Aggregators: A quick note

I’ve used Bloglines for a long time to handle my handful of feeds (505, not all of which are liblogs–but most are). It’s been a good tool, even if it does hiccup once in a while (wheel-spinning on some blogs–but the posts don’t get marked as read, and I can pick them up later).

But I’d been reading about people having problems, and then I noticed a few blogs going missing. If you open up “all blogs,” each such case shows up with a red exclamation point indicating Bloglines is having trouble with the feed. (When I checked today, one of those was because a blogger removed the blog, but a couple of others were mysterious.)

Of course, one of the blogs that wasn’t getting picked up is one that maybe I should give up on, but I don’t buy that Bloglines is sending me messages.

S0 I exported an OPML file, cleared out my handful of Google Reader subscriptions, and imported the OPML file into Google Reader, which I haven’t used in months.

Hmm. It showed only eight or nine blogs with any new posts–not including any of the ones Bloglines was having trouble with, and including a couple of blogs that haven’t been updated since early 2007. But it also wanted to show me almost 300 posts “shared by friends”–which turns out to be anybody in my Gmail contact list.

After messing around for a little, turning off that “sharing” feature, and checking settings, I realized:

  • I still find the Bloglines interface–either the regular one (which I use) or the beta (which I’ve tried once or twice) superior to Google Reader: Less flashy, more predictable.
  • Missing out on two or three blogs is a lot better than being told that 98% of your blogs have no posts…and being shown posts almost two years old as “new.”
  • I was once again reminded that I really don’t want Google owning too much of my online life.

So, for now, I’ll stick with Bloglines. Your virtual mileage may, of course, vary.

Oh, and for both of you who are interested in how The Project is going:

Chapter 7 is done. Seven medium and strong correlations out of 45 possibilities, and six of the seven could be considered “obvious.” And seven scatterplots, one of them visually striking (well, to me…). A short chapter but an interesting one.

On to Chapter 8–after I edit and maybe publish the November Cites & Insights.

7 Responses to “Aggregators: A quick note”

  1. Glad to hear that you tried out Google Reader, sorry that it didn’t work out for you. As far as feeds not having any posts after an OPML import, that’s an intentional behavior on our part. We thought it would be overwhelming to have thousands of unread items immediately after an import (since OPML only includes feeds and not items, it would have to be an all or nothing choice as far as which items are new). We therefore consider all items that predate the import to be read. They’re still there though (if you use the “all/new items” toggle) and subsequent new items should show up as expected.

    Mihai Parparita
    Google Reader Engineer

  2. Brian Herzog says:

    I was happy to read this post, sort of, because I’ve been having the same problem with Bloglines and their [!] broken feeds. A few of my big and reliable feeds have been like this for a week, and I know they are not wrong or down. I even tried unsubscribing and resubscribing to one (losing my saved posts in the process), but still broken.

    I guess we can only hope that it works itself out, because, like you, I both like Bloglines better and am skeptical of revealing too much to google.

  3. Jennie says:

    I too have been trying out Google Reader as Bloglines froze on me last week, which stopped my updating my firms Current Awareness service, so I thought I should have a backup.

    I exported my files to Greader…and got annoyed. It re-sorted my subs alphabetically automatically (I have them in folders by descending order of usefulness, not alphabetical order), I couldn’t find a way for it NOT to do that when I imported the file so I had to drag and drop each feed to re-order it the way I originally had it, it annoys me having to actually scroll down through a post for it to be marked as read (ie if it’s a short post, I have to scroll down so the headline disappears for it to register as read, despite it possibly being only 2 lines long), marking all as read to get rid of big blocks of unreads seems to remove any ‘keep unread’ tags I’d added within that chunk for later reference, the window showing feeds isn’t long enough for me to see the bulk of my feeds in one go without having to scroll down…

    Oh, and as a bonus, it didn’t import the essential Government information feeds I had, so to add them (despite me reimporting twice), I’d need to go into that service and find the 20 or so feeds and re–subscribe. Not good.

    Overall, it annoys the hell out of me, and I think I’ll be sticking with me nice, old-version Bloglines until it collapses! And Google may claim to ‘do no evil’, but we all know that never works out for too long, so I’d rather not give them too much info on me either…

  4. walt says:

    Good to see a response from a Google engineer–and I think other comments indicate some of the problems. (Yes, I found the scroll-through behavior difficult too–particularly when it wasn’t entirely clear whether I was through with a group, e.g., a bunch of photo posts in a row.)

  5. Angel says:

    I have been having woes with Bloglines for a while, and I have tried Greader as well (I did the same, imported an OPM file from Bloglines to back them up). The G seems to work ok, but I can’t quite get used to the interface on Greader. However, Bloglines in beta has pretty much become a nightmare for me where half the time it freezes up. Other times it won’t even log in, and updating is shaky (i.e. showing blogs I know update regularly as not updating).

    So I find myself wishing there was some reliable reader out there. Not quite ready to switch over to Google Reader fully. Only reason for that is the large number of clips I have on Bloglines. If I could export those, I’d be long gone. Anyhow, I am exploring other options, we’ll see how it goes, but for now, sort of hanging on Bloglines (reluctantly).

    Best, and keep on blogging.

  6. Steven Kaye says:

    I’ve been happy with NewsGator Online, in combination with either FeedDemon or NetNewsWire.

  7. Jonathan says:

    For what it’s worth, I find using many of the keyboard commands in Google Reader help a lot.

    Especially n, p and m (next item, previous item, mark read/unread)