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