How to: Get Exactly What You Want From YouTube via RSS

Berci asked:

David, do you know how can we subscribe to searches on Youtube? I mean, I’d like to follow the RSS feed of the search term genetics on Youtube, for example.

Jan answered:

You can create RSS feeds for tags. FI: rss for genetics will be

For search related rss-feeds on YouTube you could try

The feed that Jan suggests will only contain videos that have been tagged “genetic.” It won’t contain videos that have the word “genetics” elsewhere in their metadata.

To capture videos that have “genetics” anywhere in their metadata, try this feed:

Unfortunately, this simple way of creating a search-based YouTube feed ([search terms].rss) will limit the search results to 20 items.

If we want to get more than 20 results in our feed, we need to use the YouTube API,
which is powerful and not especially difficult to play with.

If we want a feed that captures the most recent 50 videos, we can use this feed:

Neat, huh? Still, I don’t subscribe to these sorts of feeds.
Unfortunately, both the feed for the tag “genetics” and the feed for the search term “genetics” are too full of junk (including spammy, awful ringtone advertising) for me to deal with efficiently. I once had search feeds like these from YouTube fed into LibWorm, but removed them because the results returned for the search term “library” were frequently inappropriate and wildly distant from Librar*/LIS topics.

If one was determined to make such a feed useful, one could use a tool like Yahoo Pipes to filter out the worst and most obvious of the junk items, producing a feed like this one. It is far from perfect, but most of the junk is gone and little of the good stuff is missing.

(Please feel free to copy this Pipe.)

However, a Pipe used for this purpose would probably need semi-routine maintenance and updates to its Filter module to keep the junk out.Note for nit-pickers: Yes, I considered more aggressive filtering by category either through the API or Pipes, but there are valid hits across a number of unexpected categories.

Okay, that was fun! Any other feed questions?

5 thoughts on “How to: Get Exactly What You Want From YouTube via RSS

  1. Nice one David. We’ve seen a lot of users bring feeds from to us to monitor for keywords. Everyzing offers a feed for search results and the site uses speech to text to search the audio and video iteslf instead of tags etc.

  2. Hi Ernesto-

    Pipes does rock an awful lot, doesn’t it? I started writing a post titled “Why I Love Yahoo! Pipes” months and months ago but never finished it. Maybe I’ll try again soon.

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