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Fixing authentication annoyances for RSS users

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  • Fixing authentication annoyances for RSS users

    Hallo Phoronix and thanks for a great site

    I have a feature request that I would ask you to consider. I am a former (until like 2 months ago) phoronix premium subscriber and I will resubscribe, if nothing else then to support the site. But I have always been annoyed, that I cannot really use the benefits of the subscription to anything.

    I read ALL phoronix articles on my phone via RSS. I have however, never to this day, found a workable solution for how to actually view the full page ad free articles this way. Every time I click a link, it goes to the main page, which (from what I can gather) has no sense of authentication, I then need to go visit the forums, (get my password from keepass) log in, return to the article and then hope that it realizes that I am now logged in. This forum authentication round trip is cumbersome. For sequrity reasons of course making the browser remember the password is a no go, but would also only fix half the problem. I remember reading something a while back about some sort of authentication timeout being extended, but it has not helped me and quite frankly even if I only had to do this every time I had been gone longer that 1 or 2 days it would still be annoying.

    As I understand it from reading about this quite a few times, the forum round trip is due to the CMS system not knowing anything about authentication or subscription, but this being handled by the forum software.

    So, provided the forum software has the option to show an extra field in the user account setting for subscribers (or it could be automatically sent out by email), here is my proposal:
    1. Provide every subscriber with a personal RSS feed with a random generated address and give it to them in the forum accounts page (or by email)
    2. Make the links in these personal RSS feeds go to a personal read once version of the ad free, one page articles

    This would take a bit of engineering, but on the upsides;
    • It should be doable (even if the two systems cannot talk to one another)
    • The traffic will be the same
    • There is no way to abuse it
    • The only extra data needed in the DB is a table with used article and rss feed combinations and en extra column in the user table for the feed-uris

    I hope you will consider this.

    On a side note. I notice that you always talk about needing more money to make the site sustainable. I have always though that the 2$ per month is actually cheap considering the service. I would not mind paying double that, (and certainly not if I can actually use the benefits). Have you considered making more subscription sizes as a way to donate more. From my point of view there does not need to be benefit differentiations, I just cannot be bothered making extra donations for specific articles and such.

    Regards Kenneth

  • #2
    Thanks for your feedback. Yes, I wish there was some better way for authentication besides the cruddy forum software.

    Others have expressed RSS premium requests too. Aside from the security issues, which could be overcome via methods like what you describe, part of the other problem I see with it -- especially for mobile users as in your case -- is the size of the RSS feed. If making it full-length articles and doing more than 10 or so, that will become quite heavy. While the news items are just a few KB, when including full-length articles, just the text/HTML alone for articles can range 10~29kb for recent full articles. Plus if doing 10 or so entries in that feed, it would barely cover a day. So size of each RSS check would be quite large if you're on a capped mobile/phone account plus lots of wasted bandwidth (unless there's some addition to the RSS spec I'm unaware of for like selectively loading assets from separate links when viewing an entry.

    The other issue in thinking about it is that lots of RSS readers disable JavaScript by default. For the Phoronix Test Suite result graphs, if JS is disabled, only the basic PNG images are served as results rather than the better SVG form.

    In terms of making higher-paying premium services, I've been thinking about it and will try to get around to it shortly.
    Michael Larabel