Still grappling with Google Reader

The AniBlog Tourney (where I completely approve of blatant bribery) gave me the impetus to start an updating exercise of my AniBlog Google Reader subscriptions and to review the way I have been using Google Reader. (BTW I used to use Bloglines but having one less sign-in was too big a draw.)  I am also belatedly trying to recall and reflect on the advice of an audio book (title: Blogging for business? author: Chris Andersen??) about using feedreaders as well as to do some wish-listing:

1. If there’s a huge backlog (due to, for e.g., AFK or lack of internets connection), just Mark all as read and live to read another day.

I use this selectively. Previously if I had missed a couple of days, the thought of the hundreds of unread entries would prevent me from opening my Reader until I had a big block of time to launch an all out assault which would exhaust me rinse repeat. I also had this hang-up about having to finish all the entries at one go because I was trying to avoid unread items stuck in between my current and previous reads (set to new items only, sort by oldest?).

Eventually worked around this by, sometimes, opening up the folders and reading subscriptions by blog rather than folder. Also using the List view (rather than Expanded view) also helped to cut down on loading and reading times. List view is great especially for blogs that have a lot of screencaps but don’t define the width/height of the images which can be annoying to read in Expanded view when the loading images constantly bumpabump the text down (Aroduc, I’m looking at you). Unfortunately, unlike in Expanded view, I don’t know how to get items marked as read simply by scrolling past them. Nor do I know how to get individual items marked as read/unread.

2. Unsubscribe feeds that you never read

Sounds like common sense housekeeping but, in the context of the aniblog ecosphere, this is not ideal for me. Sometimes I enjoy an author’s writing but, for one or two seasons, she might not blog any series that I’m watching or interested in following. Luckily it’s not too difficult to manage by marking all as read in each individual subscription using List view (easy win!).

I realize there is some element of aniblogging that is about advocacy, trying to get others to join in the watching and, subsequently, the discussion of a particular series. But unless I find two or more bloggers, whom I use as trusted proxies for particular genres, doing such advocacy, it’s more likely than not that I will simply Mark all as read without reading. Elliptical or comparative blog entries are more effective in swaying me though.

WRT blog feeds that I do actually unsubscribe, I would prefer it if there was some way to keep the feed URL on file but not actually draw from the feed. This is a testament to how much I like the “You are already subscribed to this feed” warning in Google Reader. Possible workaround is to stuff all these into an Unsubscribed (haha!) folder and then just Mark all as read whenever I open Google Reader. But I feel kinda dumb doing this (which is not onerous in of itself except for the frequency of experiencing this sensation in my life).

Also I would be megas-happy if there was also a way to include some kind of non-public notation, within Google Reader, to remember why I unsubscribed in the first place. (Can use Notes but there’s a snag as it’s linked to Shared Items?)

In Windows, the “There are unused icons on your desktop” prompt can be pretty annoying (I only have the recycling bin on mine) but something similar which announces “The following feeds have been silent for (user specified time period)” could be useful for periodic spring cleaning i.e. shifting into the dead/hiatus folder (who knows? They might just totali pop up again!). Or for the more manually inclined, show “Feed subscribed since (date)” and “Most recent post on (date)” under the Subscriptions tab.

3. Things the Blog Owners Could Do

It would nice if blogs offered a choice of full and summary feeds but using List view seems to allow me to have my cake and eat it too.

For team blogs, I can see that there will be (a) demand (or two) for author feeds. Under WordPress this can already for done by using a plugin (prolly) or creating a category for the author and then subscribing to the category feed (definitely). From a producer perspective, this could be seen as an unwelcome way to disaggregate a team blog but while I believe a blog owner’s sovereignty over said blog is absolute, the reader is still, ultimately, king and this kind of functionality will probably come offered as standard in the future.

12 thoughts on “Still grappling with Google Reader

      1. From what I gather Stripey uses honeyed words rather than sweets. It will be a tad harder but I could see that waza being useful snagging Oneechan types too. :)

  1. Imo, google reader is convenient for people who wants some organisation to the vast amounts of blogs and websites out in the net.

    I also only look at the most recent 10 or 20 articles of a particular site at most… anything older than that I’d just declare its my loss and put them all as read…

  2. GR is more useful if you subscribe to more sites (hundreds), yeah. If you read a couple dozen feeds then it is not particularly awesome as a feed reader (aside from GRSI, but now that’s accessible via Buzz and the like).

    Personally I hit “mark all as read” pretty much all the time. Especially on feeds/folders that I know I read mainly for headlines.

    1. I found that Buzz just replicates GRSI stuff and it was so annoying that I switched it off and haven’t found a reason to turn it back on again.

  3. My comment was mainly sarcasm – in WP I know each category has its own feed. Not sure about authors. A quick yahoo pipes could fix that, however.

    GRSI and twitter and where the good stuff circulates, although I really really really hastily skim my ‘aniblog’ folder in GR. I don’t like unsubscribing to blogs, so I have folders I know I won’t read (like figure blogs).

  4. Hey, there’s a mashup-app for Google Reader called Feedly… It’s a browser plugin which uses your Google Reader settings (you don’t need to register or log in) and shows its content like a magazine or uses the default list-like behavior, twitter feed, blog suggestions, Flickr stuff… It’s pretty cool and the clean interface is easy on the eyes. I like it better than Google Reader…

    http://www.feedly.com/

  5. (that wasn’t spam, btw, I just like the app a lot… I could write junk-mail for a living if I wanted to… O_o)

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