Blog Reading Using a Feed Reader

Many of the bloggers that stumble across this post will know all about this already, this post is for those that don’t know what a feed is and/or want to know how use feeds to help reading blogs. I wanted to write this because I know there are lots that could benefit from using feeds but don’t really know how. If you read a lot of blog or news sites that update frequently, feeds will be extremely helpful.

Earlier this month, I suggested that you subscribe to my blog’s feed from feedburner (if you would like to do that, please do so here), if you have no idea what that means, this post is for you!

The Basics: What is a Feed? Any website that produces content on a regular basis (like blogs and news agencies) can, and often do, produce what is called a web feed. A feed is a stream of information that is updated when new content (like a blog post) is added. RSS (Really Simple Syndication) and Atom are two types of possible feeds. I am not going to go into the differences because for most they really don’t matter (you can read the Wikipedia articles if you want more info).

Why Use A Feed? If you read a lot of blogs it can be taxing to go to every single site to read the new content. Feeds were designed to easily syndicate the content. Using a Feed Reader (also called aggregators or news readers) will allow you to take the feeds of all your favorite blogs and read the content all in one place.

Types of Feed Readers. There are a number of different kinds of feed readers that have different features. Each user should try out a few to find one that fits with your likes and needs. The two basic types are application/program based and web based. Most of what I am familiar with are the web based versions so I will primarily be discussing those. I will list a few here that I have tried, but there are many out there. I won’t really comment on each because I really do think you should try them out because each person will like something different.

  • iGoogle - Google’s personalized homepage (best if you only read a few blogs) - Screen Shot - Add Random Acts of Verbiage to your Google Homepage
  • Google Reader - Has the awesome feature of being able to add tags to any feed that you can then use as filters! - Screen Shot - Add Random Acts of Verbiage to Google Reader
  • Newsgator - One of the first that I used, I am not really impressed with their Beta AJAX reader as of yet though - Screen Shot - Add Random Acts of Verbiage to Newsgator
  • Bloglines - One of the better and larger readers out there - Screen Shot - Add Random Acts of Verbiage to Bloglines
  • Feedable - Fairly new AJAX based reader - Screen Shot
  • Netvibes - I haven’t used it personally - Add Random Acts of Verbiage to Netvibes
  • My Yahoo - I haven’t used it, but many like Yahoo - Add Random Acts of Verbiage to My Yahoo
  • Windows Live - Also haven’t used it - Add Random Acts of Verbiage to Windows Live
  • Those are the bigger web based feed readers that I have heard of. If you have had good experience with a reader, let me know and I will add it to the list. If you use Firefox (and you should) I was pointed to a great add-ons called Sage that I have liked a lot (Screen Shot 1 - Screen Shot 2). The little program is installed right in the browser and you can read all your feeds using Firefox. Also, many browsers now have built in feed reading capabilities (but are often somewhat limited). Firefox and IE7 have live feed readers and I have heard that Safari has a pretty good one as well.

    Subscribe to Matt Jones' Random Acts of VerbiageOnce I have a Feed Reader, how do I add a blog’s feed? This is somewhat hard to answer because it depends on the reader. Best bet is to just follow their instructions, they usually make it pretty easy. Most blogs will have a button or link to the blog feed that you can copy and paste into a feed reader to subscribe to that feed. Also look for the little orange symbol, usually if you click on that symbol, or something like it, you will be taken to a page with various subscription options (or, again, you can copy that link and paste it into the appropriate place at your chosen feed reader).

    Read Away! Now with all your favorite blogs added to your reader you can read all the content in one place. Readers make it very easy to visit the blog or post you are reading. If you like (or dislike) a particular post and want to comment, you can just click on that post and you will be directed to that blog so you can comment there. Blog interaction made easy!

    If you want “how to” instructions for adding blogs to any of the readers I mentioned, let me know and I will help out! Did I leave anything out? Do you still have any questions about feeds or how to use them?

    Here are some basic instructions for adding a live feed to Firefox and IE7 (although I definitely recommend using a feed reader like [my current preference] Sage).


    1. If you are at a blog that has a feed, you will see a little feed icon in the address bar, click that and select a feed (sometimes there are two or more feeds: the blog [with RSS and/or Atom] and the blog comments]). Screen Shot
    2. Put the live feed into a folder (either make a new one or put it an an existing spot). If you have Sage installed, place the feed into the appropriate Sage folder. Screen Shot
    3. View the feed by looking in that folder in your bookmarks (if you use Sage you will do things differently and start by pressing Alt-Z). To read a post just select the post title and you will be taken to that post. Screen Shot

      IE 7 (I am fairly unimpressed by their integrated reader, although admittedly I haven’t used it much)

    1. Find the feed icon in the menu bar, click it, select the appropriate feed. Screen Shot
    2. IE takes you to the page’s feed where you can select “Subscribe to this feed.” Screen Shot
    3. Name the feed and put it in a folder. Screen Shot
    4. Read the feed by clicking the star in the upper left (or pressing Alt-C), select “feeds” and then the blog you want to read. Screen Shot

    Categories: Blogging
    1. May 24th, 2007 at 12:54 | #1

      Hi Matt,

      Great article! I am going to start reading all your blogs.

      My name is Elizabeth Grace and I am 16 years old. Yeah, about to get my drivers license. I recently created the website If you go to Google/home page….then
      type in Elizabeth Grace & (all together)
      You can see article written about me from author Ron McDaniel. website & author of great Marketing book.

      I would greatly appreciate any help that you could give me.
      Could you give me a backlink? Is that what you call it?
      Recently spent the last year on my site. I plan to have
      50-75 book tests by August 2007 and 100 book tests by December.
      Also, worked in an ice cream store & babysitting service to
      pay for my website myself.

      It sounds like I really need to learn about a feed reader.
      Any good tips - email me at [email protected]

      Please let me know what you think if you have time to see
      my website. I better go study more for my semester Spanish
      final for Friday.

      Thank youa again,
      Elizabeth Grace

    2. May 25th, 2007 at 09:52 | #2

      Bloglines works just fine. Probably the others do, too.

    3. May 29th, 2007 at 08:51 | #3

      I found that either Safari or Firefox are the easiest way to keep up with RSS feeds as you have those programs open all the time. At work we got the new Outlook 2007 with built in RSS support but the RSS feeds are so far down the folder list I hardly see them.

    4. May 29th, 2007 at 13:08 | #4

      I tend to agree with you there Pete. How has your experience been with Safari’s built in reader? I figured Microsoft would add an RSS reader to Outlook but haven’t had any experience with it. I am curious what other users have thought about it.

    1. June 1st, 2007 at 17:42 | #1
    2. May 24th, 2007 at 00:49 | #2

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