Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 17, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

RSS WOES....Bloglines has been really sucky lately. Anybody feel like recommending a better RSS reader? It doesn't have to be net-based. I chose Bloglines years ago thinking it would be handy for when I traveled, but as it turns out, I don't really travel much, and when I do I don't usually feel like obsessing over my RSS feeds anyway. So what's the reader that all the cool people are using these days?

Kevin Drum 12:17 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (53)

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I use Google Reader and rarely have any problems, at least when I have time to read RSS feeds, which hasn't happened lately.

Posted by: Chuck on September 17, 2007 at 12:21 PM | PERMALINK

Can't you do it through your browser?

Posted by: Frank on September 17, 2007 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

I use SharpReader.

http://www.sharpreader.net/

Bare bones and simple to use.

Posted by: blatherskite on September 17, 2007 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

Google reader. It used to be a pain but it's gotten really good. My wife is addicted to hers now.

Posted by: Jon Bell on September 17, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Second on Google Reader. I used Bloglines for awhile, and then Google Reader came out and after a few bumps in the road it won me over.

Posted by: Elio M. Garca, Jr. on September 17, 2007 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Google Reader for me, and with the "GPE" greasemonkey script (which adds a button that loads corresponding original content on request), I don't even have to leave the page to read blogs that only offer teasers (like this one).

Posted by: Lance McCord on September 17, 2007 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

Netvibes is great.

Posted by: Nikolay on September 17, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Google reader is supremely easy, especially if you master the keyboard shortcuts and keep your feeds well-organized.

Posted by: Eli on September 17, 2007 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Google Reader is where its at Kevin. Also, be a doll and switch your feed over to full content. This summery business is played out.

Posted by: Jake on September 17, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Sage. No-frills Firefox plugin.

Posted by: scarshapedstar on September 17, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Google reader. Also switch to full RSS feeds please. Thanks!

Posted by: Artie on September 17, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

I use FeedDemon (part of NewsGator). It's a desktop application, but you can also access your feeds through NewsGator's website. It's one of the best designed applications that I've ever used.

Google Reader has a few problems, one of which is the lack of support for authenticated feeds (aka password protected). Bloglines has the same problem.

Posted by: Craig on September 17, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

I've used Feedreader for years and still like it. It's a separate program, which I appreciate when I don't have an internet connection.

Posted by: Doctor Gonzo on September 17, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Google Reader, for sure. Tagging, sharing, and a just-added search function makes it terrific. Accesible from anywhere. Bloglines is terrible in comparison.

Let me add another voice to the chorus asking for publishing the full post in RSS. Is it just a traffic thing to get people to click over from their readers? Annoying. I just read fewer of your posts.

Posted by: Trevor on September 17, 2007 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

Online: Google Reader

Offline: Great News (it's really good, and not many people seem to know about it).

Posted by: ogged on September 17, 2007 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Vienna is really great (for Macs).

Posted by: Kriston Capps on September 17, 2007 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Google Reader. I use it every morning to go through the news and blogs. Then I use the Google Reader Gadget on my iGoogle page to keep track of the blogs as they update. Labels and tagging also work out nicely. It also now features the ability to search your feeds.


It's a great system for me.

Yet another voice requesting full posts in the RSS feed.

Posted by: rege on September 17, 2007 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Another vote for Sharpreader.

I've tried a dozen different ones, and I always go back to it.

Posted by: Disputo on September 17, 2007 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Google Reader is great. Simple, low overhead, loads fast, works fine.

Posted by: coyote on September 17, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

I tried Google Reader early on, but went back to Bloglines because GR would crash Firefox on my Mac when I opened more than 2 or 3 tabs. Has that problem been fixed?

Posted by: Dave Munger on September 17, 2007 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

I always read your blog with liferea. It probably won't be much help to you unless you're running Linux, though. :)

I'd also like to say it'd be better if your RSS feed had the full posts, not only because it's more convenient to read, but because not having the full text makes it harder to search the feed history.

Posted by: BW on September 17, 2007 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

I use Sage, the Firefox plugin. It's nice to have only one program (Firefox+Sage) to deal with everything.

Posted by: Joe Buck on September 17, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'm surprised at how many people trust their lives to the google borg.

