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Google Illiterate
March 13, 2013 4:37 PM   Subscribe

Google's beloved RSS aggregator, Google Reader will be powered down on July 1, 2013 (previously).
posted by gkhan (1091 comments total) 126 users marked this as a favorite

 
damnit.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:38 PM on March 13, 2013 [17 favorites]


Argh, no!

One of my great regrets in the past 10 years is the failure of RSS/Atom as a consumer technology. It is such a useful, vital tool to me and it drives me crazy no one else sees it.
posted by Nelson at 4:38 PM on March 13, 2013 [57 favorites]


Jesus. I literally don't know what I'll be using instead. This is how I consume 99% of my internet. I use it on Android and on my desktop. I can't get used to anything else.

There are a million things I adore about it, but the one that not a lot of people know is that it shows traffic as being directly to google no matter what feed you're reading (https encrypted too!), letting you bypass web filters at work. This used to be a huge deal to me (I am now in charge of the filter), and I would've quit my old job earlier if not for Google Reader.

RIP old friend......
posted by lattiboy at 4:40 PM on March 13, 2013 [70 favorites]


How can I download my Reader data?
posted by Iridic at 4:41 PM on March 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


NONONONOO now how am I supposed to read the Internet? Visit every site I read individually like it's 2003?
posted by MadamM at 4:41 PM on March 13, 2013 [77 favorites]


WHAT
posted by ourobouros at 4:42 PM on March 13, 2013


But... It's not April 1st. It can't be.
posted by CrystalDave at 4:42 PM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Good. This was the last thing keeping me tethered to Google.
posted by letitrain at 4:43 PM on March 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


www.theoldreader.com I've seen this suggested as a replacement, and I've started the import there as I speak. We'll see how this goes.
posted by deezil at 4:43 PM on March 13, 2013 [15 favorites]


Well, I'm trying out Feedly, but I don't know how much it relies on the continued existence of Google Reader to operate.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:43 PM on March 13, 2013


This is seriously going to fuck up my workflow and the way I consume online media. Damn it.
posted by third word on a random page at 4:43 PM on March 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't understand.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:43 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Seriously, Google, just ask people to pay a few bucks.
posted by drezdn at 4:43 PM on March 13, 2013 [88 favorites]


WHAT DO I USE NOW?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:43 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Holy shit, I hate Google.
posted by entropicamericana at 4:43 PM on March 13, 2013 [41 favorites]


I had a coworker many years ago that pointed out to me that all products Google provided had a real underlying purpose of trying to mine user data/habits to try to serve ads better. Every service that wasn't efficient or worth its cost of running to get user data would eventually be shut down. I thought about Google Reader and realized that it would be a great way to track visited/read websites that could be useful to track habits for ad serving.

Now I wonder how their other services are more lasting and better serving for user habit tracking than Reader could be. While my Twitter feed is filled with rage-tweets, I do follow a high percentage of Internet power users and consumers and probably there aren't enough numbers in nerds using Reader than say... average users on Gmail. Well and I suppose, Gmail has a paid enterprise solution.
posted by xtine at 4:43 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Seriously, what do I use now?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 4:43 PM on March 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


Ironically, I got this news at the top of my Google Reader newsfeed.
posted by gkhan at 4:43 PM on March 13, 2013 [32 favorites]


Fuck you you fucking fucks I still ain't using google+
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:44 PM on March 13, 2013 [144 favorites]


At some point, NewsBlur will come back up. I kept using Reader when I tried it out, out of habit, but it's the next best thing that I have seen. This sucks though, I have more than 250,000 read articles in my Reader account.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:44 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Scroogled again!
posted by drezdn at 4:44 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


....and now I'm even more pissed because I'm remembering that I resisted switching to other feed readers because it's Google! It'll always be there! It's not like some unstable start up that will kill off a service when it runs out of money! Welllll fuck that.
posted by MadamM at 4:44 PM on March 13, 2013 [58 favorites]


Some of the blogs I follow update as rarely as once every 6 months. This will be a huge pain in the ass.
posted by 2bucksplus at 4:44 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I guess they just broke everything that syncs up with Reader. That's a lot of apps.

Wow. I am really very unimpressed with Google right now.
posted by jaduncan at 4:45 PM on March 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


Normally I'd say "." but in this case this is super annoying. Time to rethink making my own RSS reader in Drupal/something else again.
posted by Brian Puccio at 4:46 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


UNSUBSCRIBE GOOGLE, I UNSUBSCRIBE FROM YOU
posted by mathowie at 4:46 PM on March 13, 2013 [113 favorites]


So they dropped the Don't from their motto?
posted by drezdn at 4:46 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jesus. I literally don't know what I'll be using instead. This is how I consume 99% of my internet. I use it on Android and on my desktop. I can't get used to anything else.

Me too! Google Reader is one of the first of my "daily" pages that gets looked at first each day. People often ask how come I to see some many links, etc from the Internet. Well a few minutes skimming the headlines in Google Reader does that for me. It is amazing how much information you can gleam that way.

Anyway, change is upon us... so any thoughts on what RSS reader to turn to now?
posted by vac2003 at 4:46 PM on March 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


Blergh. Inconceivable!!
posted by madred at 4:48 PM on March 13, 2013


I've been very happy with RSSOwl. It's not web based, but it is written in java. There are also a couple addons for Firefox that are somewhat decent, although I found them to be very slow.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:48 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I imagine by 2018 they'll announce that they are getting rid of search.
posted by perhapses at 4:48 PM on March 13, 2013 [89 favorites]


"There are two simple reasons for this: usage of Google Reader has declined, and as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products. We think that kind of focus will make for a better user experience."

Why does everything have to be popular to have value? Also, a "better user experience" for...who is that guy even talking to?
posted by iamkimiam at 4:48 PM on March 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Someone smart will be building an exact replacement right now.
posted by jaduncan at 4:48 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(

This is the first google product sunset that has made me want to crack open a bottle of wine and listen to portishead for a while.
posted by custardfairy at 4:48 PM on March 13, 2013 [27 favorites]


First Safari and now this... sigh.
posted by basicchannel at 4:49 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Woohoo! Since they also just bowdlerized the mobile gmail interface I can remove Google entirely from my mobile bookmarks.

Stick to search Google! You're really good at it!

And please don't use the extra energy to focus on your social networking features. It's getting embarrassing.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:49 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


They needed to allocate the resources to writing yet another interface to Google Chat.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:49 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


When Delicious went away there was Pinboard.

I think I paid $8 or something. I'd gladly pay a similar amount for an RSS reader that would do the job and not fuck me over the way Google has (and before that - Bloglines.)
posted by imabanana at 4:49 PM on March 13, 2013 [20 favorites]


I am not even done being mad about the social features being stripped out. Get thee behind me, Google.
posted by trunk muffins at 4:50 PM on March 13, 2013 [20 favorites]


deezil: "www.theoldreader.com I've seen this suggested as a replacement, and I've started the import there as I speak. We'll see how this goes."

I just tried to log in to The Old Reader using my Google info.

It didn't work.

And to add irony to ignominy, Google immediately informed me of a suspicious login attempt.

why-o-why can't a website use a login that's not Google or Facebook?!

Come on!
posted by chavenet at 4:51 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Reeder is a decent alternative.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:51 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


The tears are so, so delicious.

Nothing gold can stay.
posted by Argyle at 4:51 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


BOO. BOO. BOO.

Reader is how I keep up with the current analyses in my field and hockey commentary! I will miss it.
posted by lineofsight at 4:51 PM on March 13, 2013


As someone who has never quite managed to make a habit of RSS and actually (gasp) enjoys visiting several websites directly -- um, whew, something I can cross of my procastinate list!

Sorry y'all. Not trying to be snarky. I'm one of the dumb ones who never got the joy of an all in one stop for reading stuff -- I actually want to visit the sites. :(
posted by cavalier at 4:51 PM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Since this is the last Reader post that'll appear here (probably), I'm going to finally chime in early.

Here's the very first version of Reader with an early version with sharing.

And then one with a "lens" with an item-focused UI.

I find I do feel a little sad about this. Need some moments to figure out how to respond more thoughtfully, though. It's awfully odd watching this.
posted by massless at 4:52 PM on March 13, 2013 [18 favorites]


The Veronica Mars Kickstarter has found its polar opposite for me today. 03/13/2013 is a big day for me, and I'm not even Catholic.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:52 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


chavenet, if you're using 2-factor auth on your Google account, you've got to set an application specific password.
posted by deezil at 4:52 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's certainly not a replacement but, on Android, Flipboard is pretty great.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:52 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Doesn't Reeder use Google Reader for its backend? I know I had to provide my Google Reader info to use it on my phone.
posted by enn at 4:52 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, seriously, what are some web based alternatives that also have nice mobile apps, be they web or native?
posted by odinsdream at 4:52 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't even use it Google Reader and I'm fed up anyway. Time to migrate my personal email account to a pay-service. I'm already using DuckDuckGo for searches, time to retire the old gmail account too. GOOGLE I'M CUTTING YOU OFF FOR REALS THIS TIME



no takebacks
posted by Doleful Creature at 4:53 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


WTF NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
posted by IndigoRain at 4:53 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just tried to log in to The Old Reader using my Google info.

It didn't work.


It did for me, but I suspect they are getting hammered by Mefites. It's *really* nice so far, and since Jessmyn logged in with Google details and we're friends it's suggesting I follow her. Quite slick, and the idea of stuff that mefites liked popping up is quite nice.

Well, at least until reader.metafilter.com exists.
posted by jaduncan at 4:53 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Why does everything have to be popular to have value? Also, a "better user experience" for...who is that guy even talking to?

I don't know. Google Reader wasn't feature rich and its interface has been the same for a long while now. It's not like they were pouring a lot into making it better - it was simple, it worked, and now I need to find another way to read webcomics via the web and not an app.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 4:53 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I started writing a "First they came..." parody about google products, but I'm too depressed even for that.
posted by muddgirl at 4:53 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


WTF.

This is how I read blogs, dammit. This is how I found THIS VERY ITEM.

What's a usable Chrome RSS reader then?

Really pissed off.
posted by Fnarf at 4:53 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


deezil: "chavenet, if you're using 2-factor auth on your Google account, you've got to set an application specific password."

Thanks! I'll try that.
posted by chavenet at 4:54 PM on March 13, 2013


I have some small hope that this change could reinvigorate the RSS reader market. Google Reader was the free 900 lb gorilla, very hard to compete with. Maybe with it removed someone else will pick up the idea and go with it. I'm partial to the Reeder apps myself and all they used Google Reader for was storing state; my list of subscriptions and what I'd already read. It'd be relatively straightforward for the Reeder author to slide over to another provider if he's inclined.

And to all you folks saying Google is Evil for shutting this product down... Google is a for-profit corporation. They have no moral obligation to provide free services to non-paying customers. I wish they'd given more than three months notice, but there it is, and this move is not entirely surprising. The frustrating part is that no one at Google could figure out how to make an RSS reader make sense for them as a business. In the meantime consumers moved on to Twitter, and Facebook, and a lonely few even use Google+.
posted by Nelson at 4:55 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


chavenet, if you're using 2-factor auth on your Google account, you've got to set an application specific password.

No you don't. I have two-factor auth and it sent me the regular text message with a login code, which worked.
posted by jacalata at 4:55 PM on March 13, 2013


Doesn't Reeder use Google Reader for its backend? I know I had to provide my Google Reader info to use it on my phone.

Ah, shit. You might be right. I think I'll email the dev and ask what's going to happen with his app.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:55 PM on March 13, 2013


The Verge weighs in: Google, don't turn off Reader. Signed, The Internet

I'm not sure Google know quite how much crap they are going to get about this from the press. It's probably worth running Reader just as a press goodwill cost.
posted by jaduncan at 4:55 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Tried oldreader and after FINALLY convincing Google that it wasn't a suspicious log-in attempt it let me through... but it seems to have only imported three of my subscriptions, which is pretty much completely useless.

Also not totally impressed with the interface, but I wasn't thrilled with the "new" Google Reader either, so, there's that.

Is there anything I can use to read blogs that isn't ugly as sin?
posted by sonika at 4:56 PM on March 13, 2013


I'm not sure Google know quite how much crap they are going to get about this from the press.

I'm certain they know.
posted by massless at 4:57 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am very upset about this decision.
posted by Lord Force Crater at 4:57 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sorry y'all. Not trying to be snarky. I'm one of the dumb ones who never got the joy of an all in one stop for reading stuff -- I actually want to visit the sites. :(

I use reader for stuff that updates very infrequently. As much as I like to stop at my daily sites if something is only going to update once a month I'd rather have notification.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:57 PM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


I uploaded my Reader subscription list, and now Old Reader is displaying three of my subscriptions and saying "Your feeds are now importing in background." on the Import page.
posted by brundlefly at 4:58 PM on March 13, 2013


One of my great regrets in the past 10 years is the failure of RSS/Atom as a consumer technology.

Uh, I must have missed this memo. People don't use RSS? How do people efficiently check for updates to all their favorite websites each day? I'm asking this sincerely.
posted by soonertbone at 4:58 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nobody ever made money from RSS, and nobody ever will. You can't even pretend to have some sort of monetization strategy, and hence it will get zero commercial love.

The fact that it's damn useful to real people cuts little ice with maximising shareholder value.
posted by Devonian at 4:58 PM on March 13, 2013 [18 favorites]


Now how will I internet?
posted by MaritaCov at 4:59 PM on March 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


On further reflection, you all better pick up the pace FPP-wise because without Reader, you are literally the only place I learn anything online.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:59 PM on March 13, 2013 [33 favorites]


I guess I'll just have to build a personal relationship with the owners of all the blogs I subscribe to and ask the authors to drop me a postcard whenever they write something new.
posted by perhapses at 4:59 PM on March 13, 2013 [21 favorites]


I uploaded my Reader subscription list, and now Old Reader is displaying three of my subscriptions and saying "Your feeds are now importing in background." on the Import page.

Same here.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 5:00 PM on March 13, 2013


Google reader is my homepage! Replacement suggestions welcome. If I have to go back to a desktop based feedreader, or checking hundreds of different websites a day, I'm going to scream.

I would happily pay for a good webbased feedreader.
posted by Arbac at 5:00 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google Reader is the top trending topic on Twitter right now, world wide. More important than the pope, AND the Veronica Mars movie.

You're gonna lose a lot of goodwill for this, Google.

We are the (1000+).
posted by Phire at 5:01 PM on March 13, 2013 [77 favorites]


Uh, I must have missed this memo. People don't use RSS?

Not normal people. Nerds like you and me do, and I love it, but RSS is still a foreign concept to ordinary consumers. Instead they go to shovelblogs with 30+ articles a day. It's a big reason why individual blogs with only a few posts a month are such a backwater; no one knows how to read them, because they don't understand RSS.
posted by Nelson at 5:01 PM on March 13, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'm borderline heartbroken. How they not at least release the code open source like Wave? I spend more time in Reader than literally anywhere else on the web.
posted by Lame_username at 5:01 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Get a hosting solution. (I like hostmonster.) Install your own RSS reader. Upgrade whenever you want including never.

Trusting your life to corporations is heartache.
posted by DU at 5:01 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


How do people efficiently check for updates to all their favorite websites each day?

Either Tumblr, Twitter, or Facebook, essentially.

(yes, none of these are a replacement for the joys of an RSS feed to a certain kind of person)
posted by muddgirl at 5:01 PM on March 13, 2013


The frustrating part is that no one at Google could figure out how to make an RSS reader make sense for them as a business

It didn't make sense for Google, because Google thinks big to a fault, and they only care about things that have a massive impact or huge numbers of users. It could definitely make sense as a business for, say, a one man show.
posted by jjwiseman at 5:01 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I thought I was the ONLY person using it, that is why they were shutting it down. I am so glad to know I wasn't alone. BWTF am I supposed to use now? I guess I have to read the rest of the comments to find out....
posted by JenBBB at 5:01 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Damn. Now I need to find a user-friendly alternative for my Fiancee. Looks like a tossup between TOR (No, not that tor) and Feedly.
posted by endotoxin at 5:02 PM on March 13, 2013


ack. this is annoying. reader is home. now I have nowhere to go.
posted by scruss at 5:02 PM on March 13, 2013


For those using The Old Reader, it will eventually add all the subs in, just give it time. It told me it could take a few minutes, and right now, I'm sure that "a few" = many.
posted by deezil at 5:02 PM on March 13, 2013


but it seems to have only imported three of my subscriptions, which is pretty much completely useless.

Same here, but it did display a notification saying that it was doing the import asynchronously on the backend, so I'm hoping they're just dealing with too much traffic right now and it'll come through eventually.
posted by jacalata at 5:02 PM on March 13, 2013


I'm also wondering how much the Reader team knew about this before today, as the settings updated to a holo-ish style really extremely recently.
posted by jaduncan at 5:02 PM on March 13, 2013


Yep, Reeder is a Google Reader client. On the iPhone I believe it also supports Shaun Inman's self-hosted Fever aggregator but I haven't tried that out in a while. I guess I'll have to give it another shot.

I guess it's time to fire up another Twitter account to use as some kind of news aggregation.
posted by dumbland at 5:02 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Several times my boss has teased me about being one of the 10 nerds who actually use RSS. Nice to see I'm not alone.
posted by brundlefly at 5:03 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Trusting your life to corporations is heartache.

Hostmonster is a corporation.
posted by muddgirl at 5:03 PM on March 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


also, netvibes.com is not terrible for following rss feeds.
posted by chavenet at 5:05 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm partial to the Reeder apps myself and all they used Google Reader for was storing state; my list of subscriptions and what I'd already read. It'd be relatively straightforward for the Reeder author to slide over to another provider if he's inclined.

Hmm; until now, app.net has been an API with user accounts, a sustainable subscriber-funded business model, 10Gb of storage per subscriber and (atop the iceberg, above the waterline) a largely unused Twitter clone. Perhaps the killer application for all that semi-dormant infrastructure has been found?
posted by acb at 5:05 PM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Nobody ever made money from RSS, and nobody ever will.

I suspect that there's room for an ad-sharing revenue model, so long as the UI and API could address as many common use cases as Google Reader currently supports. But that'd be very hard to create.
posted by massless at 5:05 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


And to all you folks saying Google is Evil for shutting this product down... Google is a for-profit corporation. They have no moral obligation to provide free services to non-paying customers.

Google is a for-profit corporation that trades on its reputation for not being a behemoth that stomps away with little or no consideration for its customers. For them to provide a reliable service for years and then yank it away due to what effectively amounts to a re-org rubs the shine right off that apple.

Google sells eyeballs and apparently someone did the math and decided that the number of eyeballs that would defect due to this wouldn't affect the bottom line. Good for finances, lousy for public relations.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:05 PM on March 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Someone upthread said "First, Safari...". Did Apple stop making Safari or something?

Also, flipboard is kinda cool, but not quite the same.
posted by sio42 at 5:06 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


It looks like dev.newsblur.com is still working. And one of the blogs in their demo is the Best of MetaFilter blog. Fess up, which one of you is the NewsBlur guy?
posted by zsazsa at 5:06 PM on March 13, 2013


Noooooo but I need the Google Reader. :( I didn't realize RSS was such a nerdy thing, it just seemed like the most convenient way to keep up with a bunch of blogs.

I'd be willing to switch to a dedicated program, but then I wouldn't be able to keep up on my feeds at work. Really hope Google doesn't go through with this, Reader makes up a significant portion of my daily interneting.
posted by yasaman at 5:06 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel pretty sorry for folks like Caffeinated whose apps are running off Reader alone. There are some worried folks in that office I imagine.

No on is shutting down Metafilter, right?
posted by madred at 5:06 PM on March 13, 2013


What's the best replacement with a good Android application? The Google Reader app is what I use to read when I'm too tired or depressed to leave bed. RIP.
posted by wayland at 5:07 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well hell. I had just finished a project that automatically downloads academic papers from RSS items in the "starred" list on Google Reader. You know how it's such a pain in the ass to follow RSS links to the journal website, login or proxy through your university's network, and grab each pdf by hand? I FIXED THAT, AND GOOGLE BROKE IT AGAIN.

Goddammit.
posted by logicpunk at 5:07 PM on March 13, 2013 [15 favorites]


And yet those stupid fucking Glasses are full steam ahead.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:07 PM on March 13, 2013 [114 favorites]


Also, most of the content I cared about on Flipboard came from Reader
posted by jcrbuzz at 5:07 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


You know what would have been innovative... Google saying "we don't want to work on this anymore... Here's the code, have at it."
posted by drezdn at 5:07 PM on March 13, 2013 [33 favorites]


Yeah, it sucks that G Reader's gone because it was one of the more reliable products in the Google line (I'd throw in iGoogle too, which had been my home page for the past 5 years until I configured Google News to do pretty much the same thing) but isn't it a little much to be throwing a fit about not getting a free service anymore?
posted by dubusadus at 5:07 PM on March 13, 2013


While bemoaning this with some of my fellow librarians, I realize that it's one thing to migrate out my feeds (though LORD knows WHERE) - it's another thing to go back and save all of my starred items. It's probably going to take me until July to move that somewhere.

I appreciate that Google is for profit, I really do. But this really sucks.
posted by librarianamy at 5:08 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to use Netvibes before someone convinced me to switch to Google Reader and I just logged in and remembered why I switched in the first place.
posted by sonika at 5:08 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ghah, Reader's basically how I do all my internetting & podcast listening. I'm blaming those stupid fucking glasses.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:08 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


The frustrating part is that no one at Google could figure out how to make an RSS reader make sense for them as a business

Which seems weird, as the the web page for reader has plenty of space to put some ads. That is, after all, Google's business.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:09 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


AAAAAARRRRGH

/smashes internet to bits

/picks up books, spits, sits down, starts reading
posted by mwhybark at 5:09 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


I think any alternative will have to be subscriber-funded, or at least Flickr-style freemium. Otherwise they have no stake in providing us, the non-paying users, a service, and sooner or later it'll either get switched off or your own content will get cut back to make room for ever-more intrusive ads.
posted by acb at 5:09 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


For. Fucks. Sake.

Shitty move Google. Shitty. Move.
posted by Faintdreams at 5:11 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


but isn't it a little much to be throwing a fit about not getting a free service anymore?

But they didn't even give us the option to throw money at them.
posted by drezdn at 5:11 PM on March 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Are we all trying to jump onto the Old Reader simultaneously? Seriously folks, let's not break that...it's Old, apparently.
posted by never used baby shoes at 5:12 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


blargh. this sucks.
posted by milestogo at 5:12 PM on March 13, 2013


Google saying "we don't want to work on this anymore... Here's the code, have at it.

Attempting to open source or port the backend would have made this very, very difficult, since crawling the web is something Google is great at doing, and this is one of the reasons why Google Reader was excellent at what it does did.
posted by massless at 5:12 PM on March 13, 2013


but isn't it a little much to be throwing a fit about not getting a free service anymore?

Why, it's almost as if other people might have different feelings than you do! I wonder if anyone's doing research into this phenomenon?
posted by Celsius1414 at 5:12 PM on March 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


Wow. Usually, when something like this shuts down, I feel like well, there's something else -- something you can pay a small amount for, or something that's similar but not as great, or something you have to sign up for separately, something that makes it an inconvenience but not an actual problem.

This seems like ... a pretty big inconvenience. I'm actually not sure what I'll use as a substitute for this. I'm kind of baffled. Workflow-wise, I kind of need it.

It's not "throwing a fit." It's just ... it's a useful tool that I would be happy to pay something for that they're just stopping. Of course they have every right, but it's an unhappy thing for some of us.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 5:13 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


Someone upthread said "First, Safari...". Did Apple stop making Safari or something?

Apple removed RSS support from Safari last year.
posted by dng at 5:14 PM on March 13, 2013


I wonder if Old Reader will get a new name? Reader? Only Reader?
posted by brundlefly at 5:14 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google finally gets social!

anti-social that is.
posted by srboisvert at 5:16 PM on March 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


I guess RSS didn't make anyone (important) any money.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:16 PM on March 13, 2013


I know it's logically impossible but somedays it feels like Google has reached the point where they've cancelled more projects than they started.
posted by The Hyacinth Girl at 5:17 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


As mentioned above, one of my favorite Google Reader "features" was that it was ignored by every workplace internet filter, allowing me to keep some sanity and connection to the outside world through hyper-agressive web filtering.
(My current workplace blocks everything unrelated to our industry, including newspapers.)
WHAT NOW? QUIT MY JOB? WHERE WILL I WORK NOW, GOOGLE?
posted by smitt at 5:18 PM on March 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


On the iPhone I believe it also supports Shaun Inman's self-hosted Fever aggregator but I haven't tried that out in a while. I guess I'll have to give it another shot.

It looked interesting... until I got to the part about it involving running PHP on my own server.

As they say, “You have a problem, you think "I know, I'll use PHP!" Now Ukrainian h@xx0rs pwn your problem.”
posted by acb at 5:18 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


i'm glad it's gone. i'm going back to the future, dudes. the web was a lot more fun before the era of mass aggregation.
posted by facetious at 5:19 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is how our internet ancestors must have felt about Usenet.
posted by jaduncan at 5:20 PM on March 13, 2013 [15 favorites]


Google needs some real competition, not just in search (and Bing isn't, sorry Microsoft) but across all of their web offerings. Without it they have no reason not to do shit like this.
posted by tommasz at 5:20 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


but isn't it a little much to be throwing a fit about not getting a free service anymore?

Great, not only am I annoyed at the discontinuation of a very useful thing, but now I have to deal with the guilt and self-esteem issues of being a failed, unappealing product.
Damn you, Blue_beetle!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:21 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm so very sad about this.
posted by The Monkey at 5:21 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's another thing to go back and save all of my starred items. It's probably going to take me until July to move that somewhere.

open reader on the web, and go to settings->Data import/export. You can export all your feed subscriptions and records of starred/shared items to downloadable files. They're meant to be machine readable not human readable, but I'm sure you can find something that will read them for you and pull out the links and titles. (If you can't, memail me and I can write you a script).
posted by jacalata at 5:21 PM on March 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


In case it's helpful for anyone thinking about building their own: I had some thoughts shortened to four first principles for building a feedreader (like Reader).
posted by massless at 5:23 PM on March 13, 2013 [22 favorites]


I know it's logically impossible but somedays it feels like Google has reached the point where they've cancelled more projects than they started.

If you don't count projects they bought as projects they started, it's possible. Probable, even.
posted by Tsuga at 5:23 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is of course a gigantically huge flashing warning sign for why you shouldn't depend on google docs or any other google app at your small business.

Clouds can evaporate unpredictably.
posted by srboisvert at 5:25 PM on March 13, 2013 [46 favorites]


This is how our internet ancestors must have felt about Usenet.

This is sarcasm, right? Because usenet is still running.
posted by GuyZero at 5:26 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know, I thought that the Google Reader subscriptions and reads would have been used as one of the data points in helping with page ranking. Afterall, no one puts content farms in their feeds and goes back to them even if you did so. I just assumed that g-readers, as an aggregate, provided good filtering data and heck, also a set of eyeballs for ads so this killing of g-reader catches me totally by surprise. In all honesty, this is removing a vital thing that I use and keeps me tethered to Google. This move also negates a lot of my iOS apps that used g-reader as the back-end *sigh*

This throws my reading workflows in a tizzy from all of the proprietary databases and journals that I track. The final severing will be g-cal. Seriously, you want to kill calendar too?

I am looking forward to finding an alternative so the long migration can happen. Jesus, I have no idea how to integrate my university library databases to anything else.

Tempus fugit.
posted by jadepearl at 5:26 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Google is dead to me.
posted by SkinnerSan at 5:27 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey, remember when Bloglines closed down a couple years ago?

Yeah, well, here's the thing... It didn't.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:27 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


This is sarcasm, right? Because usenet is still running.

Ish. The September that never ended, then really huge amounts of spam and a gutting of the community as ISPs gave way to paid third party provision. What Usenet was is dead.
posted by jaduncan at 5:28 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


NewsBlur is getting hammered pretty hard, but it's already looking pretty nice. It imported my feeds from Google Reader (and took my money for a premium account) with no problems.
posted by zsazsa at 5:28 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay why do I feel like this was announced at least six months ago? Am I confusing it with some other Google project that got the axe?
posted by elsietheeel at 5:28 PM on March 13, 2013


I'd moved off of Reader when it was clearly inevitable.. Happily gave Newsblur a few bucks.

Now, I need EMAIL solved the same way. In a hurry. I want to only consume things I pay for, so my indignation on having the rug ripped away from me will be righteous!
posted by DigDoug at 5:29 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Get a hosting solution. (I like hostmonster.) Install your own RSS reader. Upgrade whenever you want including never.

What types of RSS readers are available to be installed on a self hosted solution?
posted by reenum at 5:29 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess I'll just have to go back to doing how I was handling this before: Making feed pages for everything on Livejournal and then adding them to my friends page.
posted by ckape at 5:29 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


somedays it feels like Google has reached the point where they've cancelled more projects than they started

Google cancelling products is a good thing, by the way, and I say that as a former Google employee who had about half his projects cancelled. Innovative companies try out new product ideas. Some of those ideas fail. Failed products need to be killed. Web services don't just run themselves for free forever. It sucks when you like a product that's being killed.

I still don't get why Reader is in the "failure" column though. It's much loved, as evidenced here. It seems an obvious target for ad monetization (although there are some challenges with running ads on content you don't own; see also Google News). They could have much more deftly spun Reader into Google+, for that matter, instead of suddenly treating it as the red-headed stepchild. Like several of us have said; maybe this move creates space for some new RSS readers, ones from companies that don't measure their revenues with 9 or 10 zeroes.

(PS: this thread has a couple of comments from massless that bear special attention. Because he's one of the guys who created Google Reader.)
posted by Nelson at 5:30 PM on March 13, 2013 [27 favorites]


I guess I'll just have to go back to doing how I was handling this before: Making feed pages for everything on Livejournal and then adding them to my friends page.

Awesome
posted by drezdn at 5:31 PM on March 13, 2013


I had no idea so many people used RSS. I've never really seen the point (and I'm certainly as techy as they come). Different information management styles, I guess.
posted by wildcrdj at 5:31 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is sarcasm, right? Because usenet is still running.

USENET's still running. It's a morass of spam, many ISPs block it because piracy/paedoterrorists, and there's nobody to actually talk to with the exception of the few radioactive mutants crazy enough to stick around.

Sort of like LiveJournal, only with fewer Goths.
posted by acb at 5:33 PM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well, this whole thing really burns my frog.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 5:35 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've never really seen the point (and I'm certainly as techy as they come).

Personally, I have a bad memory and a low tolerance for frustration. Without a service to (a) remember what I like, and (b) tell me when it updates, I would basically just visit CNN.com and metafilter and no other websites.
posted by muddgirl at 5:35 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


What types of RSS readers are available to be installed on a self hosted solution?

Fever. http://feedafever.com
posted by DigDoug at 5:35 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Google has also brought the hammer down today on Android ad-blocking software in the play store; the Let's Piss Everyone Off Department is having a busy day.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 5:35 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


I was just thinking to day the reader android app seemed like a poor cousin of the other google apps. I guess this has to do with pushing people towards currents? If they could turn reader into that I would be happy, but it seems much more spammy.
posted by scodger at 5:36 PM on March 13, 2013


Google Reader, to me, is (was?) more or less just a web-based alternate version of Reeder that I could use at work or in places I wasn't on a Mac, but dang, this sucks.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 5:36 PM on March 13, 2013


This is of course a gigantically huge flashing warning sign for why you shouldn't depend on google docs or any other google app at your small business.

Clouds can evaporate unpredictably.


Well, GApps for commercial use is a whole 'nother beast, starting with the fact that it's a paid service. But really, this is a warning sign for any cloud service. It's just as applicable for anyone who backs up large parts of their digital life to iCloud, or depends on Amazon Web Services for hosting (Reddit is very familiar with this), or even those folks running apps on Microsoft Azure. It's an industry problem, not a Google problem.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:37 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Son of a bitch. I still use Reader on a daily basis to follow a host of sites that don't necessarily tweet their new posts and whatnot.
posted by jquinby at 5:37 PM on March 13, 2013


I had no idea so many people used RSS. I've never really seen the point

The main advantage is not having to fill your bookmarks with every damn blog just so you can then check every damn blog every damn time to see if it's been updated.

I'd like to say that results in less wasted time, but really, it just makes a time-wasting activity more 'productive.'
posted by Sys Rq at 5:37 PM on March 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


After having been pointed to The Old Reader, I thought I'd make the switch. So I tried exporting my Google Reader feeds as an OPML file.

Google doesn't let you directly do this anymore. Instead, you get taken to some place called "Google Takeaway", when prepares a ZIP file for you to download, which you then have to extract, pull a .XML file from, and upload that to The Old Reader.

Fuckers.
posted by Jimbob at 5:37 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


From @reederapp on Twitter:
Don't worry, Reeder won't die with Google Reader.
So that's some hopeful news. It's a really nice client.
posted by dumbland at 5:38 PM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


google share price? (-:
Google reader sunset? wtf?)-:

This is an actual useful thing! What in blazes are they...(puts on cranky old man pants and lets it roll)
posted by owalt1 at 5:41 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


So here's what I don't get: given Google's infrastructure, the total potential effect of Reader on there bottom line just has to be negligible.

So, it doesn't make sense as a cost-cutting move. And normally they just deprecate things after a period of a few years without active support.

All I'm saying is that this isn't adding up. Probably a PR blunder, but I'd be shocked if they don't announce that the full feature set of Reader is going to be folded into G+ soon.
posted by graphnerd at 5:42 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pulse.me is my pet RSS reader for my iPhone, though I haven't poked at the web interface much. Other people prefer Flipboard.com for iDevices.

I always wanted to get into the groove of Google Reader but never quite managed to keep up with it, so I'm feeling a little guilty relief at this news. Maybe I should feel more guilt; it was probably the straw of my non-use that broke the Carmel's back!
posted by nicebookrack at 5:42 PM on March 13, 2013


Google has also brought the hammer down today on Android ad-blocking software in the play store

How else will they make money off it, though. Same reason Reader is out the door, presumably.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:43 PM on March 13, 2013


How else will they make money off it, though. Same reason Reader is out the door, presumably.

Increasingly hardware sales.
posted by jaduncan at 5:44 PM on March 13, 2013


So, now that it's going away, anyone got a nice primer on how to use RSS? I just never...got it. I have a little row of icons at the top of my browser and every morning i middle-click on all of them to open new tabs and go through...I guess I might as well be setting the choke and the timing advance before I crank start the engine?
posted by notsnot at 5:46 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some interesting thoughts on Reader from massless in 2011.
posted by drezdn at 5:46 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


An interesting tweet from Mark Fletcher, the original BlogLines author.
Not surprised about Google Reader. RSS aggregation has never been mainstream. I couldn’t figure it out, which is why I sold Bloglines.
posted by Nelson at 5:47 PM on March 13, 2013


Does Reeder let me actually READ my feeds, or does it just list them, like Netvibes and Feeder's "RSS Feed Reader" do? Because that's not any different than just bookmarks, really; I still have to click on the individual items to see if there's anything I want to see. The nice thing about Reader was the way they were just there, in the right pane; I could, and did, just run down the list.
posted by Fnarf at 5:47 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember when I first discovered RSS (using Opera's built-in RSS aggregator, I think). It was amazing. I mean, the Internet could come to me?

NetNewsWire was good, but then Google came along and it made so much sense. I could access my RSS from anywhere and it all stayed in sync. Fantastic.

I always thought that RSS was a bit backward, though: it should be push to us, rather than having everyone having to poll every 5 minutes. That was another handy aspect of Google Reader.

Now... I don't know. I use the web interface all the time, apart from when I'm using Reeder on iOS. What sync service to use now?

I hope this provides the impetus for better services.

Meanwhile, Google is shutting down useful services like Reader, Exchange support and desktop search and "focussing" on... er... Orkut and cars and glasses and laptops and...
posted by milkb0at at 5:47 PM on March 13, 2013


I would basically just visit CNN.com and metafilter and no other websites.

What's CNN.com?
posted by sneebler at 5:48 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


RonButNotStupid: "I've been very happy with RSSOwl. It's not web based, but it is written in java. There are also a couple addons for Firefox that are somewhat decent, although I found them to be very slow."

I'm preparing a talk about using Eclipse for non software development purposes, and now I know what I'll use for my hook on RSSOwl. Thanks Google!
posted by pwnguin at 5:49 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, now that it's going away, anyone got a nice primer on how to use RSS? I just never...got it. I have a little row of icons at the top of my browser and every morning i middle-click on all of them to open new tabs and go through...I guess I might as well be setting the choke and the timing advance before I crank start the engine?

For a long time I never got RSS either. Tried several times and then, somehow, the penny dropped and my use of the Internet changed for ever. It really did make a huge difference to how I was able to absorb large amounts of disparate information in a short amount of time.. Google Reader made it all so straightforward too. I seriously, seriously annoyed at this decision.
posted by vac2003 at 5:49 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Reeder *is* pretty nice. Thanks to all the folks who recommended it.
posted by jquinby at 5:50 PM on March 13, 2013


goddammit. guess I will try the old reader.
posted by juv3nal at 5:51 PM on March 13, 2013


Transitioning from Google Reader to Feedly, a blog post by the spunky folks at Feedly. "We have been working on a project called Normandy which is a feedly clone of the Google Reader API"
posted by Nelson at 5:51 PM on March 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


Some of the comments I'm seeing worldwide suggest "this was only for web nerds" but I'd counter with the data and feedback we received while working on Reader. Feed reading was for heavy information consumers, and that crossed a lot of age/culture/tech-comfort boundaries which is why the response might seem larger than some people would have guessed.

That use continues to include, for example...
Gathering lots of recipes,
Reading a lot of sports scores,
Watching videos about a topic,
and, sure, reading a lot of breaking news.
posted by massless at 5:54 PM on March 13, 2013 [35 favorites]


Okay why do I feel like this was announced at least six months ago? Am I confusing it with some other Google project that got the axe?

You might be thinking of iGoogle, which is ending in November (and has been my homepage for forever so I'm really bummed as I haven't found anything else that I like as much).
posted by young sister beacon at 5:54 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or of the point when Google turned off Reader's social integration.
posted by rewil at 5:56 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK, Feedly looks like it might make a substitute. Not as good as Reader, though -- and I dunno if it's all the new signups or what, but half the icons are broken and half my feeds won't load.
posted by Fnarf at 5:56 PM on March 13, 2013


Naive of me, but I too assumed Google Reader would be around for a good while (and I assumed, equally naively, that when it died there'd be a logical replacement that would be even better and niftier) and so I archived my recipe files there. Google Reader (I've got it open right this minute two tabs over) also saved the posting for my first professional job, a helpful post on setting up retirement funds, various hilarious Questionable Content strips, and yes, literally thousands of recipes I've annotated for later use. I don't even know. I just don't even know.

On preview: yes, totally recipes. glad to know I'm not the only one doing that!
posted by librarylis at 5:57 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing that makes me the most nervous now is them doing this to Google Docs.
posted by drezdn at 5:57 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I remember when I first discovered RSS (using Opera's built-in RSS aggregator, I think)

Heh, I remember Opera's RSS aggregator - it basically looked like a Usenet news reader, didn't it? Which was both bizarre and sensible at the same time.
posted by Jimbob at 5:58 PM on March 13, 2013


massless: Thanks. The tool you helped build exposed me to things I might not have seen, and in a lot of ways that just fit ME better. A lot like MetaFilter.
posted by DigDoug at 6:00 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


Has Google said anything about how much the usage has declined? What have people moved on to? Surely not to bookmarking hundreds of websites/blogs! Or is everyone just reading stuff linked on their twitter/FB feeds now?
posted by vidur at 6:00 PM on March 13, 2013


jaduncan: "Someone smart will be building an exact replacement right now."

HiveMined has been trying for at least a year, since Google shut off the sharing features in GR. It seems basically dead in the water.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:01 PM on March 13, 2013


Stupidity. Reader is used by the very special people who consume, parse, interpret and generate the content that is amplified elsewhere on the web. There are, of course, not that many of us, but we matter more than the end-of-the line consumer masses.
posted by Scram at 6:01 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


Someone smart will be building an exact replacement right now.

I want this to be true, but i'm not sure. Google Reader is like an iceberg. What you see as the website is just the tip, and it's mostly irrelevant -- you can replace the front-end totally with an app using the API like Reeder and not miss much of what's great about Reader

The really good parts of Reader are: So think about those three things: crawling the web, searching content, and building a massive database. If you're "someone smart", do you take skills in these areas and spend your time on a technology beloved only to nerds, or do you build the next Twitter or Facebook? RSS reading in the large really is one of those things that needed a benevolent patron, exactly the sort of patron Google used to be seen as.

I can't get Newsblur to load at all, but I did get into the old reader, and it's not looking good. Their help pages say they update most feeds daily, which is a far cry from the sub-second updates on Reader. There's also no API for mobile clients. I'm not at all sure there's really any good replacement coming here.

This is a sad event. RSS was never going to make the mainstream, but many special and wonderful things don't.
posted by bonaldi at 6:01 PM on March 13, 2013 [56 favorites]


The thing that makes me the most nervous now is them doing this to Google Docs.

I guess anything is possible, although small businesses pay for "Drive" via Google Apps, plus others (like me) pay for Google Drive storage. Drive is also a way for Google to compete with Microsoft, which has its own cloud storage service (and Office), and, like Gmail, keep people using Google for most everything.

I would think that Blogger is closer to the chopping block.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:02 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, a very belated thanks to massless. I love(d) Reader.
posted by Houstonian at 6:02 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Only Grumpy Cat can adequately express how I feel about this.
posted by Flitcraft at 6:04 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I interviewed with Google a few years ago, and while having lunch with one of the interviewers we got to talking about "20% time" and other customer-friendly, employee-friendly policies there. His big bragging point was Reader, and how proud he was of it (as someone who hadn't worked on it). He talked about how it was something that didn't have to be a revenue source directly, because it was a Good Thing on the web, and that drove web adoption. And it also built enormous goodwill and trust for the company, so more people did the things that do directly make Google more money.

That guy was an insider and a sincere advocate for the Google we all want Google to be, and I really wonder how he feels today. As I type this in Chrome on my Nexus 10, perfectly satisfied with both products on their face, I have a sickening feeling that the race to the bottom has a new contender.
posted by Riki tiki at 6:05 PM on March 13, 2013 [36 favorites]


For everyone who's saying it's right to kill a product when the traffic dwindles, or it's efficient to kill a product in order to focus on fewer, better things, I think a commenter from that Verge article put it pretty well: "At least they spared Orkut."

And as to the argument that RSS is overly difficult, or technical, or nerdy: well, it may in fact appeal primarily to nerds, but not for any technical reasons. It's so extremely simple to use; whenever I find a blog that I like enough to read it consistently, I just look for an icon that says "RSS" or "Atom Feed", click it, and the browser will automatically offer to bounce me over to Google Reader, I provide a tag or two for the new feed, and bam! It's done. I don't think I've typed a feed URL in... a couple years, maybe more. What do people find so difficult or complicated about RSS feeds? If you don't see the value, hey, different strokes, but I have always been confused about why this is considered to be a power-user thing.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 6:06 PM on March 13, 2013 [24 favorites]


Missed that massless was here and also want to add my thanks. Reader (when it came good, which was the 2006 version, I think?) was really a life-changer. It solved a problem that I hadn't even articulated to myself. Very few products have ever done that. The original iPod was another.
posted by bonaldi at 6:07 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like a few have asked here, I also wonder what sort of effort/infrastructure/investment some of these projects that are cancelled actually require to continue to run? It's not like Reader was constantly innovating and updating. How many people or machines are devoted to keeping Reader running?

Is it so expensive that they just couldn't keep it running in zombie mode? I mean, it's not like Google provides much support or anything for most of their products anyway (even the ones that you pay for...).

In my mind there is just a sole glowing LED on a rack in some giant room of machines that represents Reader, and someone just traced an unlabeled wire throughout the building to that machine and said, "huh? well, why is this on?" And they didn't realize how many people rely on Reader for so many things...
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 6:07 PM on March 13, 2013


I just look for an icon that says "RSS" or "Atom Feed"

In Reader you don't even need to do that; you just paste in any URL and if there is a feed available Reader will find it for you.
posted by Fnarf at 6:08 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Only Grumpy Cat can adequately express how I feel about this.

Grumpy Cat is at her least grumpy when everybody's upset.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:08 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, that's bloody frustrating. I don't use GReader per se, but it is handy to keep LightRead on Linux and RSSOwl on Windows in sync.

Poop.
posted by Samizdata at 6:10 PM on March 13, 2013


Crap.
posted by AwkwardPause at 6:10 PM on March 13, 2013


If you use Feedly, they say they have a solution in the works to take over when Reader shuts down.
posted by tommasz at 6:11 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dung.
posted by Samizdata at 6:11 PM on March 13, 2013


tommasz: "If you use Feedly, they say they have a solution in the works to take over when Reader shuts down."

And thanks for screwing up my punchline. [grin]
posted by Samizdata at 6:12 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it so expensive that they just couldn't keep it running in zombie mode?

Every once in a while, Ben Darnell would tell me how many items we would store in the Reader backend that he designed and implemented. Then follow that up with an estimate of data size.

After a while, I realized it was better if I didn't know. I didn't want him to say a unit of measure I didn't recognize.

e.g. it's fhtagnbytes now!
posted by massless at 6:12 PM on March 13, 2013 [39 favorites]


Any ideas for a Gmail replacement as well? Cuz right now I'm so pissed I'd like to remove myself from Google altogether. Except damn Gmail is so convenient I've given that address out all over the place.
posted by dnash at 6:12 PM on March 13, 2013


"I would think that Blogger is closer to the chopping block."

o_0

*nervous laughter*

*tugs at collar*
posted by Kevin Street at 6:13 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you don't use any other google services that require login (e.g. you use a mail app), remember to spitefully block Google's cookies as revenge.

Yes, I'm angry.
posted by amuseDetachment at 6:13 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


In Reader you don't even need to do that; you just paste in any URL and if there is a feed available Reader will find it for you.

Yeah, but I was just trying to describe the process of going from random web content discovery (usually following links to blogs or whatever) to compiling feeds in Reader. And it's just... there was no typing or technical fiddling. At all. Just 3-4 clicks and it's done.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 6:14 PM on March 13, 2013


Google is also abandoning CALDAV. It just annoys the crap out of me that we can't have open standards for things like syndication, calendar items, email, and sharing things anymore.
posted by humanfont at 6:14 PM on March 13, 2013 [16 favorites]


.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:16 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stupidity. Reader is used by the very special people who consume, parse, interpret and generate the content that is amplified elsewhere on the web. There are, of course, not that many of us, but we matter more than the end-of-the line consumer masses.

