Maximize Your RSS Reading

In this third article on RSS, I explore how best to read your RSS subscriptions using Bloglines as an example.

In Part 1 of this four-part series on RSS, I introduced the basics of RSS. In the second article I discussed the various RSS readers [aggregators!] and how they differ from each other.

Now it’s time to maximize your RSS reading! By understanding how to find and save your RSS feeds you will get the most out of this exciting technology.

Where do I find new feeds?
Surf the web! Go to your favorite sites. Chances are they have an RSS feed available. Check RSS search directories such as Yahoo for content you are interested in.

How do I add a new feed?
When you find a site you want to subscribe to, simply look for a bright orange button labeled “XML”. Other times you will simply see a link that says: “Subscribe via RSS”. Modern web browsers like Firefox, Safari, and Opera offer automatic discovery and bookmarking of feeds. In the worst case you will just have to click on a feed link, copy and the feed address from your browser, and paste it into your RSS reading software. Most feed reading software has easier methods; usually a click or two and you have subscribed to the new feed.

I’ve got a bunch of feeds, now what?
Just like reading email, RSS reading should be fun and easy. It can also be time-consuming, so if you plan a time to read your feeds you can make sure you don’t get so hooked that you don’t get any work done!

My personal favorite feed reader is Bloglines. It is fast, web-based, and easy to learn and use. Since it is web-based it allows you to access the feeds from any computer or web-enabled device at any time. And you account is always up to date with what you have and haven’t read.

Organize your feeds
After compiling a good amount of new feeds, organize them into folders according to their content. For example, have folders called “Podcasts”, “News”, “Weather”, and “For Fun”. Bloglines, like many other feed readers allows you to organize your feeds however you like. If your feeds get too out of hand (like you go on a week-long vacation and don’t read anything), simply mark them all read with a click of a button.

On probation
One tip I learned from the popular “getting things done” web site 43 Folders involves always putting new feeds into a folder called “Probation” (link to the article). Then, if you like the feed after a few weeks you can easily move it to another area. If you decide not to continue the subscription, it is simple to remove since all your trial feeds are in one place.

Power RSS usage
If you’ve been at the RSS reading thing for a while, and you have a Bloglines account, I recommend trying a service called Chameleon offered by Joshua DavisTyler (sorry Josh!). The concept is very interesting: Chameleon filters your feeds according to how soon and how often you read them. As a result, when you login to read your feeds, the ones you tend to click on and read first are on top. Very cool!

Whatever your reading habits are, make sure to take advantage of RSS to stay on top of blogs, news, and podcasts.

In my next RSS article, I will break down some of the popular uses for RSS (and maybe some more uncoventional uses!)

Author: Lance Willett

My name is Lance, I am a blogger and web craftsman making high-quality, engaging, and user-centered experiences for people that use WordPress. México-born. Product Excellence Manager at Automattic.

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