A feed reader’s agony

“Are you sure you want to mark 463 items from All Items as Read?”

“Are you sure you want to mark 796 items from All Items as Read?”

“Are you sure you want to mark 1125 items from All Items as Read?”

If my Feed Reader had a voice, it would get shriller and more insistent each day, louder, demanding attention, protesting the fact that I was ignoring it so casually.

Here it is, working so earnestly and devotedly for me, grabbing my feeds the moment they appear, arranging them neatly for me to read – placing each blog post into the category I had organized for it, and then I don’t even open the folder.? Or I open it just to discard the feeds.

Worse, I log in and check my email, but not the feeds.? My feed reader knows I have logged in, it has all my feeds ready for me.? Does it wait patiently for me to notice it (or him or her?)? Does it feel like the plainer sibling that everyone ignores in favor of the curly haired, attractive kid in the house?? Is my Feed Reader resigned to the prospect that my mail will always take priority over my feeds?

I came back from vacation and eagerly checked my blog and my email. But I hesitated long before finally summoning up the courage to open my feedreader. I knew there would be a million posts waiting for me, give or take a few thousand.

As I read my mail, I felt guilty about ignoring my reader. I didn’t have the time, but then that sounds so callous. It is somewhat like turning way from the devoted dog that is wagging its tail and begging for a little attention.

My reader was not even reproachful, or boastful. It didn’t tell me I had a million unread posts, didn’t send out messages saying I was slacking off, and didn’t even boast about how many posts it had grabbed for me -1000+ was all it said. I noticed that the number didn’t change even after I had skimmed through thousands of posts.

I wonder if my feed reader actually reads all those posts, or merely counts them?? I know my mail client reads my mail, it even shows me ads based on my mail.? But what about my feed reader?

I know it shows me recommendations for blogs I might like, so I suspect it does note the blogs I read.

If I subscribe to my own feed, will my feed reader read this post?? Will it understand that I really love it, just as I love my mail, but just not as obsessively?

Why am I talking to my feed reader anyway?


24 thoughts on “A feed reader’s agony

  1. 😀 this is one more reason to dread returns from holidays. right at this moment, i have 1368 posts that i have saved, optimistically intending to read them (again) later.

    Lekhni: That happens with me too ! The saved posts are the ones I read last 😦 Others I at least skim through, but the saved ones, marked for special attention, will get read much after everyone has read, analyzed and commented, and sometimes will even (horror) be forgotten 😦

  2. Actually I find ‘following’ or blogrollling are better ways to read newest posts..an a lot more fun because you are ON the blog,right there where it’s been posted…I also find the Reader intimidating 🙂

    Lekhni: Yeah, well, the blogroll wouldn’t work for me either because I would have a page full of links which would intimidate me even more 😦

  3. I’m a compulsive marker – can’t rest until I mark all as read, read or unread!

    Lekhni: That might come in handy 🙂 At least, by the time you are done, you have decided one way or the other (To read or not to read).

  4. I hope your feed reader is not reading this – imagine how badly its feelings will be hurt!

    Lekhni: I hope so, too 😀 If it starts grumbling or mysteriously stops working, I will know 😛

  5. I knew I would have to face such a day and so do not use a feed reader! and yes, please don’t let your feed reader read this, what if it tells my future reader about this comment 😦

    Lekhni: I envy you food bloggers, though – you seem to know each other so well you probably don’t even need a blogroll 🙂 I love that thought about feed readers communicating! There’s an idea for a science fiction story there..

  6. The unread count in a feed reader can even make the most obsessed reader nervous. Part of the reason why I love Twitter. We must get over the fear of missing out on something if we ‘mark everything as read’; if its worth it, we’ll hear about it eventually. Sigh! This from a guy who has 300-400 unread items in his feed reader.

    Lekhni: I agree completely with the getting-over-the-fear-of-missing-out part, but it’s hard 😦 Part of it is also guilt – I feel better postponing the decision by not marking it as read! Narasimha Rao would have approved.

  7. 😀 😀 good one, Lekhni 🙂 Try the snapshots on WP or even reader is a good one although I havent switched yet 😉 Blogrolling is a good idea too 😀 But do you think you can let go of the ever-loyal Feed Reader? 😦

    Lekhni: You are right, there is no way I can let go of the loyal Feed Reader 😦 After all it has done for me, too 😮

  8. Very nice ending 🙂 Actually Feed Demon warns you of posts that are too old and deletes them from the feed. You might want to check if there is any such feature in your reader.

    Lekhni: No, no, no 😮 I don’t want any old posts to be deleted! I want them all there in the feed, even if they are marked as read. Someday, I will go back and read them, you see ! 😉

  9. Yes, when I go one by one on the unread items, I really feel bad I couldn’t read them if I mark them read. In fact, believe it or not, that’s what brought me here, right now! 😛

    Lekhni: Awww! You can stop feeling guilty now 🙂

  10. Try the embedded bookmarks in Firefox. That way, you can check when you want and what you want, and they are easy to add and manage. But yes, I have used Thunderbird as my feed reader before and it can really induce a lot of guilt into you.