No excuses, keep the funny cat pictures coming.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:18 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


This sucks. Google Reader is basically the only way I consume media anymore. What the hell, Google?
posted by saulgoodman at 6:19 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


"We need to keep focused"

...on magic glasses, self-driving cars, cell phone hardware, mobile OS, desktop OS, and a Brazilian social network. But not on RSS feeds which cost us literally nothing.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:19 PM on March 13, 2013 [32 favorites]


Google actually has stripped down its search capabilities. Now it defaults to searching the last fifteen years only, and to get the rest of the results you have to select an option after you do the initial search. to get it to change. Most options can't be set as defaults, in fact: it's clear that they're trying to get people to search twice, and perhaps to make it harder to get obscure results that are unmonetisable.

As for cancelling Reader, do they not realise that every time they do this they are destroying public confidence in their other products? Microsoft spends huge amounts of money on making sure that their current products can read and accurately reproduce documents produced by old software - not necessarily because it's demanded by business (a standalone conversion program would be fine for that) but because they don't want their customers to think about switching. Google's doing the opposite: they regularly teach their customers that Google cannot be trusted and that they need to have alternatives.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:19 PM on March 13, 2013 [38 favorites]


I used to be on FeedDemon (a desktop client) before Google Reader but it seems that NewsGator sold them off and even FeedDemon started using GR to sync. (I think you can still use it without GR.) It took me years to give up desktop apps (like Thunderbird) and I don't want to go back to them... it just feels like a huge step backwards.

Fnarf: "In Reader you don't even need to do that; you just paste in any URL and if there is a feed available Reader will find it for you."

I have found this feature of GR very important as I've come across a few sites who don't easily/obviously link to their RSS feed.
posted by IndigoRain at 6:19 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


<3 feedly. been using for a while now as a front end to google reader. glad to see it'll continue on.
posted by nadawi at 6:19 PM on March 13, 2013


Fingers crossed that this will be a bit like the delicious debacle, where a far superior alternative emerges. The Old Reader seems promising, and I want to love it, but what's the deal with each feed being in its own individual folder? Is this some kind of artifact from importing my Google feeds or a feature whose function I am totally missing? Because if I have to remove each individual feed from its folder, boy is that going to get old fast.
posted by Lorin at 6:19 PM on March 13, 2013


bonaldi does a great job explaining what sets Reader apart from other solutions. This is such a strange move, I really can't figure out why Google wouldn't want all of the data that Reader users generate with respect to pageranking and content tagging.
posted by odinsdream at 6:20 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reader was a flagship product to the information-heavy, tech-savvy crowd that has built Google's public image. If they couldn't find a way to make money from knowing their most lucrative users' every reading habit, I guess we've learned that we can't make any assumptions about our gmail archives, drive documents, anything.
posted by Riki tiki at 6:20 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


This fills me with grar. I enjoy reading blogs and I check Reader 4 or 5 times a day. Bad show, Google.

Now I'm in the market for a web-based reader (I'll consider paying) and I'm giving gmail the side-eye.
posted by kimberussell at 6:21 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


So given the fact that there are very few alternatives, I'm guessing that there are zero alternatives which have an Android app as well?
posted by Bugbread at 6:23 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sick of google, when they shut down igoogle, I think I may close all my google stuff and go back to yahoo.
posted by dustjacket at 6:27 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel old.
posted by kmel at 6:27 PM on March 13, 2013


I guess my backburner, create my own clone of Reader personal project is back up front now. Of course I have to change it a bit now, as before it was just a fun thing to code up, but now I have to make sure it works well on my server.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:27 PM on March 13, 2013


Going to add my voice in support of NewsBlur. It's the work of one dude, and it's getting hammered right now, but it's pretty excellent, has apps and and API, and you can pay money for it.
posted by silby at 6:27 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Back to Yahoo? Let's stop with the crazy talk, baby!
posted by jadepearl at 6:29 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sick of google, when they shut down igoogle, I think I may close all my google stuff and go back to yahoo.

So basically your life plan is to stalk Marissa Mayer?
posted by jaduncan at 6:32 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is going to do wonders for my work productivity.
posted by jessssse at 6:34 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Regular google reader user here too. With regards to a searchable paid solution, does anybody have any thoughts on switching over RSS feeds to a combination of Instascriber and Instapaper?
posted by cnanderson at 6:34 PM on March 13, 2013


I'm trying out The Old Reader right now. So far it's proving slow as hell and kind of buggy. Also, they claim that you can make folders just like in Google Reader, but don't actually explain how (and it's either not intuitive or I'm an idiot).
posted by asnider at 6:35 PM on March 13, 2013


Metafilter: There are, of course, not that many of us, but we matter more than the end-of-the line consumer masses.
posted by modernnomad at 6:35 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


asnider: in the Tour link (accessed from your name on the right), it says you just drag the feed *below* the existing folders. Then it makes a new one.
posted by web-goddess at 6:36 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, they claim that you can make folders just like in Google Reader

You can have some of mine. I've got hundreds of them with a single feed in each folder!
posted by Lorin at 6:37 PM on March 13, 2013


Google's going to know a whole lot less about me now.

Do the web-based alternatives mentioned in thread support jk for navigating through items? Cuz vi forever!
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:38 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let me add my thanks to massless, for creating such a massively (no pun intended) useful thing, that I have relied on for years to keep my crippling blog addiction manageable. Here's hoping me and 200 feeds can find a good new home.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:39 PM on March 13, 2013


asnider: in the Tour link (accessed from your name on the right), it says you just drag the feed *below* the existing folders. Then it makes a new one.

Thank you! I actually did read the Tour, but somehow managed to not figure it out. Evidently, the case is that it is non-intuitive and I'm an idiot.
posted by asnider at 6:39 PM on March 13, 2013


I have to share my stats: "From your 134 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 5,757 items, clicked 96 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items. Since October 7, 2005 you have read a total of 213,059 items." I am really disappointed that they are shutting this down.
posted by tumble at 6:40 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Has anyone else managed to get all their feeds imported? I'm still just stuck on the first three. On the plus side, it imported them into the correct (single) folder. (Lorin - I think something's gone wrong for you, as I'm not hearing anybody else having that problem.)

I'm annoyed because my husband signed up after me and his feed are all in. Why are mine taking forever?
posted by web-goddess at 6:41 PM on March 13, 2013


Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:41 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


What bothers me about this is that Google appear to be willing to kill quite a major part of how a lot of web writers work to save a minimal cost. It doesn't even appear to be smart; the people who use GR are very often the people that write blogs that Adsense then runs on.
posted by jaduncan at 6:41 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Crap. Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap. I am so crushed over this.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 6:43 PM on March 13, 2013


From your 100 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 2,716 items, clicked 322 items, starred 20 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since December 12, 2009 you have read a total of 239,404 items.

RIP.
posted by jaduncan at 6:43 PM on March 13, 2013


Lorin - I think something's gone wrong for you, as I'm not hearing anybody else having that problem.

Maybe. But thanks to the tour I figured out how to get rid of them all, so I'm satisfied. Thanks!
posted by Lorin at 6:44 PM on March 13, 2013


From your 233 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 2,885 items, clicked 308 items, starred 3 items, and emailed 0 items.

Since May 1, 2007 you have read a total of 291,800 items.
posted by muddgirl at 6:45 PM on March 13, 2013


tumble and jaduncan, where are you extracting those stats?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:46 PM on March 13, 2013


The Old Reader seems promising, and I want to love it, but what's the deal with each feed being in its own individual folder?

I think this might be an import issue. If you add your feeds manually (which I had to do because it wouldn't allow me to import; thankfully I culled my 152 subscriptions down to a mere earlier this week) this doesn't seem to be an issue.
posted by asnider at 6:46 PM on March 13, 2013


Amateurs. They don't even count mine anymore, they just say I've read 300,000+. I wouldn't be surprised if there's another zero they're missing.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:46 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


tumble and jaduncan, where are you extracting those stats?

Click on the "Trends" link in the left sidebar.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:47 PM on March 13, 2013


tumble and jaduncan, where are you extracting those stats?

http://www.google.com/reader/view/#trends-page
posted by jaduncan at 6:47 PM on March 13, 2013


Since May 4, 2006 you have read a total of 292,935 items.

I'm suspicious of these stats.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:49 PM on March 13, 2013


Since June 28, 2009 you have read a total of 299,997 items.

Guess I better get grinding to hit level cap. Stupid MMO sundowns.
posted by jopreacher at 6:49 PM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think this might be an import issue.

I just realized I imported my feeds some time ago, that might explain the semi-isolated instance. I guess back then I didn't have the incentive to figure out how to fix it afterwards.
posted by Lorin at 6:50 PM on March 13, 2013


Since June 28, 2009 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.

YAY! *Achievement Unlocked*
posted by jopreacher at 6:51 PM on March 13, 2013 [16 favorites]


Sweet baby jesus and I just learned all the keyboard shortcuts for nuthing..
posted by camerasforeyes at 6:52 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Since June 16, 2011 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.

Looks like it’s pegged at 300K.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 6:52 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I keep thinking about this, and realizing all the ways I'm going to be so much *less* productive without Reader. I have a folder that is just subscriptions to 30+ journals. With it, I can see all the brand new articles in my field and click on just the ones I want to download. I have a folder that's all new job postings (I'm looking for a job), right as they come up. Another folder is all the conferences and calls for papers in my field. And one for all the interesting blogs, websites and resources related to linguistics and computer-mediated communication. Then there's the MetaFilter folder. And the comics folder (we all need breaks). And on and on.

Plus, I have it all IFTTT'd to heck, so that when I tag things in various ways, the item either goes to email, or facebook, or pinboard, or twitter, etc.

I wouldn't even know where to begin to do this any other way. It is my beautiful little solar system. To willingly deconstruct it is heartbreaking. And stupid and unnecessary.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:53 PM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm suspicious of these stats.

That's fair. :) What you've "read" could include just scrolling over items, depending on your settings.

For me: From your 604 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 2,224 items, clicked 57 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items.

Since January 29, 2008 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.
posted by massless at 6:53 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dave Winer on Google Reader shutting down:
Never used the damn thing. Didn't trust the idea of a big company like Google's interests being so aligned with mine that I could trust them to get all my news. ... Next time, please pay a fair price for the services you depend on. Those have a better chance of surviving the bubbles.
I completely agree with what he's saying. I self-host email and calendar services because I don't trust another company to do it for me, especially not for free. I used to self-host my own web-based RSS reader. But Google Reader was slicker. So I gave in. I drank for the firehose that is the internet like no one ever had.

I forget who said it, probably one of the 37 Signals people, but they said only use a web service worth paying for. Having paying customers provides the web service provider with an incentive to keep it going (and to make it better!) beyond mere eyeballs, which may or may not be worth it.

And it looks like here are a bunch of people who would be willing to pay for such a service, but not enough for a big company like Google to consider it worth it. While part of me hopes that some startup will surface in a few weeks offering to fill the gap for $30/year, at this point, I think I'm just going to roll my own.

On the positive side, thanks to people like The Data Liberation Front, we can take our data out of their silo and put it in someone else's. Or build our own silo.
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:53 PM on March 13, 2013


From your 174 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 3,261 items, clicked 10 items, starred 29 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since July 4, 2010 you have read a total of 164,845 items.

Before Google Reader, I used my own Planet. Planet is Python software that aggregates RSS feeds into one big page. No good for starring, but isn't that what bookmarking is for? I might have to try that again if nothing else presents itself.

So far I dipped my feet into The Old Reader. Somehow it is not showing images from one of the comics I read, though in another blog it shows some photos, so I don't know what's up with that.

I'm sure an alternative will pop up. When it does, my google takeout data will be ready. So really, my irritation is somewhat tempered. Just so long as something that works about like GR shows up before long.
posted by jepler at 6:55 PM on March 13, 2013


Oh, an internet stats pissing contest? I'm in.
From your 142 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 17,486 items, clicked 2,015 items, starred 602 items, and emailed 56 items.

Since September 4, 2011 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.
No one I know really does RSS, I'm glad to know all the RSS users are on MeFi. It's like I've found my people.
posted by Brian Puccio at 6:55 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Believe me, as an ex-Googler, I know that there will be screams of anguish coming from inside Google as well. It won't matter.

The problem is, Google is into volume, and while Reader is loved and used by tons of geeks, the "average mom" doesn't not know what an RSS feed is, and isn't likely to learn, ergo, no volume.

What really bugs me, though (aside from the loss of Reader itself) is that Google could have created an API into G+ allowing G+ to do the syndication Reader is now doing. People would have complained about being "forced" into G+, but they could at least have a) kept their audiences, and b) provided an easy entree for publishing feeds into G+, which seems like a win-win to me.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:57 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


.
posted by kagredon at 6:57 PM on March 13, 2013


Next time, please pay a fair price for the services you depend on.

Mr. Winer—

Could you please let me know where I may buy a service comparable with Google Reader at a fair price?

And coding/setting up/running my own aggregator, or (in the event of lack of time) hiring a flunkey to do it for me, does not count as “a service comparable”.
posted by acb at 6:57 PM on March 13, 2013 [20 favorites]


300,000+

I guess I read all the things. Every internet.
posted by 2bucksplus at 6:58 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


omg you guys, this could have far-reaching consequences!

Matt Haughey ‏@mathowie

I think RSS is so important that I'd take a job (leaving MeFi) at any startup aiming to make an improved Google Reader (w/ social features).

posted by jacalata at 7:00 PM on March 13, 2013 [27 favorites]


(but you can see the problem right? All us power users emailed/starred/shared 0 items)
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:00 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Since February 22, 2007 you have read a total of 57,072 items.

I am an underachiever.

I also can't get Feedly to connect with Google Reader so I can transfer my stuff over.

I am very sad now.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 7:00 PM on March 13, 2013


From your 167 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 3,508 items, clicked 83 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items.

Since January 30, 2006 you have read a total of 91,842 items.

Looking at these 300,000+s, I think: if only I'd used it more, maybe it wouldn't be dying.
posted by ego at 7:00 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


When they closed Google Labs, that was the beginning of the end. LET US PAY YOU, GOOGLE.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:01 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do the web-based alternatives mentioned in thread support jk for navigating through items? Cuz vi forever!

The Old Reader does, and what's more it's quite a bit more friendly with navigation via hinting with modal browsers/plugins like vimium/pentadactyl. Still requires some judicious use of the pass-through mode though. vi forever indeed.
posted by Lorin at 7:02 PM on March 13, 2013


Seriously folks, let's not break that...it's Old, apparently.

It's actually called The Old Reader because it was created after Google removed the social/sharing aspects from Google Reader. So, it was the same service, but with some of the old features still intact. Hence the name.
posted by asnider at 7:05 PM on March 13, 2013


So think about those three things: crawling the web, searching content, and building a massive database. If you're "someone smart", do you take skills in these areas and spend your time on a technology beloved only to nerds, or do you build the next Twitter or Facebook? RSS reading in the large really is one of those things that needed a benevolent patron, exactly the sort of patron Google used to be seen as.


Granted, something on a small server would fall short of Google Reader's capabilities, though Google aren't the only people with that sort of infrastructure. Amazon have it, and will rent it out in increments to whoever will pay. They even have ready-made search/data-analysis components. And then there are others like Heroku, Rackspace and such. The question is, could $25-$50 a year per user (or in tiers, with free/premium tiers) cover the sunk costs of the crawler bandwidth/big database/search system hosted on not-Google's infrastructure?
posted by acb at 7:06 PM on March 13, 2013


Matt Haughey ‏@mathowie

I think RSS is so important that I'd take a job (leaving MeFi) at any startup aiming to make an improved Google Reader (w/ social features).


Maybe that start up should be located at reader.metafilter.com? I'll happily pay $5 a month (not just one time!) for it.
posted by COD at 7:06 PM on March 13, 2013 [62 favorites]


goddammit TWELVE hours at Dominos I was supposed to get off almost FOUR hours ago I am so angry right now I am vibrating at a frequency that gives off visible light rays, at least Metafilter will have something to cheer--


!


for the love of GOD google can you do NOTHING right anymore i mean SERIOUSLY i'm so fucking ANGRY right you can BET i'm typing in EACH and EVERY <small> and <b> tag INDIVIDUALLY right now the sheer FORCE is PUNCHING HOLES in my GODDAMN KEYBOARD it broke FIVE MINUTES AGO the words get into the box THROUGH SHEER FORCE OF WILL this makes me so FURIOUS god damn fuck right now google can go straight to HELL oh yeah STEP RIGHT UP GOOGLE you shit-eating BASTAGES you win the BIG GODDAMN PRIZE congrats yer THE NEW YAHOO for the love of PETE right now i want punch a product manager right in his smug little bean-counting MOUTH.
posted by JHarris at 7:07 PM on March 13, 2013 [163 favorites]


JHarris, you speak for thousands.
posted by jaduncan at 7:08 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Argh!!
posted by chinston at 7:08 PM on March 13, 2013


Also: HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HEAT HATE HATE ETAE HATE HATE HTEA HATE HATE HTAE RARRGH
posted by JHarris at 7:09 PM on March 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


Maybe that start up should be located at reader.metafilter.com?

Or MetaReader?
posted by acb at 7:09 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


From your 199 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 4,127 items, clicked 123 items, starred 10 items, and emailed 0 items.

Since December 7, 2007 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:09 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


can we have a kickstarter to fund matt to write a reader replacement, which the remaining mods will dutifully delete? :-P
posted by jepler at 7:10 PM on March 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


JHarris speaks for us all!
posted by Brian Puccio at 7:10 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not to brag or anything, but I got this.
posted by jessssse at 7:11 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Reading between the lines of massless's comment on the data storage needs of Reader, could it be that it is being shut down not because usage has been declining, as claimed, but because usage is actually instead trending towards a point where Google will actually start losing serious money attempting to maintain it?

Permanently archiving the full text of everything everyone ever subscribes to and at least one person reads, plus metadata on a per user basis, plus whatever is stored of the unread stuff, is at some point going to amount to keeping a private copy of a significant fraction of anything posted via RSS. If it also includes things that aren't there any more, it's a significant fraction of anything *ever* posted via RSS.

Does that grow faster than the web itself does? If so, at some point that is going to start approaching the same size as everything on the web *at that point in time*, and it seems reasonable to suppose that even Google can't afford to do that, though they are embarrassed to admit it. Even the Internet Archive only gets a tiny fraction stuff, much as it would like to do more.

TL;DR I suspect this is about huge numbers rather than declining numbers; being honest about it has been deemed more damaging than the transparently thin 'usage is declining' line taken.
posted by motty at 7:11 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


From your 157 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 4,326 items, clicked 214 items, starred 28 items, and emailed 0 items.

Since April 29, 2010 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.


I have a Google Reader problem.

Seriously, I'd very happily pay some company $5 or whatever a month to give me a decent RSS reader with sharing/social and a decent app/mobile interface.
posted by MeghanC at 7:12 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Doesn't even need to have Reader in the name...Google can keep that tainted shit. We got Filter.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:13 PM on March 13, 2013


Doesn't even need to have Reader in the name...Google can keep that tainted shit. We got Filter.

Surely NewsFilter is a ready made name here. It's already a well known phrase!
posted by jaduncan at 7:14 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


THANKS, OBAMA.

Seriously, though, I'm really bummed about this.
posted by starvingartist at 7:16 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


If it's true that this archive is larger than archive.org's, Motty, then destroying it is vandalism on an deeply epic scale. Mybe not quite Alexandria level in quality, but certainly larger.

It makes me a lot less happy about the book-scanning project, that thought.
posted by bonaldi at 7:17 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since September 2, 2009 you have read a total of 286,992 items.

So close!

But seriously, fuck this, I'm rage-quitting the internet.
posted by hap_hazard at 7:18 PM on March 13, 2013


John Siracusa sums it up underpants gnome style:
1. Drive competing services out of business with a free service (subsidized by a profitable product).
2. Cancel free service.
3. ???
posted by tonycpsu at 7:19 PM on March 13, 2013 [37 favorites]


Or FeedFilter. Personally, I'd pay double for FetaFilter. But I like cheese an awful lot.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:19 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


And coding/setting up/running my own aggregator, or (in the event of lack of time) hiring a flunkey to do it for me, does not count as “a service comparable”.

It's simple really. Program, or be programmed.

No wait hold on, I think my notes got mixed up here. Ah, here it is.

Program, or be smugly dictated to by some twerp for whom coding up or maintaining their own solution is something they have the time / resources / skillset to do.

Newsblur is looking good, and I hope to give it a better look when they're not having the crap beaten out of them. In the long run though I hope someone can come up with an App.net like infrastructure that third party clients (like my beloved Reeder) can shift over to.
posted by dumbland at 7:19 PM on March 13, 2013


what in the actual fuck.

jacalata: "omg you guys, this could have far-reaching consequences!

Matt Haughey ‏@mathowie

I think RSS is so important that I'd take a job (leaving MeFi) at any startup aiming to make an improved Google Reader (w/ social features).
"

fuckit, I'll start a pot of coffee. Let's circle the nerds.
posted by boo_radley at 7:19 PM on March 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


but hap_hazard, you have three months to get that last 13,000 items!
posted by jacalata at 7:20 PM on March 13, 2013


iamkimiam: "Or FeedFilter. Personally, I'd pay double for FetaFilter. But I like cheese an awful lot."

Naaaaaah. It would remind people of Delicious too much.
posted by Samizdata at 7:20 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd argue it the other way. If it's true that the archive's size is the problem, why don't they just prompt everyone to save off what they need once per month, and blow away the rest of it? I don't use Reader to save files.
posted by Houstonian at 7:20 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Phssthpok at 7:21 PM on March 13, 2013


Will you ALL GET OFF THE OLD READER SO I CAN GET MY DAMN IMPORT DONE...

please?

(I can't even get an import slot...)
posted by Samizdata at 7:22 PM on March 13, 2013


Oh god...just imagining a world where all of my apps are cheese themed.
posted by iamkimiam at 7:22 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


1. Drive competing services out of business with a free service (subsidized by a profitable product).
2. Cancel free service.
3. ???


The Starbucks business model then?
posted by acb at 7:22 PM on March 13, 2013


Oh, and it's a rare business that does well by stabbing their evangelist users in the face.
posted by jaduncan at 7:22 PM on March 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Program, or be smugly dictated to by some twerp for whom coding up or maintaining their own solution is something they have the time / resources / skillset to do.

And where does one find the hours in the day to be completely self-reliant like some kind of Randian Übermensch?
posted by acb at 7:23 PM on March 13, 2013


Is there any compelling reason (aside from the people who were using it to bypass firewalls) to keep my reading habits, starred/saved articles and all that online as opposed to right here on my own box? I just started using RSS about a year ago, and I'm still trying to get why there aren't more/better local application options available for it.

BTW if you have a Linux/UNIX box, Akgregator is about the least annoying program I found, the others just looked way too much like text usenet readers, didn't preview properly or in the case of RSSOwl, took forever to start up, despite all sorts of tweaking. There might also be a version of it in kde4win for Windows users, but I have no idea if that is still a thing that gets updated regularly.
posted by mcrandello at 7:25 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah it never really occurred to me that Reader would be saving everything that goes through it. I never used it for this purpose - in fact, I had a system set up to save interesting articles on there to Evernote, on the assumption that things in Reader were temporary.
posted by Jimbob at 7:25 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do you suppose they will also be shutting down Feedburner?
posted by kmel at 7:26 PM on March 13, 2013


Unhappy. I only recently started using reader and am still getting used to it, but like it very much and wish I could have the chance to like it more in the future.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:28 PM on March 13, 2013


I don't think it's been mentioned that NewsBlur is open-sourced.

In the context of services going away, I find that a reassuring fact.

His latest commit was "just now", looks like for reducing the number of feeds free subscribers can have so as to reduce the hammering the servers are taking at the moment.
posted by philipy at 7:28 PM on March 13, 2013


Is there any compelling reason (aside from the people who were using it to bypass firewalls) to keep my reading habits, starred/saved articles and all that online as opposed to right here on my own box?

Because I surf on several different computers, some of them not controlled by me, and I want what I've read to be synced across machines?

We're calling it "The Cloud" nowadays, but back then it was just called "Web Services." It's a very old trade-off, and everyone will continue to make different value judgements in relation to it.
posted by muddgirl at 7:29 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


That is the last straw. I am going to convince my friend on Google+ to switch to Facebook.
posted by incster at 7:31 PM on March 13, 2013 [27 favorites]


Does anyone else use the Google "Next" bookmarklet thing? Any replacements for that?
posted by peep at 7:32 PM on March 13, 2013


Do you suppose they will also be shutting down Feedburner?

It appears to be in managed decline, with no updates for a while. I have a nasty feeling Google are killing RSS for G+ strategic reasons. That would be going well over the evil line for me, and would be intentionally breaking the open web in an full MS style.
posted by jaduncan at 7:32 PM on March 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


All's I know is that this better not be a prelude to Google shutting down FeedBurner too. RSS needs a posse.
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:33 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh! and the reason this might seem sort of deja vu-ey is because Google shitcanned Adsense for Feeds back in September or October of last year. That was sort of the hollow lead bell tolling for me.
posted by boo_radley at 7:33 PM on March 13, 2013


Gah. This just sucks. Reader is like 75% of my Internet.
posted by octothorpe at 7:33 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


iamkimiam: "Oh god...just imagining a world where all of my apps are cheese themed."

Hands you a box of Kleenex...
posted by Samizdata at 7:34 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying it is larger than archive.org, Bonaldi, but if they keep it running it eventually will be, if I'm right about the bit where they keep a copy of the content of articles in addition to the url of the article.

A post somewhere above says that even articles from defunct sites read through Google Reader could still be read. This pretty much implies that they're keeping a copy.

This pretty much implies some very large numbers over time.

I may have misunderstood, and it's probably more complicated than that (some kind of JIT archival of sites dropping off the internet? Seems insane. Still large numbers, over time.)
posted by motty at 7:35 PM on March 13, 2013


I have a nasty feeling Google are killing RSS for G+ strategic reasons. That would be going well over the evil line for me, and would be intentionally breaking the open web in an full MS style.

I don't understand this at all - RSS is a completely different thing than G+. Why would killing one benefit the other, in any meaningful way?

Here's an example of how RSS is useful - the Tasmanian Fire Service's active fires feed - something I make use of daily out of interest, and for my job. As do many others; there are iPhone apps that use this feed, there are Twitter feeds, there are news services. In the absence of RSS, what could this be replaced with? They do post this stuff to Twitter and Facebook, but without the useful metadata. In the absence of RSS, we'd have to resort to HTML scraping. Which problem does G+ solve, here?
posted by Jimbob at 7:38 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not saying it is larger than archive.org, Bonaldi, but if they keep it running it eventually will be

I will never be that big. Archive.org archives images as well as text, but Google Reader just archives the text of the feeds. Much smaller.
posted by gkhan at 7:40 PM on March 13, 2013


Hell, all I wanted from RSS was the ability to say

"Kaylee (My main computer - the other fulltimers are Hester, River and Charlie (the only boy - don't start saying my LAN is a anime harem show)) - Paper."

And have it punch out the stuff I like.
posted by Samizdata at 7:41 PM on March 13, 2013


From your 98 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 2,395 items, clicked 173 items, starred 14 items, and emailed 0 items.

Since September 12, 2007 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.
posted by Cash4Lead at 7:41 PM on March 13, 2013


Fucking absurd. I'm not heartbroken. I am absolutely incandescent over this.

Google Reader was my gateway to modern internet use. I registered for it the same day I created my Gmail account and installed my first Big Boy browser (Firefox!), more than seven years ago. And I've used it daily, often hourly, sometimes minutely, every single day since then.

It keeps me in constant touch with everything I care about on the web, from daily reads (MeFi, Reddit) to blogs that update once or twice a year. I would not have posted half the things I have here without it. I have highly customized versions of it on my laptop, my iPad, my phone. I have visited it more than any other website, possibly more than every other website I've visited combined. Doing some back of the envelope math, I would not be surprised to say I've read more than one million items through its minimalist blue and white frame. It is the nerve center, the Times Square, the Mecca of my online life.

When I saw the pop-up today, it was like a knife in the heart.

But I'm afraid it will be a knife in the heart of a big chunk of the internet as well.

It's true that Google Reader didn't have a lot of users, at least compared to your average Facebook or Twitter. But its users were, almost universally, power users, and in their hands Google Reader was a power tool for both the consumption and creation of online content.

How many journalists use Reader to aggregate sources?

How many academics use it to keep track of online journals and forums?

How many webcomic artists depend on it to reliably attract readers, no matter infrequently they update?

How many app vendors and webmasters rely on it as a backend for their products and services?

How many vanished essays and long-deleted articles are stored in its vast archives, unfindable literally anywhere else on the internet?

How many unclassifiable web junkies, like JHarris or mathowie (or me) depend on it to stay informed on what's going on in all the places we care about?

This isn't hyperbole. I cannot count the number of times I've heard various internet people mention offhand how central Reader is to their workflow. Reader specifically, not just RSS -- nothing else has Reader's reach, or power, or stature, or compatibility with so many Reader-designed tweaks and apps and scripts. It is utterly irreplaceable. They are essentially breaking RSS, and all the services, websites, and patterns of work and leisure grown around it. How badly is Google shooting itself -- all of us -- in the foot by uprooting a bedrock service depended on by such a wide swath of the power users and content creators that help make the web go?

And it's not necessary. There was a minor uproar a year or two back when Google said it was shutting down Google Video. They actually reversed themselves and kept it running, albeit without new uploads. With the radioactive black-bile tsunami of outrage I see coming from everybody who uses Reader daily (a slice of which you see on display in this thread), there's no way they can continue with this ridiculously shortsighted and user-hostile decision, at least not without incurring serious, significant damage to their reputation and credibility among the bloggers, power users, superfans, web evangelists, early adopters, and other savvy users that made them a household name -- and who they depend on to get future ventures off the ground.

Make it clear, as loud as you can, everywhere you can, how much this matters to you, in forums, comments, contact emails, your blog. Not just disappointment or a resigned search for a replacement that won't actually be able to replace it, but real negativity and outright anger towards Google specifically, over how much they are harming your daily life and the web at large with this move. There's so much they could do instead -- junk the permanent content archives, charge a fee, open-source it, something -- that this decision cannot stand, not without them making it crystal clear that they simply don't give a shit about their most devoted and resourceful users.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:42 PM on March 13, 2013 [122 favorites]


muddgirl: Is there any compelling reason (aside from the people who were using it to bypass firewalls) to keep my reading habits, starred/saved articles and all that online as opposed to right here on my own box?

Because I surf on several different computers, some of them not controlled by me, and I want what I've read to be synced across machines?

We're calling it "The Cloud" nowadays, but back then it was just called "Web Services." It's a very old trade-off, and everyone will continue to make different value judgements in relation to it.
This was the slickness that won me over. Everything stayed in sync. I could even use an app on my iPad, sync up that app, tear through a few hundred entries, star what I wanted to DEVONthink/bookmark later and anything that required more reading, simply mark as unread. Get back to somewhere with a connection and sync that all up.

No self-hosted app could have offered me this or the social. That's why I caved two years ago.

It's also why I don't like my dropbox account and have a self-hosted solution (owncloud), but the wonderful Agile Bits folks (they make 1Password) don't work with owncloud, just dropbox.
posted by Brian Puccio at 7:44 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


The Register article on the demise of GReader mentions this MetaFilter thread.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:47 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


So close: Since February 2, 2008 you have read a total of 299,988 items.
posted by shortfuse at 7:47 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just checked an entry from a defunct site in my Reader, gkhan, and the images are still there.

I think they are archiving them.
posted by motty at 7:48 PM on March 13, 2013


And to all you folks saying Google is Evil
All zero of them?
posted by Flunkie at 7:48 PM on March 13, 2013


Wait.. the site was defunct but the image location wasn't. Maybe not.
posted by motty at 7:49 PM on March 13, 2013


I don't understand this at all - RSS is a completely different thing than G+. Why would killing one benefit the other, in any meaningful way?

Which problem does G+ solve, here?


Google not necessarily trying to solve anything for your (or the internet's) benefit, they're trying to funnel as much eyeball activity as possible into their flagship data-mining operation. Google doesn't want any clicks on the internet to occur anywhere other than where it's easiest and most profitable to fold into thier digital dossier of every click you previously made.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:49 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Since October 18, 2005 you have read a total of 226,510 items."

Damn!
posted by jquinby at 7:50 PM on March 13, 2013


ah this sucks. I never particularly used reader all that much, the problem is that all the clients I have use reader.
posted by dhruva at 7:52 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've had an Gmail replacement bookmarked for months, but have been lazy about doing anything with it. I just paid up for the next 12 months and will commence using it tomorrow. Most of my mail goes through my domain and gets forwarded to Google. so pointing it at the new place is easy.

Yes I know I can resolve my mail to the end point and not forward. However, my wife doesn't like change and is quite happy with her mail forwarded to Gmail, so I can't update my domain so all mail goes to a single place.
posted by COD at 7:52 PM on March 13, 2013


Overheard on the internet (from a Google engineer:

To compete at Google scale in the new-world-order, you needs tens (ideally hundreds) of millions of users. Not mere millions.

His point was that replacement services may not be able to easily take up the slack from the loss of Google Reader as they simply won't have the scope and resources (servers) to cope with the number of folks migrating over.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:52 PM on March 13, 2013


I'm trying out Feedly but it kind of sucks. It's pretty not very usable at least on the Android. I can't seem to get it to just show me one story at a time instead of an artfully arranged block of three or four different stories. It's way too colorful too, I just want black text on a white background.
posted by octothorpe at 7:53 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is weird.

Yes, Reader may be a less used product or whatever. But just this week I stumbled onto a still-running Buzz page. The short notice is also out of character.

Probably as good a time as any to quit relying on hosted services, if not using them.

.
posted by 23 at 7:54 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google Reader is going away.
learn more [OK]


NO IT IS NOT OK.
posted by jquinby at 7:54 PM on March 13, 2013 [59 favorites]


I'm going to install Tiny Tiny RSS on my shared hosting account tomorrow. I've played with it in the past and it seemed to work fine.
posted by COD at 7:55 PM on March 13, 2013


ARRTRGH!

I hate this decision.
posted by notyou at 7:56 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Add me to the long list of people whose day/week/month/year this has ruined.
posted by edheil at 7:56 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


you can set up slrn to read rss
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:57 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Really. It's time to exit the garden.
posted by notyou at 7:57 PM on March 13, 2013


Brian Shih, Former Google Reader Product Manager, offers some background on why Google might be nuking Reader.
Reader has been fighting for approval/survival at Google since long before I was a PM for the product. I'm pretty sure Reader was threatened with de-staffing at least three times before it actually happened.
[...]
But after switching the sharing features over to G+ (the so called "share-pocalypse") along with the redesigned UI, my guess is that usage just started to fall - particularly around sharing.
[...]
So with dwindling usefulness to G+, (likely) dwindling or flattening usage due to being in maintenance, and Google's big drive to focus in the last couple of years, what choice was there but to kill the product?
posted by tonycpsu at 7:57 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


WHOOPS

I was going to save the takeout download to my google drive.

That doesn't seems like a smart decision for some reason.
posted by boo_radley at 7:58 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


On a more serious note, Thunderbird is an excellent feed reader. It's not cloud based, and thus isn't available everywhere, but it's good for a laptop or desktop.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:58 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


NewsBlur is getting hammered

Something tells me the Reader team is as well.
posted by sparkletone at 8:00 PM on March 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


Well Feedly seems decent, at least.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:01 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since December 7, 2008 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.
posted by gen at 8:03 PM on March 13, 2013


Ugh. I don't even need the more robust cross-platform features, just feed syncing without having to re-add each one on every new device, and this still sucks ass. I feel for the power users who actually star things and need to keep track of exactly what's read and what isn't. Dammit, Google. This is not helping your cause, no matter how much it might look like it when you can't see any further than July's bottom line.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:04 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm just going to keep pressing j until this stops being true.
posted by goHermGO at 8:05 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I preferred Bloglines. But after I literally could not get Bloglines to load anything but a white screen of death any more, I had to switch to Reader. I wasn't overly thrilled. On the one hand, it will load up to a thousand entries-ish. On the other hand, it frequently deletes posts before I can get to reading them, even ones that I have marked "Keep unread," and it doesn't have a "Keep all unread" option. The starring isn't great.

But....it was pretty much the one reasonable option left to use.

NOW WHAT THE FUCK IS THERE? Especially since reports from this thread about the replacements seem to be mixed at best.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:07 PM on March 13, 2013


If you like the innovation that comes out of garages and dorm rooms you should be THRILLED that the likes of Google, Apple, and Microsoft only support products that can "move the dial." It is the oxygen that every other start-up breathes. What angel would write a $150,000 check to two dudes coding for some niche or unlikely product if they knew that the minute it started to look interesting Google would drop $10 million of manpower on the same opportunity set.
posted by MattD at 8:10 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Andrhia at 8:11 PM on March 13, 2013


Speaking as a single Reader user,

The really good parts of Reader are:

The crawler. Having this centralised is great, because it means sites don't get thousands of connections from everyone trying to pull their feed, and Google can implement the latest stuff, like pubsub, so they get updates the second they are published.


I check Reader once or twice a day. If the latency were an hour or two, I wouldn't mind at all.

The database. They keep all the content of the feeds, even after they drop off the feed itself. That means you can still read starred items from sites that died years ago. (This stuff is impossible to export, btw). And it means your phone can download the content of all your new items in a thundering hurry from Google directly, rather than trying to visit 300 feeds over 3G. (This is why it won't be simple for Reeder to replace them). It also means you can have

I don't typically look up old posts. I only care about the things I haven't read. I wouldn't notice if Google deleted everything older than a week.

Search Which is another thing very hard to replicate. Useful search of the content of personal feeds specific to you.

I don't use the search feature.

What I'm saying is that there is a space here for someone who wants to build something that, relative to Google, is half-assed, but would give me all the functionality I care about. And I'm willing to pay a small amount of $ for that.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:12 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


The whole reason I have so many feeds in Reader is because I had assumed that Google, as a big company with some amount of persistence, wouldn't immediately go defunct and take all my feeds with it. That was before they began their mania to kill everything they do that doesn't have at least fifty million customers damn them again. Of course I could take the export data to another service, but it'll have the problem that drove me to Google in the first place -- if they're not profitable, they'll sink beneath the waves and I'll have to find someone ELSE. And using a local reader works so long as I don't format my hard drive or reset my mobile device -- which, if I jailbreak, is every time it updates.
posted by JHarris at 8:13 PM on March 13, 2013


Chrome's RSS link extension seems to have gone away at some point, too, recently enough that Google's own search still directs to its page, which no longer exists.
posted by Ex-Wastrel at 8:13 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


jacalata: "I think RSS is so important that I'd take a job (leaving MeFi) at any startup aiming to make an improved Google Reader (w/ social features)."

Wouldn't it be possible to somehow build Stellar.io into a full-fledged feed reader? It's kind of already halfway there...ish....
posted by schmod at 8:13 PM on March 13, 2013


So Sys Rq said
"Hey, remember when Bloglines closed down a couple years ago?
Yeah, well, here's the thing... It didn't."
It might as well have done. I originally used Bloglines, and migrated to Google Reader very soon after it launched, because it was so superior. Meanwhile Bloglines languished.

Well, I've just recovered and reset my password to Bloglines, and it's completely inscrutable to me. There's no easy way to use this thing. And page loads of even empty pages and settings pages is incredibly slow. The speed can't be a good sign.

And my last understanding of Reeder was that there was actually a full *dependency* on Google Reader, though apparently that's no longer true.

Also, my stats, since others have shared:
From your 674 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 4,835 items, clicked 197 items, starred 2 items, and emailed 3 items.
Since September 18, 2009 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.
This is a big blow for me as a power RSS user. The syncing of read items I depend on heavily. The fact that Feedly is cloning the GReader API is very hopeful.
posted by artlung at 8:13 PM on March 13, 2013


jaduncan: Someone smart will be building an exact replacement right now.

Yo, Matt, get pb on this, stat.

Seriously.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:13 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's like Google copied Microsoft's old strategy with standards they did not like: Embrace, Extend, Strangle.
posted by notyou at 8:14 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Looks like I'll no longer be needing the Internet after July 1...
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:15 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Brian Shih, Former Google Reader Product Manager, offers some background on why Google might be nuking Reader.

Fitting that this is a Quora link -- you can't read past the first answer unless you log in with your Google or Facebook account.

Is there any way that these corporations can just completely kill the open Web? By teaming up with ISPs or something? You have to wonder if Google killed Reader because it had too many users.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 8:16 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


http://blog.feedly.com/2013/03/14/google-reader/

"Google announced today that they will be shutting down Google Reader. This is something we have been expecting for some time: We have been working on a project called Normandy which is a feedly clone of the Google Reader API – running on Google App Engine. When Google Reader shuts down, feedly will seamlessly transition to the Normandy back end. So if you are a Google Reader user and using feedly, you are covered: the transition will be seamless."
posted by Chasuk at 8:17 PM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


From your 167 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 8,649 items, clicked 331 items, starred 18 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since March 4, 2010 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.


I think this is the best way for me to make clear my grief and outrage.
posted by meese at 8:18 PM on March 13, 2013


I originally used Bloglines, and migrated to Google Reader very soon after it launched, because it was so superior. Meanwhile Bloglines languished.

Well, I've just recovered and reset my password to Bloglines, and it's completely inscrutable to me. There's no easy way to use this thing. And page loads of even empty pages and settings pages is incredibly slow. The speed can't be a good sign.


Yeah, you're right. I went to create an account, but I couldn't even get the sign up page to load.

Oh well.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:22 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Firefox and Thunderbird still have full RSS support natively (Firefox in the Bookmarks Toolbar, Thunderbird as a full-fledged reader) and there are over 150 RSS Addons for you to peruse.

On a day like today, when a commercial business takes away a free service from their users (as is their right), I hope we all can appreciate the value of open source software and non-profit organizations (Mozilla being the relevant example today.)

(Disclaimer: I work for Mozilla but not directly on Firefox.)
posted by gen at 8:22 PM on March 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


Google: Organizing the worlds information, then throwing the index away.
posted by MikeWarot at 8:23 PM on March 13, 2013 [21 favorites]


Regarding feedly, at least in the android version if you mess with the options you can at least get it to behave kind of like reader, with all your new items arranged in a list and no weird gridded layout. There doesn't seem to be any way to remove graphics from the main screen or to switch it from a paginated display to an infinite-scroll list, though. And I have no clue if any of that works on desktop.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:24 PM on March 13, 2013


Maybe that start up should be located at reader.metafilter.com?

It would be read.metafilter.com, surely? ReadMe for short.
posted by stopgap at 8:26 PM on March 13, 2013 [23 favorites]


Yeah the desktop version of Feedly (which I'm looking at now) can be made to work almost identically to Reader -- infinite scroll of all your items or infinite scroll of individual folders, organized by newest first or oldest first.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:26 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, with $2.8B in net income last quarter, I'm struggling to understand what they are doing that needs the extra $$$.

By killing off Google Reader, they might just have discouraged some idealistic, brilliant, young programmers from accepting an offer with them.

I remember becoming a programmer in the 90s. I always hated Microsoft. I was impressed when I discovered Google. I interviewed with them in 2004 (just when the first iteration of Bing was announced) and was lucky enough to get a job there. (I stayed for a few years.) But now I'm not seeing much that sets them apart from Microsoft. It kills me to say that.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:27 PM on March 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


ReadMe, yes! Who's gonna open up a meta and beg for the big pony?
posted by Mngo at 8:28 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


With feedly you need a browser add on, right? Sadly that won't work for me at work because I don't have the ability to access add ons. Plus we use an ancient version of explorer. This makes me so sad.
posted by aclevername at 8:29 PM on March 13, 2013


Google is copying Yahoo.

That's like cheating off the dumb kid.
posted by srboisvert at 8:30 PM on March 13, 2013 [27 favorites]


This is completely harshing my buzz from a day that was previously characterized by productivity at work, an out-of-nowhere Veronica Mars movie, and delicious pizza.

Again I say: dammit, Google!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:33 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


2 years ago on 3/14/11 (that's 14/3/11 to you non USians) I got dumped by my then girlfriend. I am actually getting over it, stopped drinking, starting to exercise, even getting to be hypomanic the past few days. And then this happens.

Google dumps me. Damn near to the same fucking day.

Curse this time of year.

On the one hand I'm upset, on the other, Google's been full of shit ever since Page took over. I wish it was full of Schmidt, instead.

I think self-hosting is the ideal way to go, honestly, but I don't know what's out there that's even close. Fever is too cute/smart for its own good. Trying oldreader, but I think at this point I'd prefer to host my own. I'm starting to pay for LJ again after my few months of "principle nonpayment" since they started to try to fuck with shit.

I hate the internet so much sometimes.

I still think we need to go back to gopher and just leave this fucking webshit to the plebes. But then a lot of my friends would be out of a job and homeless, so...
posted by symbioid at 8:34 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really hope it's just that the sudden attention from refugee users is crushing feedly's servers temporarily, because I can't get my unread items to load on feedly at all.

The loss of Reader is incredibly distressing. I'd move to something like Thunderbird, but I'm running OS 10.5. That was one of the great things about Reader: it was lightweight enough that even my geriatric laptop could still feel powerful.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 8:34 PM on March 13, 2013


I agree with those recommending Thunderbird, it's an excellent desktop RSS client. Even with the absurd number of choices for linux that's the one I use most. For your basic everyday reading of RSS feeds it is completely adequate. Workmanlike even. I also appreciate how subscribing to a feed is utterly frictionless, with no popup confirmations or focus-stealing.
posted by Lorin at 8:34 PM on March 13, 2013


Clouds can evaporate unpredictably.

Well, yeah, that's why we shouldn't be storing things in our butts.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:35 PM on March 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


I just got a "google play" email, and even though it says no reply, I wrote "fuck you google" because... catharsis.

Also - I mean, this is all 100% utterly first world problem territory, really.
posted by symbioid at 8:35 PM on March 13, 2013


Downfall video
posted by lukemeister at 8:35 PM on March 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


ReadMe, yes! Who's gonna open up a meta and beg for the big pony?

I'm sure some of us have thought about that meta.

You could presumably just fork NewsBlur and go from there.
posted by philipy at 8:36 PM on March 13, 2013


Google is copying Yahoo.

