Feb. 8th, 2013

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IFTTT (If This Then This) is a service that lets you make recipes to do automated tasks on the internet.

One thing you can do with it is to have it notice new entries on an RSS feed and then make a bookmark on a service like Pinboard or Delicious that links to that feed item.

I used this trick to make the collection of bookmarks for the White Collar newsletter less of an onerous task. When we lost one of our volunteers and couldn't replace her, this automation was the only thing that kept the construction of the newsletter possible in any sort of reasonable amount of time.

You can use this on any RSS feed, an LJ or DW comm, the AO3 feeds, Pinboard tag feeds, ff.net feeds -- whatever you like.

Here's a brief overview of how to do it.

Make your IFTTT account first and have your bookmarking service account info handy too.

Now set up your bookmarking account on IFTTT by activating a channel for it. Hit the Channels link up top and find the icon for your service. Click it and follow the instructions to activate it, so IFTTT knows who you are on that service.

Next make your recipe. You'll need the URL of the feed you want to draw from, so get that opened up in another tab.

Start with the Create link on IFTTT and follow the steps. You can take everything on a feed, or just the items that match a keyword. You can have them make private or public bookmarks too. Make the choices that work for you, but don't worry, you can edit this later.

Once you've said what goes where (the This and the That), you can configure the bookmark a bit. There are preset ingredients available for the various fields on the bookmark, so you can use those to make custom tags and to decide how much of the feed entry you want in the description field of your bookmark.

What I did for the newsletter was to put a tag called "needstags" on each bookmark and I set them up to be private. That way, I could go through them quickly and fix up any formatting issues and add the specific pairing tags we used to assemble the newsletter (I never could figure out how to automate that part) before making them public.

I also used the "Entry Author" ingredient to tag each bookmark. This gave me the user name of the person who made the entry as a tag, which worked so-so for AO3, since the user names there are often lists of pseuds with spaces in between.

For the description field, I put the "Entry Content" in since that fit with the format of the newsletter. Note: for LJ or DW comm feeds, this gives you the whole entry before the cut, so using this for anything other than straight links from those sites is difficult.

Fanfiction.net bookmarks came out perfectly formatted, AO3 bookmarks needed some fixing. ff.net uses a standard form of header on their feeds familiar to most fans, and they use good markup.

AO3 uses a unique format that includes the author name in the body of the feed as well as the title, puts the Summary first with no label, and they markup with a UL item that ends up putting extra blank lines in between the various tags.

If all you want is the links with no description, none of that matters.

This trick works for assembling a bunch of links for a newsletter, but it would also work if you want to collect a bookmark for all the fics on a certain pairing tag on the AO3 to look at later, or to collect only the fics that contain the word Kink in a certain fandom, or only the fics in fandom X that have character Y in the header somewhere.

Hope this might be useful to someone out there. If not, check out IFTTT anyway, you might find a recipe already exists to do just what you need.
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