Factr streams are a great way to monitor website feeds and filter them so that you capture all the content that matters to you and none of the content that doesn’t. But getting your filtering exactly right can be both a science and an art, so here are a few tips to help you on your way.

Getting started

Before we get into the nitty gritty of filtering, it's important to understand that filters only apply to source feeds that you add to your streams on Factr. So before, you can add any filters, you first need to add some sources.

  1. Either create a new stream or go to a stream that you want to edit.
  2. Click on either Settings > Sources or the "+" icon followed by the sources icon.
Adding sources via the Settings menu
Adding sources via the "+" menu

3. Once the Sources panel open, you have the option to search for Sources already in Factr. To add them, click on the "+" button.

Source search and selection

4. Keep adding sources till you are satisfied.

Now you are ready to add filters so that you only see results related to the topic of your stream.

Simple filtering

To add or edit filters, click on Settings > Source Filters

Some topics are really easy to match and you will only need one or two terms to perfect results. For example, if you want to create a stream on the Zika virus, you will probably get great results just by creating a single "zika" keyword filter.

Most topics will have a greater variety of terms that will need to be added to ensure that you catch everything you want to. For example, filters for artificial intelligence probably should include related terms and abbreviations as well: "machine learning", "neural networks", "AI", "NLP", "natural language processing" etc. (make sure you click "Apply" to see results)

Filtering with a single filter set.

Using multiple filter sets

Filtering using a single set of filters will work well for streams that are focused on a general topic that is easily defined with a few keywords. But what if you need to be more precise?

That's where combining filter sets can help. Factr enables you to create multiple sets of keywords and phrases that can be combined any way you like.

For example, if you want to find items about Zika virus just in Brazil and Colombia? To do that, click on "Add another set of filters" in the filter panel, and add "Columbia"  and "Brazil to the field:

Using 2 sets of filters

(double check to make sure that the sets are joined with "And" and the option for "Any of the following keywords" is selected in the second set).

Now Factr will only match content that contains Zika AND (Columbia OR Brazil).

If you need to refine it further, say to show articles that mention specific demographics that have been impacted like children and pregnant women, you could add a third set with related terms in it:

Using 3 sets of filters

Pro tip 1 - what, where, who

In general, try to keep your filter sets thematically related. Personally, I get the best results in streams when I use the following filter structure:

  1. what (which issue or topic keywords)
  2. where (which countries, regions or cities?)
  3. who (which individuals or groups?)

Pro tip 2 - use the power of none (cautiously)

Sometimes you'll find that your you are getting a high number of false positives because keywords to other topics that aren't related to your stream. For example, if you have a stream about renewable technologies, you might find that the filter term "green" is returning results about golf and juicing. In that case you can add a filter and choose the "None" option from the dropdown:

Note: Be careful not do overuse the option to exclude certain terms because you may accidentally exclude content that would otherwise be valuable!