Posted by: Disputo on September 17, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

The best options IMHO are Google reader or the inherent function in Safari, which, much to my chagrin, is available now on Windows as well.

Posted by: Jon on September 17, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Another voice in the Google Reader chorus. And please please please start sending out full posts via RSS. Yours truly is one of the last blogs that forces me to click out of my RSS reader to read the whole thing. I would be more than fine with banner adds that appeared in the full-post RSS feed (which is what BoingBoing does).

Posted by: ASR on September 17, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

A separate feed for the cats would be nice.

Posted by: Frank on September 17, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

I second Netvibes. It gives you several viewing options, summary or full post (actually, entire webpage), and is simple to use.

Posted by: Wendy on September 17, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

I use the aforementioned Sage, but the only thing I missed from Safari when I switched to Firefox was its built-in RSS reader. It did everything I wanted, in just the kind of interface I wanted.

Posted by: Aaron S. Veenstra on September 17, 2007 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

I like rssBandit on Windows and Liferea on Linuz

Posted by: Fr33d0m on September 17, 2007 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Slightly off topic, but www.blognetnews.com is a public feed reader with some added features based on data in the rss feeds. Among other things, it is useful in figuring out the blogs to have in your personal feed reader, particularly in the state-level political and news blogosphere.

Posted by: Dave Mastio on September 17, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Another vote for Google Reader, I'm afraid. I hate giving Google (which also has my email and calendar) control of my life but they provide an incredibly efficient integrated approach I can access from anywhere.

Posted by: James Joyner on September 17, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Another vote for SharpReader, though I haven't tried Google Reader.
It's been fairly reliable, and trivial to learn.
(There is a website in Wingnuttia (Daily Pundit) which occasionally causes an exception in SharpReader.)

Posted by: Bill Arnold on September 17, 2007 at 3:26 PM | PERMALINK

One more vote for the Sage column. Especially if you're already using Firefox as your primary browser. It's short on bells and whistles, but it integrates flawlessly and gives you a simple email like three pane interface.

Posted by: jacob on September 17, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Google reader, and the Google homepage ("iGoogle") as well. You can actually use them in tandem with each other (imbed google reader items in Google Homepage.

This article/video has some tips on Google Reader:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-ferriss/how-uberbloggers-read-60_b_49803.html

Posted by: JJ on September 17, 2007 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

Netvibes is not only a great feed reader, it's also one of the most beautiful, intuitive, and innovative examples of web design that I've experienced. It's far superior to bloglines imho. And as has already been mentioned, with a simple click you can load the regular webpage in the reader window without leaving the site for those damned sites -- like yours! -- that don't provide full-content feeds. (hint hint)

Just go to the page and try it out. You only have to register if you want your changes to be saved. But it's free so why the hell not? (Tip: Don't bother logging off so you'll go straight to your page next time.)

If you do end up using it and if you use Firefox (which you definitely should), be sure to go to the following page to add netvibes to the browser's list of readers under "Add Netvibes to Firefox 2 feed readers":

http://eco.netvibes.com/tools/

After doing that you just have to click the feed symbol in the address bar to add a new feed to your page.

Posted by: ami in deutschland on September 17, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Google Reader. I recently switched from Bloglines. I'm not the most tech savvy, but the two biggest differences are loading time (Google is much faster) and keeping track of what I've actually read so I don't have to read all the new posts in a feed once I click on it.

Posted by: Proud Parent of a Bumper Sticker Maker on September 17, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

(There is a website in Wingnuttia (Daily Pundit) which occasionally causes an exception in SharpReader.)

One of the drawbacks/features of SR is that it is very intolerant of deviations to standards, but it makes it very easy to verify if feeds validate, and I usually find that webmasters are more than happy to be told if their feed is buggy.

Posted by: Disputo on September 17, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Sage. Its too easy.

Posted by: EthanS on September 17, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

I've tried them all and the most versatile & reliable is the FF extension "NewsFox" (even better than 'Sage'). NewsFox has superior control, almost instant response & its best feature, if you have a lot of blogs like I have, is that when it updates, it aggregates all the new entries in the main 'window' if you want to review stuff that way.... I just wish it had a different name~

Posted by: Rich on September 17, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

Desktop readers to try: FeedDemon, GreatNews, and Omea Reader. Each is different in its own way, but all are superior to the Web-based readers people are touting here.

