Monday, April 04, 2011

In defense of feed readers

I just read MizFit's post about blog reading and felt I had to respond. But following the "If it's more than a few sentences it's probably a blog post of its own and not a comment" rule that I have established for myself, I decided to respond here. After all, MizFit does not sound anxious to learn about feed readers (one of which is Google Reader), and I respect that:
I dont have a Google reader. I, in fact, had no idea what a Google reader was until recently. Im still not sure how to create one and add blogs to it. Please to not enlighten me. From all I can tell said reader is nothing but a source of frazzlenessment/pressure.
I, however, find the feed reader to be a huge time saver. I don't have to click around to my favorite blogs to see if there is something new, and I don't get led on a down-the-rabbit-hole journey of going from this blog to that to that one and on to another one... that could go on all day for me.  It really is all about setting limits for yourself.  MizFit imposes her limits by ending the blog reading when the coffee is done. For me, there are a few ways I impose limits:

  • I populate my feed reader with blogs I like. If an author I enjoy links to another blog, I scan that blog to see if there are other interesting posts.  If someone makes an insightful and interesting comment on m blog, I click over to see if it seems like I'd enjoy reading their blog on a regular basis.  If it seems interesting, I subscribe.
  • I don't feel obligated to click links just because the author of a post put them in. I only click through if it seems like there is something truly interesting behind the link.  I don't feel obligated to comment on every post I read, either.
  • If there is nothing in my reader, that means none of the blogs I like enough to follow have posted updates.  This means there's nothing to read.  That saves me the time of clicking around to a bunch of blogs that have no new posts. 
  • I remember that no one is paying me to read blogs.  If I'm reading a post and it's just not grabbing my attention, I move on to the next one.  There is no requirement that my eyes have to go over every sentence before I move on.  Corollary to this rule: If the blog author has posted ten new updates since the last time I read, and none of them seem interesting from the previews in the reader, I feel free to click "Mark All As Read."
  • If I "Mark All As Read" too many times on a particular blog, I think seriously about unsubscribing.  I try out a lot of blogs for a while but if I find the posts boring, I don't feel the need to continue reading the blog.  I can always stop back and check it out again later.

I think the key is to keep this all fun and not for it to feel obligatory.  It shouldn't be a chore. I have noticed a lot less comments on the blogs I read and I think it's because most of us are using feed readers.  I do miss the more chatty community I used to see on blogs sometimes. 

What do you think, has the blogging community changed or is everyone just getting busier? Do you use a feed reader or just visit the blogs you like?


  1. I don't really understand feed-readers either - I think I have Google reader with my google account but I don't really understand it.

    I have a sidebar on my blog where it shows the most recently updated blogs that I subscribe to and it shows the 25 most recent posts - I'll check those out and then if I have time after that - I'll click "view all" and read some more.

  2. Google Reader is SIMPLE. Insert web link to "subscribe" and each day new entries show up. I subscribe to several hundred blogs but do not have one of my own, so no blog roll. Without Reader I could not remember them all or care to click on all the individual sites.

    The only irritating thing is when a blogowner does not set it so that the entire entry shows up on Reader, only the first few sentences then I must click over to read. I usually delete those. I just don't have time to read all I want that way. Many times I read from my Android Reader App on my phone.

  3. I use Google Reader and love it, for all the reasons you articulated so well. That said, I, too, miss the comments, and am grateful for those readers who do click through (my blog feed is truncated in Reader). I have it set that way because I use Adsense. Not that I'm getting rich or anything. Heh.

  4. When I want to see the comments of a particular post, I just mark it "unread"...when I get through and go back, I click through to read comments or comment myself. :o)

  5. You would have to prise my Google Reader out of my cold, dead hands. I think Miz's comment springs from her reading SO many people tweet or blog "i have 500 items in my google reader, OMG!" like it's a major source of stress. To which I say, you're using it wrong! Cull cull cull! :)

  6. PS my GR routine is very similar to yours! Really love the List view these days, too, particularly for more general blogs like the Flickr blog in your screenshot above, Kottke, etc.

  7. I don't use the reader thingabajig. I just click on my blog rolls.. I have it set to the most recent is on top.. so I know who to stalk first. :)

  8. (you know what I think :))

  9. ok I shall yammer anyway.
    maybe Im just waywayfarfar too TYPEB for a reader? :)

  10. Late to the party here. I set up GR but have found that I'm not really using it; I just don't follow that many blogs these days. So I click to the few that matter to me and enjoy reading comments as well as the post. Assuming the post was interesting :)

    It does seem that the commenting has gone way down. Feed readers and the sheer volume of blogs are definitely factors.


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