It's even worse than that. Google is copying Ask Jeeves.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:36 PM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


You all think this is so terrible for you... they're closing it on my birthday! Worst gift ever, Google!

Yes that's a joke I'm not really that self-centered. Although July 1 is my birthday.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:40 PM on March 13, 2013


This could be a great opportunity for Yahoo to build a replacement. Do a great job, test it thoroughly, and bring it live on the same day that Google Reader shuts down. If it's good, instant traffic and fandom and goodwill from the most savvy and active Internet People.
posted by lostburner at 8:41 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do a great job, test it thoroughly, and bring it live on the same day that Google Reader shuts down

Ummm, that's 3 months from now. Unpossible.
posted by DigDoug at 8:42 PM on March 13, 2013


lostburner: "This could be a great opportunity for Yahoo to build a replacement."

July 1st comes and Yahoo unveils a potato.
posted by boo_radley at 8:44 PM on March 13, 2013 [26 favorites]


They already have the heavy lifting done, for Pipes and My Yahoo. I reckon they could have a beta ready with OPML import in time.
posted by bonaldi at 8:44 PM on March 13, 2013


July 1st comes and Yahoo unveils a potato.

...that they bought for five billion dollars.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:46 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since April 11, 2007 you have read a total of 299,948 items.

WTH Google? You're making a loyal user extremely unhappy. I would pay a monthly subscription to Matt for ReadMe.
posted by arcticseal at 8:46 PM on March 13, 2013


Although July 1 is my birthday.

It's also Canada day.

No poutine for google!
posted by srboisvert at 8:46 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a dick move by google.
I understand the reasoning, I just don't agree with it.

I use it heavily for research, We at neogames use it heavily for research, and hell, most of what I write is influenced by what I find through my Reader forays.

I'm on the boat to create an alternative.
posted by xcasex at 8:48 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


And to all you folks saying Google is Evil

Google isn't evil for dropping Reader. They're just being Microsoft-grade stoopid. Maybe even Yahoo!-grade stoopid. Stuff like this eats tech companies away from the inside like a cancer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:49 PM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Seriously. If Microsoft has any brains at all, they'll drop the silly "Scroogled" campaign, code up a functional clone of Reader, and free-advertise the bejeesus out of it on Reddit, Gawker, HackerNews, etc. People don't really care about algorithms generating ads based on their emails, but killing Reader is far more cynical and personal, and a much more fruitful angle of attack.

So go ahead, shine a harsh spotlight on Google right at the moment they're fucking their most devoted users the hardest, while simultaneously offering a replacement for the beloved thing they're stealing away. It would win crazy goodwill, maybe even convince Google to back down early.

(I suppose Yahoo could try, too, but they have their own reputation for stupidly annihilating popular services.)

In lieu of that, I'd gladly pay a subscription for a MeFi-powered Reader clone. At least I can feel confident Matt & co. would never screw us over, since RSS is clearly important to him, too.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:56 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


Houstonian: "I'd argue it the other way. If it's true that the archive's size is the problem, why don't they just prompt everyone to save off what they need once per month, and blow away the rest of it? I don't use Reader to save files."

A while back, when realizing the ephemerality of microblogging, I posited a microblog service called "Imperma.net" based upon the Buddhist concept of impermanence. Each post slowly decays away until after a period of time it is completely lost to the aether. I don't have the coding chops for such a project (I have a few interesting ideas) even if I had the time or care to actually implement it.
But why do we feel the need to constantly archive shit? I mean, OK, I guess it's "data" for the big guys to scrounge and use in all sorts of nefarious ways.

It's nice to have an actual blogging platform that you can go back and read. And I suppose if you're looking for information, it's nice to be able to have a backlog of information that might already have answers, but yet...

It just gets cluttered with more and more SHIT. 90% of which is about as important as a fucking gnat (seriously, like, I mean, ok, some memes should be eternal, but most things online? It's just stupid shit. At the same time I love stupid shit, I love the old days when a live video of a pot of coffee in MIT was something that blew your fucking mind, because IT'S A LIVE VIDEO OF A POT OF COFFEE IN A WORLD-RENOWNED INSTITUTION AND HERE IT IS, RIGHT HERE, AND IT IS UTTERLY MUNDANE AND IT'S RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE...

I just. don't. know.

oh.

and here's a close paren for you who keep track.

)
posted by symbioid at 8:57 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


They're being evil for why they're dropping Reader. Also, as a wise fox once said, you are responsible, forever, for that which you tame. When a bunch of users use and love your service, they are paying tribute to you, one way or another. To suddenly turn your back on them is a little evil, but to do it this way is quite a bit worse.
posted by JHarris at 8:58 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Well, fudge. I spend every morning before the wife and kid wake up with my coffee in one hand and the other hitting 'j' as I go through unread articles in Google Reader. Before that I used feed-on-feeds hosted on my server upstairs, but it looks like it hasn't been updated since I switched.

I could throw together my own, but it won't work as well across Mac/Android/Windows. And that's where I use it.

This is enough for me to consider dropping gmail and Android. I'm that pissed. I've got my own domain routed to gmail, switching would be just a DNS change.

Fudge.
posted by beowulf573 at 9:04 PM on March 13, 2013


Goddammit, I thought they were killing it January 1 of next year (If I wrote cheques, I would be one of those people who writes the previous year well into October). This stinks.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:09 PM on March 13, 2013


guh. buh. wha? agh, I'm having Bloglines flashbacks.

Add me to the list of people who would happily pay cash money for a ReadMe service.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 9:14 PM on March 13, 2013


It keeps me in constant touch with everything I care about on the web, from daily reads (MeFi, Reddit) to blogs that update once or twice a year.

It's those sites that update very rarely that really make RSS (and Reader) so useful. I'm not going to remember to check onlyupdatestwiceayear.com if it only updates twice a year, but if the update automatically appears in my RSS reader, well, that's just dandy.
posted by asnider at 9:16 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


From your 187 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 27,585 items.
Since January 10, 2012 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.

Welp. What do I win?
posted by pipian at 9:18 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would so pay for Reader. I want to tell Google this. Can you e-mail Google? Or does Google hear everything written on the internet? If so:

Google? Please. I'll pay. I'll pay for Reader. Please, Google. You don't want to see me beg.
posted by meese at 9:19 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is a huge blow to amateur bloggers, the little guys out there who post a couple of times a month. A huge, huge blow. I don't think I've ever been sad before about a free web service being closed, but I'm sad today.

Also, I have no idea how I'm going to internet now.
posted by jess at 9:19 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why the fuck won't the services I love take my money? I've got arseholes trying to get me to pay for all sorts of bullshit I don't want or need, but Reader and Twitter won't let me pay for things they've made that I love and use everyday.

This is going to kill all of the little blogs I read that only update once in a while i.e. when they've got something interesting to say. And why should I bother with shovelware sites that update 20 times a day if I can't just skim through their headlines for the handful of relevant items?

Before today, if Matt had said he was leaving MeFi I'd have been devastated. But if he wants to partner up with some people to make a Reader replacement, I'll do a dance of joy and send a cheque for development funds and pay yearly or monthly fees when the product is released.
posted by harriet vane at 9:21 PM on March 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


Here is a sample access log entry from my place of employment:

209.85.238.99 - - [10/Mar/2013:10:29:02 -0600] "GET /commerce/rss.php HTTP/1.1" "Feedfetcher-Google; (+http://www.google.com/feedfetcher.html; 34770 subscribers; feed-id=1098621359875358532)"

34770 subscribers. Who pay us money for things they find on our site by virtue of reading the things we syndicate.

Did I mention we spend $15-20k a year of that money paying for Google services?

Fuck you, Google. This is is over the line. It's not just over the line because it inconveniences me. It's not just over the line because killing RSS will impact how I make a living. It's over the line because you greedy motherfuckers used your massive infrastructure and the leverage of all those users to become one of the only viable user-level points of access to one of the most vital components of the web's infrastructure, and then you decided that user-controlled access to the machine-readable web was inconvenient for your fucking social media agenda or whatever the hell it is you are trying to accomplish in your doomed pissing match with Facebook (of all the embarrassing competition!) and you decided to respond to this by breaking the web as a matter of policy.

Fuck you, you fucking fucks. This is war.
posted by brennen at 9:23 PM on March 13, 2013 [98 favorites]


WTFF? Reader is one of like three tabs I have open all day. The super efficient workflow for reading/starring/tagging/organizing massive amounts of news for work has been saving me and my colleagues hours and hours of work every day. Just thinking about trying to go back to tracking stuff how we used to pre-Reader is making me feel all panicky.

While I hope that this stupid decision by Google will spur development of new RSS-based services, and hopefully a resurgence of RSS, I doubt it will come in time for the upcoming drop dead date. And then what!! This sucks...
posted by gemmy at 9:28 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Reader is how I view the internet.

I am now seriously considering migrating all of my google accounts to my own hosting, if I can figure out how. This is a significant argument against "The Cloud Butt."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:34 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


This hurt me. I've been using Google Reader for years now. I never really even used any other RSS reader. Fortunately, going off a tip from this thread, I tried out Thunderbird from Mozilla. It takes a little time to configure (and I had to get extensions to re-size displayed images and shrink a couple of the UI elements) but it works really well. It even accepted my exported Google Reader subscriptions, so I didn't have to do anything besides set up Thunderbird itself.

That said, I'm not sure whether Thunderbird can handle any kind of syncing between devices or anything like that, and I doubt it'll help those of you who want that functionality. I never really used more than my home computer myself, so it wasn't that big a deal for me.
posted by amc.concepts at 9:36 PM on March 13, 2013


Working my way through Kübler-Ross on this one.
posted by gwint at 9:36 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


brennen's comment reminds me that Reader lets you see per-feed statistics... including subscriber counts. A sampling:
Webcomics (keep in mind that RSS is a huge avenue of readership here)

AmazingSuperPowers: 20,726
Cyanide and Happiness: 108,458
Ryan North's Dinosaur Comics (which uses the RSS title for one of its daily in-jokes!): 45,213
Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant!: 27,924
indexed: 10,292
Penny Arcade: 183,586
xkcd: 324,329!!!

Some other sites:

Ars Technica: 28,350
AV Club: 17,564
Lifehacker: 55,627
The Onion: 499,915
Futility Closet: 11,950
Boston.com's The Big Picture: 761,743
xkcd's What If?: 71,811
I call purest bullshit on Google's claim of declining usage. When individual feeds -- not the service as a whole, but single RSS feeds -- have subscription counts larger than some nations, there is no basis for the claim that the service is defunct enough to kill. And recall that these are subscriptions made by actual people for personal use, not the maelstrom of fakes and spam that inflate usage metrics on Facebook and Twitter.

And just look at what those feeds are. Some big names, yeah, but also smaller blogs, webcomics, news sites. How many people are going to remember to check Randall Munroe's What If? site for it's once-every-week-or-so updates? Who's going to catch everything Ars Technica puts out? Will the Futility Closet stay open for long if its missives aren't delivered to your virtual inbox thrice a day? How many websites are going to go out of business if there isn't an easy way to stay abreast of their updates? Google is killing the internet here.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:45 PM on March 13, 2013 [25 favorites]


God, honestly, this is something that could save big newspapers. They're experts at selling ads around syndicated content. People will subscribe, you get better data on their ad habits than you ever will with print, and you can use that money to produce original content.
posted by klangklangston at 9:49 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Best of all for ad targeting: You can sell ads based on subscribers that actually paid money for something on the internet.
posted by klangklangston at 9:50 PM on March 13, 2013


Also: unless a significant fraction of everyone who uses Google Reader is subscribed to The Big Picture or The Onion, then the total userbase is almost certainly in the multiple-millions. Their own public stats bear this out. And it's not a legacy thing, since even newer, smaller sites like What If? are verging on 100,000 subscribers. They're flat-out lying to us, in addition to being complete dicks.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:56 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


My reader stats are scary... you can really use to plow throw a ton of information...

"From your 184 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 15,542 items, clicked 190 items, starred 57 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since December 22, 2010 you have read a total of 299,999 items."
posted by ph00dz at 9:59 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


And here I was, using NetNewsWire thinking I was a chump.
posted by alex_skazat at 10:01 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is fucking awful. Google Reader is how I primarily consume the internet.

Urgh.
posted by dipping_sauce at 10:01 PM on March 13, 2013


"From your 269 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 3,594 items, clicked 141 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items. Since December 10, 2007 you have read a total of 234,215 items."
posted by dipping_sauce at 10:03 PM on March 13, 2013


NewsBlur looks good, but I want to try the mobile app before I sign up for the premium service. Right now it doesn't load at all. I feel bad for their existing customers who have to suffer outages while the rest of us look for a new home.
posted by Gary at 10:04 PM on March 13, 2013


It's weird. A few years ago I was like many of you. I basically lived in Reader while online. Something happened that I can't pinpoint, though. Now Twitter is my main entry point to the web, along with a handful of sites that I visit manually.

Why did this happen? I can't really say.
posted by evilcolonel at 10:11 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


From your 221 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 9,162 items, clicked 627 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 3 items.
Since August 3, 2010 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.


This is devastating - this is how I read the internet, period. I have a Reader tab open at all times.

Go fuck yourselves, Google.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:11 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


164,865 items since 2006. Goodbye internet as I know it.
posted by one_bean at 10:14 PM on March 13, 2013


I've been on the web too long, but there's a few big changes I can think of that totally changed how I interacted with it. Reader didn't make a huge impact on my web use at first, but it going away will be one of those changes for sure. Maybe it will be good in the long run. Maybe the constant stream of information will be easier to hide from.

Nah, who am I kidding, I'll find some not quite as good replacement and learn to live with it. Or maybe start logging into facebook again or something.

God this is so depressing.
posted by aspo at 10:17 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


If This Than That has some recipes that might help preserve some of what you are losing.

Save starred posts to Evernote


Save starred posts to Pocket (I use this all the time)

Save starred posts to Instapaper

I wish Google would let me pay them to keep the service! Argh.
posted by blahblahblah at 10:26 PM on March 13, 2013 [18 favorites]


I used Bloglines until it went away and then shifted to Google Reader and was much happier.

Lately I've been kind of annoyed at some things about Google Reader. This could be just the kick in the dick and the balls I need to get myself back into overdrift to find myself a newer better feed reader.
posted by aubilenon at 10:34 PM on March 13, 2013


More websites large and small that will be seriously damaged by Google Reader's shutdown, courtesy of Reader's recommended subscriptions tab:

Cool Tools: 201,264 subscribers

Order of the Stick: 34,497

Mother Jones (via HuffPo): 198,674

US Bureau of Economic Analysis (source for journalists, mayhaps?): 3,968

Daily Show Videos: 483,161

The Kitchn ("Inspiring cooks, nourishing homes"): 686,512

Bad Astronomy: 9,388

Armor Games: 2,711

CNET News: 1,663,104

The Guardian: 240,449

(For some perspective on the scale of these distribution channels, Metafilter has "just" 9,867 subscribers.)

So strike the "almost certainly" from my previous comment. Regardless of what Google claims, Reader definitely has several million active users. Perhaps more than ten million, judging by the spread amongst that variety of content. They're just hoping that the lack of social features within Reader itself (HMMMMM...) obscures this fact from most of the millions of people who would be affected by this closure, making them think they're one of only a few thousand or so who still doggedly use this old, tired, useless thing, amirite?

It's not about dwindling usage, the death of RSS, or any of that BS. Google is killing Reader because of strategic reasons, because it's not ad-friendly enough, or whatever. Make noise, spread the word, get them to turn around. Because this is a gigantic slap in the face to literally millions of people.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:34 PM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Reader going away? Awful, terrible, a tragedy. But more than that--

Reader was one of Google's most venerable services, and they killed it because it didn't fir strategy. They also killed Wave and Buzz. Google Listen, their Android podcast client, was beloved, pfft, killed it too. Google kills lots of things.

What this proves is, as strategy changes, Google will kill anything. At some time in the future, when supporting email users doesn't fit into the Grand Plan? You can bet they'd kill Gmail. Google Plus is big now, but when it turns out it really has no hope of beating Facebook? Yeah, it's pretty certain they'll kill it too. What if iOS pulls far ahead of Android, will they keep supporting it? What if the browser no longer becomes the primary way to use the Internet, your own personal fondness for it won't be enough to keep Chrome going. They might even kill Search, if it doesn't fit in with The Plan. Plans change, fads change, and if Google keeps skipping between them without taking time to notice what's actually valuable when everything they do will die sooner or later, probably sooner. It only depends on which buzzwords are current.

While there have been indications of it for a while, this is something everyone can point to and say, obviously, THIS. THIS shows conclusively that Google isn't nearly the company it once was.
posted by JHarris at 10:36 PM on March 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


Rhaomi: How can you tell how many of those subscriptions are "active" users?
posted by aubilenon at 10:36 PM on March 13, 2013


Hitler finds out Google Reader is shutting down.
posted by Jimbob at 10:38 PM on March 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


They're just hoping that the lack of social features within Reader itself (HMMMMM...) obscures this fact from most of the millions of people who would be affected by this closure, making them think they're one of only a few thousand or so who still doggedly use this old, tired, useless thing, amirite?

You may well be right, it's certainly the kind of thinking executives tend to use, but it's amazingly stupid thinking.

Several million people who don't know they're several million people are isolated, they're several million individual people and so cannot make an organized fuss. BUT: they are still several million people who are greatly displeased with you. And they're still among the most active users of the internet. That's not a good move to make regarding customer relations, Google.
posted by JHarris at 10:45 PM on March 13, 2013


So some thoughts on feedly versus theoldreader which were kind of my two takeaways about good alternatives: am currently preferring feedly to theoldreader, due mainly to feedly having transferred over my starred items whereas something must have happened with theoldreader where that didn't work.

The feedly phone app is also really nice. I'd never bothered with a reader app for my phone before because the web app for g reader was "good enough" for the rare times when I'd use it, but this one is pretty and relatively snappy/responsive.

I guess it still remains to be seen how feedly will hold up without the g reader API to underpin it, but it's pretty ok so far.
posted by juv3nal at 10:49 PM on March 13, 2013


10 million people who ever subscribed to something in Reader might mean a million (if that) active users right now. A service with a million users is practically invisible to Google. Gmail has More than 425 million. Youtube has "hundreds of millions". When Google talks about focus, they mean only working on things that will be successful on that scale.

It's a brutal worldview.
posted by jjwiseman at 10:50 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's why they like the Chinese state so much. They share a sense of scale.
posted by klangklangston at 10:51 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Google Reader IS my internet.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:52 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can't determine active users for a specific feed, but given that a side project of xkcd launched less than a year ago has reached a comparable level of subscription success as some of these equivalent feeds suggests that usage of the service has not collapsed like Google makes it sound.

(Exhibit B: pretty much every comment in this thread.)
posted by Rhaomi at 10:54 PM on March 13, 2013


Another recent example: The Verge, launched 16 months ago, has 102,756 subscribers.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:00 PM on March 13, 2013


So some thoughts on feedly versus theoldreader which were kind of my two takeaways about good alternatives: am currently preferring feedly to theoldreader, due mainly to feedly having transferred over my starred items whereas something must have happened with theoldreader where that didn't work.

I prefer The Old Reader's interface, but yeah, the import process seems to have gotten a bit botzed and the updating doesn't seem to be catching everything either. I'm hoping it's a temporary problem from everyone hitting their servers. I figure I'll probably keep using Reader for another month or so while I experiment with alternatives.
posted by kagredon at 11:01 PM on March 13, 2013


Google said usage has declined, not collapsed. Anyone who works at Google can probably look at a graph showing active Reader users over time, they're unlikely to lie about that.

Everyone I know voted for Gore, does not click on internet ads, and uses Reader.
posted by jjwiseman at 11:02 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


As much as I don't like it myself, I do think this is a good lesson for all of us who use free services and are now complaining when they're taken away from us.
posted by gen at 11:03 PM on March 13, 2013


I too switched to Reader from Bloglines. I grew to like/rely on it more and more over time. And even though I may be a "power user" type, my wife also has reader open all day, and she is nowhere near "power user" - she doesn't even use password managers.

There are going to be a lot of pissed people now- hopefully enough to give Google second thoughts.
posted by p3t3 at 11:03 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


As much as I don't like it myself, I do think this is a good lesson for all of us who use free services and are now complaining when they're taken away from us.

What exactly is the lesson?
posted by kagredon at 11:04 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


"From your 404 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 1,964 items, clicked 187 items, starred 7 items, and emailed 2 items.
Since October 7, 2005 you have read a total of 258,283 items."


I can't believe that in the last week I've bought a Nexus 4 AND a Nexus 7.

Fuck you google.
posted by peacay at 11:12 PM on March 13, 2013


What exactly is the lesson?

The lesson is supposed to be "pay for the shit you use so that this doesn't happen". I think this, is to a point, a valid thing to argue - if you value something, you should give it resources and support the people who make it, and it helps if those people have a reason to value your support.

For me, though, the real lesson is that we have mostly forgotten the lessons we should have learned from the Free Software movement 15 years ago.
posted by brennen at 11:13 PM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Warren Ellis: "Google shuts down Google Reader, probably the most effective tool I have."
posted by Rhaomi at 11:13 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


As much as I don't like it myself, I do think this is a good lesson for all of us who use free services and are now complaining when they're taken away from us.


You are aware multiple people in this have expressed the desire that we'd happily pay for the service to continue, yes?
posted by flatluigi at 11:14 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Or are you scolding us for using a free service over paying for a different service because we preferred the free one?
posted by flatluigi at 11:15 PM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


The lesson is supposed to be "pay for the shit you use so that this doesn't happen"

The fact is, for-pay services get cancelled too. Companies go out of business or get bought or change their focus.

The only way to have a stable setup is to run it yourself, which often will mean settling for an inferior solution that takes a big pile of your time. How much of that are you willing to put up with to avoid having to migrate your shit every five years?
posted by aubilenon at 11:17 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't believe that in the last week I've bought a Nexus 4 AND a Nexus 7.

What kills me is that that's part of their ecosystem they're getting increasingly right, on the level of day-to-day experience. Being a heavy user of the Android / Gmail metaplatform has become considerably more pleasant over the last year or so. The devices are really solid and a lot of the software is somewhere around decent-to-excellent. I basically live in Gmail. It's like part of my brain at this point.

On the personal inconvenience level, I get as ragey as I do about this one partly because I really hate those "you knew you were making a deal with the devil" moments. But I was, and so is our civilization as a whole.
posted by brennen at 11:24 PM on March 13, 2013


I did pay for this service for years. Then Google came along and ate everybody's lunch with their free service, Google Reader. It outperformed and had more functional features than any of the pay services that existed at the time. Then those pay services folded, and pretty much the only game in town was Google Reader. And now they are shutting it down. FUCK YOU, GOOGLE!
posted by daq at 11:25 PM on March 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


I am crying so hard right now.

I am sorry if this is a derail, I truly am. The thing is it's been a shitty day, week, month and year. Today as I was driving to work my car was making this weird noise, I think it's the brakes. But I wasn't crying then.
My replacement at the office came in today and the new boss asked me to resign. I refused because I need the severance pay: we have twins, boy and girl, not yet two years old and we need that money to get by: my wife isn't working (she takes care of the babies) and there are no real unemployment benefits in my country. As you can imagine we are sleep deprived and very tired. We also need the health insurance... So I now have to wait and see what they can offer me, if anyhing besides a lenghty wrongful whatever-it-is-called trial which we cannot afford. But I wasn't crying.
When I was driving home in the afternoon I heard from my wife that she had left the kids taking a nap (with a neighbor) at home and went out to buy some cloth to make some blankets. It is usually a five minute trip, but a tree fell on the road and she was stuck for almost an hour. The kids were fine, but when she called I was really worried and so far away (in traffic) that there was nothing I could really do. But I wasn't crying.
I went to pay some of my taxes on the car, which were due for some time now, but my payment had to be rescheduled, so I lost another hour; I barely made it to the University for my night lesson; I had to speed. But I wasn't crying.
After all that I came home, we played, talked, ate, and put the babies to bed, dealt with the "no, I dont want to sleep yet" crying and changed into night clothes. I came to the laptop, clicked on Google Reader and got the going away message. But I wasn't crying.
I automatically looked for a thread about it on Metafilter and I found this. I marked several favorites; took my outrage to twitter; I deleted my complete Google profile. But I wasn't crying.
Then I looked at my Reader feeds. The babies and my troubles at work had kept me away for a while. kottke.org unread items had reached almost 30, something really unheard of in my reader, as well as Popular comments across Metafilter; some blogs I subscribe to in Spanish had reached the +...
I still wasn't crying; I read this whole thread; I got a "No, thanks" email from a new job which I had been hoping on; I still wasn't crying.

Then I saw the Hitler video Jimbob just linked. Then I started crying: Hitler was saying exactly what I was feeling, and I had to try really hard not to wake the babies up with my sobbing. I too spend almost 100% of my internet time in Reader. I dont have the time or money to do much else; I have no alternatives; I don't watch TV, I only have my feeds. I am crying now, and I can't really stop.
posted by omegar at 11:27 PM on March 13, 2013 [44 favorites]


I've never used Reader and despite having a pretty techie background, I've never really figured out how to make RSS work as part of my online life. But I really understand getting attached to a piece of software that makes your life just work and holy crap however will you do without it? So, in solidarity with you all (and especially you, omegar), fuck you, Google, you fucking fucks!
posted by barnacles at 11:36 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am crying so hard right now.

It's gonna be OK, man. There are things Google Reader does better than any existing RSS reader, but I'd guess a shitpile of developers see this as an opportunity, not a loss. Here's the AskMe thread on web-based alternatives, and that doesn't even scratch the surface with respect to open source desktop clients, where we're bound to see even more innovation and integration with web apps very soon.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:48 PM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Exactly Monsieur Caution. This will be a healthy thing. Google Reader has not been evolving and has been stuck and yet everyone uses it like God himself. Now the old man is dead we can get some new blood and see some competition and innovation.
posted by stbalbach at 11:52 PM on March 13, 2013


Google, destroyer of ecosystems
Reader was undeniably a good product, but it's best quality was also its worst: it was free. Subsidized by Google's immense search profits, it never had to earn its keep, and its competitors started to die. Over time, the "hyper competitive" RSS reader market turned into a monoculture. Today, on the eve of its shutdown, RSS more or less means "Google Reader" to a large fraction of readers, to the extent where even the best feed readers on IOS are just Google Reader clients1.

The sudden shock of Reader's closure will harm a news ecosystem that I already believe to be deeply ill. Google Reader is not just a core part of my information diet - it's also the most direct channel I have to readers of this blog. As of today, the Reader subscriber count for corte.si stands at about 3 times the total number of other subscribers combined. Some of these readers will migrate to other services and stay in touch, but many will inevitably abandon the idea of direct subscription to blogs entirely. In the next few months, tens of thousands of small blogs will lose direct contact with a large fraction of their readers.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:56 PM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


would someone please make it simple and safe to migrate to open source apps that are not evil for those of us who are not computer wizards
posted by dougiedd at 11:57 PM on March 13, 2013


...remember to spitefully block Google's cookies as revenge.

You can also start using something like the disconnect plugins to block their tracking requests altogether, and let them know that your browsing habits are none of their business. If they want that info they can pay me in the form of free useful services.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:00 AM on March 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


barnacles: "I've never used Reader and despite having a pretty techie background, I've never really figured out how to make RSS work as part of my online life."

You know how folks are posting stats pointing out just how many stories they read via Reader? It's almost the opposite for me - Reader (and RSS in general) saved me from reading millions of things. I can just skim over the thousands of unread posts from hundreds of sources and pick just the things that looked interesting to read in depth. For most others, just reading the headline was enough - "Oh ok that's a thing that took place. Next?" In a way it is my personal internet-wide metafilter, made up of sources that I pick. No social media/twitter/buzzfeed is ever going to replace that.

Anyway, in short Google can get fucked.
posted by vanar sena at 12:00 AM on March 14, 2013 [18 favorites]


xkcd: 324,329!!!
Guaranteed to be the topic of Friday's comic.

In fact, Diesel Sweeties (10,529 subscribers) has it as today's comic topic: "Go Plus Yourself"

I had just started the other day to add more folders to better keep track of things. My stats: "From your 1,065 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 20,624 items, clicked 3,033 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items. Since December 24, 2011 you have read a total of 300,000+ items." Anybody else in four figures for current feeds?

Yeah, migrating is gonna be a breeze. With no day job and almost 110 days to do it, I should just make it. First I have to decide whether to OldReader, Newsblur, Thunderbird, or something on my web server.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:02 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Among the many other things to feel incredibly bad about, I feel especially incredibly bad for Mr. Oliver Fürniß.

He's this amazing software developer who makes the Mr. Reader app for iOS, a brilliant and underrated program that replicates the functionality of Google Reader (using Google's back-end) in a beautiful and useful interface with tons of innovative features. He's a super-nice guy, very responsive to email queries, industrious with the implementation of new features, etc. It's such a deeply shitty move to just wreck everybody like him who builds stuff reliant on Reader to function.

Goddamn, $48 BILLION cash on hand and you can't find a way to make this work?!
posted by Rhaomi at 12:07 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The best Google Reader replacements
posted by stbalbach at 12:21 AM on March 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


I will pay a hefty monthly subscription fee for a replacement. Piping mad about this. Please make a metafilter clone happen. Please.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:25 AM on March 14, 2013


Then I started crying: Hitler was saying exactly what I was feeling, and I had to try really hard not to wake the babies up with my sobbing.

Metafilter: Hitler was saying exactly what I was feeling..
posted by empath at 12:25 AM on March 14, 2013 [21 favorites]


I don't think NewsBlur has been getting quite enough love in this thread. So I'll add mine! They are getting absolutely creamed right now, unfortunately, but hey, as far as I know it's a one-man show.

NewsBlur, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
  1. More or less Google Reader functionality. The interface is a bit busier and a little more obtuse, but whatever.
  2. Old Google Reader-style post sharing and other social stuffs
  3. It's open source! If you really want to, you can just install it on your own server, but I imagine you don't get the social features that way. Plus, server administration, yuck.
  4. No BS ad-based or freemium model. It's $12 a year. I pay more than that for lunch some days. There are free accounts, but they're limited enough that it's clearly a trial to see if you like it or not, and not something anyone would actually use.
  5. You can save your favorite entries to a public, Tumblr-style blog.
  6. Free iOS and Android apps! I don't actually use these though so I can't vouch for their quality.
There are also a bunch of features I don't even scratch the surface of because I'm not really an RSS power user, but I've been sold on it for awhile now.

re: The Old Reader, I tried it for awhile but it felt to me like a couple of web developers said "I know! Let's do Google Reader, but with post sharing still in!", knocked it out in a weekend, and were done with it. Last I checked it was still missing some polish and functionality, and it seemed a bit fiddly. I actually ended up moving back to Google Reader until I found NewsBlur. (Because really, the writing's been on the wall for awhile, especially after Google removed the social features in favor of Google+.)
posted by neckro23 at 12:26 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I will subsidize the free users. Just, please.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:33 AM on March 14, 2013


Engadget. A blog you might have heard about. Subscribers? 6,604,967
posted by Rhaomi at 12:34 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just tried NewsBlur it seem broke at 3:40am EST is it really that much traffic?
posted by stbalbach at 12:40 AM on March 14, 2013


I suspect I'm part of the problem: a heavy Reader user until a few years ago, now I barely ever touch it, even though the bookmark is still right there in my top bar. When I was actively blogging, Reader was absolutely essential and I lived and breathed its keyboard shortcuts. Like many here are saying, it was the way into the web.

But then Twitter happened, and my interests morphed, and when I open Reader now, I see an overwhelming number of subscriptions to sites that are either abandoned or don't necessarily interest me that much any more. I've tried to weed them out, but every time I got sucked into a weird nostalgic sinkhole and I never managed to regain a clean setup I liked. Just hitting "Mark all as read" doesn't begin to address the clutter in there, and deleting everything seemed to defeat the purpose.

So instead, I click over to my Twitter feed, where I'm guaranteed to find something curious/funny/interesting/worthwhile within seconds. Now, I realize I'm benefiting from aggregators who are almost certainly using Reader to find the stuff they're tweeting, but I'm grateful I don't have to do the heavy sifting myself. I suppose that makes me a second-hand Reader user, and I'd respectfully ask Google not to take this essential tool from the people who make my social feeds so damn interesting.
posted by muckster at 1:14 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


From your 3 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 0 items, clicked 0 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since January 14, 2010 you have read a total of 19 items.
posted by Neale at 1:17 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


This sums it up--I'm one of the Declining Readers:

From your 157 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 4 items, clicked 0 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items.

Since October 7, 2005 you have read a total of 257,896 items.

posted by muckster at 1:24 AM on March 14, 2013


I've read a few things saying that this will open up the market for RSS readers again - Google killed it's competitors off, but now the giant is dead so they can flourish once more. I hope this is right. I love Twitter, but it's not the same as reading my feeds, and I'm trying to get untangled from the festering swamp that is Facebook.
posted by harriet vane at 1:29 AM on March 14, 2013


Is anyone else having issues with The Old Reader? I mean, the issues are totally understandable because they've probably had 50,000 new sign-ups today - but at the moment the most recent item on my "All" page is from 7 hours ago. That can't be right, the internet moves faster than that. In particularly, some recent Metafilter posts haven't seemed to have come through. I guess they're just swamped and not pulling in feeds as fast as they should?

I am on Newsblur as well, but the colour-coding of "importance" or whatever adds a bit of cruft I'm not entirely happy with.

Also, sorry, omegar. I didn't mean to make you cry. Neither did Hitler.
posted by Jimbob at 1:36 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


This day has been coming for a while: the day when Google completes the transition in my mind from being an "interesting organisation that does cool stuff" to "just another great big company".

For some people they hit that threshold years ago, for others they still have a few months or years to go, but it seems certain that they're never again going to regain the support and enthusiasm they had before.

So, the race is on to be "the next Google". On your marks, get set, go.
posted by dickasso at 1:58 AM on March 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


USENET's still running. It's a morass of spam, many ISPs block it because piracy/paedoterrorists, and there's nobody to actually talk to with the exception of the few radioactive mutants crazy enough to stick around.

Though also there are RSS feeds there: Gwene, from Lars Magne Ingebrigtsen of Gmane fame, providing an RSS-to-NNTP portal with open-sourced software.

To any developers working on RSS stuff: it would be cool if new solutions could provide a benefit like what lattiboy describes with all feed retrieval by the client going through a single domain, not only for evading filters but to make it easier to prevent people snooping on the network from knowing what you're reading. And it would be extra super cool if whatever underlying system stores the feed data could do peer-to-peer replication like NNTP servers do, to make determining which people are reading which items all the more untraceable. Also, can I have a pony?
posted by XMLicious at 2:01 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


radioactive mutants are fucking rad
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 2:12 AM on March 14, 2013


In fact, Diesel Sweeties (10,529 subscribers) has it as today's comic topic: "Go Plus Yourself"

I read that, thought "oh, this looks interesting, let me add that too Google Re - oh, wait."
posted by Karmeliet at 2:27 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


as a company we’re pouring all of our energy into fewer products...

...PRODUCTS SUCH AS THIS TALKING SHOE.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:34 AM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


From your 147 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 6,927 items, clicked 7 items, starred 15 items, and emailed 2 items.
Since December 9, 2009 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.

Admittedly, that's down on both subscriptions and clicks, since I no longer have to run a legal current awareness service but while I am furious now, I'd probably have expired on the spot if I was still a law librarian.

Urgh. Those that the gods wish to destroy, first make Google Reader users...
posted by halcyonday at 2:39 AM on March 14, 2013


In an unusual turn of events, there is not a single word of Hitler's that I disagree with.
posted by jaduncan at 2:49 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


From your 95 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 2,779 items, clicked 389 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 6 items.
Since April 17, 2007 you have read a total of 300,000+ items

Reader is (was?) a constantly open tab; a path for all (all) of my internet browsing and reading. I have no desire to move away and am completely frustrated that 6 years! of history and favourites have to be dumped.

Going through my stars and saving the good ones. Angrily. Very very angrily.
posted by olya at 2:52 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two of my reader stats:
1 - Since gMarch 28, 2008 you have read a total of 22,767 items.
2 - Over the last 30 days you read 1,583 items, and starred 187 items.

Migration is going to be a PITA, because I don't know for SURe that whomever/whatever I migrate to is going to recall all of the subscriptions and the starred items.

::sigh::

Google, might think that only a vocal minority uses the service, but I have a feeling that the vocal minority may just make more noise than Google was expecting.

Why did I forget that *I* was the product. Why?

Oh yeah I was seduced by the convenience.
posted by Faintdreams at 3:34 AM on March 14, 2013


There's a petition on change.org to keep Google Reader running.
posted by Houstonian at 3:57 AM on March 14, 2013


Blatant self link:

I'm throwing together a website to campaign to save Reader, or at least let everyone know about the alternatives. Follow @savereader to be notified.
posted by mmoncur at 3:57 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why would you want them to save it? They are fucking idiot millionaires.
posted by lslelel at 4:11 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


But they need to focus their resources on their Magic Cars and CyberMonocles!

(I'm a Reeder user, so it's easy for me to forget that that's basically a front-end to GReader. It does look like an opportunity for a lot of people, as long as they can code really, really fast.)
posted by Grangousier at 4:15 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


*eyes the 8672 emails in Gmail inbox and 177,672 read items since 2005 in Reader*

*sighs*

I've been feeling a creeping sense of insecurity about my over-reliance on Google products for a while now. Time to get serious about it and start investigating paid alternatives.

Now all those breathless SF stories from the early 2000's about 'checking your feeds in your HUD' seem quite bittersweet. We'll get the HUD, eventually, but it'll have nothing but snarky tweets and Buzzfeed lists in it.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:16 AM on March 14, 2013


If I'm going to have to check my feeds in Google Glass eventually, I'll bump into utility poles and fall down open manholes all the time. No thanks.
posted by Harald74 at 4:28 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Even after sleeping on this news, I'm not really feeling any better about it. My internet-consuming habits are going to change, and I don't even know how.
posted by dobi at 4:32 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Old Reader is apparently ramping up capacity as fast as they can and is going to add paid accounts. All I want is reliable syncing, otherwise I guess I'll go back to just reading feeds on a desktop RSS reader. This will probably make me more productive, but considerably less well informed.

I think there will come a tipping point when enough business bullshit has been spun about 'reoptimising our product spread', all of which is essentially to cover the fact that no free service will ever stick around for the truly long haul, that eventually paying for things will come back into vogue and we'll be able to have nice things again, like investigative journalism and emails without ads in them.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:42 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just tried NewsBlur it seem broke at 3:40am EST is it really that much traffic?

Yes. There's a stat screen when you login.

I'm pretty sure that's more than 10x the free users and at LEAST 2x the premiums overnight. And the graphs are also showing that the team has gotta turn up some more firepower. (The Team is one guy, who is keeping a sense of humor about it, but adding servers usually isn't as simple as clicking some buttons on a control panel. ESPECIALLY the first time)
posted by DigDoug at 4:44 AM on March 14, 2013


Greader (my personal Reader frontend of choice) intends to keep going post-Reader, which is nice to hear. And not just because I gave them money.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:55 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember when I *bought* FeedDemon and juggled a billion RSS feeds on my own.

Then NewsGator bought them out and migrated it all to their Enterprise Aggregation Service. But God bless him, Nick Bradbury got all paid users a free subscription to NewsGator's sync services.

When NewsGator announced they were killing sync, Nick added a Google Reader sync feature - and I begrudgingly accepted there were no other alternatives. I almost even liked their web interface.

I then ended up buying aggregators for a number of platforms - Series60, Windows Mobile, Android, iPhone, iPad, Mac. All of them hooked into Google for their sync services. And now, each of those platforms have a very short amount of time to refocus their entire system to handle the load that Google's farm used to handle.

Sad times. First I missed Jorn Barger. Then watching JHarris' favourites disappear from my inbox. This is like killing off del.icio.us .

I'd like to thank the fine people who made this such a great project while it was around. We'd even set up a hyperlocal newspaper with a few lines of php and some Reader API integration. It was great.
posted by davemee at 5:01 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I also audibly cried out in despair.
posted by angrycat at 5:17 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


From your 135 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 5,717 items, clicked 257 items, starred 1 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since October 8, 2009 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.


This is how love dies. Not with a bang, but with a self-hosted LAMP stack.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:35 AM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


over at The Old Reader, my subscriptions seem to have filtered in, and the problem I had with images not showing in chainsawsuit seems to have corrected itself. On the other hand, newsblur looks slicker. Once things settle down and we find out what The Old Reader's paid subscription will be like, I'll decide which way to go.
posted by jepler at 5:36 AM on March 14, 2013


One possibility that a cursory search here shows hasn't been mentioned is RSS to email. Assuming you can archive, label, sort and search in your email program it could be an alternative. Blogtrottr seems particularly well-documented, full-featured and, most importantly, free, but I'm sure there are plenty of others...
posted by jim in austin at 5:49 AM on March 14, 2013


The thing that makes me the most nervous now is them doing this to Google Docs.

It's been rolled into Google Drive and a fair number of the corporations I have as clients pay Google for email and document services.

I've never heard of Google Reader until today, but then I never was an RSS user. We've had complaints about Safari and Chrome not supporting RSS feeds natively from only one client. Maybe Google is following Apple's Grand Mother policy here and killing things that are too "geeky".
posted by juiceCake at 6:01 AM on March 14, 2013


Some serious mis-steps for Google this year - Google Glass is going to be about as popular as a fart in an elevator. They keep insisting on competing with Facebook with G+ when everyone's moving to Tumblr and Pinterest as Facebook morphs into Myspace: The Sequel. They shoved Rubin aside for the bozo who's failing at ChromeOS. Now they alienate content power-users with this move.

It will pad the bottom line in the short term, but it's poisoning the brand. Also, it may just well spark a cloud-service backlash. Who uses Apple's iCloud? Nobody. They don't trust it after Apple yanked the cloud-service football away once too often.

I think they have a serious problem with strategy and vision.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:01 AM on March 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


jim in austin: how funny would it be if we use that to cleverly replicate Google Reader in Gmail, and then have Gmail disappear 6 years later?
posted by olya at 6:03 AM on March 14, 2013


On the other hand, it would be quite funny if a bunch of us ex-users ended up using Gmail to rehost all of our feeds - with one copy of each post for each of us, it would chomp up the efficiency savings they're making by closing it down.
posted by forgetful snow at 6:10 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Slap*Happy, yes, that's all true... It makes me wonder whether they've assimilated too much ex-Microsoft "talent" and this is a case of you-are-what-you-eat.
posted by dickasso at 6:11 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


It will pad the bottom line in the short term, but it's poisoning the brand. Also, it may just well spark a cloud-service backlash. Who uses Apple's iCloud? Nobody. They don't trust it after Apple yanked the cloud-service football away once too often.

Or at least an insistence to pay for the service, get the contract in writing and make sure that you're the customer, and not the merchandise.
posted by acb at 6:18 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


So is Old Reader just incredibly slow or something? All of my feeds are in, but as of this morning I apparently have 1 unread item on Old Reader, and my Google Reader is showing just under 100 unread items.
posted by never used baby shoes at 6:33 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


From your 89 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 4,870 items, clicked 9 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 13 items.
Since October 27, 2009 you have read a total of 258,239 items.

This is really upsetting me. There seems to be no reason why they're doing this. Submitting Good Noows as a possible replacement. Slow and the post views are wonky, but maybe they'll fix that if enough of us Reader refugees ask nice. It'll take your Reader .xml and import everything too. Unsure yet if I'll stick with it.

The lesson is supposed to be "pay for the shit you use so that this doesn't happen"

F that, I went to bed after hearing about Reader and woke up hearing about JManga (which deserves its own thread). I paid dutifully and I will be left only with an Amazon card for the balance on my account by mid-May. My favorite restaurant could close down forever at the end of the day, even though I was just there this morning, for that matter. Paying for service guarantees nothing. It is not to say that we should never pay as a result (though some do see it that way), just that it isn't a guarantee.
posted by koucha at 6:42 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


www.theoldreader.com I've seen this suggested as a replacement, and I've started the import there as I speak. We'll see how this goes.
As of this post, it appears a bit swamped.

I had no trouble transitioning to feedly last night.
posted by MILNEWSca at 6:43 AM on March 14, 2013


This day has been coming for a while: the day when Google completes the transition in my mind from being an "interesting organisation that does cool stuff" to "just another great big company".

For some people they hit that threshold years ago, for others they still have a few months or years to go, but it seems certain that they're never again going to regain the support and enthusiasm they had before.

So, the race is on to be "the next Google". On your marks, get set, go.


I'd rather there not be a 'next Google'. Online services are never free, but some are very good at hiding costs. Google was pretty good at that. The biggest general mistake we all made was treating it like a free public utility. Those who built entire business models on it are out of luck.

Still, I wish that there was another way - monetizing the service; open sourcing it; rebranding it and integrating it into Google+. If government could sponsor things like this, or just take it over and run it themselves ...
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:44 AM on March 14, 2013


What exactly is the lesson?

Don't trust Google with your data or internet experience.
posted by T.D. Strange at 6:47 AM on March 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


Weird that they didn't just roll Reader into G+.

Having slept on it, I'm looking forward to finding, installing, working with whatever comes next.
posted by notyou at 6:47 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


olya: ...how funny would it be if we use that to cleverly replicate Google Reader in Gmail, and then have Gmail disappear 6 years later?

Given that a gmail address is the universal account identifier across all of Google I would imagine the company would have to fold for it to be eliminated. BTW, I just imported all of my subscriptions into Blogtrottr and it was relatively painless with only a few drops of feeds I had cobbled together inside Reader. We shall see...
posted by jim in austin at 6:48 AM on March 14, 2013


Wait, they're getting rid of CALDAV and Listen, too? WTF?
Google gained its market share by being more useful and less annoying than everyone else. Don't they grasp that?
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:49 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that one of the draws of killing reader is to push bloogers and news sources into advertising via plus instead.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:50 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


No one is going to do that because no one uses Plus.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:52 AM on March 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


RSS feeds aren't "social" enough - it's just you, observing your favourite blogs. Google can't serve advertising to you that way, and they can't use it datamine your social connections. RSS is altogether too private. I'm not surprised that a company that feeds on public information is doing its best to discourage private actions.

