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Being locked in an RSS reader makes less and less sense to people...
September 10, 2010 3:40 PM   Subscribe

Bloglines.com is closing down. According to Ask.com, the owners of Bloglines, the world is very different now from the world in which Bloglines was launched.
"The Internet has undergone a major evolution. The real-time information RSS was so astute at delivering (primarily, blog feeds) is now gained through conversations, and consuming this information has become a social experience."
posted by AmbroseChapel (75 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Previously from when it had a lot of technical problems.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:51 PM on September 10, 2010


Shit. I think I have a bloglines account. Not sure.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 3:52 PM on September 10, 2010


Wha? I practically live in Google Reader. It's not the concept, it's the execution.
posted by evilcolonel at 3:52 PM on September 10, 2010 [38 favorites]


Wha? I practically live in Google Reader. It's not the concept, it's the execution.

I almost never leave Google Reader either.
posted by omegar at 3:53 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


So where's a good place to export our subscriptions? I've been using Bloglines for years and I personally don't follow their logic--much of the information on the net is a social experience; however, Bloglines was a convenient way to go through a lot of information easily and orderly.
posted by Knigel at 3:54 PM on September 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


Bloglines haters can suck it, I just found out about this when I hit my Bloglines page, and I am really upset.

I just spotted this Metafilter article in the single bucket where Google Reader apparently thinks all your RSS items belong. Not to mention the panel below that, where every single feed is listed regardless of whether or not it has updates.

I want Bloglines back! Sob!
posted by ErikaB at 3:54 PM on September 10, 2010 [8 favorites]


Wow, I used to use Bloglines religiously. I was reading over 130 feeds and it was a great way to manage information overload. Then life got crazy a few years ago... I quit cold turkey. It was hard, but in time I got over it and became glad for the time saved by not constantly reading blogs. Sometimes I still wonder what I missed when I unplugged though. Bloglines remains in my bookmarks toolbar, taunting me from time to time.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 3:54 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have both Bloglines and Reader accounts. I like Reader for just giving me a river of content, particularly on the iPhone, where it rocks. But I like Bloglines for its simple interface and the ease of organising my stuff the way I like it.

The other reason Reader is a problem is, I have two main Google accounts I switch between very frequently. Using Bloglines meant that I didn't have to check I was in the "right" Google account before looking at my feeds.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:57 PM on September 10, 2010


I got here (well, I'm not here, I'm in a crhome box in Firefox) through "Brief".

Am I always destined to start using technology just as it becomes obsolete?

And, how am I supposed to follow Metafilter from Twitter or Facebook?
posted by mmrtnt at 4:00 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually MeghanC has the solution to locating the Google Reader equivalent of "Show Unread Only." Thanks, AmbroseChapel, for linking to that AskMe thread!

I'm still inconsolable about the loss of Bloglines though.
posted by ErikaB at 4:01 PM on September 10, 2010


Man, I remember the days when I had a bloglines account. I didn't go cold turkey, but I did exercise the delete button, cut myself way down, and now use Google Reader.

Erika B, you can do a lot of management with folders in Google Reader. I'm pretty sure you can also set it up so you only see feeds with new items; they're clearly marked in my interface. I also use a Chrome extension called Lucidica that gets rid of a lot of cruft. It may not be as good as Bloglines, but you can make it better than the defaults.
posted by immlass at 4:02 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Which is why all these companies are trying to get in the middle of our conversations. How pleasant.

But actually I don't think this is a change at all. Before facebook, people shared links and information through email. The only difference was that there wasn't any way to get in between all those conversations and make money off of them, because they all happened through a distributed server-to-server architecture (One with an enormous spam problem, unfortunately).

But beyond that, these guys are mostly just spouting "Wired speak" in order to justify their failure to make a good RSS reader. No one makes money off aggregating RSS feeds because Google Reader is just so good. They're blaming their failure on tech trends. But the thing is, their excuse makes no sense

Flash forward to 2010. The Internet has undergone a major evolution. The real-time information RSS was so astute at delivering (primarily, blog feeds) is now gained through conversations, and consuming this information has become a social experience. As Steve Gillmor pointed out in TechCrunch last year , being locked in an RSS reader makes less and less sense to people as Twitter and Facebook dominate real-time information flow.
Twitter is a way of publishing information. There's nothing stopping anyone from from reading people's twitter feeds via RSS. Rss readers are a way of consuming information.

And facebook is just an upgrade from email. Instead of emailing links, they're posting them on facebook. Facebook doesn't let you subscribe to people's posts via RSS, but there's no technical reason why they couldn't. But they want everything to happen on their site, where they can sell advertising along side it.

---

But the other thing: the idea that all news is going to be distributed by person-to-person conversations, is just insane. A lot of people like Twitter, but hardly a majority. Some people just don't find it compelling. Almost all of the content is totally inane.

Keep in mind more people play farmville then use twitter (although I think people have been moving away from farmville to a more diverse selection of social games)

There are other issues with facebook: I find posting stuff on there too spammy. If I post a link there, it would end up going out to lots of people who probably couldn't care less.

And frankly, I don't personally find a bunch of random links from random people I barely knew in high-school all that compelling. Most people become friends because of shared proximity not necessarily shared interests.

