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What makes you unsubscribe from a blog’s RSS feed?

Posted By Darren Rowse 27th of February 2007 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 140

In my recent call for questions from readers Barry asked:

“What makes you unsubscribe from a blog’s RSS feed?”

It’s a good question and one worthy of some discussion as an ‘Open Mic’ discussion. Perhaps the result will be that we’ll all learn a thing or two NOT to do in our blogging.

So what makes you unsubscribe from a blog’s RSS feed? What makes you ‘un-bookmark it’ or stop visiting via some other method?

Is it to do with the style of blogging, the frequency of posting, the feed itself (whether it be full/partial feed, whether they include other links, ads etc), the topic, the attitude of the blogger or some other factor?

Enjoying the discussion below? Digg it Here

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.
Comments
  1. I just cleaned out my subscriptions. The reasons why I unsubscribed to some blogs:
    1. No posts in the last month
    2. Information not relevant any more
    3. Like Matt in #5, I deleted one non-personal blog because the ego of the blogger got in the way and it became more about them and not the audience.
    4. Partial RSS feeds
    5. Quality of writing dropped

  2. Personally – too many posts drive me batty. I unsubscribed from LifeHacker because they kept posting and posting and posting. Nevermind the fact that I’m not a Mac owner, and they had no way to sort through their posts in my feed reader to get only the ones that pertain to me and my interests.

    I’ve also unsubbed from sites (even “personal” sites) where the author’s ego gets so inflated that their posts get whiny or they start writing with “this is MY site, and I can say whatever I want” attitude because someone didn’t like what they said last time. To me, blogging is about sharing opinions – not demanding that everyone agree with your own.

    As far as frequency goes? I think I’m a little more lenient because I have a problem with frequency posting myself. As long as it’s not like, six months gone by, I’ll keep someone in my feed reader just because I have always liked their writing, opinions, etc. Afterall, it’s not hurting my reading time, and it’s impossible to know what another’s circumstances are (busy, family issues, etc.).

    I’ll jump on the full feeds bandwagon too. With the advent of “feedvertising”, it’s possible to still obtain income from feeds. Commenting brings me to the site as well… so it’s not like I’m not going to see your precious ads, you know? Plus if I’m really interested in what the author’s been saying, I’ll jump over to the site every once in a while just to see what else is going on.

  3. I use Netvibes as my primary feed reader and one thing that turns me off is blog titles that don’t give me an idea of what the post is about. This is especially true for a blog that has multiple posts daily. The reason I can live with Lifehacker is I have a pretty good idea what the post is about and whether it is something I am interested in reading.

    I also agree with partial feeds. I tend to stop reading the posts after a while and then the feed gets kicked when I find a better replacement.

    I started using Google Reader recently and find it very helpful for blogs that update once or twice a week. I don’t mind a blog that posts infrequently as long as the posts are of value.

  4. Three things:

    1. Lack of posting frequency.

    2. Posts that are essentially infomercials, unless they are amusing

    3. Partial RSS gems like this from today’s sports section of the Chicago Tribune:
    Title: Ryno cares, as children in hospitals discover
    Body: Number 23 is handling every chance these days with kid gloves.

    I don’t mind a partial RSS feed, but come on, give me more than 10 words. Might as well give me just the titles.

  5. I tend to unsubscribe if one or more of the following happen:

    — Waaay too many posts
    — Short, irrelevant, or repetitive saying the same thing over and over posts
    — Too much selling. I don’t mind some selling of services in people’s posts every once in a while (I do it too) but if someone gets totally selling happy – always “about my book, teleseminar, etc.” and no rich, solid, non sales content, then I don’t read them anymore.

  6. I unsubscribe for the same reason I subscribe. The same thing we keep coming back to as the major thing that makes a blog popular…

    IT’S THE CONTENT STUPID. (No offence intended).

  7. 1. Too many posts
    2. Unoriginal posts
    3. Excessive salesmanship – I don’t mind bloggers occasionally promoting things they believe in, but quickly lose interest if it becomes apparent that the blog exists primarily to sell a product.

    Irregular or infrequent posts are okay as long as they interest me.

