how to make twitter lists useful (and keep your timeline clean)

For those of you who don’t know, twitter lists are like custom timelines away from your main timeline. Lists contain a selection of twitter users that (usually) have something in common. For example, I have a list called ‘Musics’ which contains artists and bands I’m interested in. Grouping these twitter users in a list, rather than following them in the traditional sense, means that I can still keep tabs on them, without having my main timeline spammed with stuff that I’m not bothered about 100% of the time. The problem I have, is that I rarely think to check my lists for any updates that do pertain to me. For quite a while I wondered if it was possible to export lists to read in my feed reader (RSS/atom). I figured it wasn’t possible, or wasn’t easy at least, since clicking on the feeds button in firefox gives 3 options to subscribe to: my main timeline, my mentions, and my favourites. Also, none of the microblogging clients that I have used (most recently: pino, gwibber, choqok) have a lists feature. I’m unsure if applications on other platforms support lists, let me know if they do!

Anyway, while poking around with the twitter API for a while today, I just noticed that ‘lists’ can be called externally as an atom feed. <- Click on that linked text for all available parameters, etc. Basically, as long as a list is public, it can be seen by anyone. Feed URLs are in the following format for atom feed readers:

where :user is replaced with the ‘curator’ of the list, and :id with the list name. For example, the list I mentioned earlier called ‘Musics’ which was created by me, has the following feed URL:

If a list is private, it can’t be viewed by anyone except the twitter user who created it, and so can’t be viewed by any regular feed readers. I’m sure that if you have some super cool feed reader that authenticates you with twitter then that’s not a problem. It isn’t a problem for me, since private lists are boring anyway. I hope this post will be useful to anyone who has the same pining to use lists as they should be used! Good day.

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