Declaring RSS Bankruptcy

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RSS is fantastic tool for delivering content to you rather than you having to chase it all the place.

As more content producers get hip to the wonders of RSS, subscribing to RSS feeds is becoming increasingly easy. Click, Subscribe, Done. This concept of “oversubscription” is something ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick enthusiastically encourages.

The dark side of RSS-made-easy is that before you know it, your RSS reader is chock-a-block with all kinds of great feeds with each one featuring all kinds of great content. And as much as you try to keep up with the RSS subscriptions you’ve selected, it becomes impossible after awhile because it keeps coming at your day after day.

Today, I finally decided to declare RSS Bankruptcy. It finally got to the point where I accepted the reality that there was no way I was ever going to catch up on all those posts that had sadly gone unread.

The blog that broke the camel’s back was looking at Lifehacker, a blog that I really like and try to read on a regular basis. Upon realizing there were 422 unread posts, I conceded RSS defeat. For the next few days, “Mark all as read” will be getting a lot of action as I wave the white flag.

Part of the problem is that many of the blogs that I’ve been reading for awhile (e.g. Mashable, TechCrunch, GigaOm, ReadWriteWeb, etc.) having turned into publishing entities as opposed to one-man shows. Mashable, for example, pumped out a staggering 18 posts today. It’s all good stuff but there’s so much to read, it’s a challenge to read any at all.

Perhaps the solution is slashing the number of RSS feeds to a more manageable total – say 50 – as opposed to clicking on any old RSS button. It’s probably time to become more discerning and realistic. Perhaps the rule of thumb is if you haven’t read a blog in the RSS reader in a month, out it goes to the unsubscribe dump.

Of course, the problem is there’s so much great content being created. Some of my favorite blogs are written by people who I didn’t know existed a few months such as Louis Gray and She Geeks.

Having just declared RSS Bankruptcy, it’s going to be a struggle to not let it happen again. But now it is the time for will power and discipline. Wish me luck!

Just a thought: Maybe Twitter should become my RSS reader given I follow many of the bloggers I like, and there’s always good content being highlighted. Online Media Cultist was thinking along the same lines recently.

Update:Webomatica has an interesting post about taking a different approach to blogging after getting tired of the pressure involved to produce. For many bloggers, there’s a lot of food for thought in it.

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  • Tom

    After I had to face the same dilemma I decided to separate my blogs into levels. Before I had them separated into categories so I just made folders for Level 1, 2, 3, etc… and created the same categories in each folder. Then I separated the blogs by the ones most important to me, 2nd most important and so on. So now I can at least declare “selective RSS bankruptcy” and not lose those I count on the most.

  • Omar Ismail

    When you realize that 99.9% of all content doesn’t really matter it makes life a lot easier. The RSS bankruptcy comes from the same problem as general online addiction. Your life isn’t worse off not having read those posts, so there’s no problem in “mark all as read”.

    I probably read 1% of the posts in my aggregate feeds. That’s fine, most of the important information is in the headlines anyway.

    Actually, your blog and TechCrunch are one of the only ones where I consistently read the posts.

  • Farhan Thawar

    What’s great about Google reader is that after a blog post hits 30 days, it disappears from your feeds. I read my blogs knowing that if I don’t hit them in 30 days, they’ll disappear.

    A good way from keeping them under control.

  • Mark Evans

    Tom: Great suggestion. I wish there was a way in Google Reader to do this quickly.

  • Mark Evans

    Farhan: Didn’t know about Google Reader did that. Good to know!


  • Gary Hilson

    I recently switched my feeds to Google Reader and one method I use to keep on top of my nearly 200 subscriptions is to some days simply ignore certain categories altogether by marking them as read.

    My “News” tag is the first one to go; it’s the most prolific and usually the most depressing. So if I’ve already overhead the major news of the day so far while watching CP24 before work or listening to BBC World news on Jazz FM, I feel I’ve got enough info.

    I never check news feeds on weekends. Declaring a little bit of bankruptcy each day has worked for me well.

  • Corvida

    I have all my feeds grouped into folders and those folders are organized by importance.

    Don’t forget GReader has drag and drop for a more convenient way of organizing your feeds.

    Then again, I try not to subscribe to blogs that post the same stuff constantly, especially if they have writers that cross post on another site that I’m subscribed to also.

    And just so you know, you’ve been in my subscriptions for months! lol

  • engtech

    If you post more than once a day, I don’t follow you in Google Reader. I’ll catch your good posts on social aggregators.

  • Mark Evans

    @Corvida: Thanks for the tip. Looks like I need to spend some time this weekend taking a long look at my Google Reader.

  • Grok2

    Perhaps using Feedhub ( or leafRSS ( will help train your feeds to kinds of entries you really like and drop all the clutter.

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  • Arni

    I see this happen all too frequently here, but I try to only hit the panic button on the “News” feeds, since they are by far the most likely to contain nothing of importance. With the blogs I’m following I’m much more likely to quickly skim through and discard a post, than just Mark As Read and never know what was within.

    Then again, the speed-reading course I took in high-school, and it’s resulting 1500 WPM DOES make skimming a bit easier.

  • brydon

    I was feeling this back at the first Mesh when a panelist proudly claimed they read 700 feeds (

    Since then I’m very picky about the rss I add and I strive to remove one for each I add. As a write, it places more importance on how you title posts as that’s likely all people are reading in most cases.

  • Jim Murphy

    AideRSS with GReader Extension. Nuff said.

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