Attempts at Embedding News Discussion

Following up my previous post, I’ve tried a couple configurations for replacing the news discussion features that Google has been slowly making worse for years, and am less than satisfied with all of them. The two most promising so far are:

TTRSS Published feed through FeedWordPress
This generates individual posts from the items in the published feed, in whatever form the interaction between the feed and the WP template generates. It gets all the desired content up, and in principle it provides a local comment scheme.

It is, however, extremely noisy compared to the other content I put up, without clearly delineating itself from original content. WordPress can be configured with alternate post types, and per-type display , but that is a level fucking about with PHP and CSS that I’m not willing to engage in unless I absolutely have to. Part of the noise problem is that it doesn’t behave terribly well with snippeting: FeedWordPress faithfully reposts all of whatever came down the feed, and what I would really like is the full note, followed by the link and a short description. While the tools are present to filter and massage the feed, it would take a nontrivial bit of parsing around inside the feed content to produce full notes and limited-length blurbs. Google Plus’s “unbecoming addiction to abbreviation,” as a friend put it, as well as the inflammatory, misleading headline issues at HN and Reddit have made me aware that clumsy truncation is not really acceptable.

A substantially larger problem is that, despite setting all the appropriate options for local comments, FeedWordPress stubbornly refuses to do anything other than pass the comment link through to the original source. Since borrowing WP’s comment system is the primary reason the news-as-posts model seemed appealing, this is not acceptable. There is a four-month-old unanswered bug report (admittedly, a crappy bug report in broken English) about the issue, but that was all I came up with.

This was the one I was most hopeful for being a drop-in solution, but it clearly would take a substantial amount of the sort of web front-end work I don’t enjoy to make it work well

TTRSS Published feed through HungryFEED

This just gives an unobtrusive feed of notes and headlines in any container your WP theme supports. Pretty nice as a “Look at these interesting things” sort of mechanism, and makes a nice way of advertising that you have a news feed available, but has absolutely no facility for local discussion. It delineates the content better, but lacks the discussion and history features I would like.

If I decide I need to get off of Google’s services, either because the services become too unsuitable or the parent company does something too horrible, I’ll look around again. Setting up a custom post type (easy), with custom display properties (straightforward but unpleasant), a segregable output feed (trivial), and working comments (??) to auto-post TTRSS’s Published feed into using a mechanism like the FeedWordPress solution above would not be horrible, and would support all the desired functionality, but isn’t something I’m currently willing to do “just because.”

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