Another vote for full feeds, by the way.

Posted by: John de Hoog on September 17, 2007 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

The free, open source RSSOwl is excellent and is what I use on Windows.

Posted by: Xofis on September 17, 2007 at 7:45 PM | PERMALINK

Let's hear it for numbing repetition:
Google Reader, and for pete's sake, please start doing a full post RSS feed. This is one of the very few, if not only, sites in my reading list that doesn't give the full post, and it's really annoying. Thanks awfully.

Posted by: Trent on September 17, 2007 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

RSS Bandit serves me very well.

Posted by: R L Guthrie on September 17, 2007 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

netvibes.com is the winner.

Posted by: Orson on September 17, 2007 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

I don't have any trouble with Bloglines.

Google is spyware.

Posted by: Luther on September 17, 2007 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

have you tried the bloglines beta (beta.bloglines.com) ? Some improvements, and still under development.

Posted by: Lee on September 18, 2007 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

For those of you who are complaining about the lack of full feeds:

1. Kevin's blog has ads on it that help pay for his blog, and plugs for subscriptions to the Washington Monthly, which also help pay for his blog.

2. When you visit the site, the counter ticks up, telling advertisers that people visit the blog. Some of you also click on the ads, another indication to advertisers that people are visiting the site. This keeps ad revenue coming, which keeps the blog in business.

3. When Kevin posts a partial feed, you have to visit the site to see the rest, which means you see the ads, which means that the site makes money.

4. If Kevin were to post a full feed, the percentage of you who visit the site would drop dramatically, which in turn would reduce ad revenue.

5. So resolving a minor inconvenience for you by supplying a full feed could have major negative consequences for the blog.

6. If not having full feeds is a reason you don't visit the site and see the ads, what incentive does that provide for Kevin to have a full feed? If he provides that full feed, you won't visit the site, either, and see the ads. I'm sure that Kevin appreciates your readership, but if you don't view the ads in either case, why should he add a full feed and reduce the number of people who do view his ads?

7. Nobody's forcing you to visit the site in any case.

Posted by: Leszek Pawlowicz on September 18, 2007 at 2:00 AM | PERMALINK

My problem with Googlereader is that I use Google products (calendar, email) for an organization I volunteer for. I have to sign in and out to use my own Google products, so I just don't use Google unless I have to (I store manuscripts on their writing program).

Which makes it really annoying that Google now works with Blogger accounts, so I have to sign out just to post comments on Blogger.

So, no Googlereader for me. Unless anyone knows a way to easily have two accounts running at the same time.

Posted by: KathyF on September 18, 2007 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

Hey Leszek, you forgot #8: WaMo can put ads in the RSS feeds.

Posted by: Disputo on September 18, 2007 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

Regarding full feeds:

If you're using Google Reader and Firefox, get Greasemonkey (you have it already, right?) and the Google Reader Preview Enhanced script, here: http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/9455

This adds a "preview" button to the row of links at the bottom of each post, allowing you to replace the feed content with the blog post's page's content. It's a page load for Washington Monthly, and less work for you.

But: Leszek, it's not like WaMo can't tell how many people are using the feeds, and your pro-status quo argument would fail (and WaMo would make more money) if they would just monetize their feeds.

Posted by: Lance McCord on September 18, 2007 at 7:16 AM | PERMALINK

I have Google Reader for other blogging purposes, but I have almost 800 feeds subscribed to via Bloglines and I'm loath to move to another reader. I think the problem with Bloglines is that they're working on a beta (2.0) at the moment so they're not paying as much attention to their "alpha" as they should be. (Interestingly, the beta's main page resembles Google Reader.)

Posted by: Elayne Riggs on September 18, 2007 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Google Reader: +1
Full RSS Feeds: +1

Posted by: whalt on September 19, 2007 at 5:36 AM | PERMALINK

If I haven't read too fast, I guess I'm the only Thunderbird RSS-reader user so far. E-mail and RSS in one program. Bitchin'.

Posted by: anjinsan on September 22, 2007 at 1:24 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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