  8. When old posts in a feed are updated meaninglessly multiple times a day forcing stories to reload over, and over, and over — Much like this one…

  9. – Too long posts
    – Too many posts
    – Posts consisting of merely links to other posts with no other input
    – Change of topic

  10. I unsubscribe from a feed when I realize I am no longer reading it – sometime this is because the blog has lacked activity recently but it’s usually because I am simply skimming over the articles.

    If I find myself marking everything as read on a feed for a week yet I can’t recall a single story from that feed – then it’s time to unsubscribe. Obviously it’s not holding my interest.

  11. The only reason I unsubscribe is too many short posts. I prefer to read blogs that are actually discussing issues, not ones that just drop a link or two and move on. I’ll keep up with twenty posts a day if the content is good and actually makes me think.

    Oh, and thanks, Erica (comment #25), for the shout-out to my blog.

  12. […] Ne spannende Diskussion tobt gerade beim ProBlogger: Wann kickst du einen Feed aus dem Feedreader? […]

  13. 1. Too many articles (like TreeHugger and NYTimes) that I can’t keep up if I miss a day
    2. Not enough posts
    3. No images in feed (a picture truly is worth a thousand words)
    4. Content is repetitious or boring…i.e. I’ve heard this before

  14. This is a wonderful question. I hope someone (hint, hint) can compile the answers into a digestible form.
    I stop subscribing:
    1. when they don’t post often enough
    2. if the posts are really long
    3. if they are too negative or vulgar

  15. Very informative discussion. Which leads to the next question: what’s the point of blogs like proBlogger having a large subscription list if the subscribers don’t come to the site? How can you make money off adsense, for instance, if the only contact readers have with you is through a reader? It seems it would be more profitable to have two readers who come to your site and occasionally purchase something than a thousand subscribers who never do. So the next issue is how do you get readers to leave their reader and click through to your blog?

  16. I think the reasons are:
    – The post is not relevant with the content of the site.
    – The site isn’t update post regularly
    – Doesn’t update the feed for a long time (dead).

  17. I recently had to unsubscribe from a boat load of feeds. For research purposes I had accumulated… no, horded a collection of feeds. Keeping up with them became time consuming so I had to pick out a dozen or so that were the best. The criteria that I used included:

    1) The site is updated on a consistent frequency. There does not need to be a daily update. I understand that some people have a style of writing which includes small, to the point, daily updates while others post a well researched article once a week. I enjoy both, but I like consistency.

    2) I look for a site that has a good popularity/longevity ratio. If a site has been around for a year and is ranked 10 million on alexa, chances are that if nobody in my nitched liked it, I may not either. On the other hand, a relatively new site with 6 digit rankings will get my attention more.

    3) Lack of confidence or opinion. I look for posts that have character and show some knowledge to back up the topic. I understand that sometimes people make ‘Open Mike’ posts because the opinion of the group is what really matters, but often times I will see posts where the author just isn’t sure of themselves.

    4) More on personality and branding. If I don’t get a sense of who the author is after being with their site for a couple of months I tend to lose interest. I do not like reading posts that have no flavor and read like monotonous dribble.

  18. I find it very interesting that many people unsubscribe when there are too many posts. This is counter to much of the advice I’ve seen for bloggers that says that more posts are better!

    I have been struggling with three issues with my own blog:

    1) How many posts;

    2) The timing of posts over the daily cycle; and

    3) the ratio of posts that are mainly me culling what I think is interesting from other sites vs. original content (which tend to be longer). I can cull from other sites all day if I want …( and that is boring and unsatisfying) but the original posts from my own research, etc., obviously can only be produced at a much slower rate.

    So the big question for me is, How does one find out what the readership likes?

  19. I’ve never removed any feed from my Bloglines accout since I’ve started it in June 2005. (unless I’ve got identical feeds from different URL sources). One day .. my OPML will be of interest to some archive, even if it’s just my own personal curiousity. Currently, I’ve got almost 1900 feeds but, I don’t read them all, and a lot of them are search and keyword feeds. They are all organized logically in 4 types of folders that I find useful to me (by my blog related topics, by group or network, for amusement and surfing, and for my offline business and forum etc).

