Almost a year ago I wrote a post on Feed Readers 101, so it’s about time I posted a follow up.
I found that once I started using a feed reader, the number of blogs I subscribed to grew fast. (over 300 and counting…) Using a reader definitely helps you keep up on many more blogs than you ever could by visiting them one at a time, and I’ve figured out a couple things along the way to keep myself organized.
First – Instead of keeping all my feeds in one big list, I use Folders. I have a folder for Pottery blogs, one for general Art, one for Business oriented blogs, etc. This gives me the ability if I’m in a hurry to just click on the particular folder I’m interested in, instead of All Items, which is the whole gigantic list of unread posts. This also gives me the ability to selectively ‘clear the slate’ by just clicking on a single folder and hitting ‘Mark as Read’.
I also make extensive use of Tags. Over time I’ve defined a set of tags that help me find posts I may have read months ago, or if I’m researching a particular topic, like glazes, clay, or studio tools. Google Reader makes it easy to tag posts as you read them, then you can search by tag later.
At the bottom of a post, just click on the Edit Tags, and type in a tag or keyword. If you want several tags on a post, just seperate them by commas. Once a tag is entered, Reader will remember it, so next time you won’t have to type in the entire tag.
After some time, you may notice that some blogs either don’t interest you anymore, or may have gone dormant, or been abandoned altogether. I have a special folder I move these in to called Inactive. I can then seperate them from the other large folders and keep track of them, evaluating whether I want to stay subscribed or not. I only very rarly ever unsubscribe to a feed. For one thing, if I’ve tagged or marked any posts in that feed, if I unsubscribe, they’re gone. So I think carefully about whether I think I’ll need any info in that feed before unsubscribing. Another reason is that sometime you just don’t know why a blog has lapsed, but the author may return some day. I know I’ve been guilty of this a lot the last couple years myself!
That said, a good way to find inactive blogs is to change your reader from [Unread Items] to [All Items] in the top left of the reading panel. This will show both Read and Unread posts, which is what we want here. Then go to the left column under Subscriptions, open a folder, and start clicking on the individual blog feeds. Now, look at the post at the top and see what the post date is.
I usually look for a blog that hasn’t been updated in about a year. When you find one, move it into your ‘Inactive’ folder and keep going. You can do this by either clicking the little down arrow next to the bolg name in the left column, or click Feed Settings at the top of the reading pane. I sugest for the time being, just -add- the blog to the Inactive folder or whatever you’ve named it. A blog can be in more than one folder at once, and for the time being , that’s fine. The reason I say this is that if you remove it from the folder it’s in, Google Reader will jump to the new location, and you’ll loose your place! Once you’re through all your blog feeds, then you can go to the Inactive folder, click through each one, remove it from it’s original folder, and decide what you want to do with each one.
Sometimes you’ll find a blog that moved to another place that you somehow missed the first time. Or a blog you don’t remember why you subscribed to, that’s just taking up space. I’f you’re sure you don’t need them anymore, you can just unsubscribe and clean up your feed list a little.