Facebook, RSS, and the pony I’m apparently asking for

Time for me to complain about Facebook. Again.

This time it’s a very specific complaint that may have a solution. If there is a solution, I haven’t found it yet. If you know a good one, let me know.

My current Facebook viewing experience involves starring a lot of people as close friends, whether or not they’re actually close friends, then getting email notifications when those people update their status or upload photos. A typical email from them would look like this:

From: Facebook
Subject: $FRIEND updated eir status: This is me rambling about things as a test…
Body: $FRIEND updated eir status: This is me rambling about things as a test. This is only a test. Do not be alarmed.

Hooray! This email gives me the complete status. I don’t have to visit the Facebook site except to comment. Side note: Facebook used to let me reply to updates via email, but they removed that feature recently. Shame. That would have solved almost all my problems.

However, Facebook, like many large sites, does a lot of a/b testing to see what users actually use. One of those recent tests is to the subject line of those update emails.

I’ve seen this lately:

From: Facebook
Subject: $FRIEND updated eir status
Body: $FRIEND updated eir status: This is me rambling about things as a test. This is only a test…

The email cuts off the update in the body after so many character. This means I have to visit Facebook to view the full update.

Even worse, there’s also this:

From: Facebook
Subject: $FRIEND updated eir status
Body: Links to visit Facebook and view that status. No mention of what that update says.

I’ve been getting a lot of the latter lately but none of the first acceptable version. Grr.

So I had another idea: let’s try viewing all my notifications via RSS. I already do this to keep track of a couple of pages, in particular the NaNoWriMo page and that of my alma mater’s math department. These RSS feeds show the entire update so I don’t have to visit the Facebook site. Unfortunately the RSS feed for all your notifications doesn’t show any statuses, just that a friend updated. That doesn’t tell me any more than the emails do.

I’m making an honest attempt to keep in touch with friends who won’t come to the Twitter side, but all I want to do is view those updates without visiting the Facebook site or app. Is there a solution, or will I have to succumb to logging in?

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