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AlBlue’s Blog

Macs, Modularity and More

How to fix the Google Reader problem

2009, crap, howto

As I posted a few days ago, Google Reader has added a decidedly unpopular feature in that other people show up with their opinions.

The best way of dealing with this (other than letting Google know) is to write GreaseMonkey scripts to make the entry-likers CSS class die horribly. But for those of us using iPhones or other portable browsers who may not be able to use this, there is another way.

Google uses the unique URL of the feed to generate the 'who likes this shit' icon at the top. I noticed this with some URLs that I weren't seeing the crap on. Simple solution ... make the URL unique.

In order to do this, add a URL parameter onto the end of the feed URL. You may need to unsubscribe and re-subscribe to the feed in order to make this work, but for any feed where you've been seeing these icons (say, http://rss.slashdot.org/Slashdot/slashdot) simply add a parameter onto the end that's unique. I recommend something like http://rss.slashdot.org/Slashdot/slashdot?GoogleReader=SteamingPile. Given that no-one else uses this URL, Google won't show you anyone else who likes it (as long as you use something other than 'steaming pile' above, since there's bound to be someone who just copies it verbatim). Feel free to be inventive as you want; most URLs won't take any notice of additional parameters that you add on to the URL. Here's a selection of items you might want to put on:

  • QADepartment=nonexistent
  • PeopleWhoLikeThis=JustMeShutUp
  • TalkAboutA=StupidFeature

Feel free to add more suggestions in the comments. For those who track URLs, you might want to add some kind of indication of why you're adding those features to the URL (like GoogleReader=Pants) so when they get a grep through the weblog, they wonder why people are suddenly appending random appendages to their feed requests.