Blogging for Beginners - How to Read 500 Blogs

Blogs exist in communities. For example, in my community - Scottish education - there are probably around 500 blogs. Each blog will be publishing new posts at varying frequencies. Some will post almost every day, whilst others may only post once a fortnight or have fallen into disuse altogether. If you are a blogger in such a community, how on Earth are you supposed to keep on top of the new posts in all these blogs? 500 favorites that you visit every day? Impossible!

Feeds and feed readers are the answer. Feeds turn the whole problem on its head by, in effect, making all these blogs tell your feed reader when they post something. You only have to visit your feed reader - such as Bloglines - where you can see at a glance which of your chosen blogs have published new posts. It's like having a personal shopper that goes around all your favorite shops and tells you when interesting new stuff appears on the shelves. With these tools at your disposal, it becomes feasible to monitor hundreds of blogs and still have something resembling a life!

Read this RSS Guide from weblogg-ed for more details!


  1. "Personal Shopper"

    Liking the simile here Robert! ;)

  2. Cheers Tess. I came back from holiday and found this draft, so I
    decided to chuck it out and see what comments came back. It's clearly
    a very incomplete explanation of feeds and aggregators, but it's a
    start :)

  3. Robert,

    Great. Really useful. Succinct.

    I read the articles you suggested and persevered with bloglines. You were right - it does making reading blogs easier. I am clicking there first. I hadn't realised that you could still access the blogs from it should you want to read comments etc.

    (I am also using cocomments -still not quite got the hang of it completely.)

    A couple of questions (just when you get a minute, or are blogging on this subject again.)

    1. Why is it that when I subscribe with bloglines -several possible feeds come up?
    I usually tick the top one -which looks most recent. Is that okay?

    2. What's the thing about public or private subscription?

    3. Is bloglines a good feed reader in your opinion?

    4. Is a feed reader an aggregator? Or is that something else?

    This help is really appreciated. I am sure there are blurkers (Neil Winton calls them that so blame him if it's wrong) benefiting from it too.

  4. Hello from Michigan,

    I teach fifth grade here and I have just been introduced to the amazing world blogging. I really enjoyed your first article on blogging. It helped me sort it all out.

    I enjoy reading what you write so please keep writing.


  5. Hi Liz. I was hoping you would comment!

    To answer your questions:

    1 Feeds come in several different flavours - RSS RDF ATOM etc. Many blogs will produce feeds in more than one version. Bloglines sees them all, and gives you the choice of which one to use. It shouldn't make any difference which one you choose.

    2 In Bloglines, you can share your subscriptions, so that other people see what you are reading. If you don't want this to happen, you make your subscriptions private.

    3 I like Bloglines. It has its detractors, and folk have questioned its robustness over the last few months, but it works for me. Many folk have switched to Netvibes or Pageflakes. They are both funkier, but more hassle if you just want a feed reader.

    4 Wikipedia says "An aggregator or news aggregator or feed reader is client software that uses a web feed to retrieve syndicated web content such as weblogs, podcasts, vlogs, and mainstream mass media websites, or in the case of a search aggregator, a customized set of search results." - so yes, they are the same thing.

    Thanks Jim - I appreciate your taking the time to let me know :)

  6. Thank you. Sometimes it is the most simple fact about something that seems obscure... Light dawns...


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