Shyftr made the news last year about their feed reader service which, while similar to Google Reader, triggered alarms about content theft. Since backing off from that idea, it has been working hard on a new product called the Shyftr Filter that also deals with RSS feeds, but in a completely different way. The new service centers around being able to refine just the content you want from RSS feeds by using a flexible set of search tools.

Announced yesterday (with early coverage from Louis Gray), the initial alpha has a public filter that lets anyone test the technology on a group of a few dozen feeds, and a registration-only Publisher area that allows users to add up to 5 of their own feeds to use with Shyfter Filter.

The Shyftr Filter

The core product is the filter itself. It consists of three types of search criteria (title, author, and article/body) that can be used independently or together to produce a customized feed of just the content you want. The public version has 44 feeds as source material to work from, of which all or just a certain subset can be chosen for the filter. Each criteria can be narrowed down to a dozen or so levels of strictness, from any of the terms to exact phrase match. Once the terms are entered and the source feeds chosen, you can grab the resulting RSS feed. I took a moment to search all the sources for the terms iphone and blackberry, you can see my results here.

You can also exclude terms that perhaps you don't want to see coverage on. Do you just hate seeing any mention of the terms iphone or twitter in a tech story? In this example we chose to exclude those terms from all sources in the technology category. And remember, you can one type of criteria with another, say searching for a particular author but excluding anything article with particular terms in it.

The Shyftr Publisher

This technology has a lot of potential, but right now it is more of a tech demo as long as you can only apply it to the 44 feeds that are listed on the public page. In recognition of that, Shyftr is building a service for muti-author blogs (like ReadWriteWeb) or blogs with a lot of diverse content to be able to build custom-filtered feeds with certain criteria. Once these filtered feeds are created, there's even a widget for the blog to display. Unfortunately, there was some trouble getting output from the Publisher feeds so all I can show you is a screenshot.

Summary

This service brings some powerful tools to the growing field of RSS feed curation, which got its start with do-it-yourself tools like Yahoo! Pipes and Tarpipe, and a more refined application in PostRank (which we cover here and here) and Grazr. How does Shyftr Filter stand up to these other tools? We can definitely say that the approach Shyftr is taking is more like the DIY tools, but makes creating a curated feed easier and with some sacrifice in flexibility. We don't think being less flexible is a problem - the DIY tools can be awful hard to get working correctly, so we are all for an easier-to-use solution.