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I’ve been migrating all of my regular reads into the Bloglines RSS aggregator. I’ve been wanting some kind of aggregator for my blogroll for awhile now, and as I’ve been getting a good number of referrals from Bloglines pages, I figured I’d give it a try. Here are the pros and cons of my experience so far.


Blogrolling has a feature that shows when a blog has been updated, but it’s never been very useful to me because it doesn’t toggle off after you’ve followed the link. As such, I find myself re-visiting blogs that haven’t been updated since the last time I looked, and not getting to all the blogs I want to see on a given day. Bloglines shows me who’s updated, how many updates they have, what those updates are, and best of all, it toggles off when I’ve checked it out. That right there is a big win for me.

I think the biggest benefit here will be from blogs that update very often, and blogs that update infrequently. I can keep up with ever-updated sites like Pandagon, instead of facing a long page of new posts. Or I can find out when a favored low-frequency site like Soundbitten has updated without having to remember to check it on a regular basis. Bottom line: fewer wasted clicks, less compunction to skim.

Another benefit: By being able to see the beginning of each entry, I can if I want simply pick the posts I really want to read. I love Off Wing Opinion, but I’m not a big hockey fan, so rather than click and scroll, I can click over when there’s something there that is more interesting to me. Same thing with Unqualified Offerings and his comics blogging (note to Jim: Your Fanboy Free feed has the same URL as your Everything feed.) There’s a lot of blogs out there that I want to read, and only so much time during the day. Any efficiency I can squeeze out of the system will help me do what I want to do.

Finally, I can organize and categorize the blogs I read in a more useful-to-me fashion. Yes, I know, Blogrolling has that feature in its paid version. Bloglines has it in the free service. Which would you prefer?


Not everybody has an RSS feed. Mostly Blogspot and handrolled blogs fall into this bucket, but somewhat to my surprise so does Kos. I’d rather just use one tool for my blogreading if I could, but until I can convince everyone to generate an RSS feed, I’ll still have to check some blogs via my blogroll. Note to Blogger users: check out Atom, which can be used on Blogspot. There are other RSS generators out there – drop me a line if you have a question.

Bloglines doesn’t see new posts right away. Not a really big deal – most of ’em seem to show up within a few minutes. I have seen some RSS feeds that have either been abandoned or just not updated much, though.

Referral logs won’t tell you who that Bloglines visitor is, so my regular reads may see fewer links in their stats. I swear, I’m visiting – maybe even more often than before! – but I can’t prove it by your logs. Sorry about that.

So far, I’m pretty happy with it. I’ve even added a couple of blogs that were off my main blogroll, on the (possibly deluded) belief that this newfound efficiency will really enable me to get around more. We’ll see. Anyone else out there using Bloglines? Let me know what you think about it.

UPDATE: Thanks to Ravi in the comments for pointing out that Kos does too have an RSS feed: It’s just apparently not published in any way that Bloglines or I could find it, it’s pretty skimpy, and of course it exlcudes the diaries. But it’s there, and it accomplishes my main goal of knowing when Kos has updated (and I can avoid his open threads if I want to).

One other thing that I forgot to add: Bloglines in conjunction with Mozilla’s tabbed browsing really really rocks. Trust me on this.

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  1. Ravi Nanavati says:

    Kos has an RSS feed:

    He just doesn’t publicize it on the front page for some reason. I’m not sure whether he used to or whether I just found the feed by adding “likely” extensions to his URL.

  2. Ginger says:

    I’m using it and finding it to be pretty good at managing my feeds.

    Another thing I like–a number of my favorite web comics have feeds I can use, as does the BBC, the Guardian, the NYT, National Geographic, the Christian Science Monitor, and other news sources.

  3. sean says:

    Thanks Charles. I’ve been looking into setting one of these up. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  4. Thanks, Ravi. I’ll give that a try. Bloglines didn’t find anything for him, but that may just be because there was nothing published.

  5. Ginger says:

    Bloglines won’t find it if the RSS isn’t embedded in the (template for the) index page. I had to fix this in my own templates recently.

  6. Steve Bates says:

    Handrolled blogs do, sometimes, have feeds. I do, for instance, as does Mad Kane… though I’m not certain Bloglines will find them automatically. Mad’s and my feeds are listed on our respective main pages.

    The Bloglines auto-find feature is dicey enough that I end up pasting most feed links by hand into Bloglines. It’s nice when you don’t have to do this, but at least you do it only once.

    FWIW, HaloScan also will create a comments feed for a subscriber blog, if for some reason you wish to track someone’s comments.

    My understanding is that Blog*Spot now automatically creates Atom feeds for its blogs, but the blogger has to paste the feed link into the template manually. I’m not certain about this.

    Some bloggers are using RSSify (if you don’t know about it, Google on it) to create their feeds. It’s imperfect, but better than nothing.

    Then there’s Feedroll, which the farmer (of corrente) uses to create a feed for our blog alliance, The Liberal Coalition. See for an example of how this works.

    BTW, I got to this post by checking Bloglines. Yes, bloggers, an RSS feed is well worth your time to create, however you do it. You will, almost certainly, get more hits.

  7. Linkmeister says:

    I use it when I remember it’s in the blogroll. I’ve liked it when I use it, but I still have the old habits.

  8. adaplant says:

    Benn using bloglines for a while now. Biggest disappointment is some blogs with RSS feeds never show an update on bloglines (egs: uggabugga, kos, needlenose) even though there are new postings on the sites.

    Have no idea why that is or how to fix it.

  9. Steve Bates says:

    “Have no idea why that is or how to fix it.” – adaptant

    A lot of blogs lost their feeds when BlogMatrix shut down. Most of those blogs created new feeds by some other means, leaving us subscribed to now-defunct feeds. You might try, in Bloglines, deleting and re-adding the blogs that aren’t updating. Can’t hurt; might help.

  10. I agree with Steve. I previewed a number of feeds that claimed to have been updated in the last 24 hours, but upon inspection had no new contents in weeks or months. Lots of blogs which have RSS feeds have multiple RSS feeds – it pays to check and ensure you’re getting the right one.