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Thursday, October 04, 2007


Reader-submitted question: Feed?

Yes, feed.

I know most of you don't read this blog through a feed, and I'm happy about that. When you come directly to the blog, you get all of the content: comments, links, labels and so on. It's the full experience.

However, you can subscribe to the blog in a reader. That's what the little orange box below my disclaimer is for (right over there on the right, if you're actually on the blog). If you click it, you'll get all of my posts whenever I finish them, although there seems to be a five-hour delay most days. This "feed" will come directly to a central reader. But don't click it!

Writers seem to love subscribers, and I think this is because once you subscribe, you'll get all of my posts. You can't forget to come to the blog one day, or change computers and lose all of your favourites. This would be perfect for my ego, except that it gets rid of all of the things I like about Web 2.0. Feed readers don't post comments or participate in reader polls. They miss any changes I make to the menu or to the template (they don't know that I'm pink for October, for example). They don't always get the video content, either. It is more like writing in a newspaper than on the Internet: my information goes out and never comes back. I might as well be writing for the federal government if nobody's going to be able to talk back. (Attention, Forces of Evil: I do not write for any kind of government, so don't even think about filing a lawsuit because you don't like the things I say on the blog. You are just going to have to accept that some people have different opinions than you do.) The whole point of being on the Internet is to allow you guys to be part of the blog. You ask how I'm doing, send me questions and drool over sexy photos of David Hasselhoff.

I read today that some people don't post comments because they are intimidated by bloggers' extreme coolness. This was presented by the "lurker" side with no hint of sarcasm; otherwise I would automatically dismiss it. Anyone who thinks bloggers are cool is clearly not reading this blog. For pete's sake, I'm an expert in comma usage. I'm not cool, although I can see how a person could get intimidated by the videos of David Hasselhoff wearing a blue pleather jumpsuit with zip-off sleeves and dancing like a person with a nervous disorder.

I am a bit of a hypocrite: although I prefer it when people come directly to the blog, I subscribe to a lot of feeds. Most of the blogs I read don't publish every day, so I have them all on feeds. That way, I don't have to go to each blog individually to look for new posts when they only put up a post or two a week. I only go to these blogs if I want to comment on something the person has written or to read the comments. I pop by all of the blogs I read every few days to check out the comments other people have posted (you can't get comments through the feed). I read a few blogs that post new content every day, and I visit them directly each evening before bed.

Feeds are not for everyone. There is no point in subscribing to feeds if you like to visit sites individually or if you only look at a few blogs every day. I have about 50 subscriptions: too many to visit every day, but it comes to about 15 posts a day, which is fairly manageable.


SJ said...

Gah, I hate feed readers. Not the people who use them! Like you, I'd rather have the actual visitors. I miss the pre-feed days when if you wanted to read someone's latest post, you had to actually go to their website. And while you were there, you'd post a comment, check out the photo album, maybe visit a link or two on their blogroll.

I mean, why do we even bother to *design* our blogsites anymore? 80% of our readers never see them after their first visit.

Megan said...

The feed readers will never see this, of course, but I understand why people have their feeds set to only give subscribers the first few words of each post. Compared to the feedback I get from the people who come to the site, it feels like the subscribers aren't even there. I wouldn't even have a clue how many I have if it wasn't for Feedburner, and I'm sure that doesn't include everyone. How many stalkers do I really have, anyway?

Alison said...

Hey now, I'm a feed reader and I can certainly say that I visit your comments section to read and sometimes leave my own comments. For me, the Feed is a bit of a pre-scan of the blogs I read. I can then click the entries I want to spend a little more time with. You shouldn't assume all feed readers never participate :)

Megan said...

Yes, yes.

As I mentioned in the other comment box, you and ShaunD get a free pass, because you come to the site through your feed reader. That's not the type of stalking I'm writing about. In fact, you participate more than most of my readers, so you get an extra free pass. Consider it a shield that can be used to ward off any upcoming rants about, I dunno, cat people. :)

Unfit Mother said...

Thanks for the tutorial on feed readers! Relatively green to the blogosphere, I am humbly ignorant of this process. I must have feeders because I get the most hits on sitemeter after a post; how else would they know? I am of the does-not-post-every-day variety bloggers. You are prolific!

Megan said...

Yep, if your stats spike after you post something, you've likely got many readers who subscribe. I don't count them as stalkers, probably because I do this myself. Yes, this is very self-serving of me, but at least I can admit it. I use the feed as an alert system rather than a content scraper. In my mind, there's a huge difference.

I would post a Reader Poll to find out if other people agree with this distinction, but
1) Only a handful of readers answer my polls; and
2) The true feed readers wouldn't answer at all. Selfish bastards.