But anyway, Google Reader is a great RSS reader and RSS/Atom feeds are a fantastic way to keep up on topics that interest you. I just can't see how twitter could possibly work better to keep up on various topics the way RSS can.

Twitter might be a good way to keep tabs on your friends, and it's a good way to get real time information about major events. But it's not a good way to get 'news' about topics you care about in the same way as RSS. Waiting for news to flow to you from your friends on facebook doesn't seem like a particularly effective way to do it either.
posted by delmoi at 4:05 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I just spotted this Metafilter article in the single bucket where Google Reader apparently thinks all your RSS items belong. Not to mention the panel below that, where every single feed is listed regardless of whether or not it has updates.
I think you're doing it wrong. Google Reader has folders you can setup. It will show you how many new articles are in each folder, too.
posted by delmoi at 4:07 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


29,000 unread items from 178 feeds ago I must have jumped to gReader.
Bloglines was a good thing and the entry point to rss for a lot of non-techies. I doff my hat.
posted by peacay at 4:11 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah but the thing is I DON'T LIKE CHANGE *stamps feet*

No really though, the very fact that we have two camps of people represented here (Google Reader lovers and Bloglines lovers) pretty much puts the lie to the "Oh, no one uses RSS anymore" statements.

I haven't seen anyone yet commenting "Only dorks use RSS." My experience is that there are two groups of people online: those who use RSS religiously, and those who don't really know what it is. Once you know of the RSS, you partake of it wholeheartedly.

For me, large portions of the internet (and my usage thereof) would become completely unmanageable without the use of RSS. It's like contemplating life without Google search.
posted by ErikaB at 4:13 PM on September 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


> these guys are mostly just spouting "Wired speak" in order to justify their failure to make a good RSS reader

That was one reason why I thought it was worth a post here. It's not that the company is closing down, but the disingenuousness and doubletalk in the post.

The other reason of course is that I disagree with your second clause. I think it was a good RSS reader.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:15 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


ErikaB, I'm feeling quite good about Netvibes, which seems to replicate the simplicity of Bloglines once you've switched from its hideous "Widget View" to "Reader View". Time will tell, of course, but at least I've got feeds and folders down the left, posts down the right, and very little clutter. The export/import process was fairly painless.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:19 PM on September 10, 2010


being locked in an RSS reader makes less and less sense to people as Twitter and Facebook dominate real-time information flow.

This argument has never made any sense to me. I use an RSS reader to be notified when new articles are posted at sites I'm interested in, without having to constantly go check. I thought that was what most people used an RSS reader for. How does Twitter or Facebook replace that?
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 4:19 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow, I used to use Bloglines religiously. I was reading over 130 feeds and it was a great way to manage information overload. Then life got crazy a few years ago... I quit cold turkey. It was hard, but in time I got over it and became glad for the time saved by not constantly reading blogs.

Same here, on all counts. And back when I did use it, I preferred it over Google Reader.
posted by inigo2 at 4:32 PM on September 10, 2010


Once you know of the RSS, you partake of it wholeheartedly.

I love RSS, but this isn't true. Plenty of people have no use for RSS, and over the last few years you can find quite a few people that have stopped using RSS.

But the other thing: the idea that all news is going to be distributed by person-to-person conversations, is just insane. A lot of people like Twitter, but hardly a majority. Some people just don't find it compelling. Almost all of the content is totally inane.

If the content you're seeing is inane, that's on you. You're following the wrong people.

I still use RSS, but I get a lot of news first through twitter. If you're into tech, and you follow a few key people that are knowledgable and passionate about the topic, they almost act as a filter to what is good and what is noise.
posted by justgary at 4:36 PM on September 10, 2010


But the other thing: the idea that all news is going to be distributed by person-to-person conversations, is just insane. A lot of people like Twitter, but hardly a majority. Some people just don't find it compelling. Almost all of the content is totally inane.

The mainstream media absolutely adore Facebook and, especially, Twitter. I couldn't figure out why until I read an article in the WSJ about how blogs are "dying" in favor of social media. Then I realized that no one is famous for being a brilliantly insightful Facebooker or an amazingly talented Twitterer. The formats just don't allow it. The "conversations" and "social experiences" into which Facebook and Twitter channel the writing of the masses are no threat whatsoever to people who gained their writing audience the right way, through nepotism and connections.

I'm really going to miss Bloglines too.
posted by transona5 at 4:38 PM on September 10, 2010 [26 favorites]


Bloglines haters can suck it

I liked Bloglines; it was IAC's policy of not maintaining it that I hated. Too much Bloglines Plumber; too many feeds not getting updated; and zero feedback on any problem reports.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:42 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


And "locked into an RSS reader" is an odd phrasing when the alternatives suggested are Twitter and Facebook, both of which are ALL ABOUT locking users into their ecosystems.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:45 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Interesting that people are seeing some kind of an opposition between Twitter and RSS. One very good way to get Twitter content is ... RSS. They're not mutually exclusive ways to get content. RSS is a way of staying in touch with things and not missing anything. You could say it's better for following Twitter feeds than Twitter itself.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:46 PM on September 10, 2010


The mainstream media absolutely adore Facebook and, especially, Twitter. I couldn't figure out why until I read an article in the WSJ about how blogs are "dying" in favor of social media. Then I realized that no one is famous for being a brilliantly insightful Facebooker or an amazingly talented Twitterer. The formats just don't allow it. The "conversations" and "social experiences" into which Facebook and Twitter channel the writing of the masses are no threat whatsoever to people who gained their writing audience the right way, through nepotism and connections.

