Exploring Rojo - part two

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 2 May 2006

I've been auditioning online RSS readers as potential replacements for Bloglines. In part one of my exploration of Rojo I looked at how to get feeds in and out of the system, and how to get rid of what I felt was an excessive number of feeds that the wizard approach had pre-populated my account with.

The main reading screen displays your unread items in one stream of entries, sorted either "by date" or "by relevance". Whilst I like the concept of displaying the feed contents in this way, I'm not sure I approve of the terminology "relevance" - "relevant" to what? The FAQ says:

Rojo Relevance is a new way of sorting stories from your feeds. You always have the option of sorting by date, but with Rojo Relevance you can sort stories according to our special formula which puts the good stuff on the front page. How do we do it? We weigh a number of factors, including how you read your feeds, and how others (such as your contacts) are reading, tagging, and giving stories mojo

It seems to me that a better label would be something more akin to Flickr's "interestingness" concept - e.g. a mix of the popular and the prominent. I also found it odd that, having established that I was the owner of currybetdotnet during the sign-up process, that Rojo started displaying the recent entries from this site back to me as the most "relevant", as if I wouldn't have read them already :-)

Rojo states the name comes from "RSS with Mojo". You can vote for stories in your feeds and give them some "Mojo". Stories with more Rojo Mojo should float to the top of the category indexes, and rank higher in the "relevancy" stakes for everybody using the reader. In theory, the Mojo given to stories by people connected to you counts for more than the Mojo of strangers. I liked the idea a lot - I've always been keen on systems that learn from both explicit and implicit user behaviour.

However, rather like pre-populating the reader with subscriptions to 'A'-list bloggers, I wonder how much over time this feature will genuinely aid serendipitous discovery of information, or how much it will push Rojo users into all reading a homogenous group of the same 'authority' sources? In short, will Rojo's Mojo feature make it easier for new voices to be heard, or will it simply become a means of people voting for their favourite stories on Boing Boing and Slashdot?

TechCrunch Mojoing its way to the top of my feeds on Rojo

One feature I particularly liked when I was road-testing FeedLounge was the history view. Rojo offers a similar feature in the form of the different views under the 'Saved' stories tab.

There is actually a choice of four views - saved, mojod, read and flagged. The nuances between them are quite subtle. Flagging a story, for example, is private, but adding Mojo to a story is a public show of support. On the whole these didn't seem as useful as the catch-all read view provided by FeedLounge - but did seem preferable to trying to retrieve a story in Bloglines that you haven't saved but looking back through your feed-reading sessions.

Rojo's stories you've mojo'd view

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