I use a stand-alone feed reader installed on my own laptop, and what I subscribe to is my own business. Too old-school for the social web, obviously - where privacy is anti-social, and should be discouraged at every turn.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 6:52 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


If that's the case, then a forced merger of G+ and Reader would have been a lot smarter, wouldn't it?
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:53 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


If that's the case, then a forced merger of G+ and Reader would have been a lot smarter, wouldn't it?

They would essentially have recreated the old Reader product in G+. Ironically, that would have been awesome.
posted by jaduncan at 6:56 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Perhaps the idea is for us to get all of our rage out now so that when they do add watered down social reader-like abilities to G+ we'll all be very very grateful to the google.
posted by goHermGO at 6:56 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Given that a gmail address is the universal account identifier across all of Google I would imagine the company would have to fold for it to be eliminated.

No, Google is already working on fixing that. So, yeah, I can imagine a time when they'll deprecate gmail in favor of G+ Super-circles, where all of your friends can see and participate in your online conversations! Be sure to modify the security settings buried deep in a sub-menu and apply them to the appropriate super-circles if you don't want people to see your electric bill or tax returns.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:57 AM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am seriously puzzled by the killing. I am wondering what the counter arguments were to the following alternatives:
* roll it into g+ and force all the power content users to really use g+ with integration of the social bookmarking
*have people pay for the service. Seriously, I pay for gdrive though it does not work as well as dropbox though I pay for dropbox too
* a new reader app but better. Because if this is the case, why the crappy 3 month notice and lack of migration plan?
*Does the search team use all the data generated from gReader for pagerank? Because if you have a few million power users who are also avaricious content generators or consumers why not mine that data?

For god's sake I put up with gPlay though the damn thing still duplicates files and I can't do a mass dedupe.
posted by jadepearl at 6:57 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I use Reader all the time. It's a tireless butler who bugged all manner of popular web pages, obscure tumblr blogs, and rarely updating webcomics (*cough* VGCats). I have starred items waiting to be experienced since April 2010.

It's the front page of my Internet. It's the Best of my Web. It's what my Internet is talking about right now. It's a directory of my wonderful things.

From your 234 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 5,840 items, clicked 531 items, starred 16 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since November 8, 2007 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.

posted by cyberscythe at 6:58 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think scodger is right. I think Google Currents is a much more likely replacement for Google Reader than Google+ . Though Google Currents is just a mobile app now, they could probably add desktop access and add a skin to give folks a Google Reader like experience on Google Currents.
posted by cnanderson at 6:58 AM on March 14, 2013


Mary Ellen Carter: but Google Reader was social. Until Google killed the social functionality.


In general, if it was the lack of advertising that was the issue, why couldn't they have just inserted an ad every X posts that you read? Should be easy enough, contextual based on the feeds (since I'm sure we all grouped them at least vaguely thematically), and not like anyone would've complained.
posted by olya at 6:59 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've read a few things saying that this will open up the market for RSS readers again - Google killed it's competitors off, but now the giant is dead so they can flourish once more. I hope this is right.

This is the thing that is making me at least somewhat optimistic right now, and the fact that Feedly and The Old Reader and NewsBlur and many others are stepping up to the plate in just 12 hours makes me think "Hey, maybe Google did the right and smart thing for the wrong and stupid reasons."

I mean, think about it: we're now hearing Google was basically holding back RSS innovation for the better part of at least 6 years. 6 years! Now they're releasing their stranglehold on RSS use, letting a bunch of Young Turks take a crack at it, and just maybe making it a better thing. And as an added bonus, they're doing it in a way that (hopefully) strips it of the valid privacy and unauthorized monetization concerns a lot of users have with Google. There might need to be some opt-in or paid support, but this time the users get to make that choice. If Reader really was a product for the diehards, then I feel like a good number of them would make the switch to whatever succeeds it. That's not to say that it doesn't suck or won't be a pain in the ass, but I'm reserving judgement for now.

And I can't say that I'm fully on board with the "WTF is with the magic cars and stupid glasses" complaints either. For instance, if driverless cars can put a noticeable dent into the accident rate, then the reduced healthcare costs and strains on medical service providers as well as sticking it to the insurance industries will pay for itself financially and socially many times over. Sure, I'm less sanguine about Glasses and G+ and some of their other questionable-at-best moves, but they certainly seem to be making more advances and less missteps in, say, the mobile computing world than Apple is in the cloud computing world (as Slap*Happy pointed out), or Microsoft is in the collaborative computing world.

I'm not ready to hold off entirely with the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth until I see what happens with the replacement(s), but I'm thinking optimistically about it. A lot of times, good things come out of companies being greedy and evil. This time Google is on the wrong side (as are Amazon and Apple and Microsoft, each in their own ways), but we may see something better from someone else because they were greedy and evil.

I'd rather there not be a 'next Google'. Online services are never free, but some are very good at hiding costs. Google was pretty good at that. The biggest general mistake we all made was treating it like a free public utility. Those who built entire business models on it are out of luck.

Still, I wish that there was another way - monetizing the service; open sourcing it; rebranding it and integrating it into Google+. If government could sponsor things like this, or just take it over and run it themselves ...


I think Google was in a lose-lose situation here, where if they kept it going but asked for money, a lot of people--likely even some in this thread and others across the web that claim they would have paid for it--would have raised a huge stink about Google preying on their diehard users. And they would have been right in a way, seeing as how Google very much doesn't monetize their app services to most end users. Sure, they'll do it to enterprise users (or more accurately, their companies), or hardware and infrastructure partners like they do with Android, or to the uber-power users who need tons of space or processing power. But once they start down the path of charging for GMail or Drive or relatively low-use services like Reader, then they really would be no different than Microsoft and their increasingly shitty cloud Office and Exchange products.

This is why I disagree with the "this doesn't bode well for GMail/Drive/Chrome/etc" viewpoint. Like I said, Google's core app services aren't going to disappear, at least partially because they're being supported by paid models for enterprise users, with service level agreements and a number of other contractual obligations that pretty much ensure support until Google is going out of business. And Chrome, or more accurately the Chromium project, is open-source, so even in the highly unlikely event Google drops out of it (Microsoft's still maintaining and updating IE, after all), there's still a support community and innovation possibilities. This is true to a point with Android as well, although there's a number of sticky issues with the parts vendors and carriers that present obstacles, but its at least an improvement over the wholly-closed designs of iOS, Windows Phone, and the increasingly irrelevant Blackberry OS.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:03 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Since the decision to dump Reader clearly shows our dependency on Gmail to be a real problem, and both Reader and Gmail can only offer the features they did and do if an infrastructure of Google size is behind them, I submit, in absolute seriousness, that the solution is simple: Nationalize Google. Immediately.

The services provided by Reader and Gmail, like medical care, are too important to be left in the hands of the marketplace.
posted by mwhybark at 7:03 AM on March 14, 2013 [13 favorites]


In general, if it was the lack of advertising that was the issue, why couldn't they have just inserted an ad every X posts that you read?

My impression is that it's not that google couldn't serve ads to the customer, it's that google couldn't sell their advertising products to ad buyers. Google Reader did briefly have ads.
posted by muddgirl at 7:04 AM on March 14, 2013


My routine. Every. Day. Of. My. Life:

1. Wake up.
2. Click Reeder icon on iPad.
3. Wait 15 seconds for feeds to update and cache.
4. Read the Internets.

Then:

1. Go to work.
2. Hit Google Reader in Chrome.
3. Read the Internets.

Knowing that Reader is going away makes me feel weird, like if Google decided to stop using HTTP.

Who's starting the support group? I guess it's already here, on the Blue.
posted by the matching mole at 7:04 AM on March 14, 2013 [14 favorites]



In general, if it was the lack of advertising that was the issue, why couldn't they have just inserted an ad every X posts that you read? Should be easy enough, contextual based on the feeds (since I'm sure we all grouped them at least vaguely thematically), and not like anyone would've complained.


I don't know about you, but I would have complained. I find myself avoiding Facebook's mobile app, because it peppers my feed with large numbers of obnoxiously tawdry ads, suggesting that I install some Zynga-style skinnerbox game app on my phone, or sign up for some online poker site, dubious-looking hookup service or high-interest credit card for people with sketchy credit histories, and then framing those as “Suggested posts”, i.e., if I can't think of what to say about last night's reality-TV programming but need to make up my quota of social chatter, I can tell my friends (who are presumably gullible, sex-starved, compulsively gambling deadbeats like me) about this thing I just saw an ad for.

At least for the desktop browser version, there is Social Fixer. I imagine once W3C have incorporated DRM into the HTML spec, that and ad blocking will be history.
posted by acb at 7:07 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Knowing that Reader is going away makes me feel weird, like if Google decided to stop using HTTP.

I'm just gonna leave this here.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:07 AM on March 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


Since the decision to dump Reader clearly shows our dependency on Gmail to be a real problem, and both Reader and Gmail can only offer the features they did and do if an infrastructure of Google size is behind them, I submit, in absolute seriousness, that the solution is simple: Nationalize Google. Immediately.

One progressive social democracy has plans to do just that. Or rather to give its citizens access to a state-run Google alternative, whether they like it or not.
posted by acb at 7:09 AM on March 14, 2013


There have been two primary things that kept me attached to Reader (and before that Bloglines). The first is persistent state since I read stuff on more than one computer. The second is weird cludgyness between browsing RSS in one application, but wanting to read Web stuff in Chrome or Firefox where I have all my other bookmarking and sharing tools.

But it's been a while since I looked at alternatives. Having come to RSS originally from usenet land, two of the big things I've been missing has been scorefiles and filters.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:13 AM on March 14, 2013


I too migrated from Bloglines a few years ago. Bloglines became unusable after MerchantCircle bought it, and I've grown to like Google.

It's like Delcious all over again.

Pinboard to offer a paid RSS reader? Here's hoping.

Also, is this linked to Google scrapping iGoogle?
posted by DanCall at 7:14 AM on March 14, 2013


Slap*Happy, the IETF has adopted SPDY as the basis of its HTTP 2.0 specification.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:14 AM on March 14, 2013


I'm just gonna leave this here.

The companies and products listed under "Browser support and usage" and "Server support and usage" for SPDY is telling, as much for the conspicuously absent as those included.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:15 AM on March 14, 2013


I remember just a few years ago when it was exciting to hear what Google was doing next. Lately, every story about them is a terrible one.
posted by callmejay at 7:15 AM on March 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


//In general, if it was the lack of advertising that was the issue, why couldn't they have just inserted an ad every X posts that you read? //

Google killed Adsense for Feeds back in October. That was the huge flashing warning sign for me that Reader was on a death watch.
posted by COD at 7:20 AM on March 14, 2013


Someone get on that Whitehouse petition site, and start a petition requiring Obama to issue an executive order mandating Google Reader's continued existence.

With the demise of Reader, and the removal of Adblocking software from the Play store, it looks like Google is finally turning on its users. It used to be about doing the best for them, and now it's doing the best for itself.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:27 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


[Well, I seriously think a ReadMe service makes a lot of of sense for Metafilter Inc. Mefi is best of the web, a Meta branded RSS reader would be the tool to find it, with built-in sharing, "locally" social stuff, maybe even collaborative posting to the Blue, etc. A few hundred people would pay something for it, it seems like. But I guess it's not likely, is it?]

Anyway, I'm trying Feedly today, and I like what I see so far. It's very graphical in its default settings, but that 's very customizable, and the help pages, the keyboard shortcuts, and even the communications about the Reader shutdown seem...cool...and confidence inspiring.
posted by Mngo at 7:30 AM on March 14, 2013


COD: Jeez, if I noticed that at least I'd have emotionally prepared. I couldn't even recall it having ads, ever. (And I don't have ad block).
posted by olya at 7:31 AM on March 14, 2013


I am unhappy about this, so I moved out of Chrome. Hoping I can move out of more of the ecosystem soon. Despite the convenience of having my mail, search, calendar and feeds in one place, I don't want to become too dependent on one company like this again.
posted by dragonplayer at 7:32 AM on March 14, 2013


I'm sad, but it's really heartening to see how many people are just as upset as me. Or seemingly moreso; one Redditor said he'd had relationships end that didn't hurt as bad as this. Personally I'm trying Feedly, where at least the keyboard shortcuts are the same. Also, here is a comic I wrote about the Reader closure yesterday night.
posted by Monster_Zero at 7:34 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Despite All My Rage, I’m Still Just a Rat in Google’s Cage
...Google never really embraced Reader the way it has Gmail or Google+. It was updated infrequently to make it work with Google+ or to look more like other Google apps, and every time something was changed the small userbase made a stink. Long-time Reader users saw the writing on the wall–Google either updates a product regularly or they shut it down–but it’s hard to compete with free, so few other services rose up to take on Reader.

Which leads us to today, and the panic that accompanied Google’s announcement of Reader’s July 1 end date (here’s an 800+ comment thread at the Verge for a taste). Reader is one of those products that isn’t used casually. I’m a good example of the average Reader user: almost everything that I read on the Internet in a given day originates from a feed I read in Reader. People are wondering why a company that throws billions into free services like Gmail and Google+ couldn’t spend a few bucks on this particular free service.

I guess I should be pissed, too, but I’m not, for a couple of reasons. First, Google has an initiative called “Takeout” that lets you export your data from Google services, and the Takeout for Reader will let me take far more data than I want. As long as Google gives enough notice when it sunsets a service, and gives me the ability to get my data back, then I’m not going to bitch when they shut off a free ride. Second, all the little services and software packages that were dying on the vine are now going to make a grab for the (for them) huge Reader market (here’s one set of alternatives). There are also some really well designed Reader clients on mobile platforms (Press on Android is one example), and they are all looking for a sync service, too.

So I’ll be looking for a Reader replacement in the next couple of months, and I’ll probably spend a few bucks on it. Monopoly control by a benevolent dictator was never good for the RSS market, and in a year or so I expect that the RSS reader I’m using will be better in many ways than what Reader is today, because it will be maintained by a few people who are passionate about creating the best RSS reader around, rather than a big company that stopped giving a shit about RSS long ago.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:39 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


//In general, if it was the lack of advertising that was the issue, why couldn't they have just inserted an ad every X posts that you read? //

Google killed Adsense for Feeds back in October. That was the huge flashing warning sign for me that Reader was on a death watch.


The reason for this is that ads in feeds almost never get clicked. Ask some website owners. Those ads wildly underperform.
posted by srboisvert at 7:41 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fuck fuck fuckity FUCK!

From your 160 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 1,676 items, clicked 81 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since July 9, 2008 you have read a total of 216,035 items.

I'm super annoyed.

Feedly or NewsBlur? I need to know immediately.

Damn it all to hell.
posted by Sophie1 at 7:44 AM on March 14, 2013


I'm extremely upset by this, but I can see the logic from Google's perspective. Their core business is selling advertising. Google Reader was a way to consume the web without advertising. As traditional Web advertising is in decline they probably asked themselves why they were providing a way to read the Web that interfered with their core business. At a most basic level they probably said, "those eyeballs should be viewing our ads."

That logic ignores the value of knowing what people are reading, what they find interesting, and having people look to Google as their main source of information. Not to mention the idea of making knowledge from disparate sites with wildly different designs extremely accessible in a single interface. Their mission statement is: "Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful." I think Reader was doing that perfectly, and I wonder if their core business is at odds with their mission.
posted by pb at 7:54 AM on March 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


I hopped to Feedly today. In Chrome (sigh, I know, I know). It looks like it'll work for me.

So if RSS is for The Olds, how do younger people keep track of all of the websites and their content? Do they visit Lifehacker once or twice a day (like the old days) and just scroll/click around? Do they follow Lifehacker's Twitter and hunt the tweets down as they're jumbled with everything else? Or do they "Like" the Facebook page and hope all of the updates come through to their wall?

There must be something big I'm missing, but readers keep everything in one place so I don't need to chase Tweets or find each site's FB page every day. It seems like a step backward to go return to having to visit multiple pages every day.
posted by kimberussell at 7:58 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


So if RSS is for The Olds, how do younger people keep track of all of the websites and their content?

Most websites (at least that I visit) are automatically syndicated on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.
posted by griphus at 8:02 AM on March 14, 2013



So if RSS is for The Olds, how do younger people keep track of all of the websites and their content? Do they visit Lifehacker once or twice a day (like the old days) and just scroll/click around? Do they follow Lifehacker's Twitter and hunt the tweets down as they're jumbled with everything else? Or do they "Like" the Facebook page and hope all of the updates come through to their wall?


From what I gather, following links from Twitter, and those updates from Facebook pages that the owners have deigned to ransom.

Does Tumblr have any sort of aggregation facilities, or do you have to visit all your favourite Tumblrs individually?
posted by acb at 8:02 AM on March 14, 2013


Tumblr has a central feed page (the dashboard) like all the other social network sites.
posted by griphus at 8:03 AM on March 14, 2013


Lifehacker has suggestions for anyone looking for alternatives.
posted by Boxenmacher at 8:03 AM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


I am old.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:03 AM on March 14, 2013


Google turned into AOL so gradually, none of us noticed.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:09 AM on March 14, 2013 [26 favorites]


Since FeedDemon is reportedly dying along with Google Reader (since the last few versions depend on Google Reader web services), are there any other decent standalone options replacements available? After this experience, I think I'd prefer a locally installed desktop application for feed aggregation. (Not that that would necessarily prevent future problems if those also depend on a single set of services to provide syndicated RSS content, I guess, but dammit, this really sucks...)
posted by saulgoodman at 8:10 AM on March 14, 2013


The short notice is also out of character.

Yeah, that's odd. I think google have given much more than three months' notice for other things that they've killed. Why the short notice in this case?
posted by klausness at 8:11 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I used to read my feeds in iGoogle and when that vanished in a puff of smoke I moved to netvibes, which today is displaying a pop-up message: "please bear with us as we work hard to handle a huge amount of new users."
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:12 AM on March 14, 2013


Would it be kosher to start a MetaTalk thread where we all post our Newsblur handles?
posted by Municipal Hare at 8:14 AM on March 14, 2013


Perhaps it could wait a while, at least until the major feed sites all stop shitting themselves from the traffic. So far, only Feedly has managed to import my feeds. NewsBlur keeps erroring out, and The Old Reader has just given up for now. Is there an easy way to import into NetVibes, because I'm not seeing it.
posted by griphus at 8:21 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Feedly is my first post-Reader date. We're having a great morning together, so far.

And Feedly is definitely cuter.
posted by notyou at 8:23 AM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


every time I pick up my nexus 4 it's a reminder of how much google hates me now.
posted by boo_radley at 8:25 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Regardless of other products that might arise, Google Reader was the only one availble since Google isn't blocked from work.
Dammit. How will I internet?
posted by Theta States at 8:26 AM on March 14, 2013


Sorry to all the people I've gotten to use Google products. I apologize. I was wrong.
posted by mike_bling at 8:31 AM on March 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think google have given much more than three months' notice for other things that they've killed. Why the short notice in this case?

I'm wondering that too. It makes little sense given how many people love the product. It's also kind of shitty, since it doesn't give other companies a lot of time to get their act together to provide an alternative. It's interesting that Feedly says "This is something we have been expecting for some time". Maybe they were just reading the writing on the wall, or maybe someone from Google tipped them off. Either way it's awfully good for them today that they can step in and offer seamless migration. If Reeder.app can use Feedly's backend, I'll definitely become a Feedly customer.
posted by Nelson at 8:39 AM on March 14, 2013


Matt has said he'd be willing to leave MetaFilter to join a startup working to save RSS. Let's talk about it.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:40 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


So is Old Reader just incredibly slow or something? All of my feeds are in, but as of this morning I apparently have 1 unread item on Old Reader, and my Google Reader is showing just under 100 unread items.

I'm noticing the same thing, but I think it's probably because they're so damn swamped by Google Reader users making the switch, rather than a systemic problem.

The short notice is also out of character.

Indeed, they've been telling people about the end of iGoogle for at least a year, if not longer. I don't know why the notice for Reader is so short.
posted by asnider at 8:46 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the worst thing ever. Seriously.
posted by chunking express at 8:47 AM on March 14, 2013


Since May 4, 2008 you have read a total of 295,393 items.

What? So close! Although this was not the first google account I used reader on, so I'll just count it as 300+ anyways.
posted by R a c h e l at 8:50 AM on March 14, 2013


So if RSS is for The Olds, how do younger people keep track of all of the websites and their content?

I wonder if it's a difference in mindset about What's On The Internet. I've been apparently using Reader since 2006, at which point you could realistically consume "all" of the RSS information on your topics of interest. The internet, at that point in time, was very enabling to completists like myself. Now, my Reader unread count is always at 1000+ unless I wipe it all in RSS bankruptcy (usually happens around the New Year).

If I were just coming to the internet today, I expect my mindset would be much looser.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:55 AM on March 14, 2013


I always figured google was either naive or dishonest with their "Don't be evil" and "we just make cool stuff" rhetoric. They were probably naive, and are now coming to grips with the actualities of running a company beholden to shareholders who's interest do not necessarily coincide with "Don't be evil". I think they should change the motto to something like "Whatever it takes to get that cash" or risk being dishonest.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:00 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


So if RSS is for The Olds, how do younger people keep track of all of the websites and their content?

Buzzfeed and Facebook, probably.
posted by asnider at 9:02 AM on March 14, 2013


Google Reader lived on borrowed time: creator Chris Wetherell (MeFi's own massless) reflects. Chris says a lot more than I can about how Google never really gave Google Reader much love.

FWIW, I think Blogger is somewhat in the same boat. Blogger is a hugely successful project in its way and once they started counting the traffic correctly internally folks recognized that it was an important asset to Google. I don't think Blogger is in any danger of being shut down. But it still doesn't get much love or attention from Google executives. It's had development but mostly thanks to engineers who love the project and fought to work on it, not as part of any grand strategy.

When I was at Google (2001–2006) I did my best internal politicking to make the company realize how important blogs were. Many of the early employees didn't know much about the blog world; part of why I was so excited for Google to acquire Blogger was that it would bring some blog DNA into the company. But that DNA has mostly been rejected. And sadly blogs themselves have mostly faded; I think to most people "blog" now means "online journalism site with 30+ low quality ad-stuffed articles a day".

Gmail and Google Docs won't be shut down. Neither will Blogger I don't think. But I sure feel bad for anyone who depends on Google Groups, I wouldn't count on it existing (even in its current ænemic form) much longer. I also wonder about Picasa and Panoramio. And I wouldn't build anything new on old-style Google AppEngine. It's funny how many of the things on the Google Products list are already end-of-life. I still think shutting down moribund projects is good discipline, but it sure is painful.
posted by Nelson at 9:04 AM on March 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Ooo, burn - Reader drives more traffic to Buzzfeed than Google Plus, by a considerable margin.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:04 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


If I were just coming to the internet today, I expect my mindset would be much looser.

The sipper/gulper distinction is helpful here: I don't really care if I ever get to everything in my RSS (impossible, I think, at this point), but I like knowing what's there.
posted by kagredon at 9:04 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm still in shock.

From your 151 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 3,018 items, clicked 265 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items.

Since October 7, 2005 you have read a total of 195,859 items.

I'm guessing I used it before then even, but that they've thrown away stats older than that date.
posted by togdon at 9:07 AM on March 14, 2013


For instance, if driverless cars can put a noticeable dent into the accident rate,

Make no mistake about it. Driverless cars are so Google can stop paying people to drive around taking pictures for street view.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:07 AM on March 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


I wonder if it's a difference in mindset about What's On The Internet. I've been apparently using Reader since 2006, at which point you could realistically consume "all" of the RSS information on your topics of interest.

I feel like I'm between generations then. On the one hand I have sites I skim, and for those I Sort By Magic so Reader just shows the stuff I tend to like the most at the top, or I look at MeFi or Twitter or Pinterest or sites like that.

But my serial webcomics?! I must see them all and I must see them in order! What other than RSS accomplishes this? Certainly not Twitter; that would show them to me backwards. I don't care if TwoKinds or pictures for sad children or Teahouse or I Do Not Have An Eating Disorder updates regularly, and I'm not going to organize my schedule around the comics who do (though I do so love tri-weekly Namesake updates and Sunday Postsecrets). I should be able to go look in my comics folder and say, "Ooh! New Al'Rashad strip!" just sitting there on my doorstep.
posted by heatherann at 9:10 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


FWIW:

Feedly seems to be the exact opposite of what I'm looking for. I've heard there might be plugins that make it look more streamlined, but... just no.

Netvibes is pretty freaking close. If there were some way to detach the Widgets from the Reader itself, It would be an almost perfect replication of the iGoogle/Reader synergy - I don't necessarily want stuff in my reader showing up in widget, and vice-versa. But maybe there's a way to accomplish this that I haven't figured out yet.
posted by muddgirl at 9:18 AM on March 14, 2013


Newsblur seems awfully animated. Haven't been able to access my account proper, but the look of the app in general makes me worry there won't be a way to disable all the sliding and spinning graphics and other bits which I find a bit headachey.
posted by Lorin at 9:30 AM on March 14, 2013


NewsBlur has been importing my feeds for about two hours now. Not sure when I give up on it.
posted by octothorpe at 9:30 AM on March 14, 2013


I have a feeling that if it takes longer than the thirty seconds the other sites take, the problem isn't the importing.
posted by griphus at 9:33 AM on March 14, 2013


Probably dumb question, but is there a way I can register with The Old Reader without using my Google or Facebook login?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:33 AM on March 14, 2013


After a couple tweaks I was able to get Feedly to look and feel almost like Reader. The import took seconds.

I changed the preferences to mark items as read as I scrolled, the default view to Full Articles and the theme to black. It is clean, full of information and easy to navigate.

I can't believe I'm saying this but I think that I would have switched over to Feedly from Reader anyway if I had known it existed before today.
posted by Tevin at 10:00 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Insightful comment:
The end of Google Reader is part of a larger trend. In the 1990’s, people used email, Usenet, and IRC ­– all open standards that anyone could freely implement. Now, people have migrated to Facebook, web forums (increasingly controlled by companies like Facebook and Disqus), and Twitter. For web radio, mp3 streams are being replaced by smartphone apps and flash players. When Google Reader was developed, Google saw open web feeds as the future. Now, Google+ and proprietary Android apps are the future, and technology based on the open standard of web feeds is discarded.

For video, most streaming is controlled by companies like Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Hulu, and Google. Netflix alone decides whether you are allowed to watch their video streams on your computer. Google controls development of the Flash player on Linux, and they will no longer update it for any browser except Chrome.

Before 1995, the U.S. backbone of the Internet was operated by the National Science Foundation, which “inherited the responsibility for nurturing the U.S. Internet from the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA)”. The Internet was operated, and improved, through the collaboration of researchers, academics, scientists, engineers, and computer programmers. Bill Clinton decommissioned the NSFNET Backbone Service and turned the Internet over to private corporations. The earlier ethos of openness – which gave us freedom to control our computers and our communication – continued to exist for some time, but now corporations are casting openness aside as they seek to lock us into their proprietary platforms.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:03 AM on March 14, 2013 [21 favorites]


Well, how do you like that? Google seems to be determined to destroy its former reputation for not being driven purely by commercial interests and the bottom line all in a single gluttonous orgy of bad PR:

Google Boots Ad Blockers from its Google Play Store
posted by saulgoodman at 10:04 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just tried to migrate to Bloglines but the "Migrate Now" button isn't working. Did we break it?
posted by michellenoel at 10:05 AM on March 14, 2013


Alvy Ampersand: "Probably dumb question, but is there a way I can register with The Old Reader without using my Google or Facebook login?"

According to their latest blog post, not yet, but they're looking into it.
posted by Happy Dave at 10:06 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why Reader's sunset period is so much shorter than iGoogle's. iGoogle will still be around for several months more by the time Reader is gone, and we've known of iGoogle's impending demise for ages now.

So by the end of the year, the two Google products that have made my life easier the most will be gone. :\
posted by Gordafarin at 10:06 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


An interesting proposal from Casey Johnson at Ars Technica: Google Reader may very well rise again… as part of Google+

This has always seemed like an obvious fit to me Reader and +. I've never understood why Google hasn't leveraged it more, especially after removing the sharing features from Reader. Plus would need a significant amount of interface improvements, but it seems a possible, even optimal migration route to me.
posted by bonehead at 10:07 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bloglines is probably the worst RSS aggregator out there (my own experience - clumsy interface, useless support). You would be better off with one of the other sites listed in this thread.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 10:10 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd just like to say that I probably wouldn't pay to keep Reader going, because I just don't have that money to spare regularly. Free services dying like this when there exist paid alternatives might not be bad to wealthy people, but when you have to count single dollars each month, it's a lot more troublesome.
posted by JHarris at 10:16 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Heh. If they did good Reader import, I'd actually use G+.
posted by klangklangston at 10:25 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing is, if Google was planning to integrate Reader into the G+ experience then cutting it loose without explaining the plan creates the FUD. You have people doing a rushed migration instead of planning to stay longer in the G+ lotus eaters realm. Right now, it is a mad scramble for the alternatives that is looking a bit Darwinian on which third party vendor can handle the onslaught and the mad dash of coding.

Seriously, this is a pretty poor way of sweet talking seduction to G+ using Reader as the broker. I mean yeah, "negging" may work under certain seduction schemes but not in this case.
posted by jadepearl at 10:29 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


If Google had decided to force Reader to integrate into G+ I'd have been annoyed (because G+ is super annoying) but it would have made sense and I probably would have eventually come around to like it. My entire Twitter feed has been filled with my people complaining about the demise of Reader and saying, basically, let's all get onto the same new site so we can SHARE again. We all have at least nominal, if largely unused, accounts on G+ so if we'd have had to go there we'd be sharing tons of stuff and Boom, There's Yer Social for Google.

So this shut down is particularly painful. Not only do I have to figure out a whole new way to, basically, Internet (because for me Reader IS how I interact with the internet more than 75% of the time), I think people who read and talk about very interesting things are going to be even more scattered than they could have been. You'll note that "Hey, didn't you just say you're all on Twitter?" which is true but it's not the same kind of sharing and discussion at all. I suspect I'll end up at Feedly (though I use Reeder on my phone and iPad so if they get their back end running that could also work) but for now I'm holding out a bit to see where my friends end up.

I need RSS feeds to survive online. I want a web-based way of interacting with them so they're synced across all my devices and computers. I want a decent interface that lets me organize feeds into folders or by tag. I want to be able to bookmark things (my habit is to scan everything, star things I want to actually read and then operate from within my Starred Items. I don't keep things there for much more than a week usually - I do save things to Evernote or Readability). I want to be able to share with specific people or groups of people and comment on things they share.

This is truly the first time I've felt this anger over the death of the open web. So I guess maybe that's a good thing to come out of it (though I'm not a developer or someone who can fix things, I'm just a sort of advanced user/cheerleader).
posted by marylynn at 10:29 AM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think I'm going to try NewsBlur once they recover from the onslaught.
posted by michellenoel at 10:31 AM on March 14, 2013


(Unofficial) Google Operating System post on Google Reader stats. Highlights:

- most popular feed (CNN) has more than 24 million subscribers

- Google's official feed has more than tripled its subscription base since 2007

- 87% of (U)GOS readers come from Google Reader

- According to Google Trends, search interest in Google Reader climbed steadily throughout 2008, 2009, 2010 and plateaued in 2011, seeing only a slight decline (plateauing at 2009 levels) only after they fucked up its social sharing systems.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:35 AM on March 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


I personally don't buy the "world is moving to proprietary tools" reasoning. Facebook is huge, but it's mostly used by people who stay in Facebook and don't use other things. You can tap into that market, but you're not going to get much out of it, because most of the people who use Facebook only use Facebook.

Meanwhile the whole ecosystem of other sites and blogs and such still exists, and a lot of them disdain Facebook. Just because a horde of technophobes use it doesn't mean that any of us have to, and it doesn't mean that a single one of us have to stop doing anything we like because of it. I personally almost never check my Facebook page; I had a birthday three weeks ago and only yesterday noticed I had gotten birthday wishes on it. Facebook is a wasteland of game requests, obnoxious image macros, and clueless opinions from friends who barely know how to use email. I have one friend who regularly spouts wingnut talking points that Facebook assumes I want to read, but unfriending him carries social connotations far beyond just not seeing his stuff. I HATE it. I want Facebook to DIE. I don't want to hear about the minutiae of my friends' lives online; I'd much rather hear about that stuff in person, the rare times I see them. There are a couple of people on there I like hearing from who I've never met in person, but I have to wade through a lot of other comments to see them, and I'd much rather just see everything those people write rather than rely on Facebook's capricious algorithm to determine if I should see them or not.

RSS certainly isn't dead, judging from the hundreds of feeds I have in my own Reader account. I'm not sure if Reader imported into Google+ would work, by the way, one of Reader's biggest features is its clean, simple interface. Google+ doesn't have that because it wants to do a lot more than serve feeds. It wants to be Facebook mostly and that's just not how Reader does things.
posted by JHarris at 10:46 AM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


You don't miss your water 'til your well runs dry. I hadn't used Reader in ages, but this post made me return to it. I can't believe I could have been using my Internet time like this rather than aimlessly surfing on my own.

Also, speaking as a Young, Facebook is a terrible platform for this kind of browsing. Maybe I have too few Facebook friends for it to work that way, though.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:52 AM on March 14, 2013


but it's mostly used by people who stay in Facebook and don't use other things

This might be a generational thing. My cohort is in their mid-late 20s and if they are using social media, they all cross-contribute between Facebook, Twitter, and/or Tumblr. For some of them Facebook replaced the social aspects of Google Reader - find something interesting on reader, share it immediately on Facebook.
posted by muddgirl at 10:53 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Monetize this, you corporate fuckwads.
posted by Sassenach at 11:04 AM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


After sleeping on this, I think the issue here appears to be that Reader (both by itself and as a proxy for the whole RSS ecosystem) provided a centralized walled garden way to figure out what people are reading and/or thinking about - but not in the way that Google liked. I think they wanted to know all that as well as the social graph of how that information propagates through a userbase.

Here's the thing though - the whole approach is incredibly reductive. I live in San Francisco, and I work in Silicon Valley on Big Data (TM). I'm right in Google/Facebook's sweetspot in terms of being connected and therefore trackable.

And here's the thing: both of these behemoths really don't know shit about me.

All my most important relationships and desires are completely off the radar. They show me ads for minor crap I just bought already - but have near zero insight or leverage on where most of my money actually goes. There's vast swaths of the world that give off even less information.

The whole thing is built on ads, and ebay is now showing that turning off ads makes no real material difference in their business. Something's got to give - we just don't know when. Maybe Reader is the first omen.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 11:13 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


A really good camera-nut site wrote a post about this whole mess:

PSA: If you use any Google Products that don't have Adsense Ads, Start Looking for Plan B

"Google has been able to do this, offer great products for free as a gesture of good will to the internets, because of their size. "You see, we are not evil, we don't have giant databases of everything you did or do or will do - we offer so many great free products, love us, trust us". An individual or a small company cannot survive by offering freebies and expecting goodwill in return to pay their bills. But a big company can - Google is still alive and their stock is bubble-icious."
posted by lattiboy at 11:15 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now the old man is dead we can get some new blood and see some competition and innovation

I DON'T WANT INNOVATION.

The whole point of Reader is that the brains is IN THE ARTICLES, which come from a thousand different writers on a hundred different sites. That's what it's all about. The only thing Google could do with Reader that would be worse than killing it is fuck it up by adding bells and whistles every five seconds to the interface, which is all it is -- an interface. Ideally, the interface completely disappears, and I don't even notice that it's there. That's what was so great about Reader: it actually fulfilled that ideal, almost perfectly. List on the left, content on the right. Content is what I'm after.

The thing that makes Reader so nice, in fact, is that all of the distractions of the nearly infinite number of "innovators" on the web are all stripped away -- all the terrible font choices, all the auto-start videos, all the rotating jizz fountains, all the stupid jump cuts, all the ads and links to beauty secrets and "top 15 guys getting hit in the nuts" videos.

The only innovation I want is more, and more intelligent, people producing good content. That's why I'm so lonely.
posted by Fnarf at 11:15 AM on March 14, 2013 [53 favorites]


Amen. Reader is perfect. It doesn't need innovation. That's why so many people are so heavily dependent on it, why they abhorred the smallest UI changes to it, and why they're so livid now. It works.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:21 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Count me as another person who will have to revamp their internet consumption habits if a decent alternative RSS reader is not available. I'm waiting for an import slot to open up on The Old Reader. But am wondering whether it will have trouble surviving post-Google Reader.
posted by bardophile at 11:24 AM on March 14, 2013


Ugh, I'm glad I still have things in Netnewswire. Sometimes being an old old is useful.
posted by immlass at 11:29 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


lattiboy: "PSA: If you use any Google Products that don't have Adsense Ads, Start Looking for Plan B"

So Google Code is next?
posted by vanar sena at 11:35 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Google seems to be determined to destroy its former reputation

Perhaps it's about time we all stopped treating them like something special. Their founders meant well, but once you become a megacorporation there is only so much you can do to avoid behaving in the ways that megacorporations need you to behave. Best to acknowledge that and focus on getting out of their way.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:35 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


immlass, I'm with you there! Never saw the point of using a web site to read other web sites when I could just use a feed reader app.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:36 AM on March 14, 2013


It's a search engine, not a feed reader but Duck Duck Go has collaborated with ZERO totalitarian governments.
posted by mike_bling at 11:36 AM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


When I went to Newsblur today, I found that overnight they have reduced the number of feeds available to a free account from 64 to an unusably small 12. I don't even use Google reader any more, and now I'm looking for new reader. Thanks, Google.
posted by fogovonslack at 11:39 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm grimly amused by Feedly's plan to use Google App Engine as the platform for their vaunted Reader API replacement. How long till that gets the axe, too?
posted by Rhaomi at 11:43 AM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


fogovonslack: "When I went to Newsblur today, I found that overnight they have reduced the number of feeds available to a free account from 64 to an unusably small 12. I don't even use Google reader any more, and now I'm looking for new reader."

That's a drag. But their subscription fee is a buck. Also, check out the screenshot of their demo feeds I just snapped.

fogovonslack: "Thanks, Google."

Thoogle.
posted by boo_radley at 11:45 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


NewsBlur has also now disabled free sign-ups, temporarily at least. Fever has had its biggest daily sales ever. Emergency plans to bring forward APIs and fee structures are being drawn up. Most sites are falling over under the load.

I think the best course of action is to wait the 3 months for the chaos to die down. Then I'll be able to see what's still available after this trial by fire.
posted by milkb0at at 11:47 AM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


immlass, I'm with you there! Never saw the point of using a web site to read other web sites when I could just use a feed reader app.

Please understand that desktop RSS apps are not equivalent to Google Reader. If you have, as most people do:

1. Home computer
2. Work computer
3. Mobile Phone
4. Tablet

...then any local RSS application isn't going to work. I check my subscriptions on all of the above devices, and I want the status of what I've read or flagged for follow-up to be synchronized between all of the above. Google Reader does this perfectly and, very importantly, has done so between dozens of transitions in each of those four categories with respect to operating system or manufacturer.
posted by odinsdream at 11:49 AM on March 14, 2013 [14 favorites]


I've installed and begun using Feedly. Thanks for the help, MeFites.
posted by Sassenach at 11:51 AM on March 14, 2013


"Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up. It's now all over the map. What are the five products you want to focus on? Get rid of the rest because they're dragging you down. They're turning you into Microsoft. They're causing you to turn out adequate products that are adequate but not great."

I recently went through a feeble Google de-leveraging, I suppose in part because of Jobs' unkind words for the company in his biography. (I also chuckled recently at Jaron Lanier referring with some mystification to all these Web 2.0 companies run by alpha males -- "smartphones are emasculating, watch me jump out of a plane" -- not hapless geeks.)

I use Duck Duck Go as default browser search (except when it sucks, and I have to use Google). And went back to Firefox from Chrome, reluctantly. Would love to find a replacement for Google Calendar and Drive but they're just stupid easy. I only used Reader for a short time; maybe it just felt like more info overload.

Ultimately maybe what started to bug me about Google is that I'd find I was signed into Google when I couldn't remember why. Creeped me out.
posted by seemoreglass at 11:52 AM on March 14, 2013


Perhaps it's about time we all stopped treating them like something special. Their founders meant well, but once you become a megacorporation there is only so much you can do to avoid behaving in the ways that megacorporations need you to behave. Best to acknowledge that and focus on getting out of their way.

"We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about... We can look at bad behavior and modify it."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:55 AM on March 14, 2013


Forbes: How the Shutdown of Google Reader Threatens the Internet
posted by Rhaomi at 11:55 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just realized, I rely on Reader for something like 99% of the web browsing I do on my mobile phone, because it's an ancient Blackberry that's totally incapable of dealing with a modern website. But when I browse through Reader, the page gets filtered through a legacy re-formatting thing Google made for feature phones that cuts the content into bite-size pieces and rejiggers the formatting into something that my venerable browser can handle. No way a new API's going to have that - why would it?

Cuuuuuuuuuurses
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:57 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


odinsdream: "Please understand that desktop RSS apps are not equivalent to Google Reader. If you have, as most people do:"

I think this is the wrong way to approach the problem, but if you truly want to obsess about these things the way people obsess about email, then rss2email is all that's required.
posted by pwnguin at 11:58 AM on March 14, 2013


I can't help noticing, in yet another snub to geek culture, Google isn't running a special doodle today in honor of Pi day.

Between nixing the Reader, banning Ad Bloc, and dissing Pi Day, is Google trying to send a Dear John letter to Geekdom here or what?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:04 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've built some pretty hairy websites myself, big enough to know that a naive Reader clone can be made in a weekend and a proper one is a massive piece of engineering. Interestingly Digg have today thrown their hat in the ring. They could probably do it.

Personally I've paid Newsblur and hope they (he?) can pull it off. A quick check of Reader's stats shows I've read at least 200 items on each of the last 30 days, and averaged more like 500. I'm going to miss it :(
posted by samworm at 12:06 PM on March 14, 2013


jharris: ..."but unfriending him carries social connotations far beyond just not seeing his stuff." You don't have to unfriend a person to avoid seeing their posts. There is an option to "Block/Report" the person under the settings gear icon on their page. When you click on that, you have the option to not have their posts show on your feed.
posted by michellenoel at 12:07 PM on March 14, 2013


Google ran a Pi Day doodle in 2010. They tend not to run the same day as a doodle over and over.
posted by GuyZero at 12:08 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Has anyone figured out how to get all CONTENT out of Google Reader yet? I've seen the OPML/XML whatever from Data Liberation Front, but now I'm quite concerned about getting out all the actual content that I starred.
posted by fake at 12:12 PM on March 14, 2013


fake: "Has anyone figured out how to get all CONTENT out of Google Reader yet? I've seen the OPML/XML whatever from Data Liberation Front, but now I'm quite concerned about getting out all the actual content that I starred."

I think it is pretty safe to say that isn't going to happen. Too much data.
posted by Samizdata at 12:15 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is going to make it so much harder to get through all the Google-fetishizing in Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore.

And it wasn't easy in the first place.

"Bam!"
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 12:17 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


The biggest problem I had with RSS Owl, NetNewsWire, and attempts to pull RSS into the mail application world, was that the RSS usually pointed to a Web page. After a few weeks of right-clicking to open in browser and then command tabbing back, I just went back to Reader.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:18 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


All of your starred articles are imported to feedly under 'Saved.'

On another note, is feedly a standalone service or is it just a skin for Reader?
posted by Tevin at 12:18 PM on March 14, 2013


hmmm, it maxes out:
From your 611 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 3,959 items, clicked 75 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since December 21, 2009 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.

posted by Theta States at 12:19 PM on March 14, 2013


Feedly is a skin for Reader, but they're developing their own backend, with the goal of a completely seamless transition when Google shuts it down.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:20 PM on March 14, 2013


Cuz someone had to do it...

Metafilter: Rotating jizz fountains.
posted by symbioid at 12:38 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


What are users supposed to do with the json files "google takeout" generates?

I have a few dozen different tags I've used to categorize thousands of articles. I really don't want to lost the structure I have in place. Who can I throw money at to fix this?
posted by mattbcoset at 12:45 PM on March 14, 2013


Newsblur: "Due to overwhelming demand, free accounts are temporarily suspended. "

Based on how it's currently handling traffic, I can't imagine paying yet.

Good news for the rest of the software industry, I suppose. Huge revenue opportunity.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:46 PM on March 14, 2013


I think the problem of creating a new feed reader that can replace Google Reader for everyone will be difficult. The first of massless's four principles for feed readers, linked above, captures this perfectly: "Feed reading is inherently polymorphic." The way I use Google Reader is very different from how many others use it.

For example, I used to have a large number of feeds with lots of posts that I would skim, but I saw that the most interesting articles usually got posted on some of the blogs I read. I could rely on those blogs as a filter to catch 90% of the interesting stuff without wasting my own time skimming. Now I use Google Reader to follow a much smaller number of blogs and feeds, and I essentially look at each item, blowing through them with the keyboard shortcuts. I've selected feeds where I don't really want to miss anything, so I sort in reverse chronological order (oldest first) instead of just dipping into a stream of recent posts. Google Reader handles this perfectly because it has so many options: I can permanently hide the sidebar and navigation and use simple keyboard shortcuts. I never have to select a folder or click on the first item to start browsing — the oldest new post is already there the moment I load Reader.

I suspect that the way I use Reader is not typical because of the difficulty I've had finding iOS clients. Reeder looks great, but it's designed for scanning headlines and it was frustratingly inefficient for my workflow. There are a bunch of magazine-style apps that can use Reader as a source, but I'm more interested in reading articles than seeing headlines over a giant photograph, and again I want to read everything in my feeds and not just pick and choose. Mr. Reader is closest to replicating the customizability of desktop Google Reader, with the bonus of being able to remember custom view settings for each feed, but it is a lot of overhead for a mobile device. My favorite (by far) is Newsify, but even there I have to tap into the first article to start reading, whereas the first article is already there on the desktop.

So far I'm not impressed with the current crop of replacements. Feedly has so many scripts running in the background that it's slower than molasses and its app is too magazine-style for me. I'm actually thinking that RSS-to-email could be a good solution for me. I might make a Gmail account for this — let Google handle search and storage and I can always take everything with me via IMAP in the future. I could use a separate mail app on mobile to keep it distinct from my regular email. Are there any cloud-based RSS-to-email services, or would I need to run my own server for that?
posted by stopgap at 12:55 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really like Marco Arment's suggestion for new services to replicate Google Reader's API:
The last thing we need is a format war — with Reader’s shutdown in July, we don’t have time for one.
posted by whitecedar at 12:59 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think this is the wrong way to approach the problem, but if you truly want to obsess about these things the way people obsess about email, then rss2email is all that's required.