This. A thousand times this.
posted by briank at 4:57 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Although I expected this, I am going to miss Bloglines a lot.

And, how am I supposed to follow Metafilter from Twitter or Facebook?

On Twitter:
MetaFilter
Ask MetaFilter
MetaTalk
Music
Projects
Deleted Threads
posted by lukemeister at 5:11 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, Google Reader, then? I really like bloglines, even though it choked for months on some of my feeds for no apparent reason. Bloglines has a great iPhone interface, which I really appreciated, and it never logged you out, so I didn't have to worry about forgetting the password.

I used reader for a while but I just couldn't get used to the interface. I guess I'll have to give it another try.
posted by Jugwine at 6:10 PM on September 10, 2010


If the content you're seeing is inane, that's on you. You're following the wrong people.
I'm not following anyone. I mean, I think added some people to follow when I setup an account, but I never even go to the site. I occasionally see links to twitter streams around the web, but I've never found anything compelling enough to actually try to subscribe.

(It's interesting that you didn't even bother trying to
If you're into tech, and you follow a few key people that are knowledgable and passionate about the topic, they almost act as a filter to what is good and what is noise.
"tech" news, for the most part is a mix of gossip and PR. Which I'll find out about eventually. Why on earth would I care about finding out about a new 3D TV or some random Silicon Valley web startup an hour or a couple days earlier then anyone else? Who cares?
Then I realized that no one is famous for being a brilliantly insightful Facebooker or an amazingly talented Twitterer. The formats just don't allow it. The "conversations" and "social experiences" into which Facebook and Twitter channel the writing of the masses are no threat whatsoever to people who gained their writing audience the right way, through nepotism and connections.
That's a good point. Facebook and twitter can only serve as adjuncts for people who are famous via other means. They're probably pretty good ways of brand extension. It's interesting that some people I follow on youtube now promote their facebook and twitter pages, but that's mainly because Youtube doesn't do non-video content very well. But the people became "internet famous" because they made good videos, not the quality of their tweets. Ashton Kuthcher was already famous when he got a lot of followers on twitter. Sarah Palin was already famous when she started posting stuff on facebook.

I'd bet many of the "tech filters" justgary mentioned were already well known in the blogsphere before getting on twitter.
posted by delmoi at 6:16 PM on September 10, 2010


Bloglines had some awesome software. I enjoyed working with it and the team when I worked for IAC. That was a long time ago though, lately it's felt like it has just been limping along. So long, Bloglines, see you in startup heaven.
posted by doteatop at 6:18 PM on September 10, 2010


I don't get how you can drop RSS for Twitter. Not that either is inane, just that they are totally different. It would be like dropping books for hamburgers. Why can't I have both?
posted by DU at 6:27 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not long ago, I was on a seven-week, off-the-grid holiday. When I came back, I had literally thousands of posts to read, and seven weeks of TV-show torrents to catch up on. But Bloglines made that very simple. Having a feed reader means you're keeping content, not just noticing it as it flies by, ephemerally.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:57 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Chalk me up as someone else who needs another feed reader. I have switched to Google but I don't like it as much. Granted Bloglines had been pretty buggy of late.

I guess I'm out of the loop but I didn't really think RSS readers were out of date already. They are just so convenient.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 7:12 PM on September 10, 2010


//But beyond that, these guys are mostly just spouting "Wired speak" in order to justify their failure to make a good RSS reader//

The guy that created Bloglines (Mark Fletcher) did create a good RSS Reader. He was way ahead of Google. He sold it to IAC, pocketed $4 million IIRC, and IAC let it wither on the vine and die. He also created Onelist, which became eGroups, which he sold to Yahoo for serious FU money. Must benice to hit the homerun twice.
posted by COD at 7:44 PM on September 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


.

First Google instant changes how I've searched for the last 15 years, and now my IV to the internet for the last 5 is shutting down. I feel like my parents just sold my childhood home...

I'm sure that I'm missing something in the newfangled "conversational web", but RSS and Bloglines was a giant Tivo pause button for the net for me. I've tried Google Reader in the past, but don't get that same skim what I need to catch up on feeling from it.
posted by mincus at 7:56 PM on September 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I sort of suspected something like this was coming when they put a (Google-owned) reCAPTCHA™ brand captcha on the login page.

(Why would Bloglines need a captcha anyway? Is robotically subscribing to RSS feeds somehow profitable?)
posted by Sys Rq at 8:06 PM on September 10, 2010


Granted Bloglines had been pretty buggy of late.

It's always been buggy. That goddamned plumber must've made a mint.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:07 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I forgot to include Metachat's Twitter feed.
posted by lukemeister at 8:26 PM on September 10, 2010


I got fed up with Bloglines' constant bullshit earlier this year, probably around the time of the "previously" link in the FPP. Tested the waters with Google Reader, didn't find it horrible, did an export and import, and I haven't looked back.

Actually, I do need to go back and delete all my subscriptions from Bloglines, Just In Case they decide to sell the database or something. Ask.com, what a joke.