    Not all content is of interest to everybody. If you don’t like my content .. by all means – unsubscribe from my feed. I try to keep on topic, but I know that I don’t always do that .. and it’s possible I might be all over the place on many topics and you found me in a search from one of the. It’s also possible that I might never write about that topic again and be of no further interest to you.

    Yes! These are valid excuses to remove my feeds .. You just don’t like the content anymore! And that’s okay with me.

    But .. I’m sorry, but I have a low opinion of people who say they remove feeds because of inactivity or the excuses like some of the above in here. I also don’t understand those who let Google Reader magically delete ‘unused’ or ‘inactive’ feeds. That’s just i.m.o. of course.

    – too many posts?
    – hardly any posts?
    – too short posts?
    – too long posts?

    Geeesh.

  20. It all depends on the site…if it’s one that I’ve been reading for an extended period of time, it’ll have more leeway before I cut it loose. That said, the top reasons are:

    1. Not interested in the topic anymore (either my focus/interest shifted or the blog’s author decided to go another way)

    2. Post content quality dropped (either because the blogger has lost interest and/or focus or is just not “up to par” anymore – or I found another blog which covers the same spots in a better quality)

    In contrast to many of the others, I’m not going to unsubscribe because of partial posts (it’s the good right of the author to get you to actually visit their site(s), after all advertising money makes the (web) world go round)…and I’m not going to unsubscribe because of some ads, once again…ad money makes the world go round…it’s a different matter though if the site turns into a “made for xyz” site (ads > content)…

  21. I don’t think anyone has posted this reason yet, but it’s the main reason I unsubscribe: The main reason I drop a feed is because items in it are constantly “new”. For example, Blog Herald has several news items lately that just won’t leave my feed and always show up as new. It drives me crazy when I see the same story over and over again. I’ve dropped several feeds this week because of this and the blog herald is about to join them because of it. I don’t care how much I like the site, there’s just too much noise to have items repeatedly staying “new”.

  22. 1. If the feed is just full of self-promotion, but is supposedly a “blog.” I don’t mind signing up for promotion feeds, if say, I want to know about great deals from my favorite company. But pretending to be a blog and then just selling, selling, selling – NO GOOD.

    2. Pessimism. I unsubscribed from a blog yesterday b/c the guy is so negative about stuff.

    3. Too “tabloid” – some “industry” blogs have me wondering if they’re just blowing smoke to get readers and publicity. it’s annoying. i want real, substantial content.

  23. Post frequency doesn’t matter to me at all. If they haven’t posted in a while I’ll forget entirely that I’m subbed. :)

    The only thing that matters is if I find I’m not reading their content. If I’m always skipping over it, always making it the last to read, or never clicking through to the site (in the case of partial feeds) then it’s gone.

  24. Actually, post frequency does matter to me, but from the other end.

    I’ll unsubscribe from a blog that posts too frequently and overwhelms me.

  25. – dead blogs without posting
    – blogs where every post is long ( hate too long )
    – blogs without posts for over a month
    – any type of theme blog, that gets off track.

    for example, if i subscribe to a poker blog.. i really don’t care if the writers cat was stuck outside all night. i don’t care if they like chocolate milk better than white. if they aren’t sharing something about poker ( or whatever the purpose of the blog is ) then, i’m gone.

    if i want to read how long it’s taken someone to fluff their pillow, i’ll find a generic journal style blog to subscribe to.

  26. 1. A new one (i think) – If I have found better feeds to take up my time. I have 65 feeds and that is pretty much the maximum i can handle. If I find new feeds to subscribe to then I make myself cut the same number from my list.
    2. Too many posts – 1 per day is my maximum
    2. I’ll unsubscribe if, after 7 or 8 posts I ahven’t found any really useful or interesting content.

  27. Wow, I’m really surprised..somewhat disappointed some are saying the unsubscribe because of long posts. I’ve written and write quite a few of these each month and I think they are very worth the time you spend reading them, at least according to the links, reviews and traffic I’m receiving.

    I unsubscribe from blogs for the following reasons:

    1. The focus is lost and the blog isn’t actually sticking with it’s niche (exceptions: personal blogs)

    2. Bad post titling – I mainly use Firefox’s live bookmarks so bad titles set me off while good titles always end up getting clicked on.

    3. Bad post layout – I just hate to read cluttered posts, either bad paragraphing or too many ads on a page end up getting me to delete that feed from my list.

