Tech Tuesday – Feed readers 101

Last week I talked about FeedBurner, a way to track how many people are subscribed to your blog feed. Along the way, I realized I was following over 200 blogs (I hadn’t really checked in a while).

Clearly, trying to visit that many blogs individually via blogrolls or bookmarks would take forever, and seriously impact my mental health.  I figured out early on that if I wanted to keep track of all the pottery blogs I was finding, I’d have to use a feed reader.

Feed readers can be separate programs you install on your PC, or web applications you access through your web browser. I’ve experimented with feed reader plugins for Firefox, and a social media browser called Flock that has very nice feed reading and management. Ultimately, I’ve settled on using Google’s Reader app.
Since it’s a web app, it’s available wherever there’s access to a web browser – it doesn’t have to be installed on every computer I want to use it on, and that also means that all the history of read posts is there and searchable as well.

Using it is pretty self explanatory, just head over to https://www.google.com/reader/view/ and log in with your google/gmail account.
There are a couple ways to add feed to your Reader. One is to click on the [Add Subscription] button in the upper-left, and type in the URL of the blog you want to add. In most cases, Reader will find the feed and add it.  Or, while visiting a blog, you can click the Subscribe link if one is provided.

Now you have one place to go to find all your blog subscriptions.  You can quickly go through the unread posts using the [Previous] and [Next] buttons. I starting at the ‘bottom’ of the list and using [Previous], which keeps me in chronological order.

You might notice that a blog here or there doesn’t show the entire post, only a few sentences, or sometimes just the post title.  This is because the blog is set to only show a limited feed, presumably to get you to click through to the actual blog. If you’re not putting ads or affiliate links or otherwise monetizing your blog, there really isn’t a reason to do this. Here’s how to turn on ‘full’ feeds and be more ‘feed reader friendly’:

In Blogger:

Look under the Settings tab, and set ‘Allow blog feeds’ to ‘Full’
In WordPress:
Look under the Settings > Reading menu. In the Reading settings, select ‘For each article in a feed, show Full Text’

Other platforms will generally have a similar setting somewhere in the control panel. Take a look around.

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