Introduction The “best” feed reader is largely a matter of individual preference. There are many good ones. Most of them, including the best, are free like browsers. The one that matches the way you want to work is best for you. 🙂 No matter which reader you choose, it should give you some way to back up your feeds, preferably as an OPML file. You may also be able to use your OPML file to move to another reader, although the formats may not be compatible.

Like: Best Free RSS Reader-Aggregator | Gizmo’s Freeware

Wow what a great article.  It’s much more comprehensive than most of it’s kind.  One thing I’ve learned you really really need a feed reader in the Indieweb space and eventually on Micro.blog.

In the Indieweb you are going to really want to follow all those neat blogs you discover.  On Micro.blog the timeline is purposely fleeting.  There will be people you follow who you don’t want to miss any of their posts or you just find that you are following too many interesting people and the timeline moves past too quickly: the solution is to subscribe to their Micro.blog blogs in the feed reader.  That way you capture it all.

It’s just an essential tool.  I use Inoreader, which is listed in the article.

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This is so simple, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before.  You can make a decent blog search engine, for free, in minutes with Duckduckgo.

  1. Go to the Duckduckgo Search Box page.
  2. Do whatever customization you like.
  3. In the field “Site Search” type in: blogspot.com,wordpress.com,medium.com

blogspot.com,wordpress.com,medium.com

Medium.com is optional.  Copy the searchbox code and Paste it on an HTML page and you are done.

Pros:

  • Because it’s DDG all searches are private.
  • Blogspot and WordPress are the two largest blog hosts on the web, at least in the Western World.
  • Fast results with very few ads.
  • DDG does not insist on having their branding all over the searchbox.
  • You can do multi word, complex search queries.

 

Cons:

You are not searching for all blogs. Only blogs hosted on a subdomain “blogname.blogspot.com” are going to be searched.  Blogs on these same hosts that pay to use their own domain will be overlooked.  Also, blogs that are self hosted on their own servers will be overlooked.

Have fun. Adapt this to your own needs.  If you find this useful on your own site, come back and let me know how you use it.  Thanks.

Is WordPress.com quietly building a blog based social network with Reader?

I have no inside information, but the answer is, They are half way or more there.

Aside

If I were a good (slick) blogger I would fill this post up with neat screenshots of Reader pages that illustrate each of my key points.  You could then squint at these unreadable pics to your hearts content.  Instead, just go to WordPress.com and register.  You can see Reader for yourself.

/Aside

WP Reader is an aggregater of all the blogs hosted on WordPress.com PLUS remotely hosted installs of WordPress that use Jetpack.  Everytime you login to WordPress.com the first thing you see is the Reader.  The Reader is also on all the WP mobile apps.  You can search for posts and blogs by keywords and subscribe to (follow) any blog in the index.  The Reader can also serve up the newest posts on the system whether you have subscribed or not.

  1. The Reader is fast and attractive, well laid out and easy to use. It’s like a timeline.
  2. It is everywhere and has a huge user base.
  3. It can send you notifications if you want.
  4. You can “Like” a post from Reader.
  5. I think you can even comment on a post from Reader if the owner of the blog has comments turned on.
  6. Reader is a very powerful discovery tool.
  7. Reader is a powerful traffic tool. Not just one time traffic but repeat traffic. It is so easy to subscribe to a blog you will find yourself with followers soon after making a few posts.
  8. You can see who follows you in Reader.  They have a profile page.

Is all of this starting to sound like the foundations of a social network?  Admittedly it is a closed one, a silo open only to WP users.

What if’s…

But what happens if they give you the ability to add RSS feeds from any blog hosted anywhere?

What would happen if they adopt Indieweb webmentions from the Reader and all WP blogs? So you could comment on another blog from your blog but all in Reader.  And get replies. These types of Indieweb feed reader (see webmention link above) are already available, so it would be just a matter of WP coding these capabilities into Reader.  Don’t ask me how, I’m not a coder.

With just a few more features a de facto social network would emerge.  I don’t know if it would succeed.  I don’t know if it would be a good fun community or be filled with trolls.

If I were WP, I would be at least thinking about it in my off time.

Micro.blog is also a blog based social network and seeing how well it’s features work tells me you can have a successful community built around blogs.

All this is just speculation.  A social network may be the furthest thing on WP’s mind.  All I am pointing out is that the foundations are there at least by accident.

The inspiration for this post came from Greg McVerry.  He very astutely asked the same question in Indieweb chat room a week or so ago.  But, other pressing matters were being discussed so no more was said.  But Greg’s observation got me thinking so I thought I would start a discussion.

Could it be done? Do you think they are doing it?

 

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Source: Official Blogger Blog: It’s spring cleaning time for Blogger

I’ve been reading a lot of “places to host your blog” type articles. Most have added a note of caution about Google abandoning services.  It looks like a mixed bag. Improvements are being made to Blogger but at the same time some features are being discontinued.

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Announcements are starting to appear in my WordPress dashboard.  That means the hammer is about to fall soonish.  Maybe no next update but before the end of the year.  This is WP pounding the beach, prepping for the invasion.  Crap.

