Blog overload

Google homepage reader bubbleThere are a lot of great blogs out there, and I try to follow as many as I can. I usually learn something new in every one of them – sometimes about genealogy sources or methods, sometimes about the person writing the blog or the family they are writing about. Blogs are a great resource.

Sometimes, though, if I haven’t been reading them for a while, it’s difficult to catch up. The bigger that number of unread posts gets, the less I feel like going in there and tackling them. It becomes overwhelming.

Your blog reader is there to help you, but for it to be useful it must be manageable. You can mark posts as being ‘read’ if you really don’t feel like reading them and know you won’t get back to them anytime soon. Remember, they’re not gone; they are still in the blog itself. They are just not in the queue demanding your attention.

If I come back to my blog reader after three or four days and there are 500 posts waiting for me, am I going to read them all? Sadly, the answer is no. There are only 24 hours in a day, and most of them are needed for other things.

I subscribe to new blogs, or newly-discovered blogs, as I find them, and the list gets longer and longer. Sometimes you have to be ruthless. Every now and then I cull my list of subscribed blogs.

Here are some tips for managing the out-of-control blog reader:

  1. Categorise the blogs you subscribe to. That way you can only read your favourites if you are pressed for time, or you can restrict yourself to the ‘genealogy’ blogs and save the ‘social media’ and ‘how to’ blogs for another time.
  2. Unsubscribe from the blogs with a much higher count of unread posts than the others. Chances are that there are a lot of posts that you would normally skip, so think about whether it’s worth wading through them to get to the occasional interesting post.
  3. Are there blogs there that you feel you should read but never get around to? It’s not school, and there won’t be a test afterwards. Unsubscribe from them.
  4. Some blogs have multiple ways of letting you know that they have just published a new post. If you tend to find new posts through Facebook,  Twitter or email then they are just cluttering up your blog reader. Unsubscribe.
  5. Some blogs only publish the first 100 words or so in the reader and if you want to read the rest you have to go to the blog itself. I tend not to. Unsubscribe.
  6. Decide on the best way to read the blogs. I use Google Reader, and I use it in different ways depending on how big the backlog is. I prefer to use the Google Reader widget on my Google homepage, as in the picture above. One click to open the post, another click to close it. Easy. If I have a big backlog I will go into the Reader itself, so I can see how many posts are outstanding for each blog. More recently I’ve been reading them on my Android phone. No clicking, which can aggravate the arthritis on bad days, just tapping and flicking the finger.
  7. Remember the blogs that you have just unsubscribed to are still there, and you can go back and browse them at any time. Keep them in a list of bookmarks, or a bookmarking site like Delicious.

Blogs are there for your enjoyment and education, and it should be enjoyable to read them. If it isn’t, do something about it!