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Feed Purge Time, and How I Organize my 780 Feed Subscriptions

According to Google Reader, “From your 780 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 22,406 items, starred 7 items, and shared 256 items.” Not quite up in Scoble territory, but pretty darn close. I organize my feeds into folders (or “tags” as Google Reader sometimes calls them) by topic. Feeds about Apple all go together, feeds from people who write blogs as individuals go together, etc. Incidentally, I tend to read and enjoy more blogs that are written by a person, rather than as a “news” blog on a particular topic (like Engadget, etc.). High volume feeds, like Engadget, etc., all go together, too, and I have a couple of “short list” folders for blogs that I never want to miss – people I know personally, or that are just really good blogs, etc. My own personal “A-list” if you will.

The reason I have all my feeds organized like I do is so I can read them efficiently. When I only have a few minutes to read, I’ll pick something out of my “short list”, because I know it’s guaranteed to be something I want to read. If I have more time, I’ll go through my other folders, one at a time, and skim/read for interesting stuff. When I find something that I think other people should read, I “share” it in Google Reader, and it ends up in my linkblog.

How the heck did I end up subscribed to 780+ feeds? Easy – I’m an addict. :-) Seriously, though, if I come across a site that I think is interesting, usually by following a link from one of my already-subscribed feeds, I subscribe to it. Google Reader and Firefox make it a two click affair to subscribe to a new feed, and assign to the relevant folder. To give you an idea of the scale of this compulsion of mine, there was a point a year or two ago that I was up to 1400+ feeds. Which brings me to my next point – the feed purge.

Every once in a while, having all of those feeds just gets a little overwhelming. So I go through a little exercise I call the feed purge. Besides my “short list” folders, I go through all the rest of my folders, and move anything that I want to keep into the “short list”. Rinse and repeat for all of the 50 topical folders I have. Once I’m done, I export a copy of my feeds as OPML for backup purposes, and Gmail a copy to myself. Then I go in and whack all of the folders that I don’t want to keep anymore. When I did my first big feed purge, I went from 1400+ feeds down to about 600 (only 600!). :-)

It’s time for another purge. I’m not over 1000 feeds, but I’m finding myself less and less interested in the some of my feed folders, and I ignore them for longer and longer periods of time. The purge is like a refining process – I keep the “good stuff”, and clear out the other stuff. Why? To make room for more good stuff, of course. :-) Scoble does a complete purge and start from scratch every once in a while, but I just can’t bring myself to do something so drastic. But I look forward to having a much shorter list of feeds – more concentrated, more focused. Kind of like I’m trying to be – focus on one (or a couple) of really important things, and try to eliminate the rest as distractions. Which is really hard for me. I guess it’s my personality type – I’m the type of person that can lose a whole afternoon or evening hopping from article to article in Wikipedia. It’s not uncommon for me to spend an hour or so reading up about things like U.S. military aircraft, or the history of various companies. Random stuff, but I’m easily fascinated., I guess. :-)

I’ve toyed with the idea of sharing/posting my OPML list of feeds, in case anyone else is interested in them. I used to be able to share a live snapshot of all of my feeds via Bloglines, but Google Reader doesn’t offer such a feature (one thing I really miss, and I hope they come up with something soon). If anyone’s interested, let me know, and I’ll see about cleaning up my OPML file and posting it.

Now, enough talking about the purge. I’m off to take the clippers to my tree of feeds. Wish me luck! :-)

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4 thoughts on “Feed Purge Time, and How I Organize my 780 Feed Subscriptions

  1. Something is up with your linkblog. I’m not sure whether it’s Feedburner or Google Reader. Here’s the output:

    XML Parsing Error: junk after document element
    Location: http://feeds.feedburner.com/JoshBancroftLinkblog
    Line Number 2, Column 1:

    Warning: mysqli::mysqli() [function.mysqli-mysqli]: (HY000/2003): Can’t connect to MySQL server on ‘mysql45.secureserver.net’ (111) in /home/content/j/u/n/jungie/html/feedshakev1/dblib/dblib.php on line 7

    Anyway, here are my trends: “From your 149 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 9,625 items, starred 93 items, and shared 40 items.”

    I noticed that I’m almost at half of your read items, even with 1/4 of the subscriptions. Do you have a ton of unread items or do I just subscribe to high-traffic blogs (I’m on like 4-5 Weblogs, Inc blogs)?

    And go ahead and release your OPML file, it’s a great way for the rest of us to find cool feeds without having to do the dirty work :)

  2. @Daniel – You probably have more of a life than I do. Heh. :-)

    @Martin – Hmm. That error seems to be with Feedshake, which I use to combine multiple feeds (Google shared, Flickr, del.icio.us, etc.) into my linkblog feed. I’m seeing the same problem, so yeah, it’s broken right now. I’ll see if I can get it working – thanks for the heads up!

    Yes, I have a ton of unread items. That’s one of the big reasons I decided it’s time for a purge! :-)

    I’m cleaning up my OPML file to share, since I’ve had several people request it. I’ll post it soon. Thanks! :-)

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