Nicely done ‘Subscribe to’

With blogosphere being all nice and shiny, there’s this one thing that usually annoys the hell out of me – ‘Subscribe to’ area.

I’ve seen one of the two extremes on pretty much every blog out there.

The ‘minimalist’ extreme – which I excersise myself – is when there is no special area for the RSS feeds or mailing lists subscriptions on the website. RSS feeds particularly. They are there, but you can’t find them. Sometimes there’s a tiny orange icon. Sometimes there’s a link saying ‘RSS feed’. Sometimes there’s nothing at all – open up the source code of the page and look for the ‘alternative’ at the top of the HTML.

The ‘maximalist’ exterme is when there are icons and links to all possible RSS aggregators and readers, with images, with different formats like RSS 0.92, RSS 1.0, RSS 2.0, Atom 0.4, etc. That’s just too much and it looks ugly too.

The Golden Mean is so rare that every time I find one, I am ready to bookmark the website, blog about it, dedicate poems to it, and do all sorts of other silly things. And all that for what? Just for a few moments spared by the webdesigner thinking about what the hell he is doing.

Below is one of the most recent examples of the nicely done ‘Subscribe to’ area. I came across it when someone pointed me to the this article (note, how nicely it all fits together).

Subscribe to form

It’s small, functional, with only a handful of aggregators linked, with a mailing list option, with description of what it is (“Subscribe to this blog”), with a nice little icon… Beautiful indeed!

6 thoughts on “Nicely done ‘Subscribe to’”


  1. Both Opera and Firefox show an icon for feed link next to the we site’s address. But these links lead to browser internal feed readers. I wish they just started external app via mime type association.


  2. It never occurred to me to put a link of that sort on my blog. I don’t actually know how to, and when I’ve seen them on other blogs, I don’t see the point. When I want to subscribe to someone else’s blog, I just hit the ‘blogline it’ button I have on my toolbar and bloglines does all the work.


  3. Michael,

    I prefer for my ‘subscribe to bloglines’ bookmarklet to work. That is, for me personally, the best way to link to the feed is by using the ‘alternative’ meta tag.

    For people like my mom though, things are slightly different. :)


  4. Alexey,

    Yeah, I know. By the way, Firefox 2.0 (which is due to be released shortly) will have this configurable. Google for reviews and feature announcements -- I remember even seeing some screenshots.

    Another thing is that links to RSS feeds work as a reminder. Subscribing to feeds, useful as it is, is not yet an ‘automatic’ behavior for many web users. Many times I myself was reading someone’s nice blog, leaving from it, and then remembering that I should subscribe to it… Looking through the history of my browsing isn’t fun -- I’ll tell you that. :)


  5. Sue,

    Hey there, glad you are stopping by here once in a while ;)

    It never occurred to me to put a link of that sort on my blog.

    Well, since you are using Blogspot/Blogger you don’t even have to. Most of the RSS readers support simplified form of subscribing to feeds at large communities, such as Blogger, LiveJournal, WordPress.com, etc.

    I don’t actually know how to

    Oh, that’s easy. Feed links are the same as any other links. Here is the URL for RSS feed of your blog, and also the Atom feed of your blog.

    and when I’ve seen them on other blogs, I don’t see the point. When I want to subscribe to someone else’s blog, I just hit the ‘blogline it’ button I have on my toolbar and bloglines does all the work.

    I’ve just mentioned the reasons in the comment responding to Alexey. In short -- far too many people don’t have the ‘blogline it’ bookmarklet, and far too many people sipmly forget to subscribe to blogs. I think that’ll become more automatic later on, like bookmarking before and googling now.

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