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The Problogger’s Dilemma: Trimming Down My Feed Subscriptions

Along with sheer creativity, one of a problogger’s best resources are his/her feed subscriptions. You can get a lot of ideas from current events or from what other people are saying. A feedreader definitely makes life easier, as it helps one monitor favorite blogs without necessarily having to visit each site. Of course, this nifty tool gets to display its dark side once you have hundreds or even thousands of feeds subscribed. It can be a nightmare to maintain, both in terms of system resources and in your ability to organize.

Here’s what Firefox tells me whenever it loads Bloglines on my (not-so-new) Powerbook:

bloglines delay.png

I sometimes get this Firefox warning on my other (faster) computers, too. To me, it basically means “time to clean up your feeds.”

Bloglines says I have 660 feeds. And you know what? I don’t exactly get to read each and every one of them anymore. My feed list started growing because I also used it as my blogs’ blogroll using the Bloglines “share” feature. Then it got out of hand. I found myself adding each and every blog I visited that had some interesting post I wanted to save (this was before I got hooked on Since then, I relied less and less on Bloglines to monitor information online. Still, I do use Bloglines to easily check out new content from the blogs I find to be authorities in their respective fields, my blogging contacts, and as well some up-and-coming bloggers who are worth the read. And I still do use Bloglines to automatically generate my blogroll.

Cutting down my feeds would take some time, though. Bloglines does give me an option to easily delete unwanted feeds, but the real dilemma is deciding which ones to let go of and how to better re-organize my subscriptions. I currently organize them by the blog’s theme and topic, but sometimes the taxonomy lines get blurred (here’s why I love tagging!).

Any suggestions? I’d be interested to know how other people organizes RSS subscriptions.

Categories: Blogging Tips, Blogging Tools

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  1. Aaron B. Hockley says: 9/8/2006

    Won’t help you with Bloglines, but FeedDemon has a couple features to manage stale feeds. One is that it will tell you the feeds which you pay least attention to (don’t ever click on) and the other is that it has a wizard to clean out old content.


  2. J. Angelo Racoma says: 9/9/2006

    I used to use feeddemon (the free version). Found it quite cumbersome as I work across different computers (desktop and laptop). So I realized that a web solution was best.


  3. Giovy says: 9/9/2006

    I use Newsalloy ( to read all my feeds.
    A light AJAX-enabled feed reader, with tons of feature, higly configurable and… is free! :)
    You can use the Newsalloy API’s to generate your blogroll and export your feed list in OPML format.

    Try it, and let me know! ;)


  4. J. Angelo Racoma says: 9/9/2006

    Thanks for the tip, Giovy. I’ve checked out the screenshots. Looks okay. I’ll try signing up for an account in a bit. I guess moving from bloglines to there would be a breeze, as with any RSS reader with OPML import feature. But of course, my intent is to come up with a clean feed list, so I guess I’ll probably start from scratch (or somewhere in between scratch and having to import everything).

    Meanwhile, the hunt is still on! :)


  5. J. Angelo Racoma says: 9/9/2006

    Lifehacker has a post on the solution for Firefox (w/c actually happens not only on Bloglines, but any other site with slow-loading scripts). Still, the problem is not just about Firefox, but about organizing feeds!


  6. Bruno Amaral says: 9/9/2006

    Well I’m facing the same issue with 100 or so feeds.

    my first solution is to throw some of them into a “monthly” folder, checked only if I’m really bored. The rest of the stuff gets sent to a proper category folder.


  7. J. Angelo Racoma says: 9/9/2006

    Hmm. Thanks for the suggestions on your post, Cleverclogs!

    Bruno, that could work, too. I could probably just put all the feeds I’m not actively reading in an “archive” folder and then archive feeds monthly from then on.

    Still, sometimes I’m tempted to delete all of ‘em and start anew.


  8. Ben Lowery says: 9/11/2006

    Hi Angelo,

    Sorry to see you’re running into that problem with Bloglines. One way you might be able to mitigate it is by turning on the “Show only updated feeds” option under Account -> Feed Options -> Subscription Display. That will limit the feed tree to only things that have changes since the last time you visited. You mentioned that you don’t visit all that often, so this might not help as much as it could, as most of your feeds may have updates, but it’s worth a shot.

    The problem stems from firefox trying to prevent any javascript from eating up all of your CPU. Any script that runs longer than a certain number of seconds will trigger the dialog you’re seeing, and the tree generation script sometimes does that for the users will a large number of feeds on older machines. We’re working on making the tree generation code more efficient to prevent this from happening in the future.

    Thanks for reporting the issue,

    –ben (bloglines ui engineer)


  9. J. Angelo Racoma says: 9/11/2006

    Thanks for the visit, Ben. It’s good to know you guys are working on making your code more efficient.


  10. didats says: 9/11/2006

    since i found thunderbird, i didn’t use bloglines anymore. i think thunderbird is one of a good software to get the rss feeds.

    one suggestion from me,
    you should separate your blogroll with your rss feeds. is that comfortable to mix it into bloglines? i don’t think so.. :D


  11. J. Angelo Racoma says: 9/14/2006

    Hmm. I think I just did that out of convenience. Bad idea perhaps.


  12. Jude says: 9/17/2006

    I currently have 380 bloglines feeds. I use the option suggested by Ben Lowery above. I also decided to allow myself no more than 400 feeds. I have lots of folders for different categories. I also have probation folders where I stick new subscriptions. About once a week I go through the probation subscriptions and decide which ones to keep. Because I have a self-imposed upper limit on feeds, I also have a folder called “blogs to subscribe to” so that if I find a likely candidate but I have too many subscriptions, I can stick a blog there and subscribe to it when I have room. In the case of your blog, which I just subscribed to, because of the person who recommended it, I filed it immediately in my Computers folder. If I’d bumped into it by accident, I would have stuck it into a probation folder.


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