Google Reader is good enough, you'll adapt.
posted by intermod at 8:41 PM on September 10, 2010


Ah, I seem to have found the support group for Bloglines devotees. :(

I know it's 'just' a service, but I'm incredibly disheartened by this - not only because I loved the service, but the company behind it basically turned it into Abandonware without any justifiable reason. I don't get why this is being killed. If you have a product that has a loyal and devoted customer base, by all means, what you want to do is go and take a useful plant in your garden, cut off the light and water, don't tell anyone it has a nice new flower on it (NO promotion of their beta UI at all)... and then justify cutting down the plant because you forgot it was there in your garden? I'm sorry, that's BS. Lame on all accounts, and that blog post from "DOUG" at IAC makes it even more galling. Good luck with your future, Ask... I hear great things about this search business, so good luck with that one!

I wonder if another company can buy off the IP or Open Source this project...or something. The solution isn't Google Reader, using Twitter or Facebook - it's a Web based RSS reader that I need, and the snobbery and stupidity on all sides (from IAC, from the 'who uses RSS anymore?', from the Google Reader and Twitter fanboys) is just ridiculous. I don't want to spend the rest of my evening trying to customize Netvibes and Google Reader to 'make' them act like Bloglines. I want the services I use to last and not change unless it's an improvement (don't get me started on Flickr....) and I don't want my entire life dominated by ONE COMPANY. F@!$!%! Google and nough with the social already. I believe in social media, I love it and but not everything in this world needs to be social. Reading is a solitary activity - and sorry, but Google and Twitter aren't a solution to everything... and this idea that 'that's the way capitalism works' is not a valid justification. The story of Bloglines is about a company destroying a flower in its garden, and that illustrates the fault of the gardener.
posted by rmm at 8:42 PM on September 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


I just found out about this this evening when it showed up in the main window on Bloglines.

I didn't really love Bloglines but it was simple and it worked. I immediately exported all my shit and then imported it into Google Reader and hated it right away. So I tried Netvibes and it's pretty, but not really what I want. I hate change.

And I don't understand why RSS is looked down upon or why there aren't any decent feed reader apps for my iPhone. It's exactly how I want to read all the blogs I read. I hate having to read them on my phone because there's no simple way to make it happen (or is there? Please tell me I'm wrong).
posted by padraigin at 8:49 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm a longtime bloglines user and just exported over to Google Reader. One thing I don't see is the ability to "Keep New", that is, mark a post so it shows up every time you open a feed. Really I just need a way to mark a post as favorite, so I can quickly retrieve favorited posts within a feed. Is that what the Google yellow star is for, how does that work? Is there a better way to keep track of favorites?

I also don't see a way to export the "Keep New"-marked posts from Bloglines, this is a real loss as it is thousands of posts of material, representing years worth of favorited posts.
posted by stbalbach at 8:54 PM on September 10, 2010


I don't know if Bloglines was the first web-based RSS reader around, but it was the first one I used. I'd toyed around with aggregators before, but reading my feeds from anywhere with internet access was pretty sweet. I jumped ship to Google Reader years ago as performance issues started cropping up, but Bloglines was what sold me on the whole concept, so that's pretty cool.
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 8:54 PM on September 10, 2010


These Google Reader Greasemonkey scripts make things very customizable, potentially even better then Bloglines (sorry). I have not tried it yet but would be interested in any recommendations of scripts to try.
posted by stbalbach at 9:09 PM on September 10, 2010


Man, I'm pissed. I am not overly happy with Google Reader right now that I exported, but it sounds like if we don't use the most popular RSS product, it'll get shut down for not making enough money. (Their explanation just made me gag.)

Sure, I was annoyed at a good chunk of my feeds not working of late, but man, I have so much stuff bookmarked through Bloglines and it's gonna kill me to lose it (or go through 600+ feeds saving stuff). Ugh.

I hate change too. First Vox and now this, though switching the Vox blog to TypePad wasn't nearly as annoying as this is by a long shot.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:15 PM on September 10, 2010


I liked Bloglines, but recently moved subscriptions to Google Reader (the export/import process copied everything I needed just right) because Bloglines just stopped updating about half my feeds. Maybe they stopped maintaining it because they knew they'd be shutting down soon, but it feels to me more like they shut it down because they found themselves unable to maintain it.
posted by scottreynen at 9:20 PM on September 10, 2010


RSS is a way of staying in touch with things and not missing anything. You could say it's better for following Twitter feeds than Twitter itself.

I've seen this sort of comment a few times, and I wonder if anyone's ever actually tried reading Twitter feeds via RSS. Once upon a time, a popular website had to lay off a large portion of its staff, and just because I was far more used to getting all my content through Google Reader than through Twitter, I found someone's RSS feed collecting the Twitter updates of the recently dismissed staffers.

It was horrid. Google Reader works best with longer stories of the type best suited to blogs; it is pretty awful when it comes to Twitter feeds. There's too much UI chrome and not enough content, and I've never really been a fan of the endless stream method Google uses (largely because if your internet connection craps out in the middle of a stream and you don't use "mark read as you scroll," you have no choice but to reload the page and start from the beginning). Plus, the sheer volume of Twitter updates means you have a lot more articles in your reader than other feeds, which makes them harder to read when you're in the habit of checking your feeds once a day (as opposed to every few minutes with Twitter).

