SmoothSpan Blog

For Executives, Entrepreneurs, and other Digerati who need to know about SaaS and Web 2.0.

Don’t Pollute Your Stream!

Posted by Bob Warfield on October 20, 2008

Every now and again some blogger decides to insert automatically generated entries in the RSS stream for their blog.  I have one word of advice for you if you’re thinking about doing so:

DON’T!

People didn’t subscribe to your blog to get these snippets.  It doesn’t mean people wouldn’t like to see them, but it does mean they should be optional and not forced down our throats.  Make them another feed and do not gratuitously inject them into your main feed.

The worst offenders on this are the injections of Twitter and other extremely terse content.  It comes through looking like nothing in the RSS reader.  It’s just a speed bump that wasn’t worth the effort required to dismiss it and mark it as read.  They are speed bumps because they’re not really blog posts.  They’re something alien that just feels wrong coming to me in my blog reader.

What is it about these feeds that riles me?  They’re not authentic.  They do not capture the voice of the blogger.  For me, that voice is a big part of the experience.  What the blogger Tweets about or thinks is interesting but doesn’t actually right about is very indirect and much less interesting.  Blogging is about adding value and insight.

I first got exercised about this practice when Stowe Boyd started injecting TwitPitches and other stuff into his feed.  Stowe is a wonderful writer, but ultimately this bothered me enough that I unsubscribed, and I haven’t been back.  It wasn’t the authentic “Stowe-experience” and it was really watering down the feed.  I have no idea if he is still doing that.  Maybe I should check back.

This post was prompted by the Logic+Emotion blog which injected no less than 15 posts in a row from some sort of del.icio.us mashup.  Each one simply links through to another blog post from someone else with no comment or value add by Logic+Emotion.  David Armano’s posts are normally excellent, and often are nothing more than an extremely insightful graphic.  His style is unmistakable, indispensible, and completely missing from these del.icio.us posts.

What are alternatives?  As i said, make a separate feed for whatever it is you are contemplating.  I keep a separate Google Reader Shared feed where you can see what I’m reading and found interesting.  Subscribe to it if you like, and ignore it if you don’t.  Robert Scoble has a similar feed that I subscribe to.  Some days I am thrilled to find the gems in there, other days I’m so jammed up I just mark it all as read along with Techmeme and other non-authentic feeds.  My life is made easier because the blogger was considerate enough to provide multiple feeds.

3 Responses to “Don’t Pollute Your Stream!”

  1. Although I would never unsubscribe from this blog because of it, as RSS protects me and your content is always a “must read”, but am I the only person who can’t stand Snapshots previews?

    Tom

  2. smoothspan said

    LOL, Tom, we’ll see who else responds.

    Best,

    BW

  3. aleaxit said

    I entirely agree with your suggestions to authors of blogs; as a reader of RSS feeds, though, you can partly compensate for blog authors’ errors by using Yahoo Pipes — think of it as grep (and other similar filter functionality) for RSS feeds. For example, I’ve used it to subscribe to just a few authors’ posts on a multi-author blog that didn’t give me that option directly. Check it out!

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