Another change in RSS habits

I have yet another change in my RSS habits. I now use two RSS aggregators.

As I mentioned before, my primary RSS reader now is Google Reader. It works perfectly for all those hundreds of feeds that I want to read, tag, search, and share. Every so often, Google developers add useful features and fix those few bugs that there are.

But, as good as it is, Google Reader isn’t perfect. Or maybe that’s just me with my weird needs and wants. One of the things that I missed from the time I migrated from Bloglines was the possibility to rearrange and sort feeds and folders in any way I want. Google Reader sorts everything alphabetically, and while it’s fine for some feeds, it doesn’t work for the others. In Bloglines I had a number of options for sorting, one of which was manual. I could put feeds and folders in precise order I needed.

Why do I need this? Because there are some feeds that I want at the top of my feed. These are feeds from my projects, and from the people I know personally. I want them all in a specific order, so that I can quickly look navigate through and find stuff that I need. Everything else can be tagged and sorted alphabetically. I don’t care.

Another feature that I missed in any online feed reader is custom update interval. Most online RSS aggregators update feed information either by time (1 hour or more), ping (not all feed generators do that), or request (“Click here to update feed”). There are situations though, when I want full control over feed update interval. For example, if I know that there is a heated discussion at Dmitry’s blog going on right now, I should be able to tell my RSS reader to fetch comments feed every five minutes. I’ll slow it down later on.

On the other hand, Google Reader does such an excellent job on all the other feeds that I didn’t want to leave it. So, with that in mind, I decided to use two aggregators.

The choice for the offline reader fell on Akregator – RSS reader for KDE. I created two folders “Projects” and “People”, with subfolders for each project and person that I wanted monitored, and subscribed to all the feeds. I then unsubscribed from those feeds at Google Reader to avoid dups.

I’ve been using two aggregators for the last few days and it seems like a perfect setup for now.

P.S.: I am subscribed to 300+ feeds, if you are interested. Some of these are updated once a week, others 400 times a day (think Flickr groups).

2 thoughts on “Another change in RSS habits”

  1. I really don’t see the point of custom sorting of the feeds. Don’t forget that Google Reader uses not only for posts, but for feeds as well. So what stops you from creating a tag, say top10? Guess it will be way for efficient than rearranging the feeds.

  2. Sergey,

    Let me elaborate. As of now, I have about 10 projects that I track and monitor. Each of those projects has anywhere from 2 to 5 feeds. These are top priority, and I check them from top to bottom in the first go.

    Then, I have about 25 people that I keep close attention at. Each of those people has anywhere from 1 to 5 feeds. Some of these people are more dear to me (family, close friends), than the others (distant friends, ex-friends, collegues, etc). I check all these feeds immediately after my projects. If I have time that is. And I check them in the order of importance – first my family, then my friends, then my collegues, and so on.

    And then, I have about 250-300 (depends on how busy my week is) feeds that are for my news, education, and entertainment. These are tagged by subject, like “photography”, “blogging”, “parenting”, “technology”, etc.

    As you can see, there are three distinct groups of feeds. I work differently with each group. And I work a lot with all three of them.

    For some time, I used to tag my projects with __project1, __project2, and so on. Double underscore caused feeds and items tagged with these keywords to be on top of the sorted list. Then I used single underscore for my family and friends, like _mom and _brother. Because of these they were coming up second on the list. And then was everything else.

    But these scheme doesn’t scale well. First, the underscore is confusing. Second, tags get too long with _sergey_kuleshov and _zinaida_mamchenkova. Third, it’s impossible to sort within a group of friends and family (remember, I still have 20+ tags there). Or not possible without tricky stuff like _10_zinaida_mamchenkova and _20_sergey_kuleshov, or setting more tags, which is even more confusing…

    Now though, I have a perfect setup. I have my projects and people in one place, where I can sort them any way I want, and update with any interval I please, and everything else in a tool which was specifically designed for that task. Google Reader I mean. :)

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