With the proliferation of Twitter clients on pretty much any device with an internet connection, the only reason I can ever see to read Twitter updates via RSS is because you want to mix them in with your other feeds and can't stand the thought of having to use more than one program to get all your news and views. Which is fine, but to me underscores the point that Twitter and RSS are two entirely different things, neither of which supersede each other. And for what it's worth, I've largely switched away from reading RSS feeds through Google Reader to discovering interesting articles and blogs through Twitter contacts. You can't have a conversation through RSS feeds (though I suppose you can have them in the barren comment sections of most blogs), whereas you can instantly respond to a friend posting an article in order to tell them how wrong and stupid they are!
posted by chrominance at 9:43 PM on September 10, 2010


I just started using Bloglines in late June. So naturally it's being shut down.

Other than Netvibes (which I'll look into) I'm open to anyone's suggestions about what to use. I don't like Google Reader; I don't have an ax to grind, I just don't care for it. Bloglines was simple, easy to use, no bells and whistles RSS. Where can I find that now?
posted by bryon at 9:49 PM on September 10, 2010


stbalbach: in Google Reader there's an option below each post to "Keep It as New" (keyboard shortcut "m") -- but yes, the stars would probably be the better way to keep track of favorites.

Google Reader really does take some getting used to, but once you do, I think it's much better than Bloglines, especially due to the post-sharing feature. In fact, I think Reader is my favorite social site, in a way, because you can discuss posts, share cool things you find with your friends, and see/discuss cool things that they've shared.

RSS is far from dead -- it's practically the only sane way to handle the Internet these days; I've even experimented with grabbing RSS feeds from Twitter and Facebook sometimes, when possible -- with some people it's actually preferable to having them clog up my Twitter stream proper. But I do agree that there's very little overlap in the way I use all these services (and I do, for better or for worse)

I've even still been using Bloglines (in classic mode!) for all my image-heavy cute animal blogs, because Bloglines offers auto-expanding of posts on a feed-by-feed basis, something you can't do on Reader. Bloglines was the first tool I used once I learned of the awesomeness of RSS. October 1 will be a sad day!
posted by estherbester at 9:57 PM on September 10, 2010


The mainstream media absolutely adore Facebook and, especially, Twitter. I couldn't figure out why until I read an article in the WSJ about how blogs are "dying" in favor of social media.

I spend quite a bit of time on Facebook - Twitter is more of a dormant account for me - and I harbor no illusions that anyone outside my FB network of friends and acquaintances is likely to read my blog, but I maintain one anyway. Why? FB is worthless for historical archiving, and while Twitter has it's "hash tags" that are similar in purpose the character limitations pretty much ensure that everything posted is in the moment and non-historical.

So the idea of social media "killing" blogs is a depressing notion to me, primarily for the implication that all data is disposable and - once consumed - not really worth referring back to at a later date.
posted by squeakyfromme at 9:59 PM on September 10, 2010


Wow, it's amazing to read the outpouring of Bloglines love here. I thought I was the only one who still used it! It's been pretty buggy lately. I've always assumed there were lots of better options out there, but I was just too lazy to find out about them. I still find it hard to believe that's not really the case...

To wit: I'm midway through trying out Google Reader, and am only semi-impressed. The export/import process was seamless, and thanks to everyone who posted instructions above. Super helpful! But now I can't seem to get it to mark anything as "read". Every time I click on a folder, it shows me everything in it, even the stuff I've read before. Which kinda defeats the entire purpose. Any tips, Reader pros?

Meanwhile I'll still hold out hope for a better alternative. Anything out there besides Netvibes and Google Reader?
posted by otherthings_ at 10:49 PM on September 10, 2010


» But now I can't seem to get it to mark anything as "read". Every time I click on a folder, it shows me everything in it, even the stuff I've read before.

I'm not sure if this is the default or not, but I've always used Google Reader with the "Scroll tracking" setting enabled. Items automatically get marked as read as I scroll through them. If I come across something I want to scroll past but get back to soon, I hit 'm' to keep it unread until next time I see it. (Then I use Instapaper for anything I want to keep unread for a rainy day)
posted by The Lurkers Support Me in Email at 11:01 PM on September 10, 2010


I open up Bloglines about 20 times a day. I also use three different Google accounts and switching around to use Google Reader would kill me. Is there any other web RSS reader that I can use? (Plus, if I need Greasemonkey and Chrome and plugins and whatnot to use basic functionality, I'm not using it.) So far, only netvibes has been mentioned. Anything else worth trying out?
posted by gakiko at 11:17 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bloglines' demise makes me sad because I believe web publishing is healthier when competition exists among aggregators using egalitarian-minded formats. Having software based on feed standards allows publishers and readers to try to work together without only the voices of the most powerful entities being heard and prioritized.

Unless a popular competitor to Google Reader surfaces there's an increased risk for publishers to devalue the hard-fought, currently-practical, billions-large network of feeds and redistribution. This seems duh-level bad since it will encourage balkanizing behavior among industry participants. (e.g. Flipboard's first version is an app that scrapes sites without any consistently-applied publisher oversight or control.)

Disclosure: I started Google Reader, worked on it for years, but I'm no longer at Google. RIP Bloglines.
posted by massless at 11:20 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I've seen this sort of comment a few times, and I wonder if anyone's ever actually tried reading Twitter feeds via RSS.

