Hold on, here comes a purely technical post. I just finished reorganizing my RSS feeds (collect ’em all!) and a few things occurred to me.
But first, some observations. According to my super-limited data, Bloglines takes the cake when it comes to aggregators. Lots of people use it. However, in terms of reading actual items, Newsgator and NetNewsWire blow away Bloglines. Interesting tidbit. Alright, that’s all for my lame observation.
Ok, here’s the deal. You probably already know about FeedBurner. If not, go learn. It lets you track who’s reading your RSS feed. Totally addicting if you have any quantoid tendencies at all, so beware.
Here comes the real meat of this post, though. Bloglines (and other readers/aggregators) has a "bookmarklet" that allows one-click subscribing to blogs. Lots of people use it ’cause it’s easy. If you’re on a site you like, you push the button and voila, you’re subscribed. Problem is, a lot of people are making it harder to subscribe to their blogs than it ought to be. Most of the blogs that don’t use Feedburner offer just two feeds–an Atom feed and an RSS feed. But some sites are offering way more than just a couple (Fred Wilson, I’m looking at you–three Feedburner feeds, plus the regular ones?), which confuse the person who wants to subscribe. Some of you are even including your Technorati RSS feeds–who but you wants to know the latest links to your blog? Some of you aren’t even set up to allow the bookmarklet to work (gasp!). Steve Rubel, I’m looking at you here–the Bloglines bookmarklet won’t even work on micropersuasion…makes me have to dig around and do it manually. Some of you have confused your blog RSS with your comments RSS (Frank Patrick, you naughty boy!). And someone, can’t remember who, has about a dozen feeds that show up with the bookmarklet!
Look, here’s the bottom line: just try it out. Crack open a reader and see what happens when someone tries to subscribe to your blog. Bloglines, having such huge marketshare, ought to be your first stop. It’s free and only takes a moment to register.
Fortunately, the fix is pretty easy. If you’re using some kind of blogging software (WordPress, MovableType, TypePad, etc…) you can go into the template of your blog and change the references for the various types of RSS syndication. If you want to track your subscriber base (who wouldn’t?), then sign up for Feedburner or similar service. Then only list your Feedburner feed in your template. And only list your Feedburner feed on the page where you have the little orange XML button or whatever do-hickey you prefer. Don’t include the other feed versions anymore, unless you like to confuse people.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.