be unsupported, but that’s a future Mihai problem.
  4. For posting I end up using the built-in web UI on desktop, or Ivory on my iPhone and iPad. Opener is also handy when I want to open a specific post from NetNewsWire in Ivory (e.g. to reply to it).

1 Comment

This is really cool, thanks for making it!

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