A secret for readers

For the three or four of you that actually read my blog, I thought I would share an undocumented feature of knowabout.it with you today.

First - you do know about knowabout.it right?

It’s latest version is a very basic list of articles people around the web have been talking about over the last 24 hours.

Right now, it generates the list from three primary sources: Hacker News, Reddit Technology, and Gawk.it

Throughout the day, it monitors these three systems to see what articles are ‘added’…and then it keeps track of how many comments those articles are getting and shows you the current list sorted by that count (descending).

So the default view is made up of only articles that have been added in the past 24 hours and then sorted by those that got the most comments (greatest to least).

To save space, and make the service usable, I don’t list all the articles but rather just the top 10 or so from each source (bonus secret: you can actually pass in a limit url param to change the display limit per source).

Along with each link to the article, there is a link to read and engage in the conversation around that article as well – each of these takes you away from knowabout.it (because I’m a strong believer that engagement should occur at the source – this service just helps you find those sources a little easier)

I mostly built it out of personal interest and find it a great little resource for finding something interesting to dig into throughout the day as I have a five or ten minute break and want to read something.

The problem is that sometimes I’ll find something really interesting via the service, and a few days latter I’ll be talking to someone about it and want to send them a link…but because I found it via knowabout.it, and knowabout.it has moved on to the current 24 hours…I don’t have an easy way to look that link back up and share it.

So here is the secret I mentioned…you can actually go back and look at past days lists on knowabout.it!

How?

Simple, add the date to the url. Here’s an example to see the list as it was on 8-21-2013:

http://knowabout.it/08-21-2013

This should work for any date that knowabout.it has tracked…which is a bunch now as this service has been up for almost a year (I think - can’t really remember when I initially built it).

There is one disclosure that I feel obligated to mention though…I run knowabout.it as a completely free service, and hopefully you’ll notice there are currently no ads (or revenue stream of any kind).

I offer it because I think it’s interesting, it’s personally useful, it’s 100% automated so it doesn’t take any of my time or energy to really support, and some of my other (profitable) projects allow me to cover the tiny costs associated with it right now.

So anyway, I reserve the right to wipe the history at any given time (mostly to save on storage costs).  

Which means, if you try a date, there is no guarantee that there will be a list for you…especially if you are trying one further and further back in time (and then perhaps timehop can help you there).

Anyway - just a little secret you’ve earned for taking the time to pay attention to my blog…hopefully you’ll get some value out of it (and this blog) someday!

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This is the personal blog of Kevin Marshall (a.k.a Falicon) where he often digs into side projects he's working on for digdownlabs.com and other random thoughts he's got on his mind.

Kevin has a day job as CTO of Veritonic and is spending nights & weekends hacking on Share Game Tape. You can also check out some of his open source code on GitHub or connect with him on Twitter @falicon or via email at kevin at falicon.com.

If you have comments, thoughts, or want to respond to something you see here I would encourage you to respond via a post on your own blog (and then let me know about the link via one of the routes mentioned above).