Problem is, an email inbox of chunks of text is a poor mapping to articles in RSS feeds. Once something is scraped and emailed, it is an inert chunk of text. It may have a link you follow to the main article, but then you're in a web browser and outside of your reader.

Perhaps one could use an IMAP server as the data store behind a personal RSS reader, but one would want to build a nicer interface on top of it.
posted by acb at 1:04 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Between nixing the Reader, banning Ad Bloc, and dissing Pi Day, is Google trying to send a Dear John letter to Geekdom here or what?

I couldn't give a toss about how much or little respect they give to “geek culture”, as long as they don't fuck with Reader.

As for ad blocking on Android, surely you can sideload it; and wouldn't most Fandroids who use ad blocking run hand-rolled Cyanogen installations tricked out with all sorts of k3wl addons?
posted by acb at 1:06 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


This was really bad news for me. Reader matches my information seeking/sharing style so well, and accounts for the majority of interesting items I find online. What a shame.
posted by Rykey at 1:10 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Booooooooo

As Bill Hicks would say, Google is in the business of "Advertising".

It bugs me that neither the official blog nor the pop up notification on reader gave even a hint of an apology.
posted by Dr Ew at 1:12 PM on March 14, 2013


Digg have thrown their hat into the ring.
posted by alby at 1:14 PM on March 14, 2013


Perhaps one could use an IMAP server as the data store behind a personal RSS reader, but one would want to build a nicer interface on top of it.

Note my comment about Gwene above, using an NNTP server as the data store.
posted by XMLicious at 1:15 PM on March 14, 2013


What are users supposed to do with the json files "google takeout" generates?

Upload them to your lamp ajax yaml RoR cloud, obviously.
posted by odinsdream at 1:18 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think this is the wrong way to approach the problem, but if you truly want to obsess about these things the way people obsess about email, then rss2email is all that's required.

I'm not sure I understand what part of my comment you were trying to address. I'm not "obsessing" about wanting all of my devices to have the same content. In fact, since you brought up e-mail, IMAP is exactly for this. I can save a draft at work and continue it at home.

My workflow is not the slightest bit unusual or controversial.
posted by odinsdream at 1:21 PM on March 14, 2013


Google Reader lived on borrowed time: creator Chris Wetherell (MeFi's own massless) reflects. Chris says a lot more than I can about how Google never really gave Google Reader much love.

OK, total derail, but Chris' latest project---Avocado---solves what problem, exactly? Other than the goofy "faces" feature, what does it do for me and my wife that we can't already do via text messages and a shared Google calendar?
posted by asnider at 1:23 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


asnider: how do you have a shared calendar? My wife and I would like one but have never figured out how to do that. Or do you mean that one of you has a calendar and the other subscribes with read-only access?
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:24 PM on March 14, 2013


asnider: how do you have a shared calendar? My wife and I would like one but have never figured out how to do that.

Click the down arrow next to your calendar and choose Sharing. Add the other person's e-mail address and change the default sharing option to allow editing. Be sure to click Save at the bottom.
posted by odinsdream at 1:25 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up. It's now all over the map. What are the five products you want to focus on? Get rid of the rest because they're dragging you down. They're turning you into Microsoft. They're causing you to turn out adequate products that are adequate but not great."

In light of this news, NOT the smartest thing Steve Jobs ever said. Why would Jobs say something to help out their competitor, anyway?

From the Register article linked waaay above:
Google seems ready to cop those hits, with Urs Hölzle, a Chocolate Factory fellow and senior veep for technical infrastructure, blogging: "These changes are never easy. But by focusing our efforts, we can concentrate on building great products that really help in their lives."

GOOGLE READER 'HELPED IN THEIR LIVES'. YOU CAN GO TO EXTRA HELL.

Digg have thrown their hat into the ring.

How amazing is that, Digg has shown more response to the needs of users than Google, that's some mind-boggling shit right there.
posted by JHarris at 1:34 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Death knell sounds for RSS, and Google knows it -- "CNET columnist Ben Parr contends that there is no place for RSS in the modern era of consumption."
posted by ericb at 1:49 PM on March 14, 2013


Ben Parr thinks everyone is exactly like Ben Parr.

It's a common disease, but one doesn't have to wallow in it.
posted by muddgirl at 1:52 PM on March 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


CNET columnist Ben Parr can go fuck himself.
posted by alby at 1:54 PM on March 14, 2013 [16 favorites]


With RSS readers, you felt like you were missing out if you clicked "Marked as Read."

No, I feel a slight tension in the palm and a wee bit of pressure on the pad of the finger, little more.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:57 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ah, the pundit's fallacy. Nice to see it outside of politics.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:59 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


So Google Code is next?

Part of me hopes not, but part of me thinks this would be the impetus we need to move our projects to github. I suspect this may be true for other established open-source projects. There may be a halo effect of lost confidence from this decision that Google wasn't counting on.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:01 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up. It's now all over the map. What are the five products you want to focus on? Get rid of the rest because they're dragging you down. They're turning you into Microsoft. They're causing you to turn out adequate products that are adequate but not great."

I don't know, I think he's right. (Surprise.) I'm of the crazy opinion that Google probably shouldn't be in the eyewear or automobile business.

I don't really look on Google Reader as an individual product, I think it is more of a subset of search; that seems to be borne out by the comments on how tightly integrated it is. It was definitely a mature product that, to my eyes, didn't seem like the kind of thing that would eat up computing or human resources. And, like others pointed out, it had other benefits like providing Google with information on what people are actually reading. These were the major reasons why I was so surprised at their decision. Like others, I'm more than a little suspicious it has something to do with Google+(+Good).
posted by entropicamericana at 2:04 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ben Parr said: "I actually think Twitter is a more effective way to consume content..."

And that's when I stopped listening to anything he has to say. Twitter (of which I am a frequent user, just to get that out of the way) is an effective way to consume soundbites. Military developments in North Korea? What your sister had for brunch? Both have 140 characters to make their point, and both are competing for your attention.

He goes on to say that doesn't matter. The good stuff will just "bubble to the top!" But that's only true if you follow people on Twitter who have exactly the same interests as you. I use Google Reader to follow webcomics, get notice of updates to Google Chrome, see what new products have popped up on ThinkGeek, and monitor Craigslist for various keywords of my choosing. Not one of those things will pop up for me on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media site.

Next, he'll suggest that you can replace Amazon.com's book selection with the New York Times best sellers list. The good stuff bubbles to the top, after all. And who needs anything more than that?
posted by CrayDrygu at 2:04 PM on March 14, 2013 [19 favorites]


Reviewing my desktop opml file, I just realized that a good number of my feeds run through Yahoo Pipes. And that there's no consistent metric by which Google Reader dies and Yahoo Pipes should live. Time to package up DERI Pipes so I'll have a paid service ready the day that finally gets the axe.
posted by pwnguin at 2:05 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Death knell sounds for RSS, and Google knows it -- "CNET columnist Ben Parr contends that there is no place for RSS in the modern era of consumption."

He's seriously claiming that Twitter and Facebook are adequate, and even superior, replacements for RSS feeds?

I'd offer a retort, but someone has already done so quite well in the comments section of the Parr piece:
To even mention Facebook this way is laughable. The interface is completely broken in terms of reliable communication.

And Twitter's mob mentality doesn't work for non-journalists. I don't care what's popular, I want to have the feed (which I've already curated per source) and then decide what to read based on title/synopsis.

I reluctantly agree that RSS was doomed, not because of the laughable reason that somehow social networks can replace my own judgement. But because it isn't monetized properly. I've already started switching to subscriptions more, the web is changing, no more free ride.
posted by asnider at 2:06 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I found this part unintentionally ironic:
Usability issues: ... Then it required looking at content in an unformatted, e-mail-like interface. I don't know about you, but I don't want to check another e-mail in-box.
Allowing me to force content into an 'unformatted, email-like' interface is a bonus for useability. Or really, accessibility. Google Reader was like my Mefi Plain Theme, but for the whole internet.
posted by muddgirl at 2:10 PM on March 14, 2013 [15 favorites]


Google Reader’s demise is awful for Iranians, who use it to avoid censorship.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 2:11 PM on March 14, 2013 [11 favorites]


After sleeping on this, I think the issue here appears to be that Reader (both by itself and as a proxy for the whole RSS ecosystem) provided a centralized walled garden way to figure out what people are reading and/or thinking about - but not in the way that Google liked. I think they wanted to know all that as well as the social graph of how that information propagates through a userbase.

They could've done this, though, and at one point they probably did. It was a big deal when Google removed the social features from Reader (in a half-assed attempt to push Plus). They could easily scrape what people were sharing, both within Reader and in other social networks. Just taking a quick glance at the Trends page, Reader collects data about what days and times items are posted, what days and times they're read, how much of a feed you read, the relative composition of your read items by feed, numbers of subscribers per feed, overlap between feed subscriptions, etc. Someone upthread mentioned advertising, which they only just cut about 6 months ago. Even if the number of users they had relative to Search, Gmail, or Plus was relatively small, it was surely large enough to extrapolate useful trends.

I can't help but feel like this is a failure of imagination on Google's part more than anything else.
posted by kagredon at 2:22 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Current headline on Netvibes: If you're experiencing slowdowns or feed latency, please bear with us as we work hard to handle a huge amount of new users. Thank you for your patience.
posted by lalex at 2:28 PM on March 14, 2013


Twitter (of which I am a frequent user, just to get that out of the way) is an effective way to consume soundbites.

In his defense, I think he's referring to Twitter as a way to disseminate links to longer pieces, which a lot of people do. It's a useful way to get exposed to things you might have missed.

On the other hand, it has a couple of mega-drawbacks too. First, those links are usually expressed in the anti-helpful bit.ly format, so you can't tell what they hell they are without clicking on them first; and secondly YOU HAVE TO CLICK ON THEM, which means they open up in another browser window with another website's gigabyte of cruft smeared all over it.

In Google Reader it's right there, you don't have to go anywhere, you don't have to wait for anything to load or shout at you. Better than Twitter. I mean, with Twitter you can't even see your funny photos without clicking out.

Actually, Facebook is better than Twitter for this sort of thing too. But Facebook just can't handle the volume. You can at least see what the links are about, and I get a lot of good links that way, but not enough. And, due to Facebook's hopelessly screwed up garbage they dare to call an "algorithm" for determining what you see in your feed, which is a small fraction of what I at least want to see, I miss out a lot (while still getting more kook relative rubbish than I ever want). Facebook's new slogan: "not much better".
posted by Fnarf at 2:29 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know, yesterday morning I found myself thinking that maybe I should give in and start actually using my G+ account. And then this news broke.

Fuck you, Google.
posted by Lexica at 2:34 PM on March 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


This is pretty upsetting considering I thought of all the possible projects to be sunset, they'd leave Reader in-tact at least I'd hoped for a longer period of active time instead of just 3 months. I've looked into alternative RSS reader awhile ago, but I missed the simple format of G-reader every time I switched.

I liked how I could archive all the starred items, so I had a daily log of all the articles I had been interested since 2008.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 2:36 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


"In his defense, I think he's referring to Twitter as a way to disseminate links to longer pieces..."
Well, of course he is. But those links still have 140 characters (less, actually, because the link itself will take up 10-15 of them) to get your attention. They also might be sandwiched between an Instagram photo of breakfast, and a movie title with one word replaced with "pope" (I'm fond of "How Stella Got Her Pope Back").

Also, Twitter is great at showing you what's popular right now, but terrible at showing you what was popular yesterday, and useless for showing you what's interesting but not popular. Unless you follow the right people. Which I already do. In Reader. Which their blog software supports automatically without the author having to set up a Twitter account.
posted by CrayDrygu at 2:44 PM on March 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Here's a reader alternative y'all may want to check out, 1kpl.us. Just came across it on the Reddit "Reader alternatives" thread.
posted by sutt at 2:48 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


So they're cutting Reader in order to become more "focused." Apparently, what they're focusing on is talking shoes.
posted by asnider at 2:50 PM on March 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Google has unveiled a new pair of motivational talking trainers which announce "this is super boring" if the wearer is sitting around too long.

I imagine these shoes get bi-zay. Consistently and thoroughly.
posted by Iridic at 2:57 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dave Winer on Google Reader shutting down:

Never used the damn thing. Didn't trust the idea of a big company like Google's interests being so aligned with mine that I could trust them to get all my news. ... Next time, please pay a fair price for the services you depend on. Those have a better chance of surviving the bubbles.

I completely agree with what he's saying.
posted by Brian Puccio


I'm hoping in the over 600 comments there's been plenty of discussion on why Dave Winer is wrong, and why his comments show a general lack of understanding of the situation. I know the problems with his view were mentioned quite a few times in the comment section of his post. But he took down all comments and shut it down. Because he's Dave Winer.
posted by justgary at 3:04 PM on March 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Of course.
posted by mwhybark at 3:07 PM on March 14, 2013


What? People still pay attention to that guy? Dave Winer has the most appropriate name.
posted by smidgen at 3:10 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


I practically lived on Google Reader for the longest time, but I haven't been using it in ages, I'm really not sure. The whole lack of sharing ability was the nail in the coffin.

My stats bear it out:
From your 376 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 0 items, clicked 0 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since June 2, 2009 you have read a total of 299,989 items.
posted by peacheater at 3:16 PM on March 14, 2013


I genuinely have no idea who Dave Winer is.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:16 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Who uses Apple's iCloud? Nobody. They don't trust it after Apple yanked the cloud-service football away once too often.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:01 AM


I use iCloud for email because I try to stay away from google. I use iCal as well. I think more people are using it than you think (and I'm guessing your research is based on you not knowing anyone that uses iCloud rather than anything concrete). Also, quite a few apps use iCloud storage.

Of course, it's nowhere near google in terms of people using it. Google was in the cloud first, and they're simply much better at this point. I think the number of people that avoid iCloud (outside of geeky circles) is miniscule.

The big picture is that iCloud, gmail, even dropbox could all be gone tomorrow. That google could shut down google reader has been apparent (and mentioned) many times before it actually happened, and I'm a little shocked that people are shocked at it actually happening.
posted by justgary at 3:17 PM on March 14, 2013


I get the impression Dave Winer has never actually seen Google Reader, or any RSS reader, before.

Here's a hint: I don't "get all my news" from Reader. I get the news that I put in. I do, in fact, trust Google to display all of the RSS content from, just as a for-instance, Metafilter, once I put them in. And they do. I don't really use RSS for "news" at all; I use it for blog updates and what used to be called "think pieces".

For "all my news" I read the news: Guardian, NYT, LAT, local TV, etc. Like you do.
posted by Fnarf at 3:17 PM on March 14, 2013


I get the impression Dave Winer has never actually seen Google Reader, or any RSS reader, before.

Wasn't he initially one of the original developers who came up with the RSS format?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:24 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yup, he designed RSS 2.0, but then refused to fix shortcomings and turned the whole thing over to Harvard in about 2000 and hasn't done any work on it in a decade, from the looks of things.
posted by klangklangston at 3:31 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Regardless of whether he's become a total crank or not, yes, Dave Winer has seen a RSS reader. He may even have written one.
posted by GuyZero at 3:33 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


And he's insufferable.
posted by sutt at 3:33 PM on March 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Dave Winer was the Radio Userland guy, trying to make everything RSS or OPML or otherwise XML internally, even the database behind it.
posted by XMLicious at 3:35 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK, maybe Dave Winer is a genius and I'm a moron. But "trust the idea of a big company like Google's interests being so aligned with mine that I could trust them to get all my news" could not resemble what I use RSS for less if it tried.

Neither "trust" nor "a big company's interests" nor "aligned with mine" nor "all my news" bear any relation whatever, good or bad, to my experience. He might as well be talking about calculating "Beowulf" in the original orange version.
posted by Fnarf at 3:43 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Twitter and Facebook send me too much spam along the lines of "Jane Doe likes fuzzy kittens, do you?" for me to trust them with much of what I read.

There's a basic assumption behind those two social networks that I find to be completely false. To paraphrase a preacher friend of mine, "Non-cat-people respect that I'm a cat person, but tune me out if I waste their time talking about my cats." The social landscape promoted by them is flat. The social landscape I live in is curved with multiple valleys.

Then there's the whole BS of equating following or subscribing with "like," and unfollowing or unsubscribing with "dislike." (And "like"="recommend"="reblog.")
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:45 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


maybe Dave Winer is a genius and I'm a moron

And... too far in the other direction. He's a crank, but he's not a total moron either. His analysis of the situation is not particularly nuanced and I don't agree with it, but that's not because he's unfamiliar with RSS.
posted by GuyZero at 3:45 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know it's silly, but everyone who's posting stats between 299,000 and 300,000 is making me itchy. Close the gap!

(Probably jealousy. From your 150 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 192 items, clicked 423 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since March 6, 2010 you have read a total of 22,433 items.
)
posted by kagredon at 3:46 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Twitter (of which I am a frequent user, just to get that out of the way) is an effective way to consume soundbites.

Isn't there some theory about the dissemination of information on the Internet? Something like, for every person who creates something, 5 people share it to 100 who consume it? Twitter, and Facebook, are very much in the 100-consumers part of that pattern. I go to Twitter when I want to see what's popular at that moment, what everyone's sharing. I go to go Reader when I want to discover something obscure to share myself.

I know it's silly, but everyone who's posting stats between 299,000 and 300,000 is making me itchy. Close the gap!

There's got to be something happening there - I'm going to bet all the people on 299,989 are actually over 300,000, but some of the posts went missing from the database or something.
posted by Jimbob at 3:53 PM on March 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I had noticed last week that the search function was failing to find older posts that I know still exist (I just tested it searching the title of an older starred post in the starred items folder, and it didn't turn up, though the post is clearly there), so I think something's gone wrong with their indexing. Maybe that was a sign.
posted by kagredon at 4:03 PM on March 14, 2013


I'm busy subscribing to all the free alternatives on the basis that at least one will survive. The only one I'm waiting for is The Old Reader — There are 2997 users in the import queue ahead of you.
posted by unliteral at 4:07 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Slate may have posted the dumbest editorial on this yet.
posted by kagredon at 4:16 PM on March 14, 2013


I stopped reading at "When you subscribe to your favorite sites and read all their articles in a single, text-heavy interface, you’re eliding the beauty and variety of design on the Web." (The second sentence.)
posted by frenetic at 4:19 PM on March 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


You got further than "I’ve made it pretty clear that I don’t like RSS readers" (the first sentence)?
posted by zombieflanders at 4:21 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty tough.
posted by frenetic at 4:23 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


Despite all my rage Google's still a bunch of dicks plus L. Page
posted by mike_bling at 4:37 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


I haven't read the article, but I sometimes do miss the visual aspect he's talking about - of going from one carefully designed site/blog to another, experiencing them for both the content of the posts as well as the overall look and feel (which the site owner had obviously spent a lot of time on). But I'm same as others: once the number of sites/blogs I followed made it quickly untenable, it was an easy decision to use something like Google Reader.

Just saw a Google employee acquaintance's G+ post about an unrelated matter a few days ago, saying he's "so proud to work for this company". No comment from him about this latest flap.
posted by shortfuse at 4:39 PM on March 14, 2013


Ah, Farhad Manjoo, when will you find the depths of stupidity? Keep reaching you brave soul.
posted by mike_bling at 4:40 PM on March 14, 2013 [6 favorites]


unliteral: "I'm busy subscribing to all the free alternatives on the basis that at least one will survive. The only one I'm waiting for is The Old Reader — There are 2997 users in the import queue ahead of you."

Shut up. I have over 4800.
posted by Samizdata at 4:50 PM on March 14, 2013


I have used Google Reader for hours a day, every day, for years.

From your 196 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 14,525 items, clicked 231 items, starred 313 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since August 9, 2011 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.

It is literally how I see 99% of the internet, and whilst I use Twitter, it's no-where near as organised, I cannot be sure I've seen everything, and the syncing is rubbish, I use the Official Twitter Apps/Webapp, and I have to read a DM on my PC, tablet and phone to get it not show as read on each. Useless. I don't want my "social" network mixed up with my reading, just as I don't want a photo of my friend's beer he's drinking in the middle of my paperback novel, or a tweet about the new pope in the middle of a magazine article.

And I don't see RSS to e-mail working either, the thing that makes Reader great is how quickly I can read things, Gmail takes way longer to load each article. I can skim-read 200 articles on Reader whilst I drink a cup of coffee, and know that I have seen everything I want to see on the Internet.

I was seriously considering a Chromebook as my next laptop, but now I'm not. I'm also reconsidering gmail seriously too.
posted by chrispy108 at 4:55 PM on March 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


Late to the party, but here are my stats:

From your 91 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 6,887 items, clicked 318 items, starred 1 items, and emailed 9 items. Since May 29, 2007 you have read a total of 265,996 items.
posted by fremen at 4:56 PM on March 14, 2013


I've also begun thinking about leaving the Google ecosystem. Mail and Maps are probably the hardest for me to give up.
posted by fremen at 4:57 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've also begun thinking about leaving the Google ecosystem. Mail and Maps are probably the hardest for me to give up.

For the first since I first stumbled upon Google in the late 1990's, I too am considering my relation with the Google eco-system. Something has been broken with my relationship with Google in a way I never would have imagined. I like to think I was an 'early adopter' and definitely was an advocate among family and friends. But now I no longer feel able to do that after this decision. I will look at alternatives and no longer think 'if it is Google, then I'll give it a go'. And now there will always be some bitterness, nay resentment, when I think of Google. It wasn't like that before.
posted by vac2003 at 5:11 PM on March 14, 2013 [17 favorites]


Yeah I'm trying to figure it out, too. I'm already using Duck Duck Go with some great success - although, of course, for a lot of my daily work (ie. !scholar) DDG just sends you to Google anyway. Google Drive I could take or leave; I use Dropbox for file storage, and I've never really got into online document editing beyond Evernote. I don't know what I'd do without Gmail and Maps, though.
posted by Jimbob at 5:24 PM on March 14, 2013


Shut up. I have over 4800.
2813 now, so that's 7-8 a minute. Only another 10½ hours or so for you.
posted by unliteral at 5:25 PM on March 14, 2013


!!! 2839 now. Someone pushed in.
posted by unliteral at 5:37 PM on March 14, 2013


OK, total derail, but Chris' latest project---Avocado---solves what problem, exactly? Other than the goofy "faces" feature, what does it do for me and my wife that we can't already do via text messages and a shared Google calendar?

My fiancee and I find the Lists feature to be enormously useful. If one of is out at the store, the other person can add an item and it appears instantly. We were trying to use Simplenote for this purpose before, but it didn't go well.
posted by reenum at 5:40 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I decided to put down money on NewsBlur. NewsBlur gets serious props from me for being open source; I've also been trying to figure out if self-hosting it is feasible, in which case the author is still welcome to my payment. In the mean time, it's a bit of a slog to do anything, as his servers are still near meltdown.

I was never into the social aspect of google reader before that was removed, but on G+ I've gotten more into sharing things from reader. So I'm actually pretty excited about this "blurblog" thing that NewsBlur has. And I can syndicate that right to a sidebar on my own blog! On the other hand, I don't see the analog of "star" from reader, so how do I save stuff for myself for later? For now I suppose I'll be blurblogging them.

On NewsBlur's mobile (android) version: it actually seems more responsive than the web version at the moment. However, there seem to be some omissions: I can't see how to set the sort order or mark an article as unread.

protip: if an article is extremely wide in the mobile interface, you can still swipe to the next app by swiping the header area.
posted by jepler at 5:42 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess I'll just have to go back to doing how I was handling this before: Making feed pages for everything on Livejournal and then adding them to my friends page.
This is what I did for years until LiveJournal began taking too long to update feeds. It's still how I prefer reading them, though. For a while, I had been looking for a way to replicate that, but never could find anything convenient. Last time I looked was in 2009, though, so hopefully someone has figured something out by now.
posted by Redfield at 5:44 PM on March 14, 2013


NewsBlur on my Nexus 7: Long press 'All stories', select 'Mark folder as read' results in 'Unfortunately, NewsBlur has stopped.' And this has been happening for weeks.

I'm gonna miss gReader.
posted by Tacodog at 5:47 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are you fucking kidding me?
posted by delmoi at 6:12 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


The more I think about it, why not roll reader into currents? There's an app that needs some power users moved to it. If not gCurrent then again G+. I just can't figure out why the need to freak out the audience with three month eviction notice.

I find tweet tracking too chaotic. Good gravy, I am old and need a better curation tool.
posted by jadepearl at 6:33 PM on March 14, 2013


Currents, like Flipboard, is more of a personalized-magazine app. It relies on RSS at the back end, it also relies on social networks to find what your friends are reading, and makes hueristic calculations on what might be interesting to you. That's not quite filling the same space as a raw RSS reader does.
posted by Jimbob at 6:36 PM on March 14, 2013


unliteral: "!!! 2839 now. Someone pushed in."

Sorry. Not really - I'm like 6k+ :\
posted by symbioid at 6:44 PM on March 14, 2013


True, I guess I am at that stage of grief where you ask the cold void, "why?" And the void is silent but you are left to wonder and maybe rationalize.

My plan is to use reader to the bitter end to give the market time to stabilize before migrating. It is a hot mess right now. I resisted going to pinboard after delicious and just worked without or substituted with Pinterest. My data flow is in a bit of a mess now. Gah, I don't want to self host so will be looking at other services.
posted by jadepearl at 6:44 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not even just that Google's destroying a tool that's shaped internet consumption for a lot of people. It's that a big part of why people got so excited about Google in the first place is that it was one of the few big businesses that seemed willing to invest in innovation and development, even when there wasn't a clear, immediate payoff. 20% time, the Ngram Viewer, flu trends--not since the heyday of Bell Labs has there been a corporation that was doing so much to try to advance the state of their field, even if it cost a bit more money in the short term.

This feels like a shift away from that.
posted by kagredon at 7:11 PM on March 14, 2013 [12 favorites]


Twitter will stay useless as a news aggregator for me until they fix some of the usability issues with it. I've been trying to use Twitter more lately since that's where all the cool kids seem to be but I'm finding it just painful to use.

For example, there's a hotly contested mayor's race in my city so I wanted to create a list in Twitter of all of the people who are running and the various local news people and bloggers who might be commenting on the race. But trying to populate a list and then read it in Twitter is such a pain that it's not really worth it. Just adding a single person to a list takes four clicks each and then it's three clicks from the main screen to get to any list that you've made. And then there's no concept of "read" or "unread" so you have to scroll backwards until you find the last tweet that you remember reading and then scroll up from there to read in chronological order.

I find myself avoiding Twitter because it just seems like so much work to try to pull information out of it.
posted by octothorpe at 7:16 PM on March 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


jepler: "In the mean time, it's a bit of a slog to do anything, as his servers are still near meltdown."

And apparently he needs help sharding data. Because gluing pgsql, mongo and redis together is always fun.
posted by pwnguin at 7:54 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


It occurs to me that an additional concern is that without a behemoth like Google providing a service to read RSS feeds, fewer sites will offer them. Right now, if I stumble on a blog or website I like, I'll look for the RSS icon to add it to Reader. If I don't see that I *might* try to add it via the Reader "Add URL" option but if that doesn't find a feed then I mostly forget about it. It's too much bother to bookmark that sort of stuff (I don't even USE bookmarks really - it's either a site that has RSS or an item that's saved to Evernote or Readability as the endpoint).

So I think that places like Metafilter or Buzzfeed or whatever giant aggregator will survive, but those tiny once a week blogs will die. And that loss of content makes me sadder than the screw-over of my consumption habits.
posted by marylynn at 8:13 PM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


RSS is a feature, usually, of the blog software that people use. It's not a question of someone going out of their way to create an RSS feed; instead, Wordpress does it for them.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:14 PM on March 14, 2013


I'd be more concerned about major media blogs killing RSS in favor of syndication deals with apps like flipboard.
posted by empath at 8:15 PM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


WTH! 9918 now.
posted by unliteral at 8:21 PM on March 14, 2013


ckape: "I guess I'll just have to go back to doing how I was handling this before: Making feed pages for everything on Livejournal and then adding them to my friends page."

Feeds on LJ have been wonky for ages. Or they were, at least; it's been so long since I've checked my f-list, they might have fixed them by now. That's why I shifted to using Reader, actually — when blogs I knew updated daily didn't show new posts reflected on their LJ feeds for weeks… not feasible.

octothorpe: " I find myself avoiding Twitter because it just seems like so much work to try to pull information out of it."

The only decent way to get information out of Twitter is to use a third-party client (I like TweetList on iOS and TweetDeck on the desktop). Unfortunately, Twitter keep tightening the screws on developers and making it harder and harder for them to work with Twitter's data.
posted by Lexica at 8:59 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


True, I guess I am at that stage of grief where you ask the cold void, "why?" And the void is silent but you are left to wonder and maybe rationalize.

Except it isn't death or entropy that is the void but some asshole manager. Somewhere in Google is the person who made this decision. He exists. I don't know his name, but that's probably a good thing, because if I knew his name it would aid construction of the voodoo doll.
posted by JHarris at 9:02 PM on March 14, 2013 [8 favorites]


Wow, I just found this thread. Then I went to reader (wanted to get my stats, something like 140k items read since July 19, 2008)

I actually got a popup message saying it was closing. Ugh.

Here's a thought what if we all protested this by closing our G+ accounts? Even if reader doesn't have that many users, the web's most influential users all do, so my guess a protest like that might get their attention.

The other thing that's weird is that they're giving people such a short window before closing it. When they shutdown google wave they gave like a year's warning. The fact they're closing it in three months is almost like a big "FUCK YOU". Why not give people more time to find something else?

I don't use reader that much anymore, mainly because I want to try to spend less time procrastinating on the internet. But I probably check it out every couple of days and read a few things. Well, 938 items in the past 30 days, apparently.

I don't understand why they didn't just make Google Reader a second interface to G+? That would have made most internet power users defacto actual users of google+? And if G+ included the ability to add RSS feeds to circles, people might actually have used it.
__
I actually coded up a large-scale feed reading system, my plan was to create something like technorati (remember that?) that would be able to come up with recommendations and stuff based on clustering blogs based on which ones linked to eachother (using spectral graph clustering). It was a side project for a long time, but eventually blogs and RSS became less and less of a "thing", and more annoyingly more and more content ended up being behind walls with no way for independent developers to use them (i.e. twitter and Facebook) so I kind of gave up on it.

RSS became kind of like a secret thing that only power-users ever used. But it was still really useful on an every day basis.

Oh, and apparently there's a petition with like 85k signatures asking them not to close it.
Stick to search Google! You're really good at it!
Except, reader isn't search :P
When Delicious went away there was Pinboard.
Huh? Delicious is still around. Their firefox plugin stopped working though so I kind of stopped using it. Actually all I do now is drag links to my desktop, which eventually get put in a folder never to be seen again.

Of course I hardly ever looked at my delicious links again so not really any big loss :P
Uh, I must have missed this memo. People don't use RSS? How do people efficiently check for updates to all their favorite websites each day? I'm asking this sincerely.
One way might be twitter, although it's ironic that people would be moving from an open protocol to a closed, proprietary network. And one that's way less organized or even organizable now that twitter doesn't even allow 3rd party apps.
Hmm; until now, app.net has been an API with user accounts, a sustainable subscriber-funded business model, 10Gb of storage per subscriber and (atop the iceberg, above the waterline) a largely unused Twitter clone. Perhaps the killer application for all that semi-dormant infrastructure has been found?
App.net always seemed kind of ridiculous - it' $5/month for 10gb of data, which would cost $1/mo on Amazon S3, with no limit. And who would ever pay for a twitter clone?

What's needed is an open-protocol system like RSS that provides social networking tech and lets you host it wherever you want. Not everything needs to be centralized.


So instead, I click over to my Twitter feed, where I'm guaranteed to find something curious/funny/interesting/worthwhile within seconds. Now, I realize I'm benefiting from aggregators who are almost certainly using Reader to find the stuff they're tweeting, but I'm grateful I don't have to do the heavy sifting myself. I suppose that makes me a second-hand Reader user, and I'd respectfully ask Google not to take this essential tool from the people who make my social feeds so damn interesting.
The problem with twitter is that there's no organization. If I want to read about topic X, I can look at feeds in the "X" folder. With twitter, you just have one big stream. And it's only 140 characters, you have to click links, wait for a page load, etc.
You know what would have been innovative... Google saying "we don't want to work on this anymore... Here's the code, have at it."
The problem is Reader is probably built on Google's non-standard technology like mapreduce and bigtable. There are open-source implementations of what people think those things do, Hadoop and HBase, which could probably handle it. But it would need to be rewritten.
The lesson is supposed to be "pay for the shit you use so that this doesn't happen". I think this, is to a point, a valid thing to argue - if you value something, you should give it resources and support the people who make it, and it helps if those people have a reason to value your support.
Sure, but how can you pay for something when no one will bother making a paid version because there's already a free version that's pretty much better then anything else anyone's ever made?

The problem is reader was really good, so it basically caused RSS reader development to stagnate.

One nice thing is that this might actually get competition going again, and get people talking about RSS again. If people market RSS readers, that will mean marketing RSS itself as well, maybe to new users. (Google never marketed reader, which means basically no one was out there promoting RSS in general)

We might actually get something better in the end, Google reader was better then anything else, but there was a lot of room for improvement that never happened.
I genuinely have no idea who Dave Winer is.
Lucky you.

He's a douchebag who crippled the RSS spec in order to get people to use is paid-for software. Then when the RSS 1.0 spec was put out by other people (Including a 14 year old Aaron Swartz) he renamed his version RSS 2.0

Then Atom came out, which is way better -- and lots of people actually use Atom now, instead of RSS pretty much all feed readers support it. It's just that most people don't realize their "RSS feeds" are actually atom feeds.


(I actually wrote my own Atom and RSS feed parsers for that project I mentioned. I started with RSS, since the spec was shorter, then when I did atom it was like - wow this is so much better designed)
posted by delmoi at 9:26 PM on March 14, 2013 [10 favorites]


COD: "Maybe that start up should be located at reader.metafilter.com? I'll happily pay $5 a month (not just one time!) for it."

Kickstarter, and I'm in for at least $20 (SAME AS IN TOWN).

No, seriously. You don't have to leave MetaFilter to do this. In fact, MetaFilter is the perfect name for this product.

Why are we even still talking about this and not doing it?
posted by scrump at 9:31 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


http://read.metafilter.com
posted by p3t3 at 9:34 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


The comparison to social networks like Twitter/FB makes no sense to me.

The signal to noise ratio is much harder to control on social networks; and the content you receive is usually at the whim of people with whom you share various types of social connections, which may or may not coincide with one's internet reading habits at all.

Not to mention those RSS feeds that can be auto-generated by things like Google news topic/country criteria, ask.metafilter post tags, ebay tags, craigslist tags, Netflix new releases (that always seem outdated on the website, but are current in RSS), etc, etc.. How do I get that on Twitter?
posted by p3t3 at 9:46 PM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


Why are we even still talking about this and not doing it?

Because a centralized RSS reader is a Google-scale problem to solve and there aren't that many Google-sized companies. MetaFilter is a very small operation. Matt talked a bit about this over here.
posted by pb at 10:11 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon (re: Google Code): "Part of me hopes not, but part of me thinks this would be the impetus we need to move our projects to github."

Agreed. But I don't think Google's that far gone yet - I think that would probably be a big own-goal against their most idealistic geek employees, more even than shutting down Reader. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking.

(They _are_ still running SoC this year, which continues to be a huge plus point for Google in my book. At least here in South Asia, SoC has done more to turn motivated undergrads into FOSS developers than any other effort to date.)
posted by vanar sena at 10:15 PM on March 14, 2013


pb, what are your thoughts on the feasibility of a Reader clone that fetches new items manually/on demand and only indexes recent/starred items for search? That would seem to solve the two largest hard problems confronting prospective replacements (indefinitely large search indexes and Google-scale crawlers for 24/7 real time updates).
posted by Rhaomi at 10:18 PM on March 14, 2013


Also, Googler Matt Cutts, who seems just as upset at this as everyone else, linked to his original 2006 review of Reader, which includes this stinging-in-retrospect line:

"...for a company as polite and consensus-driven as Google..."

This stands in stark contrast to this deeply unpopular decision being forced onto users and employees alike by callous, calculating upper management. Google really has changed.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:26 PM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


pb, what are your thoughts on the feasibility of a Reader clone...

I feel like at that point we're not talking about a Reader clone. It's something else that isn't nearly as useful.
posted by pb at 10:27 PM on March 14, 2013


marylynn: Right now, if I stumble on a blog or website I like, I'll look for the RSS icon to add it to Reader. If I don't see that I *might* try to add it via the Reader "Add URL" option but if that doesn't find a feed then I mostly forget about it. It's too much bother to bookmark that sort of stuff

This is true for me too. If you don't offer an RSS feed, I won't be back for a second visit.
posted by paulg at 10:30 PM on March 14, 2013 [7 favorites]


callous, calculating upper management.

Like soylent green (in the movie), Google's upper management is made of people. And sometime, like in the book, Google's upper management is made of soy beans and lentils. But seriously, they're just people.
posted by GuyZero at 10:36 PM on March 14, 2013


Callous, calculating people. They're not history's greatest monsters here, but it strikes me as really shitty and cynical to destroy a useful, functional, mature product relied on by millions of people as the cornerstone of their online work and leisure (doing serious harm to an entire ecosystem of blogs in the process), all in order to herd more people into their annoying wannabe Facebook. Wrecking open standards, shutting down useful, popular services, making the web more disorganized and proprietary and harder to filter... it's the antithesis of circa-2007 Google behavior.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:45 PM on March 14, 2013 [9 favorites]


What if all of the feed authors could be persuaded or incentivized to digitally sign their feed items? Could that simplify issues of performance and capacity by making things more distributed, so that the clients could do the webcrawling, break it up for indexing, and either upload what they've got to a central server or pass it around peer-to-peer?
posted by XMLicious at 10:50 PM on March 14, 2013


Vienna for OS X is nice, imo. Surprised there's no mention of it in this thread.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:33 PM on March 14, 2013


It was, I D/Led it via a link here today, IIRC.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:36 PM on March 14, 2013


Who wants to be bet that the number of users hasn't gone down, but that the number of internet users has gone up but they haven't adopted Reader.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:57 PM on March 14, 2013


I'm still quite angry about all this. They Google could even consider of killing Reader is unthinkable to me. There are only three Google web products I use with real consistency: Search, Gmail and Reader. And of the three, Reader is by far the one I spend the most time with.

This is atrocious. What Google doesn't realize it's done, besides piss off millions of power users, is that the next time Google introduces a breathtaking new feature, they're going to find it a whole lot harder to find early adopters. They've destroyed that.
posted by JHarris at 1:25 AM on March 15, 2013 [10 favorites]


If you don't offer an RSS feed, I won't be back for a second visit.

So that's stupid of them, but you should just use Page2RSS.
posted by 23 at 1:27 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I'm a power user (or at least can be when I want to) but I am obstinately refusing to see how the hell can Twitter replace RSS. Not every blog I follow tweets when they update, and for a lot of them I do not care about what they think about event X or where are they eating - I just want the content of their blog.



Right below the comment box there's a Related Posts list, first post - "don't change my Google Reader backlash" - first comment:

Reader isn't going anywhere, and I think very few people used the share feature. I doubt it will have a significant impact user numbers.
posted by empath at 5:32 PM on October 24, 2011 [9 favorites +] [!] Other [1/2]: ·≡»


Weep softly for only 16 months later that proved to be false. Sigh.

I am holding out hope that somehow Google will change "it's" mind and not take away Reader. Probably irrationally.
posted by olya at 2:05 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll make you a deal, you can take away google reader if you bring back define:x.
posted by amitai at 3:47 AM on March 15, 2013


Feeds on LJ have been wonky for ages. Or they were, at least; it's been so long since I've checked my f-list, they might have fixed them by now. That's why I shifted to using Reader, actually — when blogs I knew updated daily didn't show new posts reflected on their LJ feeds for weeks… not feasible.

AFAIK, LiveJournal is now mostly a mass-market website in Russia, with a few vestigial users outside (mostly people who were in the first generation of internet-connected angsty teenagers, and a few people on celebrity-gossip communities). They have no staff outside of Russia (they closed their SF office last year or so) and aren't really concerned about non-mainstream use cases.

The LJ codebase was originally open-sourced, and there are forks, such as Dreamwidth. Which is run by nice people, but the site seems to have stopped evolving. They post status updates about work on the codebase, enumerating how many bugs have been closed in between administrivia about Subversion repositories, but there seems to be little actual progress to be seen for it; most of it seems to be mucking out the endless, infinitely replenishing Augean stables of bugs on a convoluted heap of legacy Perl code. They added some new JavaScript a year or so ago, but that was the last user-facing improvement. And LJ/DW still doesn't have a modern API one can write clients against, despite LJ's Brad Fitzpatrick having invented OpenID. (There's some CGI-style API where one logs in using a username/password and then has full access to everything, as used by 1990s-vintage LiveJournal posting clients, but that's so embarrassing in today's age of REST and OAuth2 that Dreamwidth, perhaps sensibly, don't mention it anywhere on their site.)

So it looks like anything based on the LiveJournal codebase is too old and unmaintainable to have a future. Which is a pity, because it was a nice system, by 1990s standards. Granted, it was written before modern APIs were invented and I'd be surprised if there was even one unit test in the code, but the identity/filtering (especially in Dreamwidth's fork, which split the “friend” relation into “gives access to” and “subscribes to”) were very useful. Perhaps, if Facebook hadn't grabbed a lock on everyone's online social time, someone should write a modern, standards-compliant LJ replacement, that would be to LJ what Discourse is to phpBB. It'd probably be written in Ruby on Rails, have an OAuth2-based API and a modern AJAX-based web interface.
posted by acb at 4:06 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can only assume the people who are happy to get their non-social stuff from Twitter or Facebook don't actually give a shit what they read as long as their friends have read it first. I know a few people who use social media as their reading/news list, but they're always complaining about missing out on stuff they would have liked to know. Social media and info notifications are just different beasts.

RSS is what they want, and they don't even know it. It will notify you of just the things you tell it to notify you of; let you read those things either in plain format or click to visit the exact spot on the site you're interested in; and doesn't show you the same item twice.

Fingers crossed for an RSS renaissance; maybe this time around it'll be more mainstream.
posted by harriet vane at 5:00 AM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


NewsBlur now costs $2/month.
posted by reenum at 5:02 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can only assume the people who are happy to get their non-social stuff from Twitter or Facebook don't actually give a shit what they read as long as their friends have read it first. I know a few people who use social media as their reading/news list, but they're always complaining about missing out on stuff they would have liked to know. Social media and info notifications are just different beasts.

Of course, my friends mostly share stuff with me on social networks that they originally read on Reader. Oh, wait.
posted by jaduncan at 5:06 AM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Of course, my friends mostly share stuff with me on social networks that they originally read on Reader. Oh, wait.

Not to worry; the social networks will be happy to step in with a range of shareable content, including sponsored content, celebrity press releases and the hottest viral ad campaigns to suit anybody's taste in social chatter.
posted by acb at 5:09 AM on March 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm now in the process of migrating to Gmail using an rss to email service. My luck, when I've finished, they'll shut down Gmail as well.
posted by feelinglistless at 5:12 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not to worry; the social networks will be happy to step in with a range of shareable content, including sponsored content, celebrity press releases and the hottest viral ad campaigns to suit anybody's taste in social chatter.

Happy days for them; I wouldn't see any value in being there for that. I can get idiotic forwarded stuff from my inlaws.
posted by jaduncan at 5:13 AM on March 15, 2013


I use Duck Duck Go as default browser search (except when it sucks, and I have to use Google)

This is my issue. I tried to switch to DDG but I just wasn't getting the quality of results that I was used to with Google. I would really, really like to switch from Google since it has become clear they are an advertising company that provides search on the side, and not the other way around.

But even as Google Search continues to deteriorate, ignoring words in my query when it doesn't like them and replacing everything with synonyms until I have to "search" "like" "this" (and even that doesn't work sometimes)... It still tends to work better than other search engines I've tried (though I'm open to hearing other options - anyone have a recommendation?).
posted by Gordafarin at 5:15 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here's a thought what if we all protested this by closing our G+ accounts?

Great idea, let me just close this out OW OW MY SHORT HAIRS
posted by Rykey at 5:26 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


People have G+ accounts?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:37 AM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do you have GMail, or an Android device, or a Reader feed, or anything else that has a Google login? If yes, then you also have a G+ account. Whether you want one or not.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:39 AM on March 15, 2013


Facebook is a great place to find out what pictures your friends thought were cute and or what your Republican aunt thinks of Obama or get details of your classmate's kids' kindergarten adventures but not so great for actual news.
posted by octothorpe at 5:42 AM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Guardian has linked to this thread, describing us as a "highbrow forum".

(Also, I have a GMail account and an Android device but I don't think I have a G+ account; I closed it some time ago.)
posted by dickasso at 5:49 AM on March 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Guardian article mentions the internal controversy and surprise within Google over killing Reader. Does anyone have internal knowledge to comment?
posted by jadepearl at 6:00 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't be surprised if there was some kind of internal revolt over it.
posted by empath at 6:22 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do you have GMail, or an Android device, or a Reader feed, or anything else that has a Google login? If yes, then you also have a G+ account. Whether you want one or not.

Nope. And you too can “downgrade” if you wish.
posted by stopgap at 6:24 AM on March 15, 2013


Here are my stats: From your 880 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 13,395 items, clicked 254 items, starred 112 items, and emailed 0 items. Since April 28, 2011 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.

I moved over to reader when I got an iphone - for me it's the syncing between desktop and various mobile devices that's so useful - that and a nice clean consistent text focused interface. On e of the reasons I don't like some of the new crop of readers is their focus on the visual. I'd love, and pay a regular subscription for, a reader that was just like an email client (on my desktop and my phone and my ipad).

Reader is where I start and finish my day, it's my daily and carefully curated, newspaper and it is for me the internet. This feels evil, and gives me no reason to ever trust google again.
posted by Gilgongo at 6:24 AM on March 15, 2013


Last night there were ~6500 people ahead of me in the Old Reader import queue. Now there are ~9500. The hell?
posted by griphus at 6:26 AM on March 15, 2013


One of the reasons I don't like some of the new crop of readers is their focus on the visual. I'd love, and pay a regular subscription for, a reader that was just like an email client

Reader was just about perfect for that on desktop and Newsify met that need for me in iOS, though looking at their website I see that I've changed their default settings somewhat. You can switch from newspaper view to a "traditional table view" and turn off thumbnails in the article list to get a result that's a lot like the iOS Mail app. I'm waiting to see what services they will sync with before I commit to a replacement for Google Reader on the back-end.
posted by stopgap at 6:31 AM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


My luck, when I've finished, they'll shut down Gmail as well.