    Lekhni: That’s a good idea – I should try it out. I do have FF 3.0.1, with the bookmarking feature.. but will it import my existing feeds too?

  11. I agree with Sra. I cannot see the bolded stuff on Reader or Gmail. Seriously. I HAVE to mark it read.

    Lekhni: So do you ever revisit and read items that you have marked as read?

  12. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and this post just made me want to come out and say love, love, love your blog. Not only is the writing awesome, the topics you choose to write on so strike a chord. I’m hooked 🙂

    Lekhni: Thanks 🙂 All I can say is – I hope I am in your feed reader then 😛

  13. :)..thats why I don’t use a reader!….I know I will never be able to keep up to things…see ..I am reading all your posts in one go!…:)..L, so , its so refreshing to read your posts!

    Lekhni: I can see the “out of sight, out of mind” principle can be very effective 🙂

  14. Am I the only one left in the world who still “goes” to blogs to read them? Someone told me only four days ago about what a feedreader is, and why it is mankind’s greatest innovation since aerated drinks!

    Lekhni: No, no, not aerated drinks, those are quite unhealthy AND addictive. Completely unlike feed readers, I assure you 😉

  15. How would I be able to keep track of blogs without reader ? one can not go on visiting to check for new posts for 200 blogs right ? When the number is less I never used a reader. But I mark those posts read which I dont want to read 😉 and those I want to come back and read I leave them unread 🙂

    Lekhni: Exactly! But what happens when the unread count then keeps growing, and when you have read hundreds of posts and hit “Refresh”, you find another hundred posts have just been added? Do you get panic attacks like I do? 😛

  16. So that means all of our posts have been marked read? Is ur house cleaning over now? Funny post 🙂

    Lekhni: How I wish! I have just made the momentous discovery that house cleaning and feed reading are perpetual events – they will never get completed 🙂 There may be random moments of perfection, like when all laundry is done and no item is unwashed, or all the saved posts have been read, but these last mere nanoseconds 😛

  17. You’re a softy. You should use the chance to throw a fit of bossiness.

    Tell the Reader you won’t read it – won’t! – until it asks nicely. Tell it you’re disgusted with its lack of initiative in not going out and hunting down interesting blogs all by itself, and how you’re disappointed at how it only follows rote orders. Tell the Reader you can’t be bothered if it can’t summarise them into nine-word posts, which encapsulate all the nuances of the post. Tell it you won’t bother coming back if it doesn’t convince all the bloggers that they should mention your name once every two posts.

    …..of course, if you do that, they WILL send you off to resort with the nice little cushioned rooms.

    Lekhni: Wow! That is an impressive list. I wish I could find a feed reader which does all of that.

    But if I ask my Feed Reader to do all this, I know you will still call me soft – in the head 😛

  18. You have a very interesting blog. I can understand where you are coming from with this topic. It’s frustrating, but no choice if you have many blogs to read and/or comment. I am also facing the same issue. Scary right?


    Lekhni: I agree, I cannot stop reading blogs, and it can be overwhelming 😦

  19. My feed reader makes faces when I open him. Yes its him, otherwise how can it be so technically perfect? 😀
    My FeedReado says Hi to your FeedReado 🙂

    Lekhni: Makes faces? 🙂 I wonder what it/ he is thinking?

  20. You are a DP contributor, so there is no good way out for you. To other folks, my advice would be to unsubscribe ruthlessly.

    I used to have this problem of having too many unread items, till I realized what a terrible waste of time it was to either read them, or scroll through them or even just to mark them read (why bother?). I did the only sensible thing to do: unsubscribe from feeds that didn’t add any value to my reading experience. I am subscribed to DP, so (as Patrix said) I can find some non-subscribed quality content anyway. The rest of my feeds (only 78 now) are almost all feeds that I like to read. And even now, I delete uninteresting blogs once in a while and add something new that might catch my eye, but I am going to keep the number of feeds below 100 for sure.

    One of the major hints of unnecessary feeds is the update frequency. If a blogger is posting too much (more than once a day) or too little (once in a month, say) then it is probably not worth keeping it in your feeds. Instead, you should simply move them to your bookmarks (if you must insist on keeping them somewhere) under a single tab and then use the “open all in tabs” feature once in a while to catch up (if you must). I am especially harsh on prolific posters. Nobody has that much interesting stuff to say every day.

    Lekhni: All great ideas. I agree that unsubscribing is not an option for me, but moving to bookmarks and opening in tabs is a great idea.
    It’s true that there are some blogs who update daily but mostly write “news”, but a lot of them are still good sites..or maybe I just find unsubscribing hard 😦

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