Are you sometimes afraid to open your RSS reader as you know you will be met by a shockingly large amount of unread items? Up until recently, I was – I particularly noticed it when I didn’t check my RSS feeds as frequently as usual back in October when I waspreparing for my interview, finishing my Diploma, and then went to Florida for 2 weeks . When I opened it up again after the break, I had thousands of unread items and found myself flicking through most of them with little interest.

I started to look at Google Reader’s Trends to help me analyse which feeds I was actually reading and which were just clogging up my inbox. I also looked at the frequency of postings and the percentage of items in the feed I read. I had realised that a lot of my feeds were giving very similar news – I had subscribed to quite a few techy news blogs, many of which were telling me about exactly the same things. I decided to do some strict weeding and deleted any feeds which I either didn’t read regularly enough, or which gave the same (or similar) news to other feeds. To give you an idea of the sort of data you can get from Google Trends, here’s a screenshot of my trends page (before I weeded!):

Google Reader Trends

The exercise was very useful and made me realise how many blogs I actually truly value reading. I enjoy reading many librarian blogs, particularly those with practical posts based on their own experiences. But I just wasn’t reading many of my “general” blogs. I have kept most of my librarian blogs (although I have deleted some which seem to have bitten the dust), but have only kept a few general techy blogs as many of the techy stuff I am interested in or need to know about is either mentioned on the key blogs I still subscribe to (such as Lifehacker) or are mentioned in my librarian blog RSS feeds.

I found Google Trends very useful for helping me weed my feeds, it’s quite interesting seeing which feeds you do actually read regularly and which you don’t, and might actually surprise you. It’s also useful to find out what time and day you tend to read your feeds, as well as trends for posting times (although I guess this is skewed due to different time zones, many of the blogs I read are American). It’s also given me an insight into the sort of blogs I do genuinely enjoy reading and made me evaluate feeds before adding them to my reader just because they have one interesting post.

For those who have a New Year’s resolution to streamline their processes, one way you might want to try doing this is to weed your RSS feeds to make sure you’re getting the most out of them, it’s certainly helped me.

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