As has been explained multiple times in this thread and in the press, Google shuts GMail (and other app services such as Search, Maps, Drive, and Youtube) down when the company as a whole is dead, since it's part of the core business and has paid support through enterprise accounts and ad revenue. Same pretty much goes for Android and Chrome/Chromium, which have the added benefits of being open-source and in the case of Android are well-supported by hardware manufacturers and carriers.

Do you have GMail, or an Android device, or a Reader feed, or anything else that has a Google login? If yes, then you also have a G+ account. Whether you want one or not.

This is incorrect. I have 3 Google accounts (business, personal, and anonymous), and only one of them has G+ enabled. In fact, I get asked about adding G+ every time I do a clean flash of a ROM on my phone and/or tablet and re-add the accounts.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:38 AM on March 15, 2013


I wouldn't be surprised if there was some kind of internal revolt over it.

Apparently so, although I'll be naming no names as to who told me.
posted by jaduncan at 6:38 AM on March 15, 2013


stopgap: I used Byline on the iphone and reader on the desktop. Byline was a perfect front end to reader. Feedly is quite nice on the desktop (if a bit visual) and, if Normandy works, it could be a good solution. But, and for me it's a big concern, there seems to be no way to export an opml file. So once my subscriptions are in I can't get them out.
posted by Gilgongo at 6:42 AM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


delmoi: "Delicious is still around. Their firefox plugin stopped working though so I kind of stopped using it."

I saw this and went back to look at Delicious, logged back in and ... was amazed to see that all the bookmarks I'd added since switching to Diigo were there on Delicious too. I added them all using the Diigo plugin for Firefox. As far as I can tell, Delicious and Diigo are unrelated companies ... but the Diigo plugin is feeding the Delicious maw too.
posted by chavenet at 6:43 AM on March 15, 2013


This is incorrect. I have 3 Google accounts (business, personal, and anonymous), and only one of them has G+ enabled.

I recently made a professional Google account. I didn't take any action to enable G+, though it tells me that it has been enabled, and asks if I want to friend the other people I've emailed/IMed for work purposes. Meanwhile, my personal G+ account is presented with my professional doppelgänger as a person I might know and want to friend.
posted by acb at 6:43 AM on March 15, 2013


I wanna just say this:

NEVER, NEVER LEAVE ME, METAFILTER.
posted by sutt at 6:54 AM on March 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


I didn't take any action to enable G+, though it tells me that it has been enabled.

It's opt-out instead of opt-in these days. But, again, you can “downgrade.”
posted by stopgap at 6:54 AM on March 15, 2013


griphus: "Last night there were ~6500 people ahead of me in the Old Reader import queue. Now there are ~9500. The hell?"

Imported my feeds last night after seeing similar wild fluctuations. I appreciate they're in a tough spot with so many new users, but at the moment it's reminding me of the fading days of Bloglines the first time around, feeds not updating, everything taking an age to load. Nowhere near the speed or currency of Google Reader.

I really, really hope something solid and with a pay option comes out of this. Nothing I've seen so far fills me with confidence.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:56 AM on March 15, 2013


I like keeping photos in G+ mostly because the auto-upload from my Nexus phone is seamless and the online editing tool is fairly useful. Other than that, I can't find much of a use for G+ even though I like the design of it in theory. But few people post there and few of my posts get commented on so it feels a little lonely there.
posted by octothorpe at 6:57 AM on March 15, 2013


Even if they're killing Reader due to it not generating ad revenue, its like tearing up a road so you can sell the land and collect property taxes on it.

I source the great majority of my posts from things I find from Reader. I wonder how many ad impressions that has generated?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:21 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have started to realize that I am not Google's target market. I think it has to do with the feeling that I need to adjust my habits and wants to their products, not the other way around.
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:32 AM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I really, really hope something solid and with a pay option comes out of this.

Yeah, this is the first time the death of a web service has ever so immediately and furiously triggered my SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY instinct.
posted by griphus at 7:59 AM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


"I really, really hope something solid and with a pay option comes out of this."

I'm paying close attention to NewsBlur. It's not dealing with the influx of traffic very well right now, but I'm sure it will settle down over the coming weeks. The little I've been able to use it seems promising, at least for the way I use reader.

Unfortunately the limits on the trial mean I can't really get a feel for it. Infrequent feed updates, limit of 12 feeds, no viewing a whole folder's items at once. So it seems promising, but I'm going to have to wait and really think about it before putting money down.

I was giving it a "maybe" at $12/yr, but now that he's asking $24, it's a definite "no" until its performance is back up to par.
posted by CrayDrygu at 8:09 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Old Reader is currently proving unable to sustain the sudden influx of Google Reader users switching over. My feeds haven't updated in more than 24 hours on TOR, even though GR shows many new items.

*Ugh*

I'm going to have to pay attention to NewsBlur. I sounds not as good as I'd like, though, and almost too feature heavy for my needs. I'm not opposed to paying, but I want to pay for the right thing.
posted by asnider at 8:38 AM on March 15, 2013


GigaOm has a good interview with one of Reader's original creators, Craig Wetherell, including a bittersweet screenshot at the end of an early internal beta of the service that shows MetaFilter as one of the suggested feeds.

In other news, the Change.org petition created by Dan "Now I Know!" Lewis has just hit 100,000 signatures, and is still collecting 2-3 more names per second.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:39 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually signed up on NewsBlur, Feedly and The Old Reader and I'm using all of them just to figure out what's even a possibility. The thing about Feedly is that no one has any idea what their new back-end will act like when it launches.
posted by griphus at 8:42 AM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Man, what a kick in the nuts.

I am a daily user (300K+ reads since 2007) for most of the same reasons everyone else here uses it: as a "live" bookmarking of sites that I find through other means, and a self-curated (and, importantly, organised) way to catch up on the news that matters to me. Not some other company's idea of what is important to me, and not some inscrutable algorithm's idea of which items are important.

A simple, uncluttered, uniformly-formatted chronological list of news. This is OCD heaven.

I like the idea of Feedly but the jury is still out on their "replacement API", and I can't bear to think that my beloved Reeder app on the iPad will potentially cease to function - I travel a lot and having the ability to wake up in a hotel in the morning, turn on Reeder, cache all my feeds and their content, and carry this onto the plane with me is an invaluable comfort.

The idea of all that metadata as well (the starred items particularly) potentially being in danger of vanishing or being un-searchable is very troubling.

Here's hoping for a BBC Radio 6 style un-cancellation from the Google lot.
posted by LondonYank at 9:04 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


It just occurred to me that if Microsoft were looking for ways to get people to think again about switching to Bing, Outlook.com, even Windows Phone, they could probably do a lot worse than fill the space that Google is opening up here.

It does look like replicating everything that Google Reader did is a Google-scale task, but MS is Google-scale, is already crawling the web etc.

And if they do a good job, they suddenly have a heck of a lot of influential people putting a toe in the water of their ecosystem, feeling good about them, maybe starting to think that of the various corporate empires that we're stuck with having to choose between, MS is the least unpalatable.
posted by philipy at 10:20 AM on March 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Lots of people can step in and build something that replaces Reader. And maybe even do so in a way that makes business sense.

Nobody can do it in three months.
posted by notyou at 10:25 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the Google+ project leads is asking (on Google+, natch):
I have a question for avid Google Reader users: what are the aspects of the way Reader works that made it so useful for you? I've heard a number of things floated in the past day -- e.g., the particular sources available, the way of managing read/unread state, various aspects of the UI -- but I'd like to understand better what the concrete things about Reader were which people found the most useful, because I'd like to integrate those ideas into future versions of many Google products, and try to capture that value.
He continues:
Warning: This is not a thread to simply complain about the shutdown, or to ask Google to keep Reader. That's not something that I can help you with, nor is it a decision that I had anything to do with, and this is not a good place to get anyone's attention about that. This thread is a place to talk about specific things which are useful about it so that we can think about good ways to capture that usefulness in the modern world.
posted by alby at 10:28 AM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


It does look like replicating everything that Google Reader did is a Google-scale task, but MS is Google-scale, is already crawling the web etc.

Chances are Microsoft's solution would look like a pantomime cow, be broken in arbitrary places, and would get shitcanned for political reasons within six months.
posted by acb at 10:30 AM on March 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


The thing about Feedly is that no one has any idea what their new back-end will act like when it launches.

I have a little file server here at the house that runs Amahi, which is a small open source SOHO server built on top of ... Fedora ... and I may set up Tiny RSS on that as a backup to Feedly, 'cause, like you say, who knows if "Normandy" will be able to what its designers intend it to do when July 1 arrives.

Meanwhile. Amahi is a nice solution for a home server for those willing to tinker. What would be nice is an Amahi for a server-server. An easy to setup and configure server "out there" for email, file backup and sharing, RSS, whatever.
posted by notyou at 10:34 AM on March 15, 2013


I have a question for avid Google Reader users: what are the aspects of the way Reader works that made it so useful for you?

Not to start an ontological argument, but in this case existence was a property and it turns out to have been the key one in making Google Reader useful.

Hyperbole time! Don't murder my husband in front of me and then stand there talking to me about what a great role model he was.

That might be hyperbole but also don't do it
posted by forgetful snow at 10:54 AM on March 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


Yeah, forgetful snow, it was difficult to visit that post and refrain from lashing out.

I went with a strategy I learned here ("Flag it and move on") and muted/blocked Mr G+ Engineer with an aggressive mouse-click.
posted by notyou at 10:59 AM on March 15, 2013


Digg wants to build a reader.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:02 AM on March 15, 2013


I can just imagine in a couple years when (hypothetically, of course) Google finally pulls the plug on Gmail (it takes so much server space, and everyone's just using Facebook anyway!)

"What are the aspects of the way Gmail works that made it so useful for you?

I simply can't imagine someone from Google needing to poll the usefulness of Gmail in this way. The design principles behind both products seem exactly the same to me. They are popular for the same reasons.
posted by muddgirl at 11:05 AM on March 15, 2013


Lots of people can step in and build something that replaces Reader

I'm no expert here, but as far as I can tell, lots of people can build things that would replaces *parts* of Reader. And those parts may be the only parts you personally care about, so maybe that seems like a complete replacement to you.

But as for actually replacing all of it, from comments by the people that built Reader to mathowie after he thought it through a bit, that looks to be something that needs huge scale behind it.

solution would look like a pantomime cow

My comment does include the phrase "if they did a good job". I would guess they don't make their decisions based on assuming they won't do a good job, so if I was them, I would be thinking pretty seriously about this.

But Outlook.com, Windows Phone 8 etc look and work pretty good. I don't use them because invested in other ecosystems, etc... but the point is exactly that here is somewhere MS could get someone like me to think about dipping a toe in their water.

would get shitcanned for political reasons within six months

Not if it was pitched to the top management the way I pitched it here.
posted by philipy at 11:13 AM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


But Outlook.com, Windows Phone 8 etc look and work pretty good. I don't use them because invested in other ecosystems, etc

If you have actually used Outlook.com, you would know this isn't true. WP8 is fine, but it's a decent OS with some truly fantastic devices and utterly shitty partner support.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:23 AM on March 15, 2013


...and muted/blocked Mr G+ Engineer with an aggressive mouse-click.

It seems possible to me that the engineer in question may be trying to route-around the executive decision to nuke Reader, by sneaking it in G+'s back-door. Which would be handy, even if it would have been better (IMSLTHO) for G+ to be an extension of Reader, rather than the other way round.


But as for actually replacing all of it, from comments by the people that built Reader to mathowie after he thought it through a bit, that looks to be something that needs huge scale behind it.

Creating software to do the same thing as Reader on a small or specific scale isn't particularly hard.

What's made reader so successful is the breadth and depth it operated on, and the multitude of possibilities for use-patterns that emerged from that. For instance, apparently (from the comments here, anyway) the search isn't used much, but it was rather magnificent; e.g. I've got a collection of climate change related blogs I keep up with in reader, with Readers's search I could limit a search to just those blogs and it would operate on all the posts in all of them (regardless of whether the blog had died, or relocated) -- so any article I half remembered, but not where from.. there it would be, or every post about the clathrates gun hypothesis, etc... Ditto for my folder of bargain hunter foraa/lists, I didn't even read or scan most of the entries, but if there was a specific item I wanted, then a search via Reader worked wonders.
posted by titus-g at 11:28 AM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if Dave Winer and Ben Parr have abandoned email and replaced it with Twitter. Inboxes are so passe -- it's all about the info river. If your message was important enough, other people would re-tweet it until Winer sees it.
posted by muddgirl at 11:38 AM on March 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


I'm no expert here, but as far as I can tell, lots of people can build things that would replaces *parts* of Reader. And those parts may be the only parts you personally care about, so maybe that seems like a complete replacement to you.

But as for actually replacing all of it, from comments by the people that built Reader to mathowie after he thought it through a bit, that looks to be something that needs huge scale behind it.


My point was not to understate the complexity nor the scale of the endeavor.

It was to restate how shitty it was of Google to kill the service three months after the announcement. Not even Google could build Reader in just three months.
posted by notyou at 12:18 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hyperbole time! Don't murder my husband in front of me and then stand there talking to me about what a great role model he was.

What I hate about recent years is how spin and marketspeak have progressed to the point where this statement seems less like hyperbole and more like just analogy, exempli gratia, "These changes are never easy. But by focusing our efforts, we can concentrate on building great products that really help in their lives."
posted by JHarris at 12:24 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not even Google could build Reader in just three months.

Well that's the point, isn't it? To them, that's a feature. Just because they're killing one of their projects doesn't mean they want to hand it over to a competitor. They gave advance notice so users can try to rescue their feed lists, not to wait until someone has a turnkey "reader2newhost" solution.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:35 PM on March 15, 2013


Awesome, I took the time to write up a really long response to Zunger's post, and while I was doing so "The comments have filled up! ... I know that many of you are coming to this thread after it’s filled up, and still have feedback you want to leave. I’ve decided not to open a second thread, because 500 comments -- over 53,000 words! -- is already a lot for me to read through, and it seems that we’ve uncovered the key points already."

Given what I'd written, that seems supremely ironic...
For me, the big one was a sense of permanence. If I discovered an amazing new site, I'd be able to browse its entire history even if the actual XML feed didn't go back that far and it didn't have a usable archive. If I subscribed to a blog, I'd still be subscribed to it even if I got a new phone or desktop or tablet, and I wouldn't have to transfer a bunch of files and go through an awkward "Import..." dialogue and recategorize everything. When I "starred" something, it stayed starred until I unstarred it, which meant I could use it as a "to-read" marker or a "remember-for-the-future" marker or whatever. And it was a Google product, so I didn't have to worry that it would fall into disuse or fail to keep up with the times or that you'd suddenly go out of business and I'd lose all that permanence.

Reader was a tool for information junkies, and I think we're just inherently archivists (or packrats, depending on your perspective). The first writer, the first photographer, the first librarian, all were people who just couldn't *bear* to think that an amazing thing would go forgotten or unappreciated.

I think a lot of the backlash is because people didn't just use Reader, they *identified* with it. I look at the links at the top of the screen as I write this, and four out of ten -- Search, Images, YouTube, and Gmail -- can lay claim to "archiving" as a primary feature. Drive and Plus may get there with more time and wider adoption.

Google seemed like an ally to this cause. You built a great library where we could all record, recall, and share our favorite works... but have now announced that you're going to burn it down, ostensibly because only a few million people were still using it. Yes, we're aware that we have a little bit of time to collect our belongings, but that's just an inconvenience and not really the issue.

The widespread sense of betrayal is because a lot of people who value permanence came to believe that Google does so as well, only to find that trust to have been unfounded. That was perhaps not a fair expectation of a for-profit company, but here we are.

So to your question, about how to develop new products to replace Reader's functionality? Build them to evolve, rather than to be replaced. Don't let anything disappear until you have something better and a way to transition to it.

MySpaces and Groupons fade because they were designed around transience. I'd have said the same about Facebook until they made "Timeline" a keyword (we'll see if they stick with it). No one is better positioned than Google to have the luxury of both trying new things *and* making the good ones sustainable.

Nothing is quite as hard as regaining the trust of people who love remembering things, unfortunately. Fortunately, they'll remember that you did it.
But you know, 53,000 words is already a lot and we probably don't need any more feedback than that.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:07 PM on March 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


Rhaomi: "GigaOm has a good interview with one of Reader's original creators, Craig Wetherell"

Sorry, Chris Wetherell.



it works on two levels
posted by Rhaomi at 1:56 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


First Listen and now Reader. First rate products that worked together seamlessly. Not looking forward to the diaspora.
posted by whuppy at 2:05 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yahoo Should Seize the Moment and Improve Its RSS Reader
posted by Cash4Lead at 2:08 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pinboard to offer a paid RSS reader? Here's hoping.

You may be right to hope.
posted by Cash4Lead at 2:12 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


I won't need to deliberately "protest" this, but once I've got another RSS reader in place, I won't have a reason to be logged into a Google service. I have a Gmail address I never use, a Youtube account that I haven't posted to in years. In theory I've got a G+ account as a result of that, but I never did anything with it. Search and Reader are the only Google things I use almost every day.

Maybe I'll want to access Youtube videos flagged as 18+ but how often did that come up, really?
posted by RobotHero at 2:29 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


What I am finding fascinating is that:

1) the data cloud created by Google Reader was NOT being mined, in some manner, by Google. Seriously, you have all that collective brain power of omnivorous info-junkies and social information and you did NOT mine it for aggregate data? I assumed that the data was being mined to be used for pageranking, trend analysis and all sort of data mapping projects;

2) When the social/sharing function of Reader had been shut off I thought that the plan was to roll Reader into G+ and integrate all the services that a person uses in G-sphere. It looks like that was not the plan at all and it was a simple deprecation that had some consequences such as, killing an organic social community of data-vores;

3) That internal Google was not prepared for the reaction and the consequences of removing Reader on short notice. Seriously, your competition usually PAYS people to create FUD about you. Now, you have a disgruntled population who are looking for a way out;

4) These behemoths, they want to be AOL in its halcyon days. You stay in the garden or else. Part of the charm of AOL in the early days was the community forums and people had to push the "internet" button to purposely exit, but why exit when your community is in the garden? People fled AOL when the community changed and they found alternative communities outside the wall;

5) Brin and Page come out research, so taking a hammer to something heavily used by researchers is puzzling. Other stray bits of information indicate that people within Google used Reader so the hammer seems out of place. In any case, how long G-Scholar or any other non-apparent monetization item will last? Again, the FUD;

6) My good will and the will of others. I admired the goal of capturing all of human knowledge. It was bold, ambitious, grandiose and maybe, just maybe somewhat achievable. Scanning all the books in the world archives? YAY! Driving around and gathering all the GIS and visual data on the Earth's surface? Great! Want to track my internet moves with non-expiring cookies and mine my data cloud? Sure! After all, Don't be Evil and look at all the cool stuff gets you a long way. Now, well, let us say that I am not at the DTMFA stage yet, but I am not sure that you are that into me or that I will be that into you either. Let's be friends with tenuous benefits.
posted by jadepearl at 2:45 PM on March 15, 2013 [19 favorites]


I'm trying to figure out whether giving my money to newsblur and moving on is stage #3, bargaining (I'll pay you to help me pretend I haven't lost anything) or #5, acceptance (google reader is no more, I've moved on, it's fine).
posted by jepler at 3:04 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


My reaction to the Google+ PL's post is a sensation that Google is fucked.
posted by humanfont at 4:36 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cash4Lead: "Pinboard to offer a paid RSS reader? Here's hoping.

You may be right to hope.
"

I would happily give Mr Pinboard more money - Pinboard was the perfect solution to my Delicious crisis, maybe PinReader will be the perfect solution to my RSS crisis.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:56 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, if anyone had told me even five years ago that wanting to subscribe to RSS feeds would apparently make me a crotchety Old Internet Man according to Google, I would have laughed in their face.

Times change, I guess.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:05 PM on March 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm still in the denial stage. Reader is pretty much the A section of the Internet for me. The things I read every day. 300k+ items. :/
posted by introp at 5:14 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google laughing subscription news service. If this is the strategic impetus I will burn things.
posted by jaduncan at 5:27 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Pinboard was the perfect solution to my Delicious crisis, maybe PinReader will be the perfect solution to my RSS crisis."

Yes. And I hope they call it Reapin.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:42 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google laughing subscription news service.

I can't tell if this is a typo.   : (
posted by stopgap at 6:01 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


This entire week reminds me of when Netflix decided to spin their disc-mailing service off as Kwikster, or whatever the hell it was called. A telling moment of weakness.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:06 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just in case anyone still needs help moving their stuff from Reader over to a new app.
posted by peppermind at 6:11 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The thing that annoys me is that Greader was more than just an RSS reader.

It was a focused search engine of subject matter experts who I could rely on to tell me something interesting on some piece of news.

I had blogs sorted into folders by areas that I wasn't an expert in, but was interested in, like Psychology or Astronomy. If some exciting news came up in those areas, I could go to my specific folder of astrophysicist, cosmologist, or astronomer blogs and do a focused search in Greader of the news. I didn't have to rely on news articles themselves. I could rely on experts themselves to tell me what was up.

People discussing this Greader issue (like on HN) seem to miss this point. Greader to me wasn't just an RSS feed; it was a specialized search engine of expert opinions. Discontinuing it makes me think that Google itself has lost sight of their bigger picture (search and information).
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 6:38 PM on March 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


jaduncan, I do not think the demise of g-reader was done with a nuanced, strategic reasoning for a future goal. The way things blew up indicates that this was a decision not made with a long term strategic goal.

Steve Jobs' jab at Page about Google needing to focus and "growing up" can be reversed somewhat by rephrasing Jobs' pitch to Sculley from sugar water to: "Do you want to sell advertising for the rest of your life? Or do you want to .. change the world?" Google has changed the world, no doubt. That mission of collecting all of human knowledge, not bad, not bad at all. Trying to imitate Facebook? Well, it is a bit of a step down in ambition.

If someone has insight about why the ambition of triumphing over Facebook is such a goal, I would be glad to hear it. Because Facebook is just another tool in the spectrum of media channels that push/pull with radio/tv broadcasting being one part of the axis that just broadcasts while we passively receive. Social media has seen providers come and go so Facebook being around in ten years seems a bit dubious, but I am old and again would like to hear a contrary analysis.

The bigger discussion is how people attain, curate, process, generate and broadcast information. Entities such as, government policies, corporate strategies, technology movements are constellating over this topic. G-reader, I am afraid, is collateral damage in the struggle between entities over this territory.

I am sure that we will encounter PR talk from Google that is:
.. garbage, but it had been cooked by an expert. Oh, yes. You had to admire the way perfectly innocent words were mugged, ravished, stripped of all true meaning and decency and then sent to walk the gutter ... although ‘synergistically’ had probably been a whore from the start...problems were clearly the result of some mysterious spasm in the universe and had nothing to do with greed, arrogance and wilful stupidity. (Pratchett, Going Postal, p. 307)
Now, Google, like Cortez, can only go forward because the boats have been burnt. I am sure that some conciliatory noises will be made now about G-Reader was ALWAYS intended to be in G+ and it was the migration team's fault for causing the agita (I assume blamestorming happens everywhere). But the engineer in G+ was somewhat, rough, in his approach of getting community feedback. Blah, blah, strategic vision integrated to the larger mission, blah, blah... What is that charming Yiddish phrase, ah yes, "don't piss on my back and then tell me that its rain."

I look forward to reading further analysis on the topic.
posted by jadepearl at 6:49 PM on March 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


The 3 month notice period means that this wasn't some accidental mistake. If you really are just tired of supporting something you can close it over two years and let people find alternatives. This is an attempt to kill a particular way of interacting with the internet.
posted by leopard at 7:06 PM on March 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


A very common mistake entrepreneurs make is to assume that a feature is not necessary because it doesn’t have a lot of usage, thus it can be safely removed from the product. Sometimes that’s the case, but sometimes, not so much.

Google made a big mistake cancelling Google Reader that will have severe ripple effects to its empire. I know a lot has been written about it, but let me give you a different angle on it.

Google is about to learn a tough lesson.
posted by gerryblog at 7:13 PM on March 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Wow, that Google+ PL post really is something. They have no idea what they even had.
posted by gerryblog at 7:20 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gerryblog, just to be sure, which post?
posted by jadepearl at 7:30 PM on March 15, 2013


I was talking about this one.
posted by gerryblog at 7:41 PM on March 15, 2013


This is an attempt to kill a particular way of interacting with the internet.

If this is indeed true, and the cause is not just breathtaking cluelessness on the part of Google, then it would signify vast hubris on their part. It's probably hubris borne on the (stupidly prevalent among journalists) perception that Facebook and Twitter now somehow are the internet, instead of an extremely shallow crust floating on top, and that the rest of it isn't important anymore, and that it's also Google's to do with as they please.

Google never had any control. People use it as a tool to get to where they were going. It's a conduit, transportation, a directory, never an end in itself. If Google closes its privately-owned highway, someone else will open another one, and probably one that will ultimately do a better job than Google did.
posted by JHarris at 7:42 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I realized at dinner today - in all this talk about how my cohort (mid-to-late twenties tech-minded people) interact with the internet, I've completely forgotten about Reddit! In many ways Reddit (and Digg before it) exemplify the "river of data" model that Dave Winer and Ben Parr use. Instead of subscribing to an individual blog RSS or even a larger conglomerate like Gizmodo, my friends follow ever-finely divided subreddits.
posted by muddgirl at 7:49 PM on March 15, 2013


Hey, could someone tell me where the stats page is? I've wanted to chime in with my own but don't know where the numbers are.
posted by JHarris at 7:49 PM on March 15, 2013


(Of course many of my friends use both Reddit and GReader.)
posted by muddgirl at 7:50 PM on March 15, 2013


Gerryblog, thanks. I had read that one. Yunger was a bit, rough in his approach to the community. His manner did not give me positive feelings toward a resolution at all, just pacification.
posted by jadepearl at 7:55 PM on March 15, 2013


Yahoo replace Google Reader? They'd make something that toasts bread instead and entirely by accident.
posted by JHarris at 7:58 PM on March 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Guardian has linked to this thread, describing us as a "highbrow forum".

He don't know we very well, do he?

Google shuts GMail (and other app services such as Search, Maps, Drive, and Youtube) down when the company as a whole is dead, since it's part of the core business and has paid support through enterprise accounts and ad revenue. Same pretty much goes for Android and Chrome/Chromium, which have the added benefits of being open-source and in the case of Android are well-supported by hardware manufacturers and carriers.

But what if Google finds something else more profitable than that? The precedent that's been set is, only the X most profitable things matter to them, everyone else can jump off a cliff as far as Google is concerned. It doesn't matter if they're still doing well relatively-speaking, or even if they're better than they ever were, it just matters what's at the front of the list.
posted by JHarris at 8:03 PM on March 15, 2013


The stats are under Trends.

I'm a late-comer: From your 113 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 3,350 items, clicked 0 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since August 5, 2010 you have read a total of 164,362 items.
posted by rewil at 8:05 PM on March 15, 2013


He don't know we very well, do he?

I guess not... He seems to think a "600-post thread of anger and dismay" is an unusual occurrence in these parts.

Very nice analogy about bees though.
posted by philipy at 8:22 PM on March 15, 2013


First they came for Bloglines, we stood by and watched it go. Then they destroyed Del.icio.us, and we shed our tears.

Today, we need to build a subscription only, moderator supported, independently owned, paid for Web 2.0.

Where's the Kickstarter? I'm in.
posted by infini at 8:25 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


From your 1,017 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 3,779 items, clicked 42 items, starred 1 items, and emailed 0 items. Since August 2, 2009 you have read a total of 300,000+ items.

I'm clearly a hoarder of subscriptions, not all of which I actually read. Nonetheless, what the fuck am I going to do now.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 8:42 PM on March 15, 2013


It's hard to believe that Reader wasn't used by tons of people inside google. it was used by a lot of people inside google
Google launching subscription news service. If this is the strategic impetus I will burn things.
Google actually has another... thing... that reads RSS/Atom feeds google currents and guess what, it's designed for all your devices: android tablets and ipads! It looks like it's setup like a stupid magazine.

It seems like there's this really obnoxious trend lately where Facebook/google/twitter just treat all content as fungiable and interchangeable, as if they think their algorithms will just pick stuff for us to look at at any given minute.

And sure, those algorithms might work if you just want distraction and don't really care what you look at - youtube usually finds videos I want to watch, for example. But in some cases there is a particular topic I'm interested in, or I want to catch up with my favorite blogger/video maker and read/watch all their stuff - youtube isn't terrible (it has subscriptions and does tell you if you've watched a video if you use that feature) but in general the 'news feed' model of content totally sucks if you actually care about the content.

One example is getting rid of the pagination links at the bottom of things and instead replacing them with infinite scroll, instead of being able to zip around and explore history, you're relegated to reading through everything, what if you want to read the stuff you havn't seen yet? Sorry, you need to spend an hour loading and scrolling past everything you've ever seen. Want to see the first ever video by a youtuber? Forget about it.

Facebook is the worst. You get one huge feed and Facebook hides half of it. It looks like "currents" is the same thing just a big amalgam of whatever google thinks you're interested in, with no consideration of the possibility you might actually give a shit

Maybe most people are happy to sit back and "consume" without thinking about or interacting with the content at all. But for power-users it's really obnoxious.
posted by delmoi at 8:54 PM on March 15, 2013 [14 favorites]


Ugh.
This has made me rethink my google music account, everything non-critical has been moved to alternatives the last day.
Damnit.
posted by xcasex at 8:59 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh, this Yonatan Zunger guy was getting all butthurt about people posting about Google Reader on Vic Gundotra's G+ page:
+Yonatan Zunger Yesterday 3:01 AM (edited)+10 Translate
+Felix Berthelmann Well, he should -- this is a thread about mathematics and history, and not the appropriate place to discuss things about Google. If you want to discuss those, there are other threads which are more appropriate.

(And +Vic Gundotra, feel free to prune this one as well if you like! I'm all in favor of cultivating one's thread garden, especially after a day like today)
....

Yonatan Zunger Yesterday 3:10 AM+7 Translate

Which would just discourage him from ever posting about non-Google topics, which I don't think is what you actually want to do.

If you want a chance to engage with Vic, go over to his post and engage with him about the subject of the post. Have real conversations. If you treat him like his presence is there to serve you... well, he'll just ignore and/or block you. It's certainly what I would do.

.....

Yonatan ZungerYesterday 3:36 AM+3 Translate
+Felix Berthelmann As has been pointed out, this post is not the appropriate place to have this discussion. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Vic deleting off-topic comments; he's not silencing anyone, people have been talking about it plenty all day. But there is a time and a place.
What a douchenozzle. And ass kisser.
posted by delmoi at 9:18 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


From your 128 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 3,184 items, clicked 140 items, starred 5 items, and emailed 2 items.
Since January 28, 2007 you have read a total of 95,110 items.
From July 1st, 2013 we'll laugh and point instead.
posted by infini at 9:24 PM on March 15, 2013


Wow, this whole deal caused me to actually log into the Google Reader website for the first time in a few years. I've always used it to sync my feeds across my Mac/iPhone (NetNewsWire on both) and Nexus 10 (gReader), but both of those views are so much cleaner than the web interface that I can't imagine using it day to day. The essential feature it provided for me was as a backend for keeping my feeds up-to-date in terms of stars and unread items. I don't really care about the interface as long as there is one backend profile keeping them all aligned. I have to hope that this is less of an issue than search or archives of long-dead articles. Using IMAP is reliable enough for email sync, I imagine the same could be accomplished for RSS.
posted by fishmasta at 9:34 PM on March 15, 2013


He seems to think a "600-post thread of anger and dismay" is an unusual occurrence in these parts.

It actually is, when the thread is nearly unanimous. You almost always can find someone to say "Naw, what they're doing is cool and actually necessary, and all of you are idiots for thinking otherwise, for (obviously bullshit reason)." For some reason that hasn't happened here, although it might just be because Google is more reluctant to send people out to shill, or they aren't as good at it or something.
posted by JHarris at 10:43 PM on March 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


My stats page says: Since October 9, 2005 you have read a total of 120,959 items. Nowhere near as many as some of you, but still, over 100K.
posted by JHarris at 10:47 PM on March 15, 2013


I'm at about 150k read despite only really using it for the past year or so. I've had the account since 2005/6, but I only really picked up on it since I've had multiple devices to keep track of. It's only going to get more and more fragmented if people can't keep up to date on this. It may lead to more hits if people check a page more often, but in the end I mostly hate the whole experience more and ignore the internet more than I would than if it gave me what I want. I never thought Google would be breeding Luddites, but it's looking pretty attractive right now.
posted by fishmasta at 11:01 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google is more reluctant to send people out to shill, or they aren't as good at it or something.

There is also considerable strife internally (now confirmed to me by 3 seperate Googlers). The internal reaction is not very different from this thread.
posted by jaduncan at 11:17 PM on March 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


Wait.
They're killing off activesync as well?
let's see here:
caldav
exchange(activesync)
xmpp
reader
listen

Are they aiming to botch operations in one fell swoop?
posted by xcasex at 11:35 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hm, I think the stats are flakish.

"From your 61 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 2,079 items, clicked 35 items, starred 2 items, and emailed 5 items.
Since March 5, 2009 you have read a total of 299,990 items."

When this whole fracas broke out the total count was over 300k.

I evidently first looked at using GR in 2005, and at that time contemplated a future migration by circa 2007, which appears to have occurred, with the driving motivation being multi-device-and-platform statefulness. The Symbian mobile OS incarnation (presumably rendering within Opera) appears to have been more satisfactory than the experience of using Reader on a Treo.

I have vague recollections of installing one or two PalmOS RSS clients that relied on cable sync back in ye olde Precellular Era; as I recall they would fill up the device with cached content very quickly.
posted by mwhybark at 11:44 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well I used Bloglines till *it* died... so my count is lower (helplessly watches the 'wannabe' self respond)
posted by infini at 1:56 AM on March 16, 2013


From my 2 accounts (business/personal):

From your 1,387 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 30 items, clicked 3 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since June 8, 2010 you have read a total of 291,938 items.

From your 132 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 144 items, clicked 0 items, starred 0 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since August 15, 2006 you have read a total of 118,645 items.

I have actually been data-fasting of late in order to actually Get Things Done, hence not having read much in the last 30 days. Unfortunately, I am going to have to give up that fast now and binge till I get the first account up 300K (the power of numbers compels me!)
posted by titus-g at 2:41 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it only who finds that every blog/discussion has missed FeedHQ entrirely?

BTW, I've been using it for sometime and it's fast, clean(very clean), open source and they have promised to add features, better the UI and offer clients' support.
posted by amar at 4:54 AM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm fully imported into Old Reader now and it's ugly, ugly, ugly. On my iPad it is very unresponsive. To collapse a folder takes an age. The display options are lame. Off to investigate further. Happy hunting fellow ex-GReaders.
posted by unliteral at 5:02 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


... google currents and guess what, it's designed for all your devices

The fuck it is. What about my laptop?
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:10 AM on March 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


This whole thing reminds me in a way of what Apple did to Final Cut re its professional market.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:14 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just checked out Feedly on the iPad too. FIH, I don't want a quasi magazine, I want a minimal headline, blurb and some pictures that are/maybe included in the post presented in a linear fashion. That's all. Nothing more.
posted by unliteral at 5:14 AM on March 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


From your 413 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 11,231 items, clicked 12 items, starred 8 items, and emailed 0 items.
Since July 6, 2009 you have read a total of 300,000+ items

Words fail me.

But whoever said "Google Reader IS the internet to me" said it best.
posted by jeffen at 5:19 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Feed IQ's register page says 'Coming Soon" and then asks you to leave your e-mail and "we'll let you know when we're ready to accept customers".
posted by jeffen at 5:25 AM on March 16, 2013


I want something that is the same on my desktop, iPad and iPhone. GReader did that. Nothing else so far provides that. Yes, I will pay, but don't try and gouge me, because I will pay but complain about you. Who wants to provide a service that the customer constantly complains about? No one right? Oh! hang on…
posted by unliteral at 5:27 AM on March 16, 2013


It's completely crazy that it is easier to import your google reader feed into feedly than into google currents.
posted by cnanderson at 5:51 AM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


So far netvibes is decent, but it's not updating as fast as I know there must be new material. And *that* is really frustrating.
posted by aclevername at 5:55 AM on March 16, 2013


Former Google Reader product manager confirms our suspicions: Its demise is all about Google+.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:11 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, in that case they'll have to unblock my Google+ profile first, won't they? *idiots*
posted by infini at 6:14 AM on March 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


The G+ executive seems really oblivious to what people are telling him in his thread. They're all talking about the control Reader gave them, and he seems to think its because there were quality bloggers using RSS to push their content (instead of relying on Twitter/FB/G+).

Is it so hard to understand that people want different things from their social apps than they want from their info apps? I always assumed the attempts to build walled gardens in the AOL mold were based on greed and disregard for consumers' needs in favour of satisfying their fleeting wants. But maybe they were based on stupidity after all...
posted by harriet vane at 7:17 AM on March 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I get that Google wants to push people into G+, and I don't have a problem with that. I've even dipped my toe back in that stagnant pool as they've pushed the "communities" model, which fills a gap that Facebook is still pretty terrible at. What boggles my mind is that they couldn't (or wouldn't) figure out a way to ease us Reader junkies on to the new drug - G+ could only benefit from so many power users doing their info-stream filtering inside G+, with the new sharing/community/discussion tools right there. Facebook is shit for sharing interesting web links, in part because of how hard it is to direct stuff to the people who might be interested, or even to know who's going to see your posts. If the end goal is to get content providers, content filterers and content consumers all inside G+, this is about the worst method I could imagine.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 7:27 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


What if all the content providers, content filterers and content consumers (on the webz, that's the 1% generating the content) decided to go on strike?

Do you think they'll notice humans then?
posted by infini at 7:32 AM on March 16, 2013


This whole thing reminds me in a way of what Apple did to Final Cut re its professional market.

Or what they're potentially doing if they truly have stopped the Mac Pro tower line.
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 7:38 AM on March 16, 2013


The biggest joke about Facebook is that it's where you get to see how racist or otherwise awful all of your relatives/childhood friends are.

Why the heck would anyone think we want a place like that to be our main access to the web!?
posted by meese at 7:42 AM on March 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Or what they're potentially doing if they truly have stopped the Mac Pro tower line.

They can't stop the (smbios) signal.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:54 AM on March 16, 2013


Slate has an eye-opening feature up called the Google Graveyard, a full listing of all the products, services, and experiments that Google has discontinued over the years. Especially interesting is the interactive aspect that allows readers to click to leave a virtual flower on the grave. Scrolling through, it's striking not only how many projects Google has axed, but how Reader is truly on a whole 'nother plane in terms of popularity.

Seriously, think back on some of these things. Buzz. Wave. Desktop. Notebook. Knol. iGoogle. I used many of these, found many of them useful, but was only mildly annoyed when they went away, and recall no real outrage over their removal. Even the runner-up, Google Video, was truly defunct, and the uproar was more about the loss of a vast archive of unique content (hence the Archive Team intervention, and the eventual decision by Google to push back the deadline and move all content to YouTube).

But Reader? It's generating orders of magnitude more hate, and doing orders of magnitude more damage to the way people use the web. I don't remember Cory Doctorow and Felicia Day mourning Knol. I don't recall mathowie saying he'd quit MeFi to work on a Google Buzz replacement. There wasn't a 100,000-strong petition to save Sidewiki. And the closure of Google Labs didn't make the pages of the New York Times.

Google has crossed a line, here.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:59 AM on March 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


If we ever needed a slap in the face to remind us we're the product... this is it.
posted by infini at 8:02 AM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does anyone else thing Buzz was actually better then Google+?
posted by delmoi at 8:04 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just seen on Twitter: “Never trust a web service that you don’t pay for.” is the next generation’s “Never trust anyone over 30.”
posted by acb at 8:11 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


*ignores delmoi pointedly*
posted by infini at 8:26 AM on March 16, 2013


meanwhile, buzzfeed confirms 3 0 0 million active users of google reader.
posted by xcasex at 8:39 AM on March 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


If they really want us in G+, why not migrate the full Reader featureset? I mean, if they had just started bolting G+ on to Reader, they would have their fucking FB killer and I wouldn't be getting rageface inked over my Google neck tat. But every time I go look at G+ I start to twitch because of its horrible UI, and the lack of queue-to-completion.
posted by mwhybark at 8:41 AM on March 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


New Pope to blame for death of Google Reader.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 8:42 AM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


300 million. Good christ.
posted by mwhybark at 8:42 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Heh..."not enough users to justify its existence"...
posted by infini at 8:43 AM on March 16, 2013


mwhybark my reaction as well, although I said it out loud while gasping in front of the laptop. I just can't see the reasoning anymore.

There's a wealth of data ready to be mined from our reading habits, more so than search, which to me goes to lack of leadership vision.
posted by xcasex at 8:45 AM on March 16, 2013


No, I think that Buzzfeed article says Reader sent around 8 million views (per month?) to them for most of 2012, then rose to a high of 25 million in late Feb 2013.

The 300 million number refers to Buzzfeed itself (i.e., that's the total number of views over all of Buzzfeed's sites).
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:48 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


meanwhile, buzzfeed confirms 3 0 0 million active users of google reader.

I think you're misreading -- 300 million was the total userbase of the Buzzfeed Network. But the article shows the Google Reader interface still drove at least 10-25 million hits on that one network of sites per month (which doesn't account for the myriad apps and sites that use Reader as a back-end).

Reader was popular, but not "entire population of the United States" popular.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:49 AM on March 16, 2013


The censorship angle.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 8:55 AM on March 16, 2013


Google is a business, not a public utility, and its decision to kill Reader makes business sense. But was maintaining Reader really so much of a drain on Google’s vast resources that it couldn’t have let the little remora keep hanging on as long as possible, as a kind of pro-bono, “don’t be evil” brand-burnishing project? Google didn’t design Reader to be used this way, and couldn’t have predicted that it would be, but there it is. Why extinguish the benefit?
posted by infini at 9:07 AM on March 16, 2013


So they're cutting Reader in order to become more "focused." Apparently, what they're focusing on is talking shoes.

In other news, Microsoft is cancelling the Xbox so they can focus on Songsmith.
posted by Dr-Baa at 10:18 AM on March 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


"focused"

Like the Eye Of Sauron. And look what happened to that.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 10:27 AM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Supposedly Iran is going to work on their own Google clone, at which point they'll probably finally block google for real, including google reader.
posted by delmoi at 10:29 AM on March 16, 2013


If the end goal is to get content providers, content filterers and content consumers all inside G+, this is about the worst method I could imagine.

The content filterers/curators/disseminators that they really need getting comfortable in G+ in order to draw the mass of "data ruminators" (to steal that Guardian writer's phrase) in after them are pretty much certainly almost all symbiotically bonded to Reader by this point. So the chances of them deciding that G+ is now the place to be has gotta be pretty slim. It kinda the opposite of what they want to be doing. If they'd just gradually merged Reader into G+ people would have grumbled, but they would have stuck around as long as the functionality was still there.
posted by titus-g at 10:39 AM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm fully imported into Old Reader now and it's ugly, ugly, ugly.

There are definitely some usability issues (no alpha sorting?) completely separate from the understandable recent slowness. I was going to make a list but instead I'll link to their customer feedback, where most of those issues are already suggestions.
posted by Lorin at 10:41 AM on March 16, 2013


Or, to put it another way, if you're going to insist on trying to herd cats: use a bowl of food. Don't bang pans and shoot guns at them while shouting "GO AWAY CATS!"
posted by titus-g at 10:43 AM on March 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


the old reader: There are 30677 users in the import queue ahead of you.

i'm thinking about rolling my own or modifying something usable like ttrss for myself and others to use...
posted by xcasex at 1:51 PM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ya know, there's an alternate universe out there where, instead of killing Reader to advance Plus, Google took their great success Reader, with its quiet but great sharing feature, and built it into their Facebook challenger. I can't say it it would have succeeded in that role, but at least Google wouldn't look like such a sleazy copycat doing it, it would have been built of off web standards instead of in spite of them, and we'd all be a lot happier right now. Just saying.
posted by JHarris at 1:58 PM on March 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


Truly. If Google had fostered the organic community of Reader and marketed it smartly rather than ignoring it (it's the TiVo of the Internet!), they could have extended its reach into other areas and expanded it into a healthy, authentic social network. Instead they try to make a Facebook clone and shoehorn it into a billion users' lives unnaturally, imposing it from the top down in annoying, artificial ways that don't lead to real engagement or interest -- and crushing their nascent power-user driven success story without a second thought.

It's like if Facebook circa 2006 decided to rip out the connections to high schools/universities and try to focus more on musical groups, because hey, it's working for MySpace!
posted by Rhaomi at 2:21 PM on March 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


Slightly less crushing news everyone! (for me anyway).

It looks like at least one of my reader folders is now possibly surplus to requirements (music > watching) as Spotify has a new 'Follow' button on artist pages. It can be seen here on the page of Childish Gambino: spotify:artist:73sIBHcqh3Z3NyqHKZ7FOL

This may seem like a derail: but it goes to the point: in this case discovery could end up being intimately linked with sharing (and end up bypassing the big ersatz social networks like facebook and ermm, facebook wallabys like G+). The foundations social networks are based on are fluid (albeit often non-Newtonian). Especially when it comes to 'sharing'.
posted by titus-g at 3:10 PM on March 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The New Yorker weighs in: "Google Reader, I discovered, is like an infinite attic."
posted by muckster at 3:51 PM on March 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've deleted my Google Plus account. Not that they'll bother, but it's satisfying to give them a two fingers up for this miserable customer-hating decision.
posted by Flitcraft at 4:47 PM on March 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


So apparently the Google App Engine team is bragging (via retweet) about how resilient the App Engine-based Feedly was under heavy load today... from all the users fleeing Google Reader's imminent destruction. Cognitive dissonance much?
posted by Rhaomi at 6:58 PM on March 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's so resilient. It'll be such a tremendous shame when they KILL IT IN FIVE YEARS.
posted by JHarris at 7:01 PM on March 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


NewsBlur has been pretty stable the last few days. It's not perfect, but I think it will be my new home. I like that it's open source, and I like that he still charges a little money if I want to use his service.