One thing I was thinking about was eztv.it and its twitter feed of new torrents. It's probably not the kind of content you were thinking of, but it suits me, see especially my point about coming back from holiday and having a record of every tweet they'd made for seven weeks which I could skim through. It wouldn't have been much fun doing that via the Twitter web interface. Plus, you hated looking at that former-employees RSS through Google Reader, not the fact of it being RSS in principle.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 11:26 PM on September 10, 2010


You can also change the way Google Reader looks with these userstyles. Between the userscripts and userstyles, it's incredibly customizable.

Here are some userscripts I found created as good or better environment as Bloglines, for a large monitor:

*Google Reader Small (forces reduced font size, fits more on the screen)
*Google reader for wider screens (if you have a wide screen, uses more screen space)
*Favicons for Google Reader (adds the little icons next to each feed)
*GReader: "add a subscription" mover (moves the "+Subscription" button to a better spot)

There are a few other utils to remove a lot of stuff along the top and trim it down, I'll probably do that later once I get a feel for what I can do without.
posted by stbalbach at 11:48 PM on September 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Add me to the roster of folks sad to see Bloglines fade away. It is simple, functional, and a habit. I've tried Google Reader a few times over the years, but it just seems too...I don't know, Web 2.0-ish? It's just not as intuitive and "clean" as Bloglines. Sigh. But reality sets in - just imported all of my Bloglines feeds into Google Reader as a precaution, but also just re-activated my long-dormat Netvibes account - from the comments above, it sounds like it might be a more pleasing option than Google Reader.

And mind you -- I'm a total Google fanboy -- love all of their products and services, and truly can't imagine life without Google. But for Reader - somehow, it just falls short of what I have come to expect from Google.

Carry on.
posted by davidmsc at 12:09 AM on September 11, 2010


I'm a longtime bloglines user and just exported over to Google Reader. One thing I don't see is the ability to "Keep New"
It's definetly there. There's a little checkmark under every post that gives you the option to 'keep unread'
that is, mark a post so it shows up every time you open a feed. Really I just need a way to mark a post as favorite, so I can quickly retrieve favorited posts within a feed. Is that what the Google yellow star is for, how does that work? Is there a better way to keep track of favorites?
Not only can you keep things new, and star them, you can actually tag individual posts so you can retrive things later based on tags. One downside though is that all the tags you use show up as folders, which kind of clutters up the UI.
posted by delmoi at 12:43 AM on September 11, 2010


If your using Firefox with Google Reader and can't get the autoscroll to work (the little round button that shows up when you click the scroll wheel), this patch will fix it.

There's a little checkmark under every post that gives you the option to 'keep unread'

This is true, for new posts, but once its been marked read, there's no way to go back and mark un-read (that I can find). But it doesn't matter as there are better ways to handle favorites. Currently looking at a userscript to autoexport to a bookmark service.

[Bloglines] is simple, functional, and a habit. I've tried Google Reader..

Check out this userstyle for Google Reader. Very nice, simple and clean.
posted by stbalbach at 1:14 AM on September 11, 2010


A couple of years ago I made the switch from Bloglines to Google Reader. It was difficult to pull off and took several tries.

One of the things that has really helped me enjoy Google Reader is the set of keyboard shortcuts. I primarily use "j" , "k" and "ga" to "move down", "move up" and "refresh all". They really help make browsing my feeds a breeze. Also, they are 'vim like' which keeps my fingers happy.

I sympathize with the folks that suddenly have to switch to a new RSS reader. It is fascinating and true that switching interfaces/tools can be a strange, unpleasant experience.

I suppose switching RSS readers is particularly tough because it is a tool that is used many (many, many) times daily, like an email client, but also, it is a tool that is meant to "disappear" when used, if that makes sense.

Anyhow, adios Bloglines.
posted by odacrem at 2:47 AM on September 11, 2010


I just spotted this Metafilter article in the single bucket where Google Reader apparently thinks all your RSS items belong. Not to mention the panel below that, where every single feed is listed regardless of whether or not it has updates.

Neither of these is an accurate description of Google Reader. You can put feeds into different folders, and you can set it so you see the most recently updated feeds.
posted by John Cohen at 6:23 AM on September 11, 2010


WTF bloglines. I follow hundreds of blogs daily and no other service (I've tried Google reader a couple of times) provides the same usability for me.

Could they at least release the source code?
posted by callmejay at 7:43 AM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone should make a YouTube video screencast of the things that Bloglines does well, so that future RSS sites can have a chance to include the ideas in future apps. RSS isn't going anywhere, and I can't think that the future there is going to be Google Reader and Netvibes. There's still improvements to be made, RSS isn't yet at the "3-pane email reader" level of evolution.
posted by rhizome at 8:33 AM on September 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


"tech" news, for the most part is a mix of gossip and PR. Which I'll find out about eventually. Why on earth would I care about finding out about a new 3D TV or some random Silicon Valley web startup an hour or a couple days earlier then anyone else? Who cares?

Then put 'whatever delmoi deems worthy to follow' in its place (I'm ignoring your limited example of tech news).

You're simply wrong. Twitter is a great way to keep up on topics you're interested in with the addition of interactive communication thrown in. It tends to fall apart when you're interested in many topics since twitter doesn't have the advanced tools of RSS applications (though twitter applications are trying).

