the porous city

Why all bloggers need to optimize their feeds for me if they want to get rich
So John Gruber makes money off his full-content RSS feed. There's a reason for that. If I open up Google Reader and see that Daring Fireball has a new entry, it's usually my first read. I even click on the ads. Part of that is because I'm a geek and an Apple fanboy, but on the other hand, I haven't bothered to subscribe to TUAW or Cult of Mac.

I read everything he posts is because his signal to noise ratio is very, very good. I'm interested in most of the posts he makes, and I'm interested in most of the words he writes. If he posts a link, he usually has just a few lines of commentary, where the other blogs listed above might pad their entry with a couple hundred words of "analysis". That's excusable, and easily skippable in any feed reader. But what's less forgivable is the number of posts they make I'm simply not interested in. I already subscribe to too many blogs, I don't need to add any junk.

There's a reason post-Gawker blogs work the way they do (post early, post often.) If your readers are web surfers, hopping from site to site, you want to make sure you have new content for them on a regular basis, to maximize page views and ad clicks.

The dynamic for someone using a feed reader is completely different. I have no problem finding new content. There's no way I can read everything in my feed reader, every day. I have to prune poor-performing feeds (poor signal to noise ratio) on a regular basis so I can make sure that I spend as much time as possible reading good stuff.

That means the sites that I'm most likely to subscribe to, read, and stay subscribed to, will be more concerned with quality than quantity. I can follow perfectly blogs that post only once a month, because I'll never miss their new stuff. If it's good, and there's not too much of it, I'll read it all. No offense to the talented pro bloggers out there, but that's not exactly the dominant model. (It's as if they've forgotten their original mandate to be filters of content; now they're just adding sugar and carbonation to the firehose.)

Now, I don't know how popular feed readers are going to get. But I hope they get very, very popular, because once publishers figure out how to serve them, I have a feeling we'll spend a lot less time searching for good writing.

last modified: 14:31:40 07-Mar-2010
in categories:Tech/Business





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