Fred Faulkner’s “Information Overload = Loss in Productivity: Trimming Down the News Aggregator Fat” offers some good practical tips for people who feel that they have subscribed to too many RSS feeds from blogs and other resources. How many is too many? Well, that can vary – see my post called “Heart of Blogness.”
Here are a few techniques I use:
1. Saved Searches. Most newsreaders allow you to run searches over all of the posts in your newsreader. I have a set of saved searches on terms of interest to me (e.g., ABA TECHSHOW or LexThink). These “saved search” folders will locate any posts from all of the feeds to which you subscribe that contain those terms. In a certain sense, they make the total number of feeds to which you subscribe irrelevant. You can easily get to the posts that interest you. Long-term potential problem: too many saved searches.
2. The “River of News” approach. There’s no requirement that you read every post in every feed in your aggregator. Think of a newspaper – you don’t read every item in a newspaper. Your news aggregator will probably have a folder that collects all items that are from “today” or “unread.” Simply scroll through, as if browsing a newspaper, and read what catches your attention without considering which blog or feed the item comes from. If you build up a backlog of unread posts, simply mark them “read” and move forward. Again, in this approach, there’s no real need to limit your number of subscribed feeds.
3. “Page 1 / Page 2.” I used to organized subscribed feeds in folders by category. However, the number of category folders can grow and your system can become unwieldy. I’m now trying an approach that is almost the reverse of Steve Nipper’s “probation folder” approach. I have a “Page 1” folder and a “Page 2” folder. The Page 1 folder contains feeds I like to read on a daily basis. “Page 2” is everything else. I may move items from Page 1 to Page 2 and vice versa on a regular basis. As you might expect, I tend to read most of the items in Page 1. I tend not to read most of the items in Page 2 (but, remember that I’m catching the items that interest me in Page 2 with my saved searches or I may see them if I am reading in the “River of News” mode).
I haven’t found it to be a good use of time to do a lot of trimming of feeds, although I will delete a good number of feeds from time to time. If I find a new feed, I’ll subscribe to it and throw into Page 2 (or, rarely, right into Page 1). If something continues to catch my attention, I’ll move it into Page 1.
I’ve found that this combination of approaches serves me well and offers me several techniques to use depending on the time I have available, what my mood is and other factors.
It also seems to scale pretty well as you move up in the number of feeds. I prefer to add a few more feeds that try to delete feeds that I basically like in order to get down to an arbitrary number of feed subscriptions.
By the way, if you don’t use a news aggregator and this seems oh-so-arcane to you, remember that (assuming that you are reading this post on my blog) you can get each of my new blog posts delivered to you automatically via email by using the Feedblitz subscription form in the left column of the front page of my blog.
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
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