I'm suspicious of the alternatives that are completely free, because I use rss a lot and don't want to suffer through ham fisted attempts at monetization.
posted by Gary at 12:36 AM on March 17, 2013


Gary, I'm atm trying to figure out the monetization angle and otoh i'm lucky to have a minor server farm at my disposal from the getgo. But imho, for a customized install + ui based on ttrss i'd just say "donate to my paypal if you like the service".

i miss the care/beerware days :(
posted by xcasex at 1:56 AM on March 17, 2013


Wait... NewsBlur is yours and one can use it to migrate from Google Reader, still suck up the RSS feeds and simply offer you a token of our esteem and appreciation?

Link please.
posted by infini at 3:29 AM on March 17, 2013


@infini @xcasex
Wait... NewsBlur is yours and one can use it to migrate from Google Reader, still suck up the RSS feeds and simply offer you a token of our esteem and appreciation?

Link please.


That's what I'm trying to figure out - if at all possible I'd like to just set-up a web based RSS reader on my own website/server, that will work just for me. No risk of anything going away as long as I want to keep running it.
posted by olya at 3:46 AM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


MeTa
posted by infini at 4:10 AM on March 17, 2013


infini haha no, this is all ttrss based atm. i have nothing to do with newsblur :)
posted by xcasex at 6:26 AM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've had ttrss running on my $7 a month shared hosting account for 3 days without a problem. Shared hosting isn't specifically supported, but it seems fine for personal use with 30 minute updates intervals.
posted by COD at 10:21 AM on March 17, 2013


Is it only who finds that every blog/discussion has missed FeedHQ entrirely?

BTW, I've been using it for sometime and it's fast, clean(very clean), open source and they have promised to add features, better the UI and offer clients' support.


Thanks to this comment, I have discovered FeedHQ. So far, it's the best of the Reader alternatives I've tried. It's fast and, as amar mentioned, the UI is very clean. I quite like it, so far. And it supports importing from Google Reader without the hellishly long queue system that Old Reader is apparently using.
posted by asnider at 10:29 AM on March 17, 2013


COD - how does it compare to Reader? E.g. mobile/apps...? That looks good, thanks for mentioning it.
posted by olya at 10:30 AM on March 17, 2013


For those looking to host more than their own feed reader (such as TTRS or NewsBlur), ownCloud for filesharing and backup looks intriguing. It includes an addon for storing articles saved in TTRS.

Anybody have any experience with it?
posted by notyou at 10:34 AM on March 17, 2013


olya - The interface is not that different from Reader. List of feeds on the left, stories on the right. There is a Android app that is actually very nice. The developer is obviously slammed right now but still seems to be quite responsive.
posted by COD at 10:37 AM on March 17, 2013


FeedHQ

Odd. They say its a paid service but nowhere on their site do they give pricing details.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:04 AM on March 17, 2013


It seems like it's in a Beta mode. It's kind of unclear.
posted by odinsdream at 11:11 AM on March 17, 2013


Newsblur: Paypal's fraud department just called, asked me what's going on. Asked the rep from Omaha if she's heard of Reader, and then a big Ohhh.

I just hope this will usher a new sunrise era of RSS startups. Pray all of the contestants come together for standardisation of sync API and further RSS/Atom spec improvement which has been stagnant for some time.
posted by sjabraham at 12:37 PM on March 17, 2013


"I've had ttrss running on my $7 a month shared hosting account for 3 days without a problem. Shared hosting isn't specifically supported, but it seems fine for personal use with 30 minute updates intervals."

To add to this, I've had tt-rss running on my $9/mo shared hosting for three days, with a 15 minute update interval (via cron). According to my control panel, CPU and memory use is negligible, and bandwidth for the month should stay under a gig.

I did have to change the mysql connection options, setting "127.0.0.1" as the host instead of "localhost", to resolve an error connecting to the local socket. That may be something peculiar to my host, though.

My only issue at the moment is that my plan doesn't support SSL. I'd really like to have at least a self-signed cert.
posted by CrayDrygu at 1:59 PM on March 17, 2013


Is there a demo of ttrss up and running anywhere? Specifically one where I could try out the mobile web interface? I am not planning on setting it up any time soon, but would like to know of a reasonable backup in case the NewsBlur experience turns sour. One of those "Well, we could always move to the woods" technologies I should have lined up.

Although, I do think there's benefit to lots of people using one web service instead of everyone setting up our own. Not just in terms of link sharing. We get better response times if one service grabs Metafilter's rss feed once a minute, rather than 60 of us grabbing it once an hour.
posted by Gary at 2:11 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gary: "One of those "Well, we could always move to the woods" technologies I should have lined up."

It'd be a pretty fancy woods, given the dependencies, but NewsBlur is open source.
posted by pwnguin at 2:16 PM on March 17, 2013


I am going to try ttrss sometime, but have moved to FeedHQ in the meantime. Have deleted my Google Reader bookmarks and various related Chrome extensions. When configuring FeedHQ I did not tick the Google + button as I am not, and don't plan to, actively use this platform. There is a strong element of 'f*$# you Google' about this I know, but, hey, that's the way I'm feeling right now.
posted by vac2003 at 2:16 PM on March 17, 2013


It'd be a pretty fancy woods, given the dependencies, but NewsBlur is open source.

That's why I chose NewsBlur over the other alternatives being mentioned. But ttrss seems designed to be run by single user installations so might be a better choice if I wanted to run my own. For example, NewsBlur's mobile experience is all through a dedicated app. If I were to run my own service I would rather not support a web app and a mobile app.
posted by Gary at 2:29 PM on March 17, 2013


I've installed Tiny Tiny today. So far my only issue is it's giving me a "This XML document is invalid" error on several feeds that worked fine on Google Reader, because of "invalid characters." I guess Google Reader was being more forgiving?
posted by RobotHero at 2:32 PM on March 17, 2013


If I have to go back to a desktop based feedreader... I'm going to scream.

Since yesterday I've been giving the FeedReader desktop client a once over. It's a simple feed reader with an offline mode. I kinda like it.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 2:33 PM on March 17, 2013


"This XML document is invalid"

I haven't run into this myself. But this thread in their forums talks about the problem a bit, including a plugin to run feeds through xmllint to resolve errors.

The developer has been pretty good about the recent influx of attention, and there's a lot of help to be had in the forums.
posted by CrayDrygu at 2:37 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


RobotHero: "I've installed Tiny Tiny today. So far my only issue is it's giving me a "This XML document is invalid" error on several feeds that worked fine on Google Reader, because of "invalid characters." I guess Google Reader was being more forgiving?"

It's pretty common among open source RSS apps to depend on XML parsers without a "sloppy XML" mode. And annoying. I suspect over the coming months either web devs learn to escape ampersands in feeds, or someone patches up readers to add in XMLtidy or similar.
posted by pwnguin at 2:38 PM on March 17, 2013


Just chiming to say that The Old Reader is now working much better for me. According to their blog and Twitter they've finished adding a lot more server resources. They've also got a status page up that mentions some issues they've had with the numbering on the import queue.

Yesterday my friend shared an article there, and I commented on it, and today The Old Reader showed me a notification that he'd replied. And then I wept, because it was like 2010 again. Hell, even peacay has followed me over there! It's not perfect, but it'll do for now.
posted by web-goddess at 4:01 PM on March 17, 2013


One of those "Well, we could always move to the woods" technologies I should have lined up.

I prefer to call it “going Kaczynski”.
posted by acb at 5:47 PM on March 17, 2013


I just hope this will usher a new sunrise era of RSS startups. Pray all of the contestants come together for standardisation of sync API and further RSS/Atom spec improvement which has been stagnant for some time.
Here's a thought: Make every RSS/Atom reader an Atom producer as well as a consumer. One (or more) channels could be public, showing your 'shared' items.

But you could also handle synch using a private feed - just publish a list of every item you read, then other feed readers could simply subscribe to that (using a https and basic auth to keep it private) and that could be used to keep things synched (adding subscriptions, bookmaking, etc could be done using other channels)

If you include atompub then you could actually push stuff to devices without needing to poll.

Certainly, more complex synch APIs could be developed as well, but done this way developers wouldn't need to write much code at all in order to get synch updates.

That said, a lot of REST APIs can actually be really simple to implement, so this might not make things that much easier.

But one thing I definitely do think needs to be handled this way is sharing - sharing definitely shouldn't be like it was with reader where you can only share with people using the same server.

I'm still obviously pissed off and annoyed on a personal level that reader is going away, but at the same time I actually do think this kind of thing will be good for RSS/Atom in the long run.

___
$7 a month shared hosting account ... my $9/mo shared hosting
I paid $1.97 last month for an Amazon EC2 micro instance running nearly 24/7. The charge was about $0.003/hr. The downside of using micro-instances is that they might randomly shut down if the price gets above your bid, and when your system goes offline you lose the storage volume associated with it, which means you have to do things like create extra volumes, etc. It is kind of tedious

I do also have a micro instance (for another project) that's been running for years that I've been paying the 'regular' price of a whole 2¢/hr. That costs about $14/mo to run - I've been meaning to convert that a spot-request thing, but since it uses a MySQL database I'd need to setup the separate drive for the DB, etc.
I've installed Tiny Tiny today. So far my only issue is it's giving me a "This XML document is invalid" error on several feeds that worked fine on Google Reader, because of "invalid characters." I guess Google Reader was being more forgiving?"
It's pretty common among open source RSS apps to depend on XML parsers without a "sloppy XML" mode. And annoying. I suspect over the coming months either web devs learn to escape ampersands in feeds, or someone patches up readers to add in XMLtidy or similar.
I wonder if it might have something to do with namespaces or some other XML feature. Try adding Tim Brey's Atom feed for his blog.

When I was working on my own Atom parser, I used that as a sample document. Originally I just did that because I read his blog, but it turns out that he deliberately made his XML as convoluted, and likely to break a parser as possible - including using totally pointless features like the xml:base attribute. He intentionally made his feed into a stress test for parsers, and if your parser can parse it, then it should be able to parse any Atom feed. I remember I had to use some rather esoteric features of my XML parser, and handle the xml:base stuff myself (and I didn't need to do that for any other Atom feeds :P)
posted by delmoi at 6:04 PM on March 17, 2013


He intentionally made his feed into a stress test for parsers, and if your parser can parse it, then it should be able to parse any Atom feed. I remember I had to use some rather esoteric features of my XML parser, and handle the xml:base stuff myself (and I didn't need to do that for any other Atom feeds :P)

Never understood why this XML stuff, reading RSS feeds in particular, had to be so damn complicated. I blame Dave Winer. Maybe RSS should be replaced with JSON so the cool kids can do something good with it.
posted by Jimbob at 6:14 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


notyou: " Nobody can do it in three months."

Three Months to Scale NewsBlur
posted by octothorpe at 6:27 PM on March 17, 2013


Never understood why this XML stuff, reading RSS feeds in particular, had to be so damn complicated.
My Atom parser is 263 lines of code. My RSS parser is 114 lines of code. It didn't strike me as particularly complicated at the time.
Maybe RSS should be replaced with JSON so the cool kids can do something good with it.
RSS should be replaced with Atom. I don't really see how a JSON feed format would make anything easier - Given XPath queries, it can actually take less code to extract some information from an XML document then does to extract information from a JavaScript Object.

So, for example suppose you want to extract the titles of all the blog entries in an Atom feed: You can use the XPath queries:

text= xpath(feed, './/entry/title@[starts-with(@type,"text|html"]/text()')
xml= xpath(feed, './/entry/title@[matches(@type,"xhtml|.*[+|/]xml")]/text()')
binary = xpath(feed, './/entry/title@[!matches(@type,"xhtml|.*[+|/]xml|text")]/text()')
To get three arrays containing plain text, HTML, and base64 encoded binary titles. (I'm not sure if you can actually have binary titles, I just re-used the same code that read summaries and content elements)

If you wanted to do the same with a JSON object you'd need to write a loop like:

for(i in feed.entries){
 if(feed.entries[i].title != null){
   if(feed.entries[i].title.type.starts-with("text") text +=   feed.entries[i].title.text();
   if(feed.entries[i].title.type.matches("xhtml|.*[+|/]xml") xhtml += feed.entries[i].title.text();
   else binary += base64Decode(feed.entries[i].title.text());
  }
}
I'm not sure how that's supposed to be simpler. In fact, if you have doubly nested items then you would need a doubly nested loop, and for arbitrarily nested items you'd need to use recursive functions, while the XPath handle that without a problem (in fact, the xpath queries I wrote above would find entries even if the feeds were stuck inside other XML documents)

__

My 263/114 line parsers don't even use XPath and actually do loop through the nodes, partly because I wanted all the data anyway, but mainly because I hadn't really looked into XPath at the time.

JSON works great when you want to send structured data that already matches the internal data structures in your program. If that's already the case then if you want to use it you don't have to write any code at all!!

But for flexible structures like documents, which is what feeds are, XML is probably better. It's also way easier to write and edit by hand, IMO.


[Also, note of that code was tested at all, it's just off the top of my head - and would probably require a little debugging.]
posted by delmoi at 7:36 PM on March 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


In fact, if you have doubly nested items then you would need a doubly nested loop, and for arbitrarily nested items you'd need to use recursive functions,

This is my issue - how often would feed of blog articles need to be nested and recursive? Do any news readers actually make use of this possibility? Surely, you could make an "RSS"-style summary available as a CSV file and not lose any functionality?

Title, Date, URL, Content, Author, EnclosureURL
"Google Illiterate", "March 14, 2013 11:37 AM", "http://www.metafilter.com/125946", "","gkhan",""

And that's about enough to store the data for 99% of RSS feeds (and Podcast feeds) out there. XML is overkill for the purpose.

But really, I know I'm just biased against XML because whenever I'm forced to try to parse it, I can never get it to work. Including using XPath. Maybe I'm just a dumbass.
posted by Jimbob at 7:54 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not a question of the articles themselves being nested and recursive. (I'm not sure that actually makes sense.) Instead, what delmoi meant is that, absent the ability to query across an entire document using XPath, you have to parse the document using nested loops and/or recursive functions if the document is "deep" and has variance allowed in its structure.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:11 PM on March 17, 2013


My point is that, no, it does't make sense for a list of news articles to support arbitrary nesting and deepness and variance, so why complicate it with XML?

And Xpath is clearly doing the looping internally. There's a library in R that parses JSON into R objects. Once it's in an R object, I can use lapply() on it or treat it as vectors - no loops to be seen.

I don't doubt the usefulness of XML; I doubt the necessity of using it for something like RSS. I can't help feeling it was a decision made based on fashion. Here's this kewl new XML thing! What can we use it for? Blog feeds!
posted by Jimbob at 8:49 PM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


delmoi and sonic meat machine: Please help me out - why would a feed, which is basically a list of articles, ever need to be arbitrarily nested? I seriously do not understand why a flat list of bags of attributes isn't enough, though I would really like to see an example.
posted by 23 at 9:55 PM on March 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


delmoi: "I do also have a micro instance (for another project) that's been running for years that I've been paying the 'regular' price of a whole 2¢/hr. That costs about $14/mo to run"

Last time I ran the numbers, the amazon reserved micro instances were 8 dollars a month. Never ran the numbers on the spot market, mainly for the reasons you point out: more work engineering a solution that survives downtime.
posted by pwnguin at 10:14 PM on March 17, 2013


If you wanted to do the same with a JSON object you'd need to write a loop like...

Alternatively...
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 11:45 PM on March 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Admittedly it's been a number of years since I did anything hot and heavy with RSS or Atom, but what I recall is that a significant amount of effort goes into dealing with straight-up broken feeds from common generators that really ought to work better.

I don't know if Mark Pilgrim's feedparser is still the gold standard for feed parsing in python, but it certainly used to be. Looking at the code, most of the effort goes into dealing with silliness in the feeds, eg knowing when and when not to treat PCDATA as CDATA and vice versa, or feeds lying about their character encoding.
posted by vanar sena at 1:34 AM on March 18, 2013


This popped up on the Coder Weekly mailout yesterday, not an RSS reader per se, but RSS reader adjacent, at least: Huginn (named after the cuddliest of mythological Norse deity shoulder-ravens).
"Huginn is a system for building agents that perform automated tasks for you online. They can read the web, watch for events, and take actions on your behalf. Huginn's Agents create and consume events, propagating events along a directed event flow graph. Think of it as Yahoo! Pipes plus IFTTT on your own server. You always know who has your data. You do."
I can actually remember running some software back in the late 90's that did a similar thing with searches: it wasn't very effective. This could be a lot better in terms of creating custom feeds and monitors.
posted by titus-g at 3:16 AM on March 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


I set up tt-rss on a box last night. You need to have some server knowledge to make it all work (like how to make an upstart/init job to do the updating in the background), but ... it's not that bad. I'm sure someone will make a debian and/or RPM package for it before long and then it'll just be "go install this, doctor server box." The mobile app isn't anywhere near as time-efficient as Reader is, but it just might do.
posted by introp at 6:03 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lots of irons going in to the fire in response to the closure. I'm going to hold out until the end of May and hopefully an obvious choice for the information junkies will rise to the top. Oh please oh please.
posted by Theta States at 6:31 AM on March 18, 2013


So since I figured out just sending everything to email made sense I found blogtrottr, which will import your Google feed list (though not until you create an account - no biggie). Two days in it seems just fine; feed management isn't flawless (if your feed has a crappy or null name you can't change it), but I don't subscribe/unsubscribe more than two or three times a week so that's not a problem.
posted by 23 at 7:14 AM on March 18, 2013


FeedHQ seems really nice. It's definitely early stage, but the direct web interface works great on a phone.
posted by odinsdream at 7:15 AM on March 18, 2013


delmoi and sonic meat machine: Please help me out - why would a feed, which is basically a list of articles, ever need to be arbitrarily nested? I seriously do not understand why a flat list of bags of attributes isn't enough, though I would really like to see an example.

I am not familiar enough with the RSS spec itself to speak to this. In my work I deal with esoteric XML formats very frequently (even designing them!), and often offer polymorphic services that use both JSON and XML. Interestingly, the XML is usually easier to parse and generate than the JSON, because it is so standardized; the libraries are more mature and reliable.

In designing a feed, 'nesting' can simply imply an optional trait that happens to carry, for example, a reference to another document. In XML, you can deal with this with attributes:
<related-things>
<related-thing href="http://some.url/entity/82">Related Thing</related-thing>
</related-things>
In JSON, this becomes a little more gross:
{"related-things": [
  {
    "description": "Related Thing", 
    "href": "http://some.url/entity/82"
  }
]}
Voila, nesting.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:36 AM on March 18, 2013


I was involved in the original specification of Atom. Both Atom and RSS suffer the problem that they're trying to stuff HTML, an XML-like syntax, into an actual XML syntax. Typically unencoded and unescaped. It gets way too easy to get confused; is that < opening an RSS tag or an HTML tag? Doubly so when people start using less-examined parts of the XML spec in an effort to escape the HTML, like CDATA and the like. Sadly only half of Postel's Law was ever applied; the feed readers do a lot of work to handle broken input, but many feed producers create broken output.

It's a solvable problem, libraries like Mark's FeedParser work well, but it is a complex mess. JSON would be a significantly simpler container format for feeds, it's such a simpler syntax. But none of this really solves any of the important problems with syndication, making it more palatable to consumers. The RSS → Atom transition actually made things worse; to this day Blogspot blogs give the user a freakin' choice of feed format to subscribe to.
posted by Nelson at 7:53 AM on March 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


Nelson, if we ever end up in some sort of deathmatch game against each other, I'm going to keep that in mind.

(That said, Atom is pretty nice)
posted by vanar sena at 8:14 AM on March 18, 2013


This is entering the realm of high comedy:

Google slips, accidentally unveils Evernote-like Google Keep service
Google is prepping to launch a cloud-based notetaking service to compete with Evernote and Simplenote, according to a sighting by AndroidPolice. Google briefly went live with a service called Keep that appeared to be designed for ubiquitous content capture and integration with the company's cloud storage service, Drive.

Google Keep bears some similarity to the retired Google Notebook, a capturing service for collecting “research and personal notes” including text, images, and links. Notebook also allowed users to share their finds. The service was discontinued in 2009, and Evernote even offered a tool to import Google Notebooks back in the day.
"Store all your important notes in Google Keep, which will allow you to 'Keep' them in the cloud until we decide it no longer fits with our business strategy! Even more reliable and easy to use than Google Notebook, which we shut down after only three years! Go Google today!"
posted by Rhaomi at 11:19 AM on March 18, 2013 [21 favorites]


There's also the Chrome "app" Google Scratchpad, which is kind of like a dumber version of Google Notebook. Strangely enough, there is no mobile app for Android, so you can't use Scratchpad on the go (like Evernote) and you can't access your Scratchpad notes from mobile, unless you go into Drive (and even then photos saved in Scratchpad notes will not display when opened via Drive).

So dumb!
posted by KokuRyu at 11:35 AM on March 18, 2013


And just remember - when we shut down Notebook, Evernote let you import all your data, so when we kill this service, somebody will probably come in to pick up our mess here, too! You've got nothing to worry about!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:37 AM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Go Google today!
And Google will go tomorrow!


Ah, the fleeting impermanence of pixels... pity there's no investment in assembly lines and transportation required.
posted by infini at 12:18 PM on March 18, 2013


God Damn It, Google
I envisioned this rich tapestry of services, obscure to monolithic, hooking in through engines and tools to a vastness of data and users, and, at the other end of the telescope, a single point of entry through which one would have instant access to everything from maps to obscure scientific results to the current price of tea. A bit like the real (or rather, idealized) empire, really: An assemblage of hamlets and metropoli, farms and academies, every citizen knowing that their via vicinale led to a via rustica, which led to a via publica, which led to Rome.

This constellation of services, this web of empowerment, resources, and variety. This bright future.

I’m feeling let down.

I’d like to think that I was at least not wrong the whole time. I think my optimism was warranted, just as I think their ambition was real. In a way, that ambition is intact. But it has been perverted. Google was like the Library of Babel: As near as infinite as the Internet age was likely to get. This mind-blowing edifice, bricks of information, mortared together with context, and gilded with accessibility. And they’re building it all so you’ll go to the gift shop.

I suppose I’m criticizing them for deciding to become a business rather than a public service. That was their choice to make, of course, but I think it’s safe to say their choice was a poor one. The Google of the early 2000s, globe-spanning and yet delighting in esoterica, was on its way to becoming a historic framework, Standard Oil crossed with Bell Labs. Not only that, it was crazy, starry-eyed: It was an asylum by and for the lunatics, a padded room big enough to hold the world.

What was it about being the connective tissue of the net that became so distasteful to Google? What was it that made them shutter project after project, things that could have lived out their natural lives for years on minimal resources, supported by a thankful and loving community in happy allegiance to the Google Empire?

Google+ was, as I saw it, a huge misstep, albeit a high-quality one. But other products, other “sunsets” (each less scenic than the last) hinted at a company growing not just sloppy, but callous. More wood behind fewer arrows, when the whole point of Google was that its quiver runneth over. Now, with the senseless shutdown of Reader (I won’t bore you with my own analysis; there’s plenty already), I’m faced with how deliberate and tawdry the whole thing has become. God damn it, Google.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:45 PM on March 18, 2013 [13 favorites]


Freewaregenius looks at some RSS reader alternatives: Good Noows, Protopage, and Rolio, and Omea.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:32 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


a significant amount of effort goes into dealing with straight-up broken feeds from common generators that really ought to work better.

Brian's Stupid Feed Tricks is interesting here: basically any way you can think of that a server might fuck up the feed can, and does, happen.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:30 PM on March 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is my issue - how often would feed of blog articles need to be nested and recursive? Do any news readers actually make use of this possibility? Surely, you could make an "RSS"-style summary available as a CSV file and not lose any functionality?
Well, first of all for XHTML - which is simply a continuation of the same document structure with a document embedded in your document. You don't need to do things this way, in Atom though, and most people probably don't. You can also have an unlimited number of tags, which I think also include a namespace, not just a value.

But besides that maybe you want to extend it by standardizing on a common syntax for linking to multiple audio tracks, instead of just one. Threaded comments.

There's also just the issue of extensibility. Maybe you can't think of a feature now but what about the future? If you want to create a global sharing system to replace google reader, a feed might include a section on servers that sharing events should be pushed too.
And Xpath is clearly doing the looping internally.
Right... so? The point is that you don't have to do them yourself.
There's a library in R that parses JSON into R objects. Once it's in an R object, I can use lapply() on it or treat it as vectors - no loops to be seen.
And you don't think R's doing any loops or recursion internally?
posted by delmoi at 5:55 PM on March 18, 2013


Not to turn this into an XML vs. JSON flamewar. I use JSON all the time when I just want to save some internal data structure to disk for later - it's basically one line of code and the library takes care of everything for you.

But, I find the biggest difference is the ability to go in and hand edit stuff. The tag and attribute names basically tell you where you are in the file, and named close-tags are a lot easier then trying to keep track '}' and ']', especially in larger files.

You can also mix them by sticking small JSON objects or a domain specific language text in XML files to avoid overuse of tags. Obviously it's entirely possible to write human-incomprehensible XML.
posted by delmoi at 6:23 PM on March 18, 2013


Yeah, working with rss feeds in an ad-hoc fashion is soooo fun. So here's a python snippet to pull titles, links, and sharing comment out of a blurblog feed. You'd have to arrange (e.g., by cron) to put a copy of the blurblog feed where this snippet would read it from, and also change the 'jepler shared this story' test to suit yourself. But it puts a nice little sidebar on my blog and didn't even break when I shared some stories with non-ascii characters so that's a good sign. I should still have a look if there's an API item that is better than parsing the public rss feed, though.
posted by jepler at 8:03 PM on March 18, 2013


And you don't think R's doing any loops or recursion internally?

Oh of course it is. I just read your earlier comment as saying that with XML/XPath, you never have to use loops in your code to read the RSS. I was just saying that this isn't some special magic ability XML has. There are plenty of ways to achieve that.

Not trying to turn this into a flame war either. I've just had a bad history with XML.
posted by Jimbob at 8:11 PM on March 18, 2013


I prefer json to XML. Cdata is the devil.
posted by humanfont at 8:34 PM on March 18, 2013


So I had this thought a minute ago: I can see some growing energy going into preserving the existing feed formats and supporting them more broadly. That's all to the good.

But eventually there's going to be some demand for an evolution in the technology, maybe even a successor format. And then the probability of a brutally-unproductive decade-long flamewar about XML approaches 1.

What if, before this could happen, we started using Git?
posted by brennen at 8:40 PM on March 18, 2013


I'm sure someone will make a debian and/or RPM package for it before long and then it'll just be "go install this, doctor server box."

I am hoping very hard for this. Don't let me down Debian!
posted by JHarris at 10:17 PM on March 18, 2013


JHarris: "I am hoping very hard for this. Don't let me down Debian!"

If you go to packages.debian.org/search-query, it will search all versions for you. For example, http://packages.debian.org/search?keywords=tt-rss. Which means it's in unstable, and as a result, Ubuntu universe as of quantal.
posted by pwnguin at 11:27 PM on March 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love RSS. I hope people wind up using it even MORE now. It attracts a certain kind of reader (person) that I like. People you don't pester with banner ads, but who stick around and actually support what they like.
posted by clango at 6:02 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


So apparently the Google App Engine team is bragging (via retweet) about how resilient the App Engine-based Feedly was under heavy load today... from all the users fleeing Google Reader's imminent destruction. Cognitive dissonance much?

Uh, they pay for Google App Engine. So that eliminates all of the dissonance. They essentially switched a lot of Google reader users over to an easier to maintain service that makes Google money. That's the kind of dissonance I wish I experienced in daily life.
posted by srboisvert at 8:03 AM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Still, I don't think I would want to use Google App Engine over, say EC2. With App Engine (at least the last time I looked at it) you have to write using google's APIs, and your code doesn't look like a traditional application, you just write these functions that get called by the App Engine at the appropriate time. With EC2 you just write Linux (or windows) programs and run them on a server - the only difference is that you can turn the servers on or off programatically using a web API. It's a much simpler system - and everything can be moved over to another platform quickly (especially since most people will probably just be turning the servers on manually)
posted by delmoi at 8:12 AM on March 19, 2013


With EC2 you have to worry about load balancing, proper DC distribution and all sort of nuts and bolts yourself. With App Engine all that stuff gets handled automatically. Neither one is right for every situation, but it's not as if you don't get something when you target the App Engine platform. It's like any platform where you get free features in exchange for being tied to the platform.
posted by GuyZero at 8:27 AM on March 19, 2013


Cheerful thought of the day: you think Reader's demise has caused an uproar? Just wait till Google pulls the plug on Firefox.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:49 AM on March 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hah!
From your 125 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 199 items, clicked 0 items, starred 22 items, and emailed 0 items.

Since August 3, 2009 you have read a total of 236,824 items.
I think the telling bit is how often "emailed 0 items" appears in all of our statistics: they really want us to be doing the social stuff, and we clearly are not doing it this way. If they can't inspect this traffic and monetize it, then they are paying for....what?

(The weird numbers are due to the fact that I used NetNewsWire -- with Google as a back-end -- until somehow I stopped reading feeds like a year ago, and then only dived back in when this story broke.)
posted by wenestvedt at 11:44 AM on March 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rhaomi, that Google / Firefox article is from December 2011. Soon after it was written the search deal was renewed for three more years, and rumored to be at significantly higher revenue for Mozilla.

Which isn't to deny the larger point, that Mozilla is largely funded via the Google search deal. There's some hope that there's competition for Google, that Microsoft/Bing in particular could negotiate for Firefox search placement too. So far Google has aggressively won almost every big deal like that and the long term future of Bing is by no means assured. I'd be much happier if Google had more serious competition in advertising.
posted by Nelson at 1:22 PM on March 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Firefox search placement is counting for less and less market share as chrome increasingly takes over the scene.

Though, it will probably be another few years yet before the combined threat of FF+IE funnelling search traffic to Bing is low enough for Google to quit renewing that deal.
posted by titus-g at 3:06 PM on March 19, 2013


I think the telling bit is how often "emailed 0 items" appears in all of our statistics

I dunno, I haven't ever emailed any items, but I've copied things from my feeds over to google plus and twitter a bunch of times.
posted by juv3nal at 4:23 PM on March 19, 2013


Odd. They say its a paid service but nowhere on their site do they give pricing details.

It's not immediately obvious, but they posted something on their Twitter account saying that it is free (for now) because it's still in beta.
posted by asnider at 5:36 PM on March 19, 2013


OK, LOL:

@AdrianChen
Guys I found the best Google Reader alternative: Throw all your computers into the river and come with me to start a new life in the North.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:33 PM on March 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


I dunno, I haven't ever emailed any items, but I've copied things from my feeds over to google plus and twitter a bunch of times.

Yes, and I probably won't email an item until I've actually clicked through the link. And then, I'll copy and paste it into my email.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:33 PM on March 19, 2013


Rhaomi: "Cheerful thought of the day: you think Reader's demise has caused an uproar? Just wait till Google pulls the plug on Firefox."

Nelson: "Which isn't to deny the larger point, that Mozilla is largely funded via the Google search deal. There's some hope that there's competition for Google, that Microsoft/Bing in particular could negotiate for Firefox search placement too."

I've given this a bit of thought, now that I know so many people employed by Mozilla. Yes, Chrome has overtaken Firefox. And yes, Google management appears to be killing off unprofitable parts of Google. But it's still a sizable chunk of the market, funneling traffic into the major profit center of Google. No manager of Google should be caught saying "I think the best thing to do is cut profits by 20 percent." Or 10 percent. Or 5. Really, negotiating default search engines is such a trivial cost compared to the gains that (statistically valid) fractions of a percent of the market share ought to still be worth considering.

The real issue here is monopsony and duopoly. Mozilla was unable to fully capitalize on their early success, because there was no other serious market buyers. And now that Bing represents a credible alternative, they've lost market share. For the moment it's working in their favor, but there's some major concerns about the economic outcomes of duopolies. If you're Mozilla, you're really hoping that Mayer's recent public statements regarding Yahoo/Bing leads to insourcing search (and that yahoo has the margins on ads to compete with Google / Bing...)
posted by pwnguin at 12:07 AM on March 20, 2013


One downside to using and trying to support (contribute to) ttrss: the developer is extremely rude and off-putting on the official forums. :(
posted by introp at 6:23 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I agree with that, but I find that part of the ttrss charm. I know I'm not dealing with a corporation when I read the forums.
posted by pb at 8:14 AM on March 20, 2013


Heh. I suppose that's one good way to look at it. It makes me a little nervous because my experience in open-source projects means there be a fork war comin'.
posted by introp at 8:55 AM on March 20, 2013


The People Behind Google Reader, a list of who worked on Reader and where they are now by Mihai Parparita.
posted by Nelson at 9:40 AM on March 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


For Mac users considering Thunderbird: OS X Mail also has RSS feed support as of v10.5.
posted by seemoreglass at 10:46 AM on March 20, 2013


For Mac users considering Thunderbird: OS X Mail also has RSS feed support as of v10.5.
That's gone as of v6.0 (which comes with Mountain Lion 10.8)
posted by bonaldi at 10:55 AM on March 20, 2013


It's not just Iran:
"Google Reader is important as dinner to me. Reader is the best way to get uncensored news." --M.H., China

In other news, another 36,000 people have signed the Change.org petition.

Also, here's an interesting podcast interview with former Reader engineer Jason Shellen discussing, among other things, how badly Google failed to see the potential value of reader as a social platform and content hub -- even requiring social features be stripped out before the initial launch in 2005.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:04 AM on March 20, 2013


I've been living in denial the past week, but now the cold, hard reality has hit: Google has taken Reader off the "More" menu in Gmail. This makes it really difficult to keep pretending everything's okay.
posted by yasaman at 11:11 AM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


An Ode to Google Reader
posted by muddgirl at 11:13 AM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've stopped using Reader entirely and switched to NewsBlur for the last week and have been reasonably happy. It's still more than a little buggy (duplicate entries, can't always delete feeds, Android app FCs a lot) but he seems to be actively working on it and eager to fix stuff and I've already thrown him $24 American so I'll stick with it.
posted by octothorpe at 11:46 AM on March 20, 2013


HEAD~4 s/36,000/136,000/
posted by titus-g at 11:47 AM on March 20, 2013


oops, missed the 'another', disregard previous.
posted by titus-g at 11:48 AM on March 20, 2013


OK, this is the last straw.

Remember earlier when I was speculating about how many active users Reader had based on public feed subscriber counts? The sky-high numbers for the most popular feeds (like CNN, with 24 million) prove it was very popular at one point, but I allowed for the idea that these could be legacy numbers from when the service first launched and that the remaining userbase was a shell of itself (even though newer niche feeds like The Verge have still achieved 100,000+ subscribers, comparable to much older ones like Cyanide & Happiness).

But see these graphs, directly from the official Google Reader blog:
Graph of active users over time (people who use Reader at least once a week)

Graph of total number of items read per day
As recently as September 2010, usage of Reader, both in number of users and in activity levels, was skyrocketing. And while it doesn't account for 2011 and 2012, Google's own Trends tool suggests interest in Reader remained high, declining somewhat and then leveling off at 2009 levels only after Google crippled its sharing features and eliminated its healthy social network. (Note also how two of the most popular sources of queries for "google reader" are China and Iran, where Reader is an essential conduit of uncensored news).

If Reader had legitimately declined in usage, I'd be frustrated and disappointed, but understanding. But that's not what happened. They're not retiring some obscure geek haven. They went out of their way to cripple a unique, successful, incredibly useful service relied on by tens of millions, and now they're destroying it -- ruining people's workflows, undermining the infrastructure of the blogosphere, making the web less open and accessible, and abandoning millions to censorship at the same time.

And lying about why they're doing it the whole while. That's what makes me so angry, more than anything else.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:49 AM on March 20, 2013 [22 favorites]


I've tried asking my Google friends why they are shutting it down so fast. No good answer, although one engineer speculated maybe Reader depends on some internal infrastructure that's being shut down. Without the staffing to port to new infrastructure, it will die.

And no one can tell me why Reader is being shut down. As Rhaomi notes, it's a popular product. My best guess is it doesn't fit in the grand Google+ social strategy, so they toss it aside. Which is brutal, but understandable. Also did Reader even have ads on it? Google's very nervous about targeting ads to content they don't have an agreement for, most visibly in Google News.
posted by Nelson at 12:06 PM on March 20, 2013


Some RSS feeds have ads embedded in them but there are no ads in Reader. Unless I've missed them somehow.
posted by GuyZero at 12:17 PM on March 20, 2013


Those ads make it into Reader.
posted by notyou at 12:25 PM on March 20, 2013


Yeah, but they're not "Reader ad" per se. They're ads put in by the RSS feed owners. It's no different than how Chrome shows ads on web sites.
posted by GuyZero at 12:36 PM on March 20, 2013


Oh, gotcha.

Duh.
posted by notyou at 1:16 PM on March 20, 2013


Not actually looking for more reader replacements when I found this in the App Store:

Starfleet (or a one-man tribute to Starfleet) has a PADD app for you: LCARSS.
posted by mwhybark at 6:14 PM on March 20, 2013


And no one can tell me why Reader is being shut down.

Because of G+

Why they don't just add reader functionality to g+, I don't know. I'd probably start using it if they did.
posted by empath at 7:16 PM on March 20, 2013


//Some RSS feeds have ads embedded in them but there are no ads in Reader. Unless I've missed them somehow.//

Google shut down their RSS ads in Adwords last October. That is when I knew Reader was doomed.
posted by COD at 7:39 PM on March 20, 2013


I've asked two questions in the TT-RSS forums and received perfectly polite responses from Fox. However, he is a little curt with people telling him how to develop his app, and people that don't search the forum before posting.

I'm with him 100% on his attitude towards those people.
posted by COD at 7:40 PM on March 20, 2013


Google is launching an Evernote competitor called Keep

At the same time they kill off still vibrant services, they're launching new ones into a crowded note-taking software segment. Focus on core activities, huh?

You know what Id like to Keep, Google? All my perfectly organized RSS feeds and thousands of starred posts.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:45 PM on March 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


At the same time they kill off still vibrant services, they're launching new ones into a crowded note-taking software segment. Focus on core activities, huh?

Small notes and the ability to make notes by talking to the device and/or by taking photos?

Glass.
posted by jaduncan at 11:31 PM on March 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


T.D. Strange: "Google is launching an Evernote competitor called Keep"

And James Fallows has now pointed out in an Atlantic blog that you probably shouldn't use it (he won't) after this Reader disaster, specifically because Google will probably just end up killing it, too.

Stupid Google. Mess with your (ex-)power users at your own peril. Shit, I wasn't even a Reader user, and yet this entire debacle has made me radically less trusting of Google. I've had my awesome Gmail name for nearly 9 years now, and yet, given Google's new mission statement of "be short-sighted and shit the bed", maybe I should be looking at a different host.

Fucking idiots.
posted by barnacles at 8:45 AM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'M BINGING EVERYTHING NOW.

Except map stuff.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:48 AM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Reader to me seemed a bit stagnant. Most of the features had been implemented through other readers in the dawn of RSS. What it could have done is use it's search algorithms to highlight connections among stories. For example, who else is blogging about the current Voyager 1 debate? The killer feature of Google News (which may well be seen as another competitor) is quick access to multiple perspectives on a story.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:51 AM on March 21, 2013


Ezra Klein on Google's trust problem: "In this, Gmail is a good example. Google just needs me logged into their system so they can amass data on my browsing habits. That's the business. They don't make their money by giving me -- or even letting me pay for -- a superb e-mail program that offers unlimited storage. That's just how the business was sold. But perhaps that's the business I need.

Together, the Gmail experience, the death of Google Reader, and the closure of Picnik all have me questioning whether I want to keep investing time and energy in "free" Google products or whether I need to start looking for paid services that are explicitly making money off the thing I am paying them to do. And if more and more of the people who would be Google's early adopters feel as I do, and as Fallows does, then that could become a problem for Google."
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:04 AM on March 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


Reader to me seemed a bit stagnant. Most of the features had been implemented through other readers in the dawn of RSS.

That's because Google has purposely let it languish. Who knows what the heck the people who worked on Reader, the "only ones at Google who 'get' social," would have made if Google had made it a first-class project?

And yet, despite the languishing, it was still the best at what it did. For it had one feature you overlook: it saved everything, and it made it available no matter where you were. Do that on a desktop RSS client, then when it comes time to migrate to a new machine what are you going to do? Zip up the application folder and move it? Keep it on a flash drive? Yeah, and how long will it be until the program fills that space up with images?

Google Reader helped me keep up with the internet when I was back in college, for no matter what personal or computer lab machine I was logged in on I had access to my feeds. To think that Google thinks this is outdated because of fucking Facebook. God I hope that site goes away soon -- it's not really that it's all that terrible, but the nature of the tech market in the U.S. is that everyone and his dog instantly rushes to copy whatever is most popular at a given moment. That's a gigantic portion of the tech sector right there: a horde of lemmings rushing to dash themselves to bits against whatever juggernaut is currently stomping around the landscape.

Together, the Gmail experience, the death of Google Reader, and the closure of Picnik all have me questioning whether I want to keep investing time and energy in "free" Google products or whether I need to start looking for paid services that are explicitly making money off the thing I am paying them to do.

But I would like to again reiterate how much I hate the loathsome "ha ha pay for it newbs" meme here. If Google did charge for Reader they'd still be killing it right now, because its existence goes against strategy. They were able to offer Reader for free because the computing resources were negligible compared to the vast power of their cluster, and not every person has the money to support yet another recurring indefinite leachlike drain on their income.

Few of the Reader replacements offered here are free, so the result is it's just another place where poor people end up getting shafted.
posted by JHarris at 10:31 AM on March 21, 2013 [8 favorites]


But I would like to again reiterate how much I hate the loathsome "ha ha pay for it newbs" meme here. If Google did charge for Reader they'd still be killing it right now, because its existence goes against strategy. They were able to offer Reader for free because the computing resources were negligible compared to the vast power of their cluster, and not every person has the money to support yet another recurring indefinite leachlike drain on their income.

While comments from people in the know (I think some in this rather massive thread) have indicated that Reader's storage infrastructure was nontrivial, I'm in agreement with the sentiment here. I will pay for a service because I can, and because it seems useful to support the efforts of people building services, but this is something of a position of luxury. There was a long time in my life when, if something on the Internet cost money beyond what I was already spending on my ISP, I didn't do it. And that was a rational decision for me at the time, because rent money & groceries, pretty much.

I don't want the power-user web to become synonymous with the rich-people web.
posted by brennen at 11:31 AM on March 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


If Google can't successfully monetize Reader without charging for it, it seems unlikely that any other company that isn't as well situated as Google in terms of storage, servers, existing crawling capabilities, existing ad networks, etc, is going to find themselves in profitable or even break-even position on a product like this. Being worried about whether poor people will be able to afford power user tools is coming from a good place of privilege unpacking, but there seems to be a non-insignificant chance that the alternative to privileged users paying for the tools isn't "everyone gets them for free", but rather "no one gets them at all".
posted by jacquilynne at 11:53 AM on March 21, 2013


jacquilynne, I hope you're wrong about the viability of RSS readers as a business. Part of Google's problem is a business needs to be bringing in $10M+ a year to even be worth bothering with. And because of the top-down management style where executives want to be involved in everything, there's not much room for a small profitable side business within Google. This problem is why I keep pointing to Pinboard as a possible model for what an RSS reader company could be, what is sometimes derisively called a "lifestyle business". There's a lot of honor in providing a useful tool to people and making a decent living for yourself doing it.

BTW, in the old days an RSS reader had zero infrastructure; purely a client program run by individual users. It's not as efficient as a central feed catcher, and search is harder to do, but it's a perfectly viable way to build an RSS reader that costs nothing for the producer to operate.
posted by Nelson at 12:17 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hopefully this will stir up development of open-source alternatives such as RSSOwl and Vienna.

I'm back to NetNewsWire now that I've figured out how to get things to open up in my browser by default. NetNewsWire also has a nifty feature of being able to run javascript bookmarklets from its script menu. I can't make heads or tails out of how to extend Vienna though. Most of my bookmarking is done through diigo anyway.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:20 PM on March 21, 2013


BTW, in the old days an RSS reader had zero infrastructure; purely a client program run by individual users. It's not as efficient as a central feed catcher, and search is harder to do, but it's a perfectly viable way to build an RSS reader that costs nothing for the producer to operate.

Anything that positions itself as a Reader successor is going to have to at least maintain the user's feed list on a server and be able to sync read/unread/favorite labels.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:40 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


Google does make money directly from gmail. They have ads on it. It's not just for collecting data. They could have put ads in google reader, but didn't.
If Google can't successfully monetize Reader without charging for it, it seems unlikely that any other company that isn't as well situated as Google in terms of storage, servers, existing crawling capabilities, existing ad networks, etc, is going to find themselves in profitable or even break-even position on a product like this.
Google didn't even try to make money of Reader. It's likely they could have made money off it if they did try. But they apparently thought they'd make more money dedicating those people to different tasks.

There is a big difference between "profitable" things and "the most profitable" thing someone can do with the resources they had.

That said, I think this will cost them more then they anticipated. It's going to scare people away from future cloud offerings. I know I'm not likely to try out any "new" google service unless it's already profitable for them.
Anything that positions itself as a Reader successor is going to have to at least maintain the user's feed list on a server and be able to sync read/unread/favorite labels.

Why not let the user supply the synch mechanism? Sure, not everyone can setup their own EC2 instance, but you could write an RSS reader that syncs stuff using dropbox.
posted by delmoi at 4:45 PM on March 21, 2013


More lies about the Reader shutdown, this time from Eric Schmidt, who says "we needed those [Reader] people to work on other products..."

Compare with news that for at least a year, Reader had only one "extremely part time" developer. Reader practically ran itself, so Schmidt's justification is just more BS. Or can an employer of more than 50,000 really not afford the spare time of a single engineer?

Speaking of spare time, what ever happened to Google's famous 20% Time? Larry Page happened.
Now that he is CEO, Page is willing to sow dissent as he rethinks Google. While cutting products became a matter of pride under Page's mandate to focus, those who had worked on shuttered products were often dismayed. Google's popular 20% time, which allowed many engineers to work on their own ideas one day a week, has been severely curtailed. "They believed in bottom-up innovation, in trying lots of things and seeing what stuck," says a senior manager who has since left for another company. "But that thinking shifted very dramatically." Internally, some old-timers who were close to Page also grumble that he has become less accessible.
And Google Labs -- the showcase and testing ground for 20% Time projects, which spawned Google News, Google Maps, Google Trends, and (yes!) Google Reader? It was shuttered in 2011.

