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CommaFeed As Backup Plan

by C. Ross Jam on May 22, 2013

I was all set to put CommaFeed on the list of potential GReader replacements after seeing a mention coming across the MetaFilter feed. Then I started reading the MeFi comments and this one from Rhaomi really hit home:

It’s not just the interface and UI, which is pretty easy to clone. It’s the staggering infrastructure that powers it — the sophisticated search crawlers scouring the web and delivering near-real-time updates, the industrial-scale server farms that store untold petabytes of searchable text and images relevant to you (much of it from long-vanished sources), the ubiquitous Google name that makes the service a popular platform for innumerable third-party apps, scripts, and extensions.

It’s possible to code up something that looks and feels a lot like Reader in three months, with the same view types and shortcuts. But to replicate its core functionality — fast updates, archive search, stability, universal access, wide interoperability — takes Google-scale engineering I doubt anybody short of Micosoft/Yahoo can emulate. It was very nearly a public service, and its going to be frustrating trying to downsize expectations for such a core web service to what a startup — even a subscription-backed one — can accomplish.

Not to mention the current CommaFeed landing page annoyingly doesn’t have any type of “About” page, just a force funnel to registration. Hey, I like to at least be sweet talked a little before wasting a password!

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