~asayers/blog

d5b0f7571f62a75482b4c1ba3fbaecf21af2f2f7 — Alex Sayers 4 years ago
2020-06-07_youtube.md
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# Using YouTube without a YouTube account

I don't know if this is common knowledge, but **YouTube has an RSS feed for each channel**.  Instead of subscribing to channels, I give the channel's RSS feed to my RSS feed reader.  This experience _beats_ the standard YouTube UX, and you don't even need a YouTube account.

**Why is it better?**  YouTube offers three services to users: (1) free video hosting, (2) subscription management, and (3) a recommender system.  When it comes to hosting streaming data and recommending new videos, they're probably the best in the world at what they do.  But YouTube's subscription management functionality is what I'd call "bare minimum".  Well not to worry, because this is what RSS readers are made for.

* YouTube shows you **notifications** about new videos.  An RSS reader can do the same, more flexibly.
* YouTube marks videos you've seen as "**watched**".  With an RSS reader you get the same, and can also mark a video as "watched" without watching it, or mark a video as "unwatched" after you've watched it.
* YouTube lets you organize videos into **playlists**.  With an RSS reader you can achieve the same effect by tagging videos.  You can also auto-tag incoming videos based on rules: eg. videos from channel X with Y in their name get tagged with "must watch".

Anyone who's used an RSS reader knows that these features are great for whittling down the firehose of blog posts.  Well, I can tell you that they work equally well on YouTube videos.

And as an added benefit, **YouTube doesn't know anything about you or whose videos you watch**.  I'm sure they could figure it out, if they wanted - but given that most people volunteer this information I don't suppose it's a high priority for them.

**How do you get the feed URLs?**  I'm not aware that there are any links to RSS feeds from the YouTube UI itself, but the URL scheme is thankfully straightforward:

```
https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=<id goes here>
```

As a concrete example, for [this channel](https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYO_jab_esuFRV4b17AJtAw) you can find the RSS feed [here](https://www.youtube.com/feeds/videos.xml?channel_id=UCYO_jab_esuFRV4b17AJtAw).

Enjoy!