Filtrbox vs. RSS readers/aggregators

August 26, 2008 at 10:35 pm 1 comment

One of the questions that I am often asked is how Filtrbox is different from traditional RSS readers and aggregators.  The following are the major differences:

Closed Search Domain vs. Open Search Domain

When using traditional RSS aggregators, the user supplies the list of RSS feeds. This means that the domain of information gathered by a traditional RSS reader/aggregator is limited to the RSS feeds that are known to the user.  I call this a closed search domain. However, in an environment such the one we have today where thousands of new content sources are being created on a daily basis and anyone can potentially become a publisher, it is unrealistic to put the burden on the user to keep up with the thousands of new content sources that are sprouting up each day.  Filtrbox takes this burdensome responsibility away from the user and discovers the new content sources for the user because Filtrbox’s search domain covers all the new content sources. I call this an open search domain. The user can also add RSS feeds to the search domain, thereby guaranteeing that their RSS feeds of interest are searched. This approach leads to the user discovering new content sources.

Publisher centric vs. Content centric

Traditional RSS readers/aggregators present to the user all the content that is published by a specific publisher regardless of whether the user is interested in the content or not. Thus, the traditional RSS readers/aggregators implement a publisher centric information consumption model. On the other hand, Filtrbox implements a content centric information consumption model.  Rather than deliver to the user all the content published by a specific publisher, whether its relevant or not, Filtrbox allows the user to filter for the content that they are interested in from ANY publisher by providing contextual keywords. The content centric model implemented by Filtrbox greatly reduces information overload because each piece of content is examined and filtered for contextual relevance before it is delivered to the user.

No filtering vs. Contextual relevance filtering

As indicated above, traditional RSS aggregators do not filter the content.  All content published by a publisher in the user’s closed search domain is delivered to the user regardless of whether it is relevant or not.  Filtrbox applies algorithms that filter content from an open search domain of publishers for contextual relevance.  Filtrbox uses multiple factors to determine the contextual relevance of content and assigns a score called FiltrRank.  The most important feature of the algorithm is that the contextual relevance algorithm learns from a Filtrbox user’s implicit interests and applies the implicit interest to future contextual relevance filtering. This means that the content delivered to the user is content that that specific user is interested in and not content other people are interested in.  Contextual relevance filtering plays a large part in the reduction of information overload.

Beyond RSS

Unlike traditional RSS readers/aggregators, Filtrbox consumes content delivery formats beyond RSS. Filtrbox is capable of consuming both standard and proprietary content delivery formats.





Entry filed under: REST, RSS, Startups, Web 2.0.

Filtrbox releases the most granular Olympics content filtering widget yet This blog has moved to

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jason Cormier  |  September 24, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    This is really helpful in terms of understanding the limitations of common RSS readers. As you might know, we work with a lot of tools in this space — all of which we consider in their infancy. The better you can distinguish your offering from the many that are out there (free or not), the easier it is to consider the value. We like what we are seeing from Filtrbox.


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