Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Subscribing to YouTube Channels With RSS

Thomas Brand:

For most people watching the occasional stupid video isn’t that big of a problem because people tell Google who they are and the algorithm shows them what they want to watch. They do this by letting the Google track their browsers or by logging into Google services. But I browse the web with tracking protection turned on and never log into Google. The algorithm remembers nothing about me, and as a result I am always shown stupid videos.

In 2020 I am watching less stupid on YouTube by skipping the algorithm. Instead of letting the YouTube decide which videos it wants to show me, I am watching only the videos I want to see by subscribing to my favorite content creators via RSS.

This is a great trick. Brand explains it well, though it’s a little clunky for anyone not familiar with viewing the source of a webpage.

YouTube isn’t the only website that buries its RSS feeds in this manner. I don’t know that it’s deliberate — in the sense that they’re trying to discourage the use of RSS. I think it might be a result of product teams convincing themselves that RSS is something used only by the technically-proficient, so it’s put in a place where that group can find it. The trouble is that only the technically-proficient will end up using it, so it’s cyclical.

Update: A few people have written me to point out that you can try adding the standard channel URL to your feed reader, as many readers will automatically discover the RSS feed.