Apr 3, 2008

5 Reasons Why I Don’t Use An RSS Feed

While I’ve signed up for and installed a number of RSS feeds, I’ve never actually used any of them.

Not because they’re bad or evil or dumb or anything. It’s just that they don’t fit into the way I like to consume media. Here’s 5 reasons why:

1. At some level, an RSS feed feels like you’ve ripped out articles from my favorite magazines and newspapers and stapled them all together. And that’s just disconcerting. I like to visit each site individually and experience the site as a whole, graphics and all. Sometimes I wind up re-reading something I’d skimmed over the first time. Or maybe I read all the comments on an article I’d read before there were comments.

2. Different sites fit my mood at different times. It could be time of day, level of stress, degree of boredom. But like offline media, I get different types of satisfaction from different blogs and so I like to visit them when I choose.

3. Some blogs are daily reads, others weekly. It’s nothing to do with the number of posts as much as with relevance. Blogs that have short news blips are easily read every day. Sites with longer thought pieces are often best read on weekends or evenings when I have time. And RSS feed gives them all the same sense of urgency.

4. RSS reminds me of how much I’m missing. I don’t like to be constantly confronted with all the new posts I haven’t read yet—particularly on busy days. And with no RSS, I’m not. It reminds me of when I had a New Yorker subscription and every week there'd be an article I hadn't read and so I'd save the issue next to my bed until I had a stack about 3 feet high and constant guilt for not getting to them.

5. My Twitter pals provide me with a constant stream of links throughout the day. Most of which I manage to at least skim. Right now, it’s a smaller stream than RSS, and if I’m not on Twitter for a few hours, the tweets are so far down the line I just don’t see them and there’s no sense of having missed anything. A far less stressful way to view things with the added benefit of having personal recommendations for the links from people I trust.

Again, I’m not saying that RSS isn’t a useful thing- for most people I’m sure it is. Just explaining why I don’t use it.


Anonymous said...

I follow all your points except for two and three.

I'm not that familiar with RSS readers outside of Google Reader, so keep that in mind.

"2. Different sites fit my mood at different times" - I have my feeds from Digg, Reddit, Delicious, Slashdot, etc. filter into "Viral," sports stuff into "Sports," tech stuff into "Tech," etc. I can easily pick the content for my mood. I think the phrase "Different sites fit my mood at different times" is an argument for RSS feeds, not against it. You can customize how you get your information, that's what's so cool about it.

"3. Some blogs are daily reads, others weekly" - There are certain blogs I need to read every day. I put them under "Priority Blogs" and read them before any other material. These blogs are usually like yours and Seth Godin's: Updated with great information a couple times a day at most. You can place one feed in multiple locations. I can put you and Seth into a folder called "daily" as well as label them "marketing." Then, I can put adfreak into a "weekly" folder and the same "marketing" folder as you and Seth.

Your other points make sense. But, the two points above reinforce the point of RSS feeds.

Alan Wolk said...

Wow Stooks, that is one of the nicest things anyone has said on here, putting me and Seth Godin in the same category. (Seriously- I'm not being sarcastic, I think Godin is very good and he has a tremendous following.)

I hear you on categories - I've tried that, but found that I'm too fickle for that approach. I keep all the blogs I read in a folder on my Firefox toolbar. I just scroll through that.

RFB said...

I have met Seth Godin. Seth Godin was a friend of mine. And you, sir - are no Seth Godin.

I'm lying. Never met him - think he's overrated. Don't even read him. Don't subscribe to his feed. I read Toad.

I just finally (on Thinking In Vain's suggestion) started looking at a reader on Google because my workplace blocks blogs, but not readers.

Anonymous said...

FINALLY! Someone else who isn't into RSS Feeds.

I too do not like RSS Feeds and it is mainly because I like to enjoy the whole blog experience - which means the design, the comments ect. Without that, the post just doesn't seem as good to me.

The second reason I don't like RSS Feeds is the same as your #4 reason. When I get busy, I do not have time to read my favourite blogs and seeing all these feeds, just remind me that I don't have time to read my favourite blogs!

DusanVrban said...

RSS is like having 40 channels at the same time on your TV screen. Sports game, favourite episode, news, cooking lessons, discovery, travel, animal, whatever channel. Useless and very exhausting.

It is an idea that can be liked by a group of people. Not by majority. Most of the people don't like it.

Well, it's the reason why IE channels never survived. :-)

There's 1 thing I like about it. When the content is downloaded to my smartmobile and I can read TT's posts while sitting in the sunshine and drinking coffee at my favourite location, not wasting money for internet connection.

And perhaps another - I can see when there's a new post on my iGoogle page. The headline is enough. :-)

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I use an RSS feed to read your blog. So they're not all bad.

I agree that the guilt factor of a feed reader is kind of annoying. And add that to my stack of unread New York Times and Harper's and the taxes I have yet to file, and I basically feel like a worthless human being.


raafi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
raafi said...

Great post. I just had this discussion with my biz partner today. I too enjoy visiting blogs individually. What's the use in reading subtraction.com if it doesn't come with Khoi Vinh's beautiful design?

I think if they had a feature on RSS readers that would "forget" unread posts after a certain interval then it would greatly reduce the guilt factor. I hate the way my feed reader makes me feel.

That said, certain podcasts I listen to operate on RSS, and it always makes me feel nice that itunes manages to have my iPod stocked with new content that's ready for me when I'm ready for it. It somehow isn't as useful or fun with the weblogs.