    Regards,
    Allen.H

  28. 1. I agree with too many posts. It feels like a feed it taking over a whole folder sometimes.

    2. Redundancy

  29. […] Problogger asks: What makes you unsubscribe from a blog’s RSS feed? […]

  30. If it’s just titles, updated too often or has partial feeds. Also if I find I have a backlog of posts to read that I never seem to get to. Ironically, this happened with all the feeds about simplifying or streamlining your life.

  31. 1. Partial text feeds. Immediately unsubscribed.
    2. Lack of posting frequency.
    3. If I find myself consistently skipping over a feed to read something else

  32. I absolutely hate partial feeds. I tend to use my Treo and Google Reader Mobile to read feeds and comment(like right now). I don’t want to have to link to the site to read the rest of the feed. This is less of a problem on the computer becuase I’m using Google Reader and I already have browser window open and I just open the blog in a new tab. I will endure blogs with parrial feeds that I find extremely useful but if it’s an OK blog and it’s got partial feeds it’s gone.
    I have noticed many more blogs going to partial feeds and I think with the creation of tools like Yahoo Pipes it will become more common for bloggers concerned with someone stealing their content.

  33. oh chrispian – I forgot about that .. I actually DID unsubscribe from one feed our of my Bloglines .. WorkBoxers.com because that same bloody post about Ms.Dewey from October has been coming every day for 90 days in a row. If there has been more content, I would have kept it alive, but every day it was the same post.

  34. Partial feeds can be one of those factors that will make me hit the unsubscribe button. Apart from that poor quality of posts or no posts at all.Then of course posting frequency: I had destructoid’s feeds for some time but i got scared looking at the number of posts that were made in a day and consequently unsubscribed from it’s feeds.

  35. Do You Make These Mistakes with your RSS Feeds?

    I hate partial feeds. I’ve unsubscribed to many popular blogs (which I was reading before) just because they were having partial feeds. They will post 2-3 posts a day, why should I go to their site to check each and every post?

    Also the long list of “Popular Posts”, “Best of so-so.com”, “Related Readings” pisses me off. This extra useless addendum (in RSS feeds) will be longer than the post itself!

    Please don’t ever record your offline activities in your blog. Even if it’s your ‘personal blog’. Even though you can brand the blog which you’re reading now as personal, I hardly post frequently and log activities like “I didn’t take bath today!”, “I saw a porn movie just now”, “I flunked in 3 papers”, etc..

    Another thing is posting for multiple times a day. People just want to blindly fill in their blogs with posts. 70% of the content is not suitable for reading. I normally unsubscribe to blogs will post multiple times a day. Why should I subscribe to blogs to which I can’t keep pace with? Exceptions are for Lifehacker and Problogger. I just love Lifehacker. Even though they post 5-6 times a day, I just don’t want to unsubscribe!

    Your Feed readers reflect the quality of your site. When someone is subscribing to your feeds, then he’s making a commitment. He wants to come back or read more. Don’t take them for granted.

    A excerpt that I wrote in this Article: Here is Some Method That is Helping RSS Freaks to Save Time Reading Feeds

    http://ashwinr.com/2007/02/25/here-is-some-method-that-is-helping-rss-freaks-to-save-time-reading-feeds/

  36. Like most of the other commenters, I’ll drop a feed if it sits dormant for too long, tends to offer content that is too short/boring/irrelevant to the blog’s supposed topic.

    I also have a no partial feed rule. No matter how good a site is, if they offer only a partial feed I’m outta there. There is more good stuff on the web than I could ever hope to read, so I’ll stick with the people who make it easy for me to see their stuff.

  37. 1. Whining about a personal health problem
    2. Extremely longs posts that don’t add enough value
    3. Too frequent, low value posts

  38. I bookmark blogs when I have visited them a few times and like what I see.

    Hence, I unbookmark them when I am continually checking the blog and no new content or no relevant content has been posted in a while.

    I also unbookmark when the blog is just repeating info that I have already seen other places and has no original content to share.

  39. Just a note I have started to compile the results of this thread over at:
    http://bhiv.com/do-too-many-posts-overwhelm-readers/

  40. When I run across a blog I like, I add its RSS feed. Sometimes after reading the blog for awhile, I realize it’s not quite the content or value I thought it would be. So I unsubscribe.