I’ve been reading the spiel from WP and they talk a lot about the editor.  My problem has never been the editor in WP, it’s been finding where the switches are in the admin panel.  The other problem with WP is when something does not work tracking down who the culprit is: a plugin, the template, operator error, the latest update,  some obscure setting?

Despite that, WP has always been cool because there were so many ways to add on to it, so many ways to customize it with plugins.  The answers I’ve seen about plugins still working have been dodgy.  And what about themes? Is my current theme going to break?

I have this feeling this is more about making WP better suited for commercial for profit blogging than it is about blogging.

 

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How to Add a Blogroll or Micro Link Directory in WordPress

Blogrolls fell out of favor in the blogging community but they are making a comeback.  There is an easy and free plugin for WordPress that can let you add and manage a blogroll or even a micro links directory in short order.

Once upon a time WordPress had a Links function, which let you manage lists of links.  This was commonly used for blogrolls.  A few years back, WordPress “bricked over” the Links function, hiding it.  But the core functionality is still there waiting to be used.

The Plugin I used was Links Shortcode, which is free and fairly simple to use. The plugin does two things:

It revives the Links Function in WordPress.

It lets you put those links on any Page of your WordPress site using a simple shortcode.

That’s it really.  The links function lets you divide up your links into categories (ie. blogroll, freestuff, causes you support…) so you can put one or several categories of links on pages you create.

Uses that come to mind:  Blogroll, small curated link directory, best of list, list of your identities on different social networks, the choices are endless.

Alternative:  Simple Links Directory Lite plugin.  The free version is limited and it’s a bit more complicated than Links Shortcode, but it works.

Surfing blogrolls used to be fun, it’s time to bring that back to blogging.  This article is part of the decentralized blog search and discovery strategy.

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I’m doing a soft launch of my new blog directory.  It is ready for submissions by bloggers.  If you have one blog or several you can add your URL’s.  Listings are free, I don’t want or need the money, I want you to find more readers. Mind, we do have guidelines. We take all types of blogs: regular blogs, photo blogs, podcast and microcast blogs, micro blogs.

I have seeded just a few sites in the directory, just enough to give you an indication of what types of sites go where.  Some lists have no listings because they should be self explanatory.

Even if you do not want to add your URL, I would appreciate it if you would spread the word to your blogger friends.  They might want a listing.

This is a continuation of my previous pipe dream.  I decided to do something more modest, a micro directory if you will.  It is not quite as personal as a Blogroll but it is smaller than a stand alone web directory.  It falls somewhere in between.

Some things I’m excited about:

  • The directory is responsive to mobile.  So phone users can use it. I have this vision of a bored train commuter, takes out his phone, selects a listing in the directory and she’s off reading somebody’s blog.
  • The directory search feature seems to work better than most.  This is important both in general and for mobile.
  • The directory is part of the blog here.  Which makes it easier to find users.

This is part of my decentralized search proposal.

That’s enough for now.  More thoughts later.

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Memories File:

The most basic “blog” I ever saw was a simple .txt page. Entries were dated and in reverse chronological order. Blog like.  It was actively added too although posts were short.

But wait there is more!

That .txt file was tucked up in the head area of the website with the robots.txt where only snoops and bots could find it.  Eventually word leaked out because this webmaster had one of the best robots.txt files ever so people looking for that found the blog and word spread.  😄

This was back in the early ’00’s when everybody was starting to blog.  I think the webmaster was poking a little fun at us.

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Yesterday, like Snoopy, I almost got the Sopwith Camel, out of the barn to get ready for one last dogfight with the Red Baron.  Meaning, I almost bought a domain, directory script and hosting for it to start a directory of blogs.  I had it all researched, script picked out, ideas as to how to make it good, everything, then I started writing the blog post below (italics). It’s not complete but it was my reality check.

Directories and Search Engines Do No Good if Unused

Here is the cold hard reality of search engines and directories:

  1. They have to have a starter set of listings. I call this “seeding” the directory.  If a searcher comes to use the directory you need to provide them with something or they will never come back.  This means the Editor(s) of the directory have got to add a starter set of sites to the database manually.  It’s a lot of work.
  2. You have two sets of customers: A. searchers, the public, B. webmasters adding their URLs.  The expectations are different for each set.  You have to market to both.
  3. You have to provide traffic to sites listed.  With a new search engine or directory you have to build a user base.  This means you have to gain exposure, either by hard advertising or by word spreading within whatever niche you serve.  Also links back, articles and search boxes on websites help.  This is why it is better to start in a niche, because members of the niche are more likely to support you.
  4. You are not going to make any money at it for years, if ever.

Time!

I scrabbled back from the edge of the cliff.

I’m not willing to put the time and money forward to make such a directory at this moment.  That and the time commitment to promote it, that is, gain traffic to it would be huge.   So I scrapped the Big Plan.

As I said before, there is a need.  Blog directories are a stopgap measure for a few years until the next generation can cook up better solutions to the blog discovery problem.  The need will grow in the near future as Twitter and FB either decline or restrict our being able to syndicate our posts to them or both.

I do have other “clever Plans,” in the works. I’m not giving up.  This is not retreat, I’m just attacking in a different direction.  More when those plans are closer to launch.

(Plus I salvaged that post I started yesterday.)  😄

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