aidelogo040108.pngAideRSS already lets you sort all of your RSS feeds based on how popular they are with readers — how many comments and inbound links it gets, as well as votes from some social news sites. I’ve been using the company’s free-standing site since last fall, because it lets me quickly sort through the 100-some feeds that I follow, to hot stories that I’d otherwise miss.

Today, the Kitchener, Ontario company is launching a new service, in private beta: A plugin built for the Firefox browser, that lives within Google Reader. Over the past year, I found myself overwhelmed by Google Reader, and I’ve switched to a variety of other services to track news, but this plugin may help bring me back.

aide040108.pngAideRSS’s plugin lets you easily sort the feeds from each site you subscribe to within Google Reader, according to its popularity ranking system (called PostRank). On each RSS item, you’ll see its PostRank, as well as the number of Google link trackbacks, number of link bookmarks on Delicious, and number of comments. To sort an entire blog according to each post’s PostRank, just select the ranking from the drop-down menu — “all,” “good,” “great” and “best.” So if you select “best,” you’ll see all of the posts in the feed highlighted that have a high-enough PostRank to fit the criteria (typically “best” seems to be around the top 20 percent of a blog’s posts).

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Google, itself, has been pretty disappointing when it comes to sharing features that go beyond the basics. For example, it’s been experimenting with some recommendation features — that others and myself have found to be pretty awkward. For example, Reader will take whoever you happen to have chatted with once or twice in Gtalk, within Gmail, and automatically show these people your shared items. But I’ve already been getting tempted back to Google Reader by life-sharing sites like Friendfeed, that let me easily share Reader items with Friendfeed friends — friends who I choose. (By the way, you can subscribe to my Friendfeed here).

So AideRSS is offering a more efficient way for me to use Google Reader, and in turn I’m more likely to share items — items that in turn appear in Friendfeed. In other words, the creativity of third parties — and the flexibility of building plugins for Firefox — are providing key, new features to Google products. Just as other plugins, like Xoopit’s media finder that I wrote about yesterday, are bringing me back to Gmail.

ReadWriteWeb has a few more notes on technical issues (and turned me on to AideRSS, in the first place). Here’s the official AideRSS video about the plugin: