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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bloglines or Google Reader?

Eric Goldman laments that Bloglines randomly drops his feeds and for that reason (among others) he is switching to Google Reader.  I am relatively new to online readers - I have always used Firefox bookmarks and/or Sage Extension for Firefox, both of which work quite well for what they are.  Portability, however, is a problem.  I toyed around with rss feeds on my own website (which has rss modules) and on my yahoo, but those aren't the same as a reader.

So, I started with the base Bloglines product - yuck.  Terrible interface, and not intuitive at all.  I do, however, like getting email list and searches in my rss feeds.  It took about 10 minutes to move to the beta product, which I think is quite great - it allows for quick, full, and three-pane viewing, including a slick iframe that allows me to see the original page (useful for site that have short pre-jump intros or interesting comments (like Prawfs, for example!).  It does have its problems - feeds don't always update in a timely fashion, and links to the backend database seem to be broken a lot.  That said, it is a beta and I have high hopes.

Compared to the beta version, Google Reader is simply unusable.  The list is nice, but you have to jump out to see the full page - no better than my Sage reader in that sense.  Also, the menu at the top left is mostely useless to someone who has no interest in sharing feeds or doing whatever else is available there- on my laptop the feeds don't appear until the bottom of the screen - pretty annoying.  I also don't like being logged in for Google search (privacy concerns), and Google Reader requires me to log in.  Eric mentions some "oddities" in Google's product, but I think that it goes way beyond that - I don't think Google Reader is anywhere on par with Bloglines - at least not the new beta version.

Given that this is all new to me, I am willing to be convinced otherwise.  Is there a nicer Google version I don't know about?  Some way to improve the viewing or rearrange the menus?  Is there another online reader that is better than both of them?

Posted by Michael Risch on October 16, 2008 at 12:10 PM in Blogging | Permalink


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I had been using bloglines for over 3 years and was actually very happy with it. I thought the beta version was nice to look at and then suddenly some of my feeds stopped refreshing altogether in both version 1 and the beta. I tried switching between feed options and it didn't make a difference. I waited in out for a few weeks but my most read feeds just wouldn't come come back at all. I swtiched to google and have been content with it. I haven't really missed bloglines as there isn't anything it could do that google can't. As for not seeing the full page, there are only one or two of my feeds in which that happens. I do wish there was an option, as in bloglines, allowing me to choose to see the complete entry. Perhaps I will return to bloglines when the beta is improved, but for now google it is.

Posted by: Rafael Regales | Oct 17, 2008 9:23:07 AM

Just to be clear, my biggest beef with Bloglines was the slow refresh rate on RSS subscriptions--and, most conspicuously, the fact that about 15% of them just stopped refreshing at all for over 2 weeks.

Note also that several sites (including my own) offer multiple RSS feed options, including subscriptions to both abstracts and full text. If you don't like the abstracts, you can try switching your subscriptions.

I've been reasonably happy with Google Reader, but I did have to drop the AP subscriptions because they simply didn't work in Google Reader.


Posted by: Eric Goldman | Oct 16, 2008 6:57:05 PM

Huh, that's interesting. I've never tried (or even heard of) Bloglines, but I love Google Reader. It is true that some of my feeds don't really give you much to go on before jumping out, but I'm not as bothered by that because if I want to comment or read the whole thing I'm going to jump out anyway, and very short feed blips are a lifesaver when I'm scrolling through 90% of the hundreds of posts on the NYTimes, Le Monde, and Financial Times feeds anyway. I like Google's starred items feature, though I do wish that I could put starred items in folders. I like that I can search my feeds as well. Perhaps the beta you mentioned is better, but Google works fine for my purposes!

Posted by: Judith | Oct 16, 2008 5:13:03 PM

I have given up both in favor of a Firefox-based RSS reader named "feedly." It's easy to use, beautifully designed, and will automatically import all of you bloglines or google reader subscriptions. Give it a shot -- you won't go back.


Posted by: Kevin Jon Heller | Oct 16, 2008 4:18:42 PM

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