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Google Reader Creates a new ‘A List’

Posted By Darren Rowse 2nd of December 2006 Pro Blogging News 0 Comments

After months of frustration with Bloglines and an increasing array of bloggers reviewing Google Reader very positively I decided a couple of days ago to make the switch – at least temporarily to test GR.

I’ve been using it for a couple of days now and am getting used to it’s features.

  • I do like that it marks things as read as you scroll (although part of me liked the way Bloglines did it too)
  • I would like to see it speed up a little (particularly on feeds with a lot of unread items)
  • I do like the layout more than Bloglines (smaller fonts etc mean I’m now seeing a lot more items at a glance)

But one thing I’ve noticed is the different order that my feeds now appear. I still have folders and the same feeds in them – however they are now arranged alphabetically rather than in the order that I subscribed to them in.

My previous set up placed older blogs at the top of my feed and newer ones at the bottom. At times I would start at the bottom for a more ‘youthful’ read.

With Google Reader I’m finding I’m reading a different set of blogs more regularly – namely those that start with ‘A’. In a sense my new ‘A-list’ are actually blogs which are blogs starting with ‘A’.

Perhaps I’m missing the feature in GR that lets me rearrange the order blogs are arranged in – but I wonder if this will lead to blogs doing what businesses have done for years to get at the front of phone books and naming themselves “AAAAAA+ Business Name”?

Perhaps I should change ProBlogger’s name to ‘A ProBlogger’s Guide to Making Money Online’ :-)

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • I don’t think the alphabetical issue is that big a deal. I have my subscriptions organized by content into folders (10 folders and average of 5 blogs in each). I find myself being able to quickly jump to a category I am interested in at that moment and follow the blogs. Which blog is at the top of the folder never seems to change my preference.

    I do love the summary page when I first log in though. Often time that dictates which blogs I read first. I am not sure how the reader decides which blogs to include though.

  • Changing your folder names to alphabetically have the order you want is the only way I’ve found.

    May sure to change it to AAAAA ProBlogger since everyone else will be doing the same thing. :)

  • I’m sure Google will eventually add the ability to sort the feeds. Hopefully they read this post and also add a hotkey for switching between viewing all items and new items.

  • Who says parents are wrong? Well, I am lucky :-) Reason I decided to adopt subdomain :-) :-)

    Neah, you dont need to climb up… you are already on the top :-)


  • I don’t really care what order feeds appear in the listing of feeds. It’s not very important to me.

    What’s important is being able to go through unread items quickly.

    This is why I prefer feed readers which take all unread items from all feeds and mix them together in a single listing in chronological order.

    Liferea for Linux has this capability, as does the Web-based application Gregarius. I don’t know what readers would support this on Mac OS X or Windows.

  • Google reader also supports this, there’s an all items folder which shows you all items from all feeds.

  • You can sort by the time posted and also by relevancy, which I think captures how often you click through to a particular site.

    Google reader is by far the best reader.

  • Look like it’s go back to the old time. When everyone registered their own domain to start with number or alphabet

  • While some of you say it doesn’t matter – I perhaps should have mentioned that while I too have folders – I have some folders with hundreds of feeds in them. I have a folder for each blog I write and folders like the one for ProBlogger have a few hundred feeds.

  • I have switched also in the last month. I have used bloglines and Wizz RSS, only to find frustration. I really like the Google Reader and decided that since I use ton of their other tools why not stick with what I know. It’s ease of use is attractive. I find the slowness occurs only on my apple than my Dell laptop, maybe nothing. I like being able to name my folders and arrange them with the content. I give it a high mark so far above the rest.

  • I find Google Reader the best RSS reader for me.

    Although I do agree with the comment about speed, it does get a little slow at times. But it’s the little nuances like all the cool AJAXy stuff that make it useful, especially as you can instantly tag items by just pressing ‘gt’

  • I’ve created a folder called ‘Aardvark’ which includes all my top-priority blogs – if I’m in a hurry I can keep up with essentials quickly by just reading that folder.

    Agree that GR is slow loading, but the other features make it worth switching.

  • I prefer to prioritize my “must reads” to the top of my list and the alphabetical thing is my only real frustration with GR. I’ve tried several other web based readers recently and I keep coming back to GR because it is closest to what I want in spite of the ordering issue.

    I’d like to see them develop an AJAX type drag and drop feature along the lines of Netvibes to be able to quickly rearrange my feeds.

  • Jim

    Hey Darren and all….

