You too can be an efficient blog stalker


September 20, 2006 7:39 PM
Cat stalking bird

This was written as part of the latest Problogger Group Writing Project.

So you’ve just started reading blogs and you’ve found a few good ones. You check on them daily to see if they’ve updated. You bookmark them on your browser or you type in the URL directly. Then, you find more and more good blogs. And you click on them in your bookmarks everyday, sometimes twice a day just to go to their sites. Hey it’s a good way to kill time right?

Gradually, checking everyone of them daily begins to feel like a grind. And when they don’t update as compulsively-obsessively-frequently as you check on them, you start to feel resentment. Update, godammit!

I’m here to tell you that there is a better way, and that RSS feeds are your friend. Most blog software publishes an RSS feed. This feed gets updated when the blog is updated. However, the feed on its own is useless – you need an RSS feed reader that will check the freshness of these feeds, and then only display those that have been updated.


Bloglines

My preferred choice is Bloglines. There’s also Newsgator and both work similarly. I picked Bloglines because I preferred the site’s look and feel, plus it provides a little notifier that beeps when you’ve got new posts to read. It gives me joy everytime I hear it, I swear it does.

Once you’ve created an account, and you’ve downloaded the notifier you are on your way to becoming a super blog stalker. Even if you are using someone else’s computer and there’s no notifier, you only have to log onto Bloglines and know immediately which of your favourite blogs have been updated.

Your favourite blogger can stop blogging for a while and you’d still know about it as soon as they’ve resurfaced. And you didn’t even have to keep checking their blog everyday to know. Now that’s efficiency.


If your favourite blogger is generous *ahem*, he or she will publish full feeds. That means that you can read the entire post via Bloglines. Some bloggers publish partial feeds and make you go to their sites to read the whole thing.

Me? I don’t care how you read it, as long as you read it. That’s why I will always publish full feeds. Besides you would still have to come here to comment. You do comment, right?

Moreover, by going to a site the old-school way you can see all the hardwork that goes into the site design and post layout. Plus you get to see the goodies on the sidebar. Basically you’d see the site the way the blog author had intended you to see it.

Firefox Live Bookmarks

There’s also another quick and dirty way to use RSS feeds and that is via Firefox’s Live Bookmarks (Opera, Safari, Netscape and soon IE7 have similar functions). Whenever you go to a site that publishes an RSS feed, you’d see an orange RSS icon in the address bar. Click on it to add the site’s feed as a live bookmark.

Paparazzi

What’s a live bookmark? It’s a bookmark that updates itself with new links as they happen. Try it!

Be like the paparazzi. Now go forth and stalk. Your favourite bloggers want you to, nay, expect you to. And by the way, my Bloglines subscription button is right there on the front page. Do it. Do it now. You know you want to. :mrgreen:

p.s. Did you know that there are also feeds for the comments? Did that just spin you out?

ADDED 11:42am
Yvonne suggested that I enable an email subscription plugin for the comments, which I’ve now done. You’d see this function on quite a few blogs out there too. I’ve never saw a need for it because there’s already an RSS feed for the comments (see front page sidebar). This allows you to be even more specific with your stalking I guess. The option is entirely up to you! πŸ™‚

ADDED 22nd Sept 2006 4:37PM
A fellow participant on the Problogger Group Writing Project goes a little more in depth into the wonders of RSS. And she has better pictures too. Check it out!

33 thoughts on “You too can be an efficient blog stalker

  1. Yvonne

    I couldn’t agree more on providing full feeds – if anything, having only partials is more likely to make me unsubscribe from your site and never come back πŸ˜‰

    Firefox Live Bookmarks have always stumped me. I can’t see how they’re any more practical than RSS readers, plus they take up toolbar space. Meh πŸ™‚

    Reply
  2. mooiness Post author

    Yvonne: I will put up with partial feeds if the content justifies it. Yeah, live bookmarks are neither here nor there – it’s good to know at a glance if a site has been updated but it’s unwieldy once you have a few.

    sourrain: hehe it’s not that big of a secret is it? As for your stalking, this blogger appreciates the effort of his #1 stalker. πŸ˜€

    Reply
  3. mooiness Post author

    Lara: you can be sure of 1 update per day quite consistently even if you don’t seem to be getting the new feed. And thank you for your support!

    smashpOp: yeah you are a bloody hard worker! πŸ™‚

    Reply
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  5. Rob

    eep. i haven’t thought of myself as a stalker before. a canadian mate of mine used to play a frat game called tubbing where they stalked friends and had parties in their bathtubs. hmmmm…

    Reply
  6. bunnygoeszen

    Gradually, checking everyone of them daily begins to feel like a grind. And when they don’t update as compulsively-obsessively-frequently as you check on them, you start to feel resentment. Update, godammit!

    Hmmm wouldn’t it be the same thing, you check your bloglines / RSS feed thingy and there are no new updates because you’re checking every 5 minutes?

    Reply
  7. mooiness Post author

    Yvonne: Not a problem!

    Rob: woah dude, you went off on a big tangent there! Heh.

    bunnygoeszen: when you’ve downloaded and installed the Bloglines notifier, you’d only log onto Bloglines when the notifier tells us that you have new posts to read. And even if you don’t the notifier, checking one site obsessively is still better than to check every single one of your favourite blogs.

    Reply
  8. mae

    Heh! My boyfriend was just asking me to figure out how to do these RSS feeds thingy… But I still can’t find them. Do you reckon it’s my version of Firefox?

    Thanks heaps for this post though! I spend so much time closing the tabs on those blogs that don’t get updated often!

    Reply
  9. mooiness Post author

    Pass the Torch: yes it’s a huge timesaver! But that just means that we have to channel our compulsive obsessiveness elsewhere! Hah!

    Jersey Girl: the cat picture is great isn’t it? Hehe.

    mae: nah Firefox has it no matter what version you have. Try Bloglines – it’s great!

    MamaDuck: thanks for dropping by once more! I’ll be checking out your post!

    Matt: you should! It’s a real timesaver. Will check out your post too!

    Reply
  10. An

    I still prefer the tried and test method of … going to each blog every day =P Blogs I read are placed in the Favorites (but I need to trim out a LOT of them liao… hmm…)

    BTW, the RSS feeds gives you the blog posting as it is (i.e. with the respective pictures posted up if any) or it’s just words words words?

    Anyway… I like the cat stalk bird picture!!! Very cute!!

    Reply
  11. mooiness Post author

    An: if it doesn’t drive you crazy. πŸ˜‰

    Reading the posts via an RSS feed reader, you’d see the words (basic HTML) and the pictures (not Blogspot blogs though), but you’d still have to go to the blogs directly to see YouTube videos and special formattings.

    Reply
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  20. Julie Westra

    Holy Crap – How do you get so many people to read and post comments?! You are my hero – I bow down to you. I have stalkers who never post comments (co-workers of my husbands who are always telling him I need to update my blog but never leave comments!) and am wondering how to elicit the feedback I crave so intensely. I’m a comment whore for sure. Thanks for the tips on RSS feeds. Apparently I’m about two years behind, that’s all.

    Reply
  21. mooiness Post author

    Julie: hey thanks for dropping by! Don’t let it fool you, it took me a couple of years of just writing away and engaging with the few initial commenters that I had, to get to where I am now.

    Don’t despair! Just visit your favourite blogs and leave friendly and relevant comments. If they are kind, they will return the favour. πŸ™‚

    This post might interest you too:
    https://mooiness.com/2007/06/05/asking-for-links-is-like-asking-will-you-be-my-friend/

    Reply

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