  41. Too many posts. I hate after being on vacation for a few days and return to my computer to find 391 posts unread on a particular blog. (I’m talking to you Perez Hilton!)

  42. […] Darren Rowse has created quite a discussion over at ProBlogger centered around the very thing that these questions are designed to address:  retaining readership.  Rowse has posed the question (which was submitted by a reader) and asked what factors lead to readers hitting the "unsubscribe" button on an RSS feed. Several themes seem to be emerging, although the specifics vary a little from person to person.  From my crude analysis of the almost 100 comments already left in response to questions, the top 5 reasons most people cite as reasons for unsubscribing from a feed include: […]

  43. wow, I guess this really shows us new bloggers how tough it is to win loyalty among readers. Alex #67 — encouraged me though since I’m a 2-month blogging rooky and I was bemoaning my 6 digit ranking on Technorati… slow progress… Thanks as usual Darren.

  44. Absolutely too many posts. [ie, 5] I don’t want to feel as if I cannot keep up. Theirs wouldn’t be the only feed I was subscribing to and to see topics drop off – whether or not I may have been interested in reading them in the first place – is discouraging. So…done.

    Also..if the titles aren’t interesting and I don’t go to the website for a while, I’ll forget why I was interested in the first place so I’ll drop it.

    Two reasons. Significant.

  45. I read my RSS Feeds during my short breaks at work. If I cannot read it in 30 seconds or there are more than 15 (depending on length) posts a day, I can it. I have to get the info quick and get back to work.

    Longer posts are ok to a degree but I would have to come back to it after work if I am in the mood.

  46. I have to say…I read through some of the content and I want to share with others what I found this morning.

    I already had in mind an idea for a topic but as I went about to catch up on my news it turns out the Topic Title to a particular low-traffic feed was going to be similar to what I was doing! I’m thinking, “Neat! A Source.” [What’s *his* opinion? on such and such matter.]

    I went to the website.

    The content?

    [Paraphrased.]

    “I haven’t really thought much about it but look forward to it in a later post if I ever get around to it.”

    I couldn’t help but notice the over-abundance of intersperesed ads through-out the page; Very ad heavy – Almost as if he were fishing for visitors without having to work for it like the rest of us. I haven’t dropped the subcription yet but I’m thinking, “Are you kidding me?”

    The above is true under penalty of perjuriously hot coals getting stuck into my eye sockets.

  47. Declan says: 02/28/2007 at 7:57 am

    Underestimating the subscribers intelligence or knowledge of a subject.

    Lazy posts that are not thought out but are done simply for the sake of blogging..

  48. Here are my top 3 in the order of how quickly they will make me unsub:

    1) Summary feed (if the blogger won’t make it easy on me, I wont make it easy on the blogger).

    2) Frequent posting of off topic material. I am occasionally interested in items other than the blogs niche, they make the blogger human, but pull everything back to the reason I subscribed in the first place.

    3) Excessive use of ads. Weave the ads into the editorial… it’ll make for an easier read and believe it or not the ad response will jump.

    Brian

    P.S. One thing I really like about the problogger feed is the graphic in each post. Such a small thing but it is very easy on the eyes compared to just text and typically tells me exactly what the post is about before I start reading.

  49. Posts that I can’t figure out what they are about from the title or first few lines.

    Too many posts with no real substance.

    My interests and priorities change with time, so some blogs will no longer be relevant enough to demand by attention.

    Often I try a blog thinking that it may be worth my while subscribing, only to find it is not. This does not imply the blog is bad, just not for me

  50. I remove blogs from my RSS newsreader for the following reasons:

    1. The titles of their posts make no sense at all. That absolutely drives me crazy, you’re gone.

    2. If a blog hasn’t had any updates in over 14 days then it’s not really worth my time, you’re gone.

    3. Quotes – if your blog is nothing but quoting and your favorite quotes, etc you’re gone.

    4. If your blog is nothing but selling, promoting, making money, without any original content that shows you actually care about your readers – you’re gone.

    I’m sure there are more things that irk me – I just can’t think of them at the moment.

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