Why Google Reader Is Like an Open Bar (and That’s Not a Good Thing)


You’ve no doubt seen it … the signature-collecting pledge to save Google Reader. But why? Is it really that great of a product?

I argue it isn’t.

Google Reader is a neat product, but it has one flaw … it allows customers to do exactly what they want … without penalty.

In other words, there isn’t an incentive to encourage moderate behavior.

(Read this article before it goes obsolete:  Write Better Headlines with This 7-Step Google Reader Experiment)

For example, people tend to drink themselves silly when someone else is picking up the tab. Ask them to pay for their own drinks and getting drunk isn’t nearly as fun.

Google Reader permits the same sort of behavior (since they are picking up the tab) by allowing us to subscribe to every single RSS feed in the world (if we wanted to).

But does anyone actually read all of the blog posts they have in Google Reader? I only have 25 subscriptions and can never keep up with it.

A few subscriptions post dozens of times a day … neglect it for a few days and you have over a hundred articles. Compound that with ten other blogs and you are overwhelmed with content.

I just don’t have the time.

Instead, I got in the habit of subscribing to my favorite blogs via email. One, I wanted to consolidate my stream of information into one place, and two, I wanted a check in place that forced me to ask the question: do I like this blog enough to invite it to come in my inbox?

In the last six months I’ve subscribed to no more than seven blogs. When I’m picking up the tab, I’m going to moderate my consumption habits.

What about you?

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  1. says

    I have somewhere around 250+ blogs in my RSS reader (previously Google Reader, now Feedly). Of course, I don’t read them all. I mostly browse headlines and just read the stuff that catches my eye – like this post.

    The biggest draw for me was the search in Google Reader. I like compiling list posts, things like 50 link building resources (aka, 50 link building blog posts). GR let me search within my subscriptions for posts with link building in the title, and voila, I have plenty of options for my list.

    Feedly is supposed to be working on a search within feeds. I’d swear they had it before, then they removed it, and now they are fine tuning it.

    • says

      SO glad this post caught your eye. Means I’m doing something right. You know, I never knew that about GR … probably would’ve made me a wee bit more efficient. I’ve also migrated to Feedly, so will have to toy with the search function, too. Thanks Kristi!

  2. says

    I’ve got loads of subscriptions on various topics ranging from Art to Business & Productivity. I don’t keep up with all of them and I’m ok about it. Whenever I want to read on the topic I know Google reader will give me a quick overview from the best sources.

    I’m going to miss Google Reader :-(

    blows nose… Sniff…

  3. says

    The thing about Google Reader is it’s just one particular way of consuming RSS. In my opinion it’s an outdated model – it treats RSS like we treat email: with inboxes, folders and unread item counts.

    There’s a better way; treat RSS more like a ‘River of News’, in the same way we treat Twitter. You don’t need to consume all the content from your feeds (though you might want to make sure you keep up with a handful of important blogs).

    I used Google Reader shutting down as an opportunity to actually make an RSS reader how I wanted, and I’ve made it available for others to use too: http://www.rivered.io it might be worth trying out if you’re looking for something different.

  4. Scott Worthington says

    i never used GR, or any other RSS reader. I already have about 8-10 blogs coming to my email (Copybot included) and it’s enough. When I want more, I go to news pages, like MSN.com or Yahoo news. I also use G+ to keep up with interesting people and topics.

    I have been considering a reader, but I am a slow adopter of technology already overwhelmed by information overload. So, I ask, will a reader enhance my life?

  5. says

    I used and loved Google Reader (now I use Feedly). But yes, I never really read half of the content that comes through. Every now and then, I go through and delete any feeds that I feel just aren’t providing value to me anymore. And I subscribe to the one’s I really care about via email as you do.

    For me, I’m scanning headlines for things to share with my network. I bookmark the stuff I really enjoy or can reference later when I’m writing something. And I “mark all as read” every day so stuff doesn’t pile up. If I don’t read it now, chances are I’m probably not going to read it later.

    I’ll still continue to use Feedly. I suppose that just works for me. And I’ll subscribe to those blogs I really care about via email. Hopefully, mine is one of those people will like to subscribe via email as well, heh.

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