Again, I'm a big fan of RSS. I follow over a hundred feeds. But if it vanished tomorrow twitter would make an decent substitute, better in some ways, not in others.

It's understandable if you don't agree or see this, since you admit you don't even use twitter (and your comparison to facebook drives that point home), and you're not the average user. But for many people twitter does a better job at what RSS was built to accomplish.
posted by justgary at 9:03 AM on September 11, 2010


Bloglines has a great iPhone interface

I am in luv luv luv with Reeder, which syncs with Google Reader. Actually, Google Reader is just some invisible back-end storage for me now -- Reeder on the iPhone, NetNewsWire on a few Macs, all kept in sync via Google Reader.
posted by mendel at 9:31 AM on September 11, 2010


Reading my comment it's kind of confusing.

Twitter is great for following a topic and does so simply. It doesn't scale well, it's not a replacement for RSS, but for many people whose eyes glaze over when learning about RSS twitter does the same job.
posted by justgary at 9:47 AM on September 11, 2010


I suppose switching RSS readers is particularly tough because it is a tool that is used many (many, many) times daily, like an email client

It also might be tough because reading styles for feeds are pre-established and generally inflexible. (self-link) There's a lot of times when people can adapt to new software experiences that don't match their expectation, especially if those experiences are still strongly identified as useful, but feed reading styles seem to be particularly tough to re-adjust.

I'm still willing to bet that if the emphasis is on communication or collaboration in a reading app then what's normative for consumption might be unrelated to a person's feed reading style. Needs data, though. Has anyone studied this?
posted by massless at 11:32 AM on September 11, 2010


massless, I think the key is that the reading style can adapt to your needs even if you have a default 'reading style'. Sometimes I need a high level view - a title works; sometimes I want to see the entire post, or a summary. The basics of a good app have to be 'simple, functional, and a habit', and allow more advanced controls if I need them. The problem is the number of apps and sites that do this well is difficult; I'll probably use NetVibes as a RSS reader for now, but having to futz with something to make it 'simple' is frustrating for me as an end user, and that's my largest problem with Google apps in general (not just Reader).

Having to futz with Greasemonkey scripts to make Google Reader more intuitive is something I'll do if I have to, but with all Google products it feels like I have to go out of my way to make it that experience intuitive *and* pleasant. I'm not a design snob, but I do tend to favor using scripts like the Helvetical and Hevetimail not because of the Helvetical (although that's an added benefit); those scripts help because they make the interface simple, clean, and lets me do what I want to do without the stress of too much information (the essence of joyful experience). Bloglines was a bit like a clunky, poorly dressed uncle who you see over the holidays whom you want to update the wardrobe for, but still like to see. That it's a better product that's being discontinued because of the business side of it is just a shame.

Someone should make a YouTube video screencast of the things that Bloglines does well, so that future RSS sites can have a chance to include the ideas in future apps. RSS isn't going anywhere, and I can't think that the future there is going to be Google Reader and Netvibes. There's still improvements to be made, RSS isn't yet at the "3-pane email reader" level of evolution.
posted by rhizome


I wouldn't be up to a screencast, but I could do a few annotations on Flickr if people are interested :) I would argue that the 3 pane reader is perfect for RSS (see my comments about adapting to user needs) and that the problem is that people want simple and quick (140 characters, a status message here and there) in everything now - and RSS doesn't have to be a Tweet, damnit. The irony is a clean interface that functions and helps you visually prioritize that information - which is just as valuable as the duration of the message (like a Tweet). I hope the guy from Feedly gets back to me about why it won't work for me. I'd love to find an alternative that ironically enough *doesn't* require me to over customize things just to make them intuitive and pleasant.
posted by rmm at 1:00 PM on September 11, 2010


> One of the things that has really helped me enjoy Google Reader is the set of keyboard shortcuts.

Bloglines had these too!
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:18 PM on September 11, 2010


those scripts help because they make the interface simple, clean, and lets me do what I want to do without the stress of too much information

Yup. It's really great they exist.

A little pushback, though: While the subjectivity of experiences (what's clean, what's simple, what's too much) are what make the feed reading space interesting it also made it very difficult to design for well. One person's clean is another's "I can't see enough information to be interested." Nevertheless, I really like that many of the scripts eliminate the chrome/borders throughout, which can be really nice for some users, myself included.


The basics of a good app have to be 'simple, functional, and a habit', and allow more advanced controls if I need them.

Some feed readers have done this well, I think Reader counts among them. For example, adding a feed is a matter of typing a name or URL, but OPML import exists. Or better, people can have what they've read marked without thinking about it, or they have advanced control per-item to mark it or unmark it.

Google Reader (mostly) met or exceeded the expectations of readers but I think it needed greater resources to be flexible enough to include better default experiences for all reading styles, some of which oppose each other directly.

The team was always smaller than would be ideal to meet this challenge. (I think it's now being supported by a single engineer. Hmm.) The short list of views in Google Reader to be maintained, without which many people will stop using it, include:
- Expanded view (the whole item seen at once)
- List view (titles only),
- Search results view
- All unread items
- "Only new items" view
- Offline view
- "No-left-pane" view
- Mobile for older phones
- Mobile for smartphones
- Blog widgets
- Atom format
- JSON format
- Wii (ok, we didn't need to do this one)
- Web pages of shared items
- iGoogle Gadget
- the "Play" view

Also, here's a stat I love (and hate) about Reader. We always wondered if 'list' view would be more popular than 'expanded' view. Throughout, ~50% of users used each. (Which, since 'expanded' was the default, is kind of interesting.)

