Every day, new people show up at your blog, on Facebook, everywhere. Every day it’s a whole new crop that need to figure out what RSS is and how to subscribe.
Get Zippy with Google Reader
Once you have your account set up, and you’ve found a few blogs to subscribe to, you will benefit from learning some zippy key commands. I use these ALL THE TIME. If you use Google Reader, and don’t use key commands… pay attention.
- j — Next Item
- k — Previous Item
- space — Scroll Screen Down
- shift + space — Scroll Screen Up
- v — Open in New Tab
Those are your key weapons. Once you’ve mastered them try:
- u — Hide Left Sidebar
- s — “Star” (bookmark for later)
- shift + s — “Share” (a whole other topic)
- a — Add Subscription
How do you expect to remember all these?
- ? — Browse Shortcuts (that’s shift + /)
Full vs. Partial Feeds
You may have noticed that some feeds display only the first paragraph, requiring you to click through to the site to read the rest. Some feeds only show the title of the blog post!
The philosophy behind this is to increase traffic by forcing you to visit the site. Is there any benefit for the user? Not really. If you really love the site, you’re at least getting notified when there is a new article to go check out.
This is a crippling of the benefit and features of RSS, and it doesn’t benefit readers at all. It drives me crazy, and I knee-jerk unsubscribe from partial feeds. I just don’t have time for it. (Nor do I feel partial feeds respect me, my available time and my attention.)
I once commented on a game journalist/enthusiast’s blog to tell him that images in his feed weren’t rendering properly in the feed. He responded in the comments:
The feed actually isn’t supposed to include text at all, just the title and a link, so I’m not sure how you’re seeing that much. Text in feeds is already supposed to be off. I’m not sure why anyone’s able to see it, and I’m annoyed that they can. Is it so frickin’ hard to click a link once a day? I love RSS but geez, it makes people awfully lazy.
Grrr! Angry Joel unsubscribes!
RSS isn’t about being lazy. It’s about being able to stay in touch with more websites. When I read an article that resonates with me I will click through and share my energy.
Bonus Tip to WordPress Bloggers
If you use the “more” function to split your blogs on your main page, your feeds will automatically become partial. Yes, more click-throughs for you… and one less Joel Corriveau subscribed to your feed.
Stream vs. Categories
You can organize your feeds in topical folders in the left sidebar. I have a few different classifications
- 01 A — If I needed to claim RSS bankruptcy, I clear this folder first.
- Joel — My feeds. I don’t consider it narcissitic to monitor how my work appears.
- Friends — These are for personal blogs of (mostly) people I know.
- Topical — Logic, NewMedia, WordPress, Writing, Selling, Pop, etc
You can read items by folder, or “the Stream,” all folders mixed together chronologically. I usually read all items together. But if I’ve been on RSS holiday, and the New Items number is way up, I’ll wack through it by topic.
Finding New Blogs
In the right sidebar, you will see “Browse for Stuff.” Google offers bundles of blogs grouped by topic. When I first used this feature, there may have been a dozen bundles. Currently there are over 400.
There’s a lot of great stuff to discover, but there’s a ton of garbage! Your life is limited, my advice is to be as ruthless with your unsubscribing as you are inviting.