In the last ten years or so, it’s become much easier for us normal folk to become famous. In the good old days it took talent, contacts and a good deal of luck to get your name known around the world. In the age of reality TV, MySpace, and blogs, almost anyone can be famous. Of course, us bloggers will tell you that we’re not in it for the fame and just use the medium as an outlet for our expression. And this, of course, is complete nonsense. The truth is that anyone who writes a post on the web hopes that it will get picked up by someone then sent around the World so everyone can see how big and clever they are.
If you want to see just how famous you are, then what you need is a ‘vanity feed’. Simply put, this is an RSS feed composed of several other RSS feeds of a particular search term (in this case, you, or your site). As a result, it allows you to keep track of every time you are mentioned anywhere in the blogosphere. The simplest way I’ve found of creating a vanity feed is to use Yahoo! Pipes. It’s actually pretty straightforward – just follow the steps outlined below.
1. Visit the Pipes home page and sign in using your Yahoo! account detail. Click on the ‘Fetch Feed’ button from the ‘Sources’ drop-down on the sidebar and drag it into the main window. This is where you need to enter the URLs of the search feeds you want to use. Choose a broad range in here (e.g. Google Blog Search, Bloglines, Technorati, WordPress, etc.). Start by visiting each of these sites and performing a search for your name (or your site/company name). Once the search has been completed you should see an option somewhere to ‘Subscribe’ to feeds. Right-click on this link and choose ‘Copy Link Location’. Return to Yahoo! Pipes and paste the link into the URL feed in the ‘Fetch feed’. Use the ‘+’ icon to add more URLs for the various blog engines you want to use.
2. Now you need to make sure that the results of your vanity search are not duplicated. To do this, open the ‘Operators’ drop-down and drag the ‘Unique’ tab onto the main Pipes window. Here you should choose the option to filter non-unique items based on ‘item.link’.
3. There are also some other filtering options that it’s worth applying to your vanity feed. Drag the ‘Filter’ tab to the main window. Here it’s a good idea to filter on the ‘item.link’, and enter your own blog address. This ensures that your own posts aren’t displayed in your vanity feed and that it’s only third parties talking about you who show up. I’ve also applied a rule to the ‘item.description’ to discount any posts referring to ‘eon software’, another site that has nothing to do with us.
4. The next step is to order your feed in a way that’s most convenient for you. Drag the ‘Sort’ tab from the ‘Operators’ menu and choose a variable to search on. In this case I’ve opted to display the posts in descending date order, which is the standard format for an RSS feed.
5. Now it’s time to export your vanity feed. Make sure all of the elements of your pipe are connecting by dragging the blue tubes between each tab. Then drag the tube from the final tab (in our case the ‘Sort’ tab) to the ‘Output’ tab. Click ‘Save’ to store your vanity feed pipe.
6. Click ‘Run Pipe’ and you’ll see your vanity feed pipe live. Now all you need to do is click ‘Get as RSS’ and add it to Google Reader, or whichever newsreader you use. Simply keep an eye on your feed to chart your celebrity status!