Is there someone on MeFi (I see doteatop in here) who's been lurking who also worked at IAC, specifically on Bloglines? Would love to hear more about that experience.
posted by massless at 5:51 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I joined Twitter several months ago, and I've found it both a good news resource and social facilitator--there are really some fantastic uses of it, particularly things like William Gibson's Q&A sessions. But it really doesn't seem to even provide the same functionality as an RSS aggregator. Where I've found Twitter useful, it's for communication and discovery--getting a message from someone, finding an interesting shared link, looking at trending topics for news stories.

My RSS reader is much more about direct long-term relationships. If I were to seriously follow someone on Twitter, I'd do it through Google Reader so I wouldn't have to deal with the ephemerality of the Twitter website, and for long-form blogs I follow, I'd rather get the content in its entirety, and stored in an easily readible format, than briefly described through a link that I'd have to click through.

It's possible that they're suggesting we're moving to a culture of ephemera, where articles are crowdsourced and then forgotten, and that RSS readers are obsolete for that reason. But in my experience the two work best in conjunction, and not competition.
posted by Tubalcain at 5:56 PM on September 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


24 hours later, my transition from Bloglines to Google Reader is complete. Maybe I wasn't much of a power user, but I'm finding now that everything I used to do in Bloglines, I can now do in Reader equally well if not better. The mobile version of the site is especially neat and clean; almost feels like a native iPhone app to me. The whole transition hurt a lot less than I feared.

To massless and colleagues: nice work!

Regarding the whole "RSS is dead, long live Facebook and Twitter" thing-- what a load of nonsense. I'm with the others who found that comment pretty disingenuous and self-serving on IAC's part. Even if it's true that more people use FB/Twitter than read RSS feeds, it's irrelevant. Volume is not a good indicator of usefulness. It's the equivalent of saying text is dead because video takes more bandwidth. I use them all, and they serve entirely different purposes for me.
posted by otherthings_ at 9:13 PM on September 11, 2010


It's possible that they're suggesting we're moving to a culture of ephemera, where articles are crowdsourced and then forgotten, and that RSS readers are obsolete for that reason. But in my experience the two work best in conjunction, and not competition.

I kind of think that a reader which solves the overlap between crowd-sourced and source-sourced is an unrealized, potentially million-dollar-getting idea. (Someone will do this, right?)

For example. Reader keeps growing (it's more popular than ever and is still gaining many users) and often helps less-techy users realize that a single source can produce content they like and that they can develop a relationship with that source. This gets overlooked by the tech industry who already understands this well and can sometimes forget that most people need a little help here.


The mobile version of the site is especially neat and clean

The guy who made the mobile version of Reader is phenomenal. I wish our industry was better at assigning credit than ad-hoc comments. Partly my fault, dammit.
posted by massless at 1:57 AM on September 12, 2010


It can't be said enough: Bloglines is full of crap for saying that Twitter/FB are replacing RSS. Nice try, but they didn't lose readers to Twitter and Facebook, they lost readers to Google Reader. I was one of them!

I can't imagine having to use Twitter or FB to do what Google Reader does for me. That would be a mess. Those sites are for keeping track of friends or food trucks, not for thousands of updates a day from websites. Ridiculous.
posted by statolith at 12:24 PM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Btw, Ask.com (owners of Bloglines) aren't letting any comments through on their blog post about closing Bloglines (or any other blog posts on blog.ask.com, it seems). Wonderful customer service. I'll be making sure that I don't use any of their services in the future.
posted by gakiko at 10:51 PM on September 12, 2010


Yeah, noticed that gakiko re: not letting any comments- plus I emailed them about how to get saved posts and got a generic form email saying "Rest assured Ask.com wants to make this transition as easy as possible for our loyal users and will address all Bloglines questions over the next few business days – either via email or on www.bloglines.com . Thanks again for your patience and support – and please stay tuned!". I don't envy the poor tech support folks on this, but what a crappy corporate response. You can rest assured that I'll never use Ask.com's products for anything now, and hell hath no fury like a customer scorned.

Chris (massless), I'm sorry, but I also don't buy the Google line about the subjectivity of experience and that this is all somehow hard to design for well. Maybe it's difficult within Google, but I'm an user experience designer, and there's so many conventions at this point about how to design well, that it truly *isn't* rocket science. See the 41 Shades of Blue as a classic example of overthinking a standard design convention. Part of what irks me about Google - and large tech companies - is the idea that they acquire companies rather than innovate, and when they do innovate, it's not really breathtaking innovation, and their design is just...good enough, but frustratingly so. This is what happens to market leaders - they get lazy, and they don't innovate. Bloglines, ironically enough, was innovative and useful, and that's why I'll miss it. Having to hack together things to make the user experience visually pleasant is something I'm willing to do as an advanced end user; however, having to hack together using scripts in my browser to make it functionality pleasant is something I strongly believe all tech companies should know how to do.

In the end though, I don't think most companies think user experience is important, and it's a shame, because having a great product is about pleasing the end user. All companies must heed that, and it make my head spin why such a simple lesson is so often ignored.

posted by rmm at 1:09 PM on September 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


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