I thought it would be such a positive development when Page became CEO, but he seems to be the driving force behind this broad-based rollback in the culture of the "old Google," presumably due to his obsession with bringing down Facebook.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:29 PM on March 21, 2013 [10 favorites]


Larry Page, an Ahab figure. I wouldn't have expected that.

There is a big difference between "profitable" things and "the most profitable" thing someone can do with the resources they had.

It's also not easy to tell what will be the most profitable thing. Or to say for sure if Facebook will last or if it'll be the next Digg.
posted by JHarris at 9:11 PM on March 21, 2013


From Rhaomi's link: His reply, “I loved it”, and he added that it was with a ‘heavy heart’ that they killed Google Reader. At this point Alan Rusbridger, quoted Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol, stating, Each man kills the one he loves.

YES, THAT'S WHAT OSCAR WILDE MEANT BY THAT, TAKE GREAT THINGS AND KILL THEM UNNECESSARILY AND ARBITRARILY, THAT IS THE HEIGHT OF FUCKING WISDOM god I'm shaking with rage right now time for a drink
posted by JHarris at 9:38 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rhaomi: "Or can an employer of more than 50,000 really not afford the spare time of a single engineer?"

I think there's a chasm between a lone engineer spending some of their 20 percent time on Reader, and assigning their entire career to it. If you had your pick of working on the Linux kernel, self-driving cars, augmented reality glasses, the highly profitable search engine, or their equally insanely profitable ad delivery system, being assigned to the Reader team has to feel like working for the wrong Google.
posted by pwnguin at 10:40 PM on March 21, 2013


I think there's a chasm between a lone engineer spending some of their 20 percent time on Reader, and assigning their entire career to it. If you had your pick of working on the Linux kernel, self-driving cars, augmented reality glasses, the highly profitable search engine, or their equally insanely profitable ad delivery system, being assigned to the Reader team has to feel like working for the wrong Google.

That doesn't seem to be the impression I get from actual statements by and profiles about the former Reader team. And I don't know how many are engineers are thrilled to be working on the "social network punchline" project.
posted by kagredon at 11:26 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I remember hearing that most of the people who worked on Reader specifically requested it.
posted by JHarris at 11:28 PM on March 21, 2013


If you had your pick of working on the Linux kernel, self-driving cars, augmented reality glasses, the highly profitable search engine, or their equally insanely profitable ad delivery system,

Personally speaking I suspect I'd find working on Reader satisfying (I love the open web) and working on ad systems would be very blah. YMMV.
posted by jaduncan at 12:24 AM on March 22, 2013


Personally speaking I suspect I'd find working on Reader satisfying

Data hoovering and conversion is one of my most favourite things: possibly something to do with being exposed to perl at a formative age. I do even have a quarter-written python/django feed collator from years back; as great as Reader was, I wanted something with better filtering and quasi-intelligent promotion of the articles I'd actually want to see, e.g. for things like bargain forum RSS feeds I was planning on promoting things based on their popularity acceleration, rather than the final velocity* (because by that time, like as not, whatever it was would have sold out).

Unfortunately I decided it wasn't really worth the hassle, as Reader did more or less what I wanted with a little bit of tweaking via a chrome extension.


* i.e. the user upvote score/heat.
posted by titus-g at 4:44 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'M BINGING EVERYTHING NOW.

I've spent the last week migrating my RSS to Feedly, email to Yandex, social crap to Facebook, and search to Duck Duck Go/Bing. Most of this stuff I had used in the past, but mostly to test it or play around with it. The death of Reader really made me understand what many posters here have said before- it's not a great idea to keep all your information with one company, especially one that will kill off products it's no longer interested in.

I'm still looking for a good alternative to Google Talk/Chat, preferably one that plays well on both mobile devices and desktops.
posted by Dr-Baa at 7:57 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess to put it in a less subdued way:

GOOGLE, YOU ARE DRIVING ME TO YOUR COMPETITORS. I WISH YOU GAVE A SHIT ABOUT THIS.
posted by Dr-Baa at 8:00 AM on March 22, 2013 [7 favorites]


kagredon: "That doesn't seem to be the impression I get from actual statements by and profiles about the former Reader team. And I don't know how many are engineers are thrilled to be working on the "social network punchline" project."

Former Googlers as well. Which is kind of my point; if you work on Reader, you might as well be working on your own startup. It seems the former Reader team agrees =)
posted by pwnguin at 10:02 AM on March 22, 2013


Google Reader Closing - An Ode by Hit Reach
posted by homunculus at 5:22 PM on March 22, 2013


How long does Google let projects and services live? (JPG graph)

from: Google Keep? It'll probably be with us until March 2017 - on average
posted by philipy at 6:07 PM on March 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, that graph is a poster boy for math illiteracy.

Suppose there is a company that has one product for 10 years, then it tries something new and after a month realizes it's a bad fit and kills it. The old product? Still going strong another 10 years later. Would you say that company keeps products alive for a month on average?
posted by aspo at 6:19 PM on March 22, 2013


If you had your pick of working on the Linux kernel, self-driving cars, augmented reality glasses, the highly profitable search engine, or their equally insanely profitable ad delivery system, being assigned to the Reader team has to feel like working for the wrong Google.

As I mentioned above, that is the Google I wanted to work for, and when I interviewed with them it was clear that I was not alone. Their recent cultural shift is not just bad for their business, it will have insidious effects on their ability to recruit good talent, which was always one of Google's key differentiators.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:30 PM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow, that graph is a poster boy for math illiteracy.

Your complaint appears to relate to the difference between the mean and the median, which wouldn't be subject to that issue. Except the median project survival time, the one with the same number of projects lasting longer and shorter than it, would be the line in the middle of the graph, which is very close to the mean. So it's not so bad in this case.
posted by JHarris at 10:19 PM on March 22, 2013


WE ARE THE (1000+)
posted by Rhaomi at 11:00 PM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


No my complaint has to do with the fact that they are only looking at shut down projects.
posted by aspo at 11:56 PM on March 22, 2013


Brian Puccio:
... I forget who said it, probably one of the 37 Signals people, but they said only use a web service worth paying for. Having paying customers provides the web service provider with an incentive to keep it going (and to make it better!) beyond mere eyeballs, which may or may not be worth it. ...
Found the article, Pinboard's Don't Be A Free User:
... What if a little site you love doesn't have a business model? Yell at the developers! Explain that you are tired of good projects folding and are willing to pay cash American dollar to prevent that from happening. It doesn't take prohibitive per-user revenue to put a project in the black. It just requires a number greater than zero. ...
posted by Brian Puccio at 7:28 AM on March 23, 2013


And now Paul Krugman weighs in, semi-defending Google.
posted by GuyZero at 11:47 AM on March 23, 2013


I can barely make out what Krugman's point is, but I doubt it takes into account the massive betrayal we all feel.

aspo, you're correct, my error.
posted by JHarris at 12:32 PM on March 23, 2013


Krugman is making a wonky microeconomic point that for certain types of utility curves if you have high fixed costs a product can be permanently unprofitable regardless of the fact that there's a very devoted following for it. I'm not sure if I totally agree but there it is.
posted by GuyZero at 9:45 PM on March 23, 2013


Jason Shellen: The evolution of Google Reader started with a crash. (TechCrunch).

Shellen is the founding PM of GR.
posted by mwhybark at 10:36 AM on March 24, 2013


mwhybark: "The evolution of Google Reader started with a crash."

From the article:
READER WAS LIKE TIVO FOR THE WEB, APPEALING TO COMPLETISTS AND SKIPPERS ALIKE.
A Skipper! That's what I am! And there's a word for it, and it sounds nautical! I'm so pleased.

I was looking at my list of subscriptions, trying to envision what kind of RSS-alternative service would allow me to keep up with sporadic but important (to me) bloggers like, say, Philip Wadler. Facebook? No. Twitter? Ha, no.

What gets me is what we're expected to swallow instead - crap like this from Facebook. This is what Google envies? Feh.
posted by vanar sena at 11:16 AM on March 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, that graph is a poster boy for math illiteracy.

Depends what you think it is for, and whether you are willing to use messy and incomplete data to help you with your decision making.

Given we can't know the lifespan of as-yet-unterminated projects, and given a plausible assumption that Google has a few core products and lots of little experiments, this info is quite useful for deciding how much you want to invest in something that relies on one of the experiments. (e.g. Whether to spend time building an app that uses a new Google API.)

FWIW, data that shows a mean of almost 4 years with less than 20% of projects terminated in less than 2 years tells me something that my dataless gut instinct wouldn't, even if the data is imperfect.

Btw it is only math illiteracy if it is claiming to be something it is not. If it's clearly stated what the data is and you use it in a way that is inappropriate, that is your math illiteracy.

I can barely make out what Krugman's point is

Leaving aside the economic jargon, he is saying that some of the things that Google et al are doing these days are classic examples of things that are better provided as public services, and which may in fact be impossible for any private company to do profitably.

The economic jargon is referring to qualities like....

- There are big costs involved that don't depend on how many people use the service
- A lot of users get a small amount of benefit. (Maybe a few get a big benefit too)
- The more people are using the service, the more valuable it becomes to everyone

You might want to check out the concept of a public good, which is closely related.

Btw he is not talking about Reader specifically, his punchline is a lot more radical: that while it's hard right now to imagine *search* being run as a public service, maybe the logic says it eventually should be.
posted by philipy at 11:28 AM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


philipy, upthread I suggested that Google should be nationalized in order to convert email and search provisioning from private services to public utilities. I was in no way joking.

vanar sena, I utterly concur with your dismissal of Twitter as a feed aggregator replacement. Shellen's talking point that FB and Twitter do a better job curating links, which has been bruited elsewhere in the GR discussion around the web, appears to me to show a basic misunderstanding of what I, at least, have been looking for and was using GR to provide. I don't want a bot or an editor curating content in that context. I want to see what *I* want to see on a daily basis from a consistent set of content provisioners. A driveby link-in from Twitter or MetaFilter might point me toward a new daily source, but I don't think I have ever *added* a daily data source to GR based on Twitter or Facebook.

Andy Baio, for example, is an independent link source for me who reliably tosses up info I want to see on topics that interest me. Ithink the Shellen link came via him.

Here's another one:

Microsoft employee James Whittaker at MSDN posts "Why I Left Google."
posted by mwhybark at 4:38 PM on March 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't know how Google thinks we can ever trust them for anything anymore. I had my doubts about Google+ before but they are redoubled because they could walk away from that for some new thing they think we want and need.

The latest lame justification being floated out there is that they had to shut down Reader due to the high cost of privacy compliance - a fatuous piece of bullshit spin if ever there was one. The people who are making Google glasses are worried about the privacy of an rss reader? That's so funny I forgot to laugh.

OK, this new Google thing pisses me off too... Google is shutting down Frommers' print editions. Yes, dead tree guides, perhaps it was just a question of time anyway - but I am am weary of the insatiable beast hoovering companies up only to shut them down later. I am so glad I persuaded all my clients to use WordPress and not Blogger - I'm guessing Blogger will be one of the next things to bite the dust, they will try to force all the bloggers into +. 5 Products That Should Fear Google’s Next Killing Spree.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:36 PM on March 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yeah, read that privacy article linked. I am appalled that the PR group came out with unnamed source to explain gReader's demise and seeding the article. The explanation is extraordinarily weak, because under that thought a lot more services should be shut down, such as, Gmail or orkut. Let's be honest, google is chasing the market and not defining it. I can only hope that they deem search as an absolute value on its own and not just a vehicle for adverts. Because that is a prioritization issue.
posted by jadepearl at 9:05 PM on March 24, 2013


I'd have thought that there would be far more privacy/data sharing issues around feedburner than Reader. Then, I doubt feedburner is long for this web, either... The dev blog was retired last July.
posted by titus-g at 3:13 AM on March 25, 2013


TechCrunch: What If The Google Reader Readers Just Don’t Come Back?
By killing Reader, Google is likely to harm a lot of publishers, large and small, by eliminating a larger source of traffic.

On my own site, I’ve always been surprised to see Reader constantly in the top five of traffic referrers day in and day out. If I tweet out a link or share one on Facebook, it leads to large spikes, but Reader is my rock. It’s steady traffic each and every day.

When I heard about the killing of Reader, I decided to dig a bit deeper to see just how much traffic Reader is responsible for. And I did this not only for my own site, but for TechCrunch as well. The results are both fascinating and terrifying. When Reader takes its dirt nap in July, a lot of us could be really screwed in the two places it hurts the most: our egos and our pocketbooks.

In the past 30 days, Google Reader has been the number four referrer of traffic to TechCrunch, behind just Google Search, Facebook, and Twitter — and it nearly beat Twitter. Google Reader accounted for a little over three percent of all visits.

If you go back to include the past year, Google Reader falls to number five on the list, with Aol.com, the parent of this site, sneaking in there as well. But the percentage of total referrals jumps a bit in that span, to just over four percent.

If I include a full three years worth of data, the first thing you’ll notice is that Google Reader has indeed dropped quite a bit in usage over time — at least as seen by TechCrunch. Referrals (on a monthly basis) are now about one-third of what they were at the peak of Reader referral power in August 2010.

But over that entire span, Reader is the number two referrer to TechCrunch, behind just Google Search. Yes, over the past three years, Reader has driven more traffic to the site than Facebook, Twitter, or Aol. In fact, it has driven more than Twitter and Aol combined over that span (though, to be fair, some of Twitter’s traffic was “dark social” at points before they wrapped every link in t.co). Reader has accounted for over seven percent of all TechCrunch visits in the past three years.

Looking at my own personal site, ParisLemon, the story is a little different. When my site was young and not really maintained with much frequency, Reader was routinely out of the top ten referrers. But over the past couple of years, as my site has grown, Reader has quickly risen to become a key driver of traffic — it’s now consistently in the top five.

To me, this shows Reader’s importance to smaller publishers. As my site has grown, Reader has become an increasingly important way for people to read my site. And it has clearly driven a lot of that growth. That all ends this coming July.


There are some contrary stats in the middle there relating to Reader's decline, but again one wonders what could have been if Google had encouraged the service instead of neglecting it for years and then actively fucking up its core functionality

They also extend the Guardian's metaphor of Reader power users as the web's content pollenizers.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:04 AM on March 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


madamjujujive: "5 Products That Should Fear Google’s Next Killing Spree."

I just jumped to Wordpress on the strength of this alone. I really don't want the hassle of having what little I have suddenly going away.
posted by jquinby at 6:10 AM on March 25, 2013


The Google shutdown parade continues; next up: site-blocking in search
"Prepare to welcome back the content farms to your search results. All of them."

Google Discontinues Blocked Sites Feature

Apparently, you can still block sites if using Chrome; this was previously a search option and now it is a browser option.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:03 AM on March 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google seems to be intent on wresting the title of "Company with the Most Customer Goodwill Thrown Away in Shortest Amount of Time" from Netflix.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:38 AM on March 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's the thing really, isn't it? Google's greatest asset, by far, has never been its gigantic server farm or its extensive brain trust. It's always, always been the massive amount of goodwill it built up since the old days when it was literally the only good and trustworthy search engine, and enhanced over the years with great free products.

Steve Jobs didn't see this, and to his gross detriment Larry Page has forgotten it. To think of what they're throwing away to chase damnable Facebook.
posted by JHarris at 1:51 PM on March 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Apparently the blocked-sites thing has been dead for a year - the news is that it's definitely gone and not coming back.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:26 PM on March 26, 2013


There are several Greasemonkey scripts to block domains in search. The one I use is here.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:32 PM on March 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Apparently, you can still block sites if using Chrome; this was previously a search option and now it is a browser option.

Are you fucking kidding me? Like the Reader shutdown, I can't understand why they'd want to throw away that kind of data. Isn't it useful to have your end-users automatically providing human filtering of your results to kick out content farms? What the hell?
posted by odinsdream at 7:17 AM on March 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ah, but why get information from people using the products they want to use, when instead, you can cripple those products to push them into using (Plus | Chrome)!

I'm worried now for Firefox; weren't they getting something like 60% of their funding from their sweetheart deal with Google? I think that proportion has probably gone down some, but if I were balancing the books at Mozilla, I'd start making contingency plans for when Google decides funding projects run by other orgs doesn't "fit into their core mission."
posted by kagredon at 7:52 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


See my comments above on Mozilla funding. Google isn't selling ads on Firefox out of kindness, it's so that competitors can't sell ads there. Also I'd guess it's more like 90% of Mozilla's funding, not 60%, but I haven't looked it up.
posted by Nelson at 8:05 AM on March 27, 2013


odinsdream wrote: Isn't it useful to have your end-users automatically providing human filtering of your results to kick out content farms? What the hell?

Google makes its money by displaying ads. They don't make money by improving the quality of your search results. In fact, by having worse results they actually encourage you to click on their advertisers' carefully targeted ads, which you will probably find more relevant than some Markov-chain-generated linkbait. This is in addition to the savings of not having to store and check your precious list of blocked sites.

Google has done lots of things to make search less useful: it removed the "+" operator for significance, and replaced by overloading quotation marks. The default scope of search is now the past 15 years rather than the whole database. Preferences are non-sticky. Specialised searches (e.g., book search) have been dumbed down. This is because search is free to the user but costly to Google, and the costliest searches are the least profitable ones: Google would rather have more people clicking on ads for for local lawyers and medical clinics and fewer people looking for 15th century poetry; and they have adjusted their search engine to promote the former at the expense of the latter.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:40 AM on March 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Google makes its money by displaying ads. They don't make money by improving the quality of your search results. In fact, by having worse results they actually encourage you to click on their advertisers' carefully targeted ads,

This still makes no sense, though. I won't see any of Google's search ads if I have to abandon it as a search tool because of crap results. The reason they have so many eyes on their ads is directly because of their search quality.
posted by odinsdream at 8:45 AM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


This still makes no sense, though.

It does once you realize you are not the target market. Most users are happy to accept whatever search comes attached to their address bars.

It's hard to argue that specialized searching is a priority for Google. It's just not worth anything to it. (I'd say there's probably an opportunity there, but jeez, who can compete.)

In fact, by having worse results they actually encourage you to click on their advertisers' carefully targeted ads, which you will probably find more relevant than some Markov-chain-generated linkbait. This is in addition to the savings of not having to store and check your precious list of blocked sites.

That's going a bit too far. Google Search had a big problem with SEO linkbait through most of 2012 (2011? did I lost a year again?), but they've turned it around. If their organic search results and usage around them decline, that's their core business. That's a HUGE deal.

I don't hear many people talking about DuckDuckGo these days.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:02 AM on March 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, to be honest, the husband has convinced me to get out of the Google ecosystem and that includes search. In that process he is pushing DuckDuckGo and it will be a search engine that I will be introducing my students to in the coming semesters. It was kind of easy to intro students to gServices and leave it that, besides showing some power techniques, but the series of events makes me wary. It seems crazy to give up the core attraction, reliable search results. I am very attached to google search but seriously, I used to like AltaVista too.
posted by jadepearl at 11:17 AM on March 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


My feeds finally got uploaded to The Old Reader after the 49,000 ahead of me. I definitely like the simplicity, but right now I'm digging Feedly. Its web-based reader is reasonably close to Google Reader in terms of the interface and, more importantly (for me), it has an Android app, which is pretty nice and also close to Reader. My only wish is that the widget showed a Reader-style list.
posted by ssmug at 12:28 PM on March 27, 2013


Reeder just tweeted that they'll be using Feedbin for their back-end.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 1:50 PM on March 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Feedly was updated recently (today?) with some nice usability tweaks. I've been using it with the Readly userscript, which is being updated frequently and optimizes the interface further. Still not crazy about the mechanics of subscribing, but I imagine that will go through some changes when they switch to the new backend.
posted by Lorin at 11:31 AM on March 28, 2013


I guess they'll have to pry a cold dead GReader out of my hands.. :(
posted by infini at 12:08 PM on March 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


... which you will probably find more relevant than some Markov-chain-generated linkbait

The joke is that a great part of the reason those Markov-chain-generated linkbait sites exist is to house Google ads. Oh, not directly fed from Google - Google has an "ad network" option.

A year or two ago - before Google's Panda started clamping down on crap sites - I was trying to help a potential client to position his online training business to show better in search engines. As part of that process, I was digging through his and a bunch of competitive sites. He was using text ads on Google - and via Google, had also put some ads on some amorphous ad network. I dug through the sites included in that network and it was like turning over a rock and disturbing a swarm of revolting bugs. The network sites were largely Markov-chain-generated, content-scraping linkbait sites stuffed to the gills with Google ads. Many of these crap sites came up pretty highly in key search terms.

The whole thing disgusted me because if my client bought ads on these well-positioned crap sites, he did generate a few sales; but I couldn't place those ads because they perpetuated bad content that I saw as deleterious to both him and the web at large - even the commercial web. The damn scam sites were competing with him for position so if he bought ads, he might realize a short term gain (a sale) in favor of a long term loss (bolstering a search result competitor, feeding a crap site). Peeling back this little backwater niche and seeing how Google was complicit in these thin, crappy, scammy sites was really eye-opening to me.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:50 PM on March 28, 2013 [7 favorites]


Pulse.me is my pet RSS reader for my iPhone

I imported all of my music feeds and it's ... OK. I really wish they would add a more text-centric view, like a "Details" type list. And there's no real way to rename feeds, i don't think ... but not horrible.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:37 PM on March 28, 2013


In other news: Google announces open source patent pledge, won't sue 'unless first attacked'
posted by homunculus at 3:33 PM on March 28, 2013


Larry and Sergey are giving Tom and Jerry a run for their money ;p er tails...
posted by infini at 3:36 AM on March 29, 2013


... and now they've gone and are forcing everyone using web gmail to use their idiotic new interface, which was clearly designed by chimpanzees[1] and not for anyone who either composes long long emails or has a screen resolution larger than 1024x768.

Welllllllllllllp, that did it. I just set DuckDuckGo as my default search engine. Google, we've been in a relationship for nearly 14 years, but I'm thinking maybe it's time we started seeing other people for our search needs. You're pissing everything away on Facebook, and you're clearly not willing to do anything about that addiction.

[1]Not bonobos, either.
posted by barnacles at 8:18 AM on March 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Been using Feedly for over a week now and I'm warming to it. Interface isn't as simple as GR, but usable on both Android and on Chrome. They're also thinking about how to reduce the cost of change to make the pain as little as possible.
posted by arcticseal at 8:36 AM on March 30, 2013


From the comments on this lifehacker article:
Hello. This is Edwin from feedly. Feedly started historically as a mashup of google reader, twitter, facebook, Youtube and flickr. It was build as an app/extension so that it could easily connect to those services and aggregate the content into a magazine. Over time, we discovered that users were really looking for a more efficient reading experience, we started de-emphasizing the integration with twitter, etc.. The only reason feedly is still an extension is that it include a mini toolbar which allows users to add new feeds to their sites. The next natural step (and the most recommended feature from the community) is to either stay an app and include support for offline caching, etc.. or spin feedly mini off and make the core feedly experience a simple website. We are exploring both. More on this when the migration is over.
The extension isn't so bad considering most of the (to me) unnecessary cruft can be disabled, but here's hoping they land on the side of "a simple website".
posted by Lorin at 8:50 AM on March 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Welllllllllllllp, that did it. I just set DuckDuckGo as my default search engine. Google, we've been in a relationship for nearly 14 years, but I'm thinking maybe it's time we started seeing other people for our search needs. You're pissing everything away on Facebook, and you're clearly not willing to do anything about that addiction.

[1]Not bonobos, either.


Just remind Google what happened to Nokia when it got obsessed and divided by iPhones and cheap Chinese phones...
posted by infini at 9:38 AM on March 30, 2013


Here's Proof That Google Must Really Need More Google+ Local Reviews.
posted by madamjujujive at 4:04 PM on March 30, 2013


That's funny, Zagat never had trouble collecting reviews because it was self-selecting. Here's to Google ruining yet another product it bought purely for the name and market position, without regard for what makes it valuable.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:52 AM on March 31, 2013


I just bought an email account with Polarismail yesterday. No more Gmail for me. Well, not on my personal email. My new job uses Google Apps, so I'm stuck with it there.
posted by COD at 7:25 AM on March 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Hey everyone, let's make our April Fools joke this year all about how we're shutting down a popular eight-year-old service used by millions for frivolous reasons, since that's obviously a ridiculous thing that would never happen in real life!"
posted by Rhaomi at 1:00 PM on March 31, 2013 [11 favorites]


Oh I hope they do something like that, make some crack about shutting down Search or Email tomorrow.

Because I think I'm still capable of feeling a smidgen more contempt. Let's redline it. I wanna turn into a seething elemental of hate.
posted by JHarris at 2:24 PM on March 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


The YouTube AF video is based on the idea that it was a bait-and-switch and will now be closed down. Sigh.
posted by bonaldi at 4:21 PM on March 31, 2013


... and now they've gone and are forcing everyone using web gmail to use their idiotic new interface, which was clearly designed by chimpanzees[1] and not for anyone who either composes long long emails or has a screen resolution larger than 1024x768.

The part where you can compose multiple messages at the same time is a cool html trick that I don't need and don't want. Having multiple model windows like that feels wrong on the web. It feels like the sort of design mistake that Microsoft would make trying to duplicate the desktop experience.
posted by Gary at 12:29 AM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Google Nose, huh. Well I know what it smells like to me.
posted by JHarris at 12:57 AM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


belacan
posted by infini at 3:31 AM on April 1, 2013


It's like composing an e-mail in Outlook, only without the "maximize window" button! Pure genius.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:57 AM on April 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hitting my feeds today Google's War on Easter (FOX Link).
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:08 AM on April 1, 2013


Google's War on Easter

In my book, that's a...*puts on sunglasses*...plus.

YEEEAAAHHH!
posted by zombieflanders at 7:20 AM on April 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I'm moving everything over to fastmail eventually. I'm more and more convinced about the "you're a product" rule, and most of my incoming email consists of notifications, weekly contacts with various family members, and bills.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:25 AM on April 1, 2013


Christians across the nation were expressing outraged after Google decided to honor labor leader Cesar Chavez’s birthday instead of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday — accusing the web giant of being anti-Christian.

First of all, "Christians across the nation" would warrant a (who?) on Wikipedia.

Second, a Mexican-American liberal labor leader? Gee, I wonder why Fox would have a problem with that. If his birthday were on October 30th, they'd probably complain that it was dissing the devil.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:18 AM on April 1, 2013


The best part was that most of the backlash came from people who didn't know the difference between Cesar Chavez and Hugo Chavez.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:22 AM on April 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


On the other hand if they decided to celebrate a US labor leader on Diwali instead of highlighting something to do with Diwali, most of us would readily see how that is rather culturally insensitive, is pretty US-centric etc.

But being Google, I'm surprised they don't manage to show Easter messages to conservative Christians, labor leader stuff to liberal atheists, and chocolate bunnies to people with a sweet tooth.
posted by philipy at 9:13 AM on April 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


is pretty US-centric etc.

The Chavez doodle only showed up on the US site which is .com, but most users get redirected to their local regional sites automatically. Also, it was literally Caesar Chavez day on March 31 in the US.

I don't understand people who think only one thing ever happens at a time.
posted by GuyZero at 9:26 AM on April 1, 2013


You mean like how Google did not make a Diwali Doodle in 2012 or 2010? (or probably many other years - these were in the top 5 results for Diwali google doodle)

The Google Doodle has never been, and I don't think was every intended to be, a thorough, exhaustive, and repeated acknowledgement of every World Holiday or famous dead person's birthday, ever.
posted by muddgirl at 9:28 AM on April 1, 2013


Unless the doodle literally turned one of the "O"s into a halo around Jesus's head as he ascends to the browser's address bar, I'm not sure what Fox would've been hoping for. An Easter egg would be obvious, but arguably does more to undermine the Christian meaning of Easter than doing nothing at all.

Note: the above assumes a spherical cow a Fox commentator making an argument in good faith.
posted by Riki tiki at 9:54 AM on April 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


You mean like how Google did not make a Diwali Doodle in 2012 or 2010?

The point is not whether they did it or not.

The point is: Can you not readily see how that is somewhat culturally insensitive? And would you not be able to empathize with people that were upset about it?

What about if on the next Martin Luther King day (Jan 20th, 2014) they decide to go with celebrating Gary Barlow's birthday instead? Would you not be able to understand why some people might be upset about that?

Personally I'd be quite tickled if they decided to celebrate Bones' birthday, but it wouldn't be hard to understand if some people were upset they passed over the Civil Rights movement that day, even if only once every few years.

Let's be clear, I am not talking here about what Google should or should not do.

I am calling y'all out on your double standards when it comes to stuff like this.
posted by philipy at 10:43 AM on April 1, 2013


Can you not readily see how that is somewhat culturally insensitive? And would you not be able to empathize with people that were upset about it?

Not really, no. Google is not a governmental agency. They don't represent me or my viewpoints. They are a company that sometimes does silly stuff with their logo timed to a holday/birthday, and sometimes don't.

Would you not be able to understand why some people might be upset about that?

No, I wouldn't really understand why they were upset at Google featuring one birthday in their logo and not another. I would understand if they decided to stop using Google because it does not align with their principles, but I've never really understood getting upset because a for-profit company makes a harmless decision that I don't agree with.
posted by muddgirl at 10:52 AM on April 1, 2013


Also, I completely disagree with the analogy that Easter == MLK Jr and Cesar Chavez == Gary Barlow. But I say that as a non-Christian supporter of labor rights.
posted by muddgirl at 10:53 AM on April 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Can you not readily see how that is somewhat culturally insensitive?

Not in this case. The so-called "War on Easter" is a continuation of the "War on Christmas." It's not even yellow journalism, just propaganda that creates outrage from trivialities for the purpose of describing a dominant culture as oppressed by evil seculars and multiculturalists.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:56 PM on April 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Google is in California, yes? Cesar Chavez Day is a real-ass holiday there.

And, I mean, it's not like Christians are going to forget it's Easter just because Google doesn't put, what, Jesus's ascention to heaven or whatever, on their main page.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:42 PM on April 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I mean, it's not like Christians are going to forget it's Easter

Actually, Jesus doesn't ascend to heaven this year and is stuck in the "man" phase of his man-God duality. Google pulled God's goalie.
posted by GuyZero at 1:58 PM on April 1, 2013


The Future of Reeder, the popular iOS/Mac app maker speaks. Promising continued support and development, plus making the (somewhat outdated) iPad and Mac versions free for now.
posted by Nelson at 3:08 PM on April 1, 2013


Feedly updated its mobile apps Monday, and in doing so disclosed that it alone had seen three million new users since Google announced Reader's shutdown.

Now I realize that (A) not all three million new users will become habitual users of Feedly - some just signed up to try it out; and (B) three million is a tiny subset of internet users worldwide. Conversely, if Feedly saw three million new users, then Netvibes, Newsblur, Old Reader, et al have to combine to some larger number yet.

So Google decided to piss off perhaps five million people who so desperately loved Reader that they fled to alternatives months before they needed to.

I went to business school. I must have missed the day they covered whether or not to say "Screw you!" to five million customers, because that intrinsically seems like a Bad Idea, but maybe I'm wrong.
posted by OHSnap at 1:14 AM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


What about if on the next Martin Luther King day (Jan 20th, 2014) they decide to go with celebrating Gary Barlow's birthday instead? Would you not be able to understand why some people might be upset about that?

BECAUSE NOTHING ELSE CAN BE DONE WITH JANUARY 20TH THAN REVERING MARTIN LUTHER KING. It is a moral imperative that Gary Barlow remain forever in the great man's shadow, never to have a day in the sun, due to the mere accident of the day of his birth.

I don't think Google is beholden to do anything with their doodles other than what they want. It's not important. This is just another of an incredibly long and annoying series of manufactroversies cooked up by Fox News so they can continue to justify their viewship's epic inferiority complex. The whole organization is so far beneath contempt now that I just write off anything they say as valueless as the default pose. As I think most people who do not enjoy the great taste of their Kool-Aid do.
posted by JHarris at 2:42 AM on April 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Feedly's blog post about 3 million readers, the source for OHSnap's comment. I'm frankly astonished at that number, that's a size of userbase that Google should find interesting. I can only think that they had to cast out the thing that didn't fit the Google+ plan, maybe motivated by the company leadership's blindness to the value of RSS/Atom.
posted by Nelson at 8:29 AM on April 2, 2013


If Google was a startup then yes, they would be very excited by 7 million readers. But they're not a startup: they are an established company. From our perspective, money is money. From Google's perspective - that is to say, from the viewpoint of the shareholders and the executives responsible to them - money isn't as important as more money. More money is what you get when you have a business that is growing. When you have more money, your shares increase in value because they now include that growth in income. Without more money your share price is stagnant and all you get are dividends - profit on your existing business. This is not more money; it is merely money.

Google's business is advertising. It makes money from selling advertising but it makes more money by finding new avenues for advertising and ways to make advertising more valuable. When it looks at RSS/Atom it sees a business that can't grow very fast and is mostly attractive to geeks. The problem with geeks is, they don't like advertising: even if they don't block ads (Google hates that!) they're not the sort of people who would find a lawyer by clicking on an advertisement. And even taking that into account, it's not easy to insert your own ads into RSS feeds without getting into copyright issues. So it's a small market, a relatively stagnant one, an unprofitable one, and a problematic one. In other words, it's not a source of more money. And despite Google's former image as a hip place for geeks, it's a corporation with a duty to its shareholders, and all they care about is more money.

So if people are lucky, someone will recreate Google Reader because for them it will represent a new source of income: i.e., more money. But there's no hope that Google will resurrect it, because they're really not in the business of selling software or tech support (though they kind of pretend they are); seven million people is a small enough advertising market that that they don't mind losing it; any existing market is merely a source of money; and Google's executives would rather spend their time trying to make Google's shares grow by finding a source of more money.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:45 PM on April 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Joe in Australia, I find that argument fundamentally flawed. How is it ever in the interest of shareholders to piss off seven million loyal customers?

Your argument is like General Motors in the 90s saying "We're stopping production of small cars. Sure, we make a little bit of profit on small cars, but Hummers and Suburbans simply make piles of money for us. If you want a small car, go see Toyota instead." Ceding a sizeable chunk of your customers to other providers is a violation of the company's fiduciary duty. It's also short-sighted, as the customers you lose today may be important when business conditions change, just like when GM couldn't compete with an SUV-heavy business model when gas prices rose in 2004-7.

It cost Google a vanishingly small amount compared to its overall business to keep Reader going. It's true that it didn't make money for them directly, but I'd venture to say that most Reader users were also loyal Google users. By that I mean like me, for example, who used Gmail, Reader, Docs, Maps, News, Android phones, and above all, search. Since the Reader shutdown, when I realized Google wasn't interested in my usage pattern anymore, I've switched to other services, some of which I will gladly pay for.

So yes, Reader didn't make them more money as you indicate, but they're certainly making less money off me now. And I'm certain, from the nearly 1,100 comments in this thread and the three million new Feedly users, that I'm not alone.
posted by OHSnap at 6:13 PM on April 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've made Joe in Australia's argument myself up-thread, and I've seen first hand inside Google how hard it is to get any attention for a $20M / year business inside a company with $50B of revenues. And I'm being charitable on that $20M, at least as a Google business; as Joe notes they couldn't really sell ads on the product so monetizing it was difficult. So yeah, no attention or love from the executives.

My best guess is Reader fell afoul of whatever internal politics are driving Google+. Google feels social is an important, strategic business. And they have a strategy for achieving it. And Reader doesn't fit that strategy, so it gets killed. Also I think the short three month shutdown window is a clue; my guess is Reader depends on some Google backend infrastructure that's being end of life, forcing a decision about whether to restaff Reader and upgrade it or else kill it.

Also you can say what you want about 3M+ pissed off Reader users. But they won't stop doing Google searches and they won't stop clicking on Google ads. That's the only thing that really matters.
posted by Nelson at 7:15 PM on April 2, 2013


Interestingly enough, google added it back to the drop down menu in gmail recently.
posted by empath at 7:22 PM on April 2, 2013


Google feels social is an important, strategic business. And they have a strategy for achieving it. And Reader doesn't fit that strategy, so it gets killed.

I see other reasons. They didn't invent it. They don't control it. They can't filter or catalog it. And quite a bit of syndicated RSS content is too wordy for small-screen interfaces.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:07 PM on April 2, 2013


OHSnap wrote: Your argument is like General Motors in the 90s saying "We're stopping production of small cars.

Not really. Google and General Motors are intrinsically different: Google basically created its own market and its share price is based on the idea that it will continue to dominate its own market and will potentially create new markets which it can control. In contrast, General Motors would like to expand a bit, but it really just wants to maintain its share of an existing market.

This focus on growth means that Google can't afford to spend its resources on stagnant markets unless they're really, really, really significant. RSS feeds are basically stagnant. Even if they were easy to monetise, they're not going to grow very fast. As CBrachyrhynchos pointed out, wodges of text aren't well-adapted to small screens, which is where the money seems to be. It's possible that someone will come up with a killer app that will redefine the market, but if they do, Google will just buy them out. Until that happens they can save their very very valuable and limited executive and shareholder attention for products that are plausibly going to grow and make them lots of money, and therefore justify the price of their shares.

Here's my impression of a Google shareholder presentation:

We made a zillion bucks! We totally rule the online advertising world! Our advertising platforms are so indispensable that people beg us to bring them to our competitors' OS! We have clever strategies to not only force people to watch ads on phones (because we wrote the OS) but even advertorialise the real world via dorky eyeglasses!

Oooh, I see we have fifteen seconds left.

(Hmm. I can tell them about Google Vapor (tm) which will send ads to your limbic system via tagged scents, or I can tell you that we will continue to support a bunch of dorks and homebodies reading last decade's version of Usenet. What to do, what to do, what to do ...)

OK, let me tell you, this product is fantastic! It gets right up your nose!
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:35 PM on April 2, 2013


Also you can say what you want about 3M+ pissed off Reader users. But they won't stop doing Google searches and they won't stop clicking on Google ads. That's the only thing that really matters.

Yeah, I can see that. But this post on Jason's blog the other day reminded me of reader: Apple's halo car. Some products aren't profitable, but they're important to the company's identity—both for customers and current and potential employees. Google Reader wasn't a flagship product, but I think it was right in line with their mission of organizing the world's information. When they give that up, they're signaling to people who care about that mission that they're not that company anymore. I don't know if that affects the bottom-line immediately, but I do think it matters.
posted by pb at 7:52 AM on April 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


pb: There's a more direct comparison here; the fact that top line gamers use either AMD or Nvidia has a very direct impact on how they are perceived when making purchases at lower price levels.

I think that Google's approved-by-geeks status is something that would be very painful indeed for them to lose.
posted by jaduncan at 8:34 AM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but there's no search engine that's going to dethrone Google's core business. Not with geeks, not with little old ladies, no one. DuckDuckGo comes close, but it's mostly just a skin for Bing and for some sad reason Microsoft's excellent search engine will never get respect. Baidu is also a contender, but remains specific to the Chinese market.

And search isn't even the crown jewel; it's AdWords and AdSense. To some extent the geeks' opinion on ad systems is entirely irrelevant. Business people choose ad networks, and AdWords delivers excellent return on ad dollars spent and AdSense delivers excellent value per impression.

So all this stuff like Reader is just a big massive distraction inside Google, one I suspect the CEO is already completely ignoring. They do seem to care about social but the horse they're betting on there is Google+. And someone made the calculation that Reader wasn't going to be an asset to Google+. (Which seems like a total failure of imagination, but I'm not the one making the decisions.)
posted by Nelson at 12:59 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


some sad reason Microsoft's excellent search engine will never get respect.

Bing is destined to be the Pepsi to Google's Coke in a bar with both available.
posted by jaduncan at 1:37 PM on April 3, 2013


Bing is destined to be the Pepsi to Google's Coke in a bar with both available.

This metaphor falls down in that I know people who drink Pepsi.
posted by brennen at 1:53 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


My roommate uses Bing. And has a windows phone. And works for Microsoft.
posted by aubilenon at 2:52 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Joe in Australia, I find that argument fundamentally flawed. How is it ever in the interest of shareholders to piss off seven million loyal customers?

A lot of people don't understand the scale at which Google operates. Your argument is actually the one with the fundamental flaw: It is in Google's interest to piss off X million people if it frees up resources that can make something useful for 10X million people, or 100X million people. Based on what I know of Reader's resource use (it's a lot), those multipliers are not implausible. There is also an organizational cost for every additional project--developing software at Google-scale is not easy and any additional complexity needs to be justified or it needs to be removed. 1100 comments on metafilter means approximately 0 to Google.

Google is (no longer) about dozens of projects that each impact a few million people. Their focus on projects that can have global impact is brutal. In their eyes, Reader had its chance and it did not pan out.

I don't particularly care for that arrangement of priorities and I wish we still had the old Google, with Labs and Code Search and lots of other things that I miss. But there is a logic to what they're doing, and it's not all about advertising (Google would desperately love to find another way to make money) or profit. They want to change the world, and to do that they believe they need to be disciplined and focused.

(Arguments that talking shoes reveal a hypocritical position on focus don't make sense to me either--there's a big difference between an experiment and supporting a not particularly popular service for a decade or longer.)
posted by jjwiseman at 5:03 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


If anyone is trying to convince me that it's good that Google is shutting down Reader, they're going to fail, as I use it a lot and find it excellent. I am directly influenced by this decision, and thus it's my duty to be loud about how terrible it is, as a member of the aggrieved party.

You can say that Google doesn't care about me, and somehow shouldn't care about me, all you want, you'll just redouble my determination to show them how they jolly well should care about me by being loud about how much it sucks. I don't forget about these things quickly.
posted by JHarris at 5:37 PM on April 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


At what point is Google going to figure out that their social strategy has failed? Google+ has been around a good while now. It has no penetration. It's a wasteland. User numbers (and I mean people who actually use it, not just people who are on it because Google makes everyone be on it) are not increasing along any kind of curve that suggests it's going to have an important market share. Tumblr, Pintrest, hell even Linked In are more successful, faster growing social platforms. I'd wager there are more active daily users of phpbb forums than Google+. At the moment, the only value in Google+ is as an above-average video conferencing utility.

Google has lost, and they're flogging that dead horse to mincemeat, damaging everything good while they do it.
posted by Jimbob at 5:48 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, some of us actually do use it honestly -- there's a MeFi Google+ group, although it doesn't exactly have an overflowing posting frequency. I was actually trying to post there more often until the Google Reader thing went down; now I feel like I'm rewarding them for their terrible decision.
posted by JHarris at 2:28 AM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am loathe to admit it, but I've started using G+ more than facebook, and the other night I tried the "Google Hangouts" thing and I was actually super impressed. I was resilient for a long time because of the general snark surrounding it, but it was remarkably solid and intuitive.
And of course knowing all of this makes the death of Google Reader that much more painful than me, because Google could have been the start-and-end of the majority of my internet activity.
posted by Theta States at 5:55 AM on April 4, 2013


At what point is Google going to figure out that their social strategy has failed? Google+ has been around a good while now. It has no penetration. It's a wasteland. User numbers (and I mean people who actually use it, not just people who are on it because Google makes everyone be on it) are not increasing along any kind of curve that suggests it's going to have an important market share. Tumblr, Pintrest, hell even Linked In are more successful, faster growing social platforms. I'd wager there are more active daily users of phpbb forums than Google+.

I think Monthly Average Users is more of a commonly accepted metric (as satirized on HBO's Girls).

Active users (global)
Facebook: 1.06 billion
Google Plus: 343 million
Twitter: 200 million
Tumblr: 170 million

source

In some Asian countries, G+ has 40-50% penetration.

And an explanation of how G+ gets so many active users.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:27 PM on April 4, 2013


It's possible to have both Google+ and Reader.
posted by JHarris at 7:10 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


jjwiseman: "But there is a logic to what they're doing, and it's not all about advertising (Google would desperately love to find another way to make money) or profit. They want to change the world, and to do that they believe they need to be disciplined and focused."

That's what's frustrating. Discipline and focus are the ways to make the most of visionary leaders, or lackluster underlings. Basically, "I know better than you, so do what I tell you."

On the other hand, Google has attracted absolute top-notch talent for years. The challenge for a manager when dealing with amazing workers is to prevent anything from getting in their way... including and especially yourself. A light touch is usually all it takes to keep a great developer on target for your pet project, and occasionally it means they'll also come up with something brilliant and game-changing that you probably wouldn't have approved in advance.

And nothing's worse than managing brilliant people like mediocre people. They feel stifled and unappreciated, and you feel they're overpaid. Maybe they stay, maybe they go, but you can be damn sure you're not getting any new brilliant people, because you've disenfranchised anyone who will advocate for you in the right circles, and anyone who would be able to effectively filter out the potential hires. Treating people like they're mediocre thus becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Google avoided that for a long damn time. Their "lack of focus" was their greatest advantage over all of the disciplined, focused companies run by MBAs who think business savvy is something you can plug into any industry and have it work. Instead, they developed policies that inspired their employees to make the internet better -- and as you'll recall, the internet is where Google gets their money. Instead of wasting time trying to be a bigger fish, they got all the other fish to build a bigger pond.

I don't know for sure why this cultural shift is happening within Google, but I've seen its ilk many a time in my career. The people at the top get too chummy, and too self-assured. They may, in fact, be brilliant people, but they're no replacement for many more brilliant people who also know how to build the products that support the company.

Once things start down that path, I have yet to see a company recover what they had before. Sure, they can make a fine living by hiring salespeople to milk what they'd done in the good ol' days, but everything else will eventually stagnate.
posted by Riki tiki at 9:01 PM on April 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


I expressed annoyance above that Google was shutting down Frommers' print editions. Today, I read that Arthur Frommer gets Frommer brand back from Google. Good for him and good for Google for allowing it to happen.

Google refused comment at the time, but Arthur Frommer confirmed in a phone call from his home Wednesday night that he had reacquired rights to the brand.

"It's a very happy time for me," Frommer, 83, told The Associated Press. "We will be publishing the Frommer travel guides in ebook and print formats and will also be operating the travel site Frommers.com."

posted by madamjujujive at 7:02 PM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Google mines Frommer’s Travel for social data, then sells the name back
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 5:40 AM on April 10, 2013


Google’s war against fake news: A Forbes media reporter criticizes the company's attack on "sponsored content." He couldn't be more wrong
posted by homunculus at 12:48 PM on April 10, 2013


You know, Google, the web already had this feature.
posted by Gary at 7:06 PM on April 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


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