Pruning your feeds


written by John on March 5, 2012

I asked on Twitter recently if anyone has completely stopped using RSS readers, and a few people had completely. Others just about keep an eye on it. I don’t check mine half as much as I used to but I do still check in on it often enough.  It can get a bit unwieldy after a few days.

Seems a lot of folk have gone through the same route. RSS readers were there main source of information/entertainment at one stage. And they spent years subscribing to more and more feeds. And then Twitter, Facebook etc took over. Or apps like Flipboard and Zite got better at curating our interests.

So now it’s a lot easier to forget about your trusty rss feeds, you blink and you’ve 2000 unread items. Inevitably there are loads of articles that tell you how to prune your feeds.

But they always seem to get it backwards.

The message is always to get rid of the quiet ones. I don’t get that. Unless it’s some kind of self-preservation from the big blogs.  The quiet ones are exactly what RSS readers are good for. Some of my favourite blogs only update once a month, and less and less because of all of the above. They’re the ones I don’t want to miss.

I think the important thing to do is to only show unread items, then who cares if you’re subscribed to a feed that’s only updated twice a year?

Here’s a recent post from Lifehacker. There are a few good tips there. But main message is the pointless “kill the quiet ones”. Here’s the pruning that had a major impact on reducing my feeds quite quickly.

Kill the noisy ones
Take your noisy ones; like Lifehacker & likecool.com both great but extremely noisy.  And there are many more like that. I got rid of all my noisey ones and the reduction in traffic was instant. They all post to  Twitter & Facebook anyway now. So if I want to kill 15 minutes online,  the posts are there for me while I’m killing the time and not clogging up an unread count when I’m not. I don’t get to read the ones posted while I’m not killing time, and that’s just fine by me. So just kill anything noisey from your rss and follow them on Twitter.

Separate business from pleasure
I also moved all the professional feeds I subscribed to;  web / ux design etc, to a Google work account. That killed off a hell of a lot more traffic.  I got a bit sick of opening up Reeder on a Sunday morning and being bombarded with the stuff that I do from 9-5. Lots of web people seem to eat, sleep and breath web tech. I confess, as much as I enjoy it, I need a break from it at weekends & evenings. Truth be told: I don’t read much of these in work either. SO I’ve pretty much killed off all web design feeds for now, bite me bitch.

No more obligation subscriptions
Then I unsubscribed from every blog that  I was subscribed to just because they were part of the Irish blogosphere or once left a comment on my blog. Obligatory shit like that.  There were just too many that  I wasn’t even reading.  There are lots of those that I still love and am still subbed to – but any blogs that I subbed to out of obligation: Hi Ho Silver. Got to be honest with yourself here; if you always click ‘next’ after reading the first sentence, unsub straight away. Get rid of your blogroll while you’re at it. Conscience cleared!

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Those 3 simple things really worked for me. Massive reduction in my rss inbox now, it only contains stuff I don’t want to miss, am genuinely interested in seeing, isn’t work, and isn’t something that I’m going to see on Facebook / Twitter anyway.

And I’m probably gone from your feed reader too! Which is why you saw this on Twitter / Google plus. Or not? let me know.

p.s. I find the same on Twitter I have a list for my friends and “The Quiet Ones”. They’re the updates I want to see more than people who post 100 times  day.

Long live the quiet ones!


Leave a comment

  • Rosie

    you’re dead right. i still prefer to use RSS to catch up on anything longer than 140 characters. twitter’s too damn noisy and i tend not to click through to links posted there.

  • John Braine

    Hey Rosie.

    Yeah most times I do post to Twitter it just disappears in a sea of noise in seconds. I tend to enjoy it on Friday nights for some reason though. It can go well with beer and telly!