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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Managing your RSS Feeds

Coming back from my vacation, I realized that I needed to go through a clean up exercise again on my RSS feeds. It turned out to work pretty well for me this time around because I have been following the advice I've seen a couple of places:

My basic strategy is:

Quarantine Folders

I create a "Trying Out" folder for each three month span. Right now I have "Trying Out - Aug. 2006" and "Trying Out - Nov. 2006". When I find a blog that looks promising, I put it into the the farther out Quarantine folder. In other words, right now I'm adding blogs to "Trying Out - Nov. 2006". Blogs that I've collected over the last three months have accumulated in Trying Out - Aug. 2006.

Whenever I review an article that is good in one of the blogs in a Quarantine folder, I mark that article as "Keep New" (I use BlogLines).

When I reach the end of the month (end of August in this case) associated with the folder, I delete all the blogs that haven't produced at least a couple Keep New articles over that time. Sure, I fudge sometimes and give them another shot (move them to the next Quarantine folder).

Sort by Priority and Visibility (not by topic)

My other folders are organized into "My Front Page" - stuff that I want to read frequently (and this happens to also be listed in my blogroll on the right). And the other folders have stuff that I read (actually skim) when I have a chance (roughly every other week). They are organized into Technology and Education, but I've found over time that the content-based organization didn't really help me and any attempt to break it down more didn't help. Instead, it's purely, do I have time to go through and do some reading.

Scanning Feeds Folder

I also subscribe to a couple of specialized scanning feeds, e.g., citations to my blog, topics of interest, etc. These go in a special folder. I check these roughly every couple of days.

Other suggestions

There's an old adage among small business CEOs that you never hear - "I fired that person too early." Generally, the tendency is to hang onto poor performs far too long. Often there's a general sense of relief among all employees once the poor performer is gone and you often hear - "Why didn't we get rid of them a while ago."

The same is true of RSS feeds. I've not experienced a case where I got rid of a feed only to see it producing great stuff after I got rid of it. Sure, it had a great article that got me interested initially. But if it hasn't produced in three months, it's not been the case that it will produce again in a few more months. Plus, if it produces something really good, you'll find it through other blogs right?

Feeds from major publications that spit out lots of posts are not worth it. If they can't parse the content down and you aren't willing to put a filter on it yourself, then don't subscribe.

That's it. Pretty simple, but seems to work well for me.

Keywords: eLearning Resources


Tracy Parish said...

This was an old post, but one I found informative.

So now I have 2 questions:
1) if I comment on an old post do you still get notified that I did? If so how?
2)As a new reader to rss feeds how far do I go back with posts. There are so many people with such great info that I'm sure there is much I can learn from old posts. But everything changes so fast how far back is to far? Any advice?

Tony Karrer said...

Hi Tracy - thanks for the thoughts/comments/questions -

On my blog, I've subscribed to my comments feed so that I can get notifications of any comments left. I can also get emails, but I have that turned off.

On other blogs, I generally use CoComment to track conversations that I'm interested in - but it's a bit hit and miss whether CoComment works.

As far as going back - I generally don't. I rely on the blogger to link to older stuff that will be of interest. Otherwise, I'll find it because someone else links to it. Or if I'm searching for particular information and get linked to it that way. I will scan past posts to make a quick determination if I'm interested in subscribing - but for me subscribing is a go-forward activity.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if there is an easy answer to this: I offer RSS concerning various media releases posted on my website - But I don't know how to find out who's signed up to take the feeds. Is there a tracking system available?

Tony Karrer said...

Mike - I don't believe there's a system that will tell you exactly what you want to know. However, you should look at:

1. Allowing people to sign up via email - I use Feedblitz to do this. It gives me an indication of who's signing up.

2. Use something like MyBlogLog to see who's visiting your site.

3. Look at who's publicly subscribing via RSS readers such as Bloglines.

None of these are complete, but they all give you an indication.