I’m extremely cautious with YouTube. I’ve lost countless hours because of their flawless recommendation algorithms. In one of my previous posts, I describe how to “cripple” YouTube recommendations UI and start using it more deliberately. I also prefer to use YouTube without logging in, but it makes following my favorite channels difficult. So in this tutorial, I describe how to over-engineer your way to subscribing to YouTube channels without having an account.
How to find an RSS feed of a YouTube channel?
Every YouTube channel has an undocumented RSS feed representing its content. But it’s not available in the UI. Instead, you have to dig into the HTML source code to extract it:
RSSto find the DOM element with the feed address
Or, even simpler, you can run this JS code in the console to extract an RSS address:
Once you have RSS feeds of your favorite channels, you can use any RSS app to monitor them. I like to use Slack for this purpose. An official Slack RSS app sends a channel message when there’s a new RSS item.
Alternatively, if you’re on a paid Zapier plan, you can batch your RSS notifications with their Delay Zap Action to arrive at a specific time. Or, if you prefer self-hosted solutions, you can check out a Huginn Ruby gem or ActivePieces for similar functionality.
YouTube channels are just an example. You can use this technique for any source exposed via an RSS feed. For me, RSS is a superior way to consume social media. No ads, no click baits, just hand-picked content delivered straight to your Slack channel. At a time of your and not user engagement algorithm choice.
Consuming most social media via RSS feeds allowed me to reduce my addiction to garbage content. Or at least I can now deliberately choose garbage I like without going on a binge. Most social media platforms prioritize time spent scrolling instead of quality. So similar overengineered tricks could be a way to break their “optimizations” and defend your time and focus.