Here's What I Don't Get About Gripes on "Feed Overload"

I choose to subscribe to around 280 RSS feeds.

There’s been a lot of chatter about "RSS overload" and "too many feeds" as if someone is forcing loads of information upon helpless feedreader addicts. If I chose to subscribe to 10 more magazines, would it be right for me to cry out in a month that I’m suffering from magazine overload and need some solution? The sensible solution would be to cancel half the subscriptions, since the cost/benefit of spending all the time reading magazines doesn’t add up.

The interesting twist in RSS is that the bar is so low. They’re free. It takes 5 seconds to add a feed to your reader. You can scroll through uninteresting content in seconds. So for many people, even if 2 out of every 10 posts are interesting, it’s worth the subscription. The onus is on the reader to develop that ratio for him/herself and if a feed isn’t cutting mustard, to remove it.

A lot of these gripes I think stem from too much irrelevant information in the RSS reader so people want better filters. Maybe one day there will be really smart filters. Until then, people should develop a signal to noise ratio that works for them, and then stick by it. That means some RSS spring cleaning.

One other suggestion. Once you get above 200 feeds, you can do some pruning. For example, if I didn’t want to get Jeff Jarvis‘ 6-7 posts a day, but still wanted to read his best, most influential posts, I could unsubscribe and still bet that all the other folks I read will link to his important posts. (I still read all of Jeff’s, btw, because he has good thoughts on journalism that many people don’t link to.)

3 Responses to Here's What I Don't Get About Gripes on "Feed Overload"

  1. Chris Yeh says:

    Of course we can unsubscribe (and I have done so from many feeds). But as I’ve noted on my own post (link to chrisyeh.blogspot.com), part of what I look for in my feeds is information that not everyone else already has.

    Yes, I want to hear what the buzz is, but I also want to learn about things that are under the radar.

    It just seems that if Google can organize the world’s information, it’s not asking too much for someone to be able to pull some metadata out of my list of feeds!

  2. Jeff Jarvis says:

    Whew. Glad you didn’t cancel.

  3. Ben Casnocha says:

    I agree on wanting to find stuff under the radar, but if you only get 1 juicy tidbit for every 20 posts, I don’t think it’s worth.

    Feeds are not the only way to get under the radar insights, also. There are some 40,000 business books published each year (or something like that), yet everyone seems to read the same 5. Surely there are more than 5 smart people in the world.

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