    Re: A-list.

    It’s a sad and silly thing,
    but in general, your comment about renaming problogger
    has a lot of truth to it.

    Products, services, and people with names
    near the start of the alphabet,
    … all other things being equal….
    will sell a little better than their “wxyz” counterparts.

    I used to own a big retail bookstore in Canada,
    and most people scanned the shelves left-to-right
    and top-to-bottom.

    Jim Van Wyck
    PS…. tall people get higher wages too.

  • I didn’t particularly care for GR. It was a combination of speed and layout that turned me off. I’m using Netvibes and love the drag and drop feature as well as their use of tabs instead of folders. Chris is right about being able to quickly rearrange feeds with Netvibes. At any rate, it works for me for now.

  • I hadn’t heard anything about frustrations with Bloglines. I’m still finding it quite good. What are people’s problems with it?

  • I use Flock (Firefox sibling) and there’s a nice feed reader built right in.

    Anyway, there’s an option to export all of my feeds as an OPML file.

    I then imported this into Google Reader, which also preserves the folders I had the feeds organised with in Flock.

    So what do I now have? All of my news feeds available from anywhere at any time…

  • Jon

    Don’t forget the “_” underscore always tops the heap. “_Problogger Tips” …try that in the YellowPages :)

  • BJ

    I never thought about this until you mentioned it, Darren. Now I’m thinking, shoot, does this mean I’ll have to update more regularly and consistently? :)

    I find that I’m working a LOT faster using Google Reader. I have my settings set to show titles only, and now it takes me a fraction of the time to find relevant posts. I also like the way the main screen shows recently updated feeds when I first open up GR – I’ve caught interesting posts from feeds that I usually don’t have the time to get to because of this.

  • Interesting post, like this site! I came across this blog by accident, but it was a good accident. I have now bookmarked your blog for future use. Best wishes.

    LUNA web

  • I use Vienna as my RSS reader and it lists the feed alphabetically as when you first subscribe to it, but then you can sort them however you like.

  • Darren,

    I told you at the Mesh Meetup that I was looking for a better RSS reader solution than my current offline Thunderbird usage. I started trying Google Reader before I read this post. Here’s my short analysis – I love it!

    Here’s a longer synopsis:
    – like you, I definitely dig the action to mark as read while scrolling, it has helped sped up my reading (Thunderbird was not rendering pages faster than GR)

    – I did a thorough cleaning of my RSS collection but am still left with a little over 160 feeds, though nowhere near your exhaustive list

    – those who are importing their OPML files, even though you are used to “folders”, the best way is to treat these folders like tags, I painstakingly re-tagged all my feeds with “tags” about what I want to get out of them, for example a Canadian food blog may be tagged with “canada” and “food”, so later on I can choose what function I wish to concentrate during reading. Maybe I want to read all Canadian blogs first, then food blogs. GR will mark them read in both categories on my first pass-through

    – I find I am less sentimental for keeping track of old articles with GR, which is good. I’ve archived too many useless old articles but asking GR to show only the new articles means I make a conscious effort to “star” articles I want to revisit. I can’t just move onto the next article without possibly losing track of that article in the future, so my decision is truly based on my needs

    Wish List
    – I wish GR would have some function to notify you of feeds that have not produced new material within a certain threshold. For example, I’d like to be notified of any feeds that have not produced a new article in the last 30 days. This allows me to decide whether or not to unsubscribe. If there’s already such a function. I’d appreciate some pointers.

  • good suggestion on that last point Vince – although I like the ‘list only updated’ option which only shows new stuff so that even if people never write it is almost as if I’m not subscribing. Makes surfing through big folders of feeds much faster.

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  • You should invest some of money into buying a decent feed reader darren.I would prefer getting Feed Demon by Newsgator.

  • Makes me wonder if my “W” starting name for a blog is a bad thing. What you describe with is likely what most novice users would do, whatever the default presents you with. Of course, how many novice users are there with RSS? You have to have some savvy to know what is going on to deal with setting up and reading a feed.

  • Sorting feeds alphabetically makes no sense to me and it’s one of the main reasons I’m sticking with Bloglines. Sorting by update time makes sense in the same way that blog posts appear at the top of blogs: it’s the newest article or news item.

    Bloglines continues to impress me. Combining their Ajaxy update system with the keyboard navigation (the functions of s, j and k are imprinted in my brain at this stage!) and I find little reason to change.

  • Well beats me; I use Thunderbird.

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