Pruning the RSS tree
August 23, 2005 at 4:02 PM
Ok, so since I have been struggling so much with RSS Classification I thought I would go ahead and implement the mother of all classification methods. That's right, simplicity. Pruning the information down to the bare minimum and no more. I was at 1,171 feeds before I started. To give you an idea what having that many feeds is list, imagine marking everything as read around 11:00 PM one night and waking up at 7:30 AM and seeing 4,456 new posts. Ya, that bad. So bad in fact, that the posts from my friends, family and co-workers were getting lost in the mix. So that was pretty much the last straw. I started pruning. I am now down to 465 feeds which left about 980 new posts. Not bad given a few minutes of work. And you know, the funny thing is I feel that I am not really missing any information or news. Here's to the 80/20 rule. What steps are you taking to manage your feeds?
I read only the essential that I "need" to read. For the rest that I "would" like to read, my friends usually send me links anyway; I don't bother with them.
I recently went through the same exercise. I'm down to just over 100 feeds and will probably end up with 200 when I'm doing browsing around. I put the majority of feeds I find into a "probation" group and if they don't have anything that grabs my eye in a two week period they are gone. I'm getting pretty cut throat about it and I think that's what it really takes to keep the list from getting out of hand.
Unless I am 100% certain that I will like a new feed, I put in in a prospective folder before it becomes part of my standard stuff. Then I can evaluate it outside of the normal feeds. It is easier to tell if the feed is worthwhile. I have a similar "probation" folder for feeds that I feel are no longer giving me the info I need. I review the probation folder periodically and delete feeds that aren't making the grade. These two mechanisms (and a lot of folders) have allowed me to keep on top of all the numerious feeds I monitor.
Nick, you are a machine. I have a hard enough time keeping up with the 50 odd feeds I subscribe to.
Nick, I don't have as many feeds as you (just gone through a prune session too) but since when I became father my days extended to nearly 20 hours awake. And when in the night you have your baby in your arms to let her burp reading, feed reading is a good activity :-) Never had my bloglines list so "unbolded" like in this period.
I have 148 feeds in my list in total, and I just skim new entries (posts) to see how interesting / valuable they are. I try not to add any new feeds unless I encounter something truly worthwhile, because I still have 18 feeds with over 2400 posts sitting there, waiting for me to find the time to check them out. I've set my bloglines account to only show the ones that have new items, because I'll get scared otherwise ;)
I have a few hundred feeds, but I have them categorised by 'read these', 'second pri', 'if bored' etc, plus things like 'friends', 'family', 'clients' I try to keep up to date on 'must read'; second pri gets cleared daily, with a lot of 'mark as read'; 'if bored' hardly ever gets read. It allows me to keep up to date with what I want to keep up to date with, and yet not 'waste' too much time on stuff I can't justify. Some feeds also move back and forth between categories, from time to time. Works for me :)
maybe it's time for an RSS feed for your RSS feed? :) the software you use should remember which blogs you visit the most and keep them at the top of your pile, would be a handy feature? someone needs to make an audioscrobber-based model for RSS feeds (excuse my ignorance if they havent already)
Are there other online readers on par with Newsgator Online and Bloglines? I've been evaluating each of them recently, having finally been overwhelmed by the limitations of Newsgator Outlook, and can't really decide between the two. One thing that concerns me about Bloglines is that there doesn't seem to be as easy a way to manage folder hierarchy as Newsgator Online's organize feature.
I use a desktop reader/aggregator on my Mac (Net News Wire) for my nearly 200 feeds. This provides me an interface in which I have set must reads in topic-based folders that begin with a plus sign in the name, so when I alphabetize the are at the top. I have one for design, tech, tracking (Feedster, Technorati, etc.), and putting one together for friends. These folders can be viewed as a whole or by feed. I have all general news in one folder, which the 200 bolded items I can scan in a couple minutes and open the one to five that I have interest in in a minute and unbold the rest. I still have too many strays that are not in folders, which I may just drop as I do not have the time to deal with the volume of 800 bold items each night. Lately I have only been paying attention to the +tracking and +design folders and quitting the progam as I am too tempted to pick at the rest of the offerings. I have too much to get done in the next few months. I really with my plussed folders could have their own aggregator and just read the rest every couple days.
There are blogs that simply tell us that other blogs have been updated. If the feed is nothing but things like, "Hey, A List Apart was redesigned!" then into the trash they go. Also, NetNewsWire tracks how long it's been since a feed has been updated. If a feed hasn't moved, but hasn't been updated in 30 days or more, into the trash it goes.
I just pruned in a serious way. What I did was this...because my feeds had reached reading insanity point while still having a job, a family and well, a life without computer built in to every spare moment...I created a keepers folder. Although, I have to say I really like the labels prospective and probation because, they really aren't necessarily keepers forever. If they didn't make it into the keepers in the two and a half week folder, I gave them one last glance. (Did they announce vacation? move the blog and I missed it skimming? Death in the family? Other reason to keep it a bit longer?) Then the keepers and the ones that made it through last glance got filed into their more or less appropriate categories. I try to go through all my feeds once a month. Do I read this? Do I hear about this from some other feed first? Or eventually? I think I will set up a permanent prospective and probation feed arrangement now though. My other key question is "Do I know what this feed is when I just see the title?" If I have had one for a while and can't remember anything specific about it, then nope, trash. Sorry. If I miss it, then it comes back but that has only happened twice.
Every day there are enormous demands on our attention. We are sprayed to the saturation point with a fire hose of information and there is no way to control the flow. The hose is on or it