Pondering feed readers

Do people use feed readers anymore? It seems odd to me that this never quite caught on in a big way amongst people I know. I use a feed reader and I know my wife does, but other than web geeks, I’m not sure many other folks do. Maybe it’s not simple enough? How do people keep up with blogs and other regularly updated content, though, without one?

Feed Reader Categories
My feed reader categories for various syndicated content

I know there are some sites – Boing Boing, Jezebel/Gawker/io9, and others where I don’t bother with a feed; usually because their content is updated too frequently to keep up and I know that I don’t want to see every post because their content is in the range of ‘skimmable’ and not ‘deep research’.

And then there are some sites that don’t publish their full posts to their syndication feed — I purge them from my feed reader immediately for that reason. If they’re pretty good they’ll get a bookmark, but they’re usually on probation for being traffic whores.

I should probably investigate people’s use of syndication feeds; it seems like I read that this was on the decline somewhere, but I don’t recall the link. I know that Twitter and Facebook have buried their RSS feeds. I can still usually construct a Twitter one based on the ones I had in my reader before they hid them, though. Facebook has pretty much wiped theirs out.

2022-03-12 Update: Twitter and Facebook obviously killed their RSS feeds because they needed their algorithms to filter you news for maximum effect on your psyche. And we all got hooked into social media and stopped blogging altogether. This is such an interesting post in hindsight.
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I finally got wise, and created a new group in my feedreader software called “Truncated” just for people who truncate their posts in their syndication feeds. These are people I love, who are great writers, but the frustration of needing to have a browser window open to read their work is too great, and I have to put them in their own little holding cell to read them at some future point when I’m not working on another project at the same time.
Another thing that frustrates me about some of these writers is that they don’t seem to write for that truncation — It’s not clear, from the first few lines that manage to come through, what the subject of the post is about. Sometimes I’m intrigued by a hint that’s wildly off base when I finally land on the site, and other times, I’ll blow by a post that seems irrelevant only to hear about it somewhere else and discover I missed something cool.
They should be tailoring their writing for the medium in which it’s being presented, which is something they hammered into our skulls in my college journalism classes. If you’re going to truncate in your syndication feed, be sure to convey the subject in the first few lines.

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