Thursday, April 26, 2007

What makes me read your blog

I've just transferred all my RSS feeds to Google Reader instead of Bloglines. Not because I'm unhappy with Bloglines, but just to try out Google Reader for a bit instead. While I was at it, I decided to tidy my feeds up into better organised folders, and minimise the number in my "check these every five minutes because I can't live without knowing what these people are up to" collection.

Anyway, while agonising over who to keep in there and who to demote to the "check these regularly but only after doing some work" folder, I couldn't help but notice the weird factors that influenced my decisions. Just in case you care about increasing and keeping your subscriber numbers, I thought you might like to know that:

I am almost incapable of demoting or (god forbid!) deleting your feed if:

  • We have ever corresponded by email, even once or twice.
  • I know your true identity (via google-stalking) or know you in real life.
  • You write short posts.
  • You write hilarious posts.

I will almost definitely NOT keep your feed if:
  • It has stopped working and I can't find an alternative easily.
  • You haven't updated in a month or so.
  • Your whole blog or many individual posts are password protected, even if I know the password.
  • You write extremely long posts and/or update more than three times a day.

(These factors don't mean I won't continue to stop by your blog now and then, but they do mean that an RSS aggregator is not the most appropriate way to keep up with your posting.)

On a similar note, here are some factors that influence whether I comment on your blog and/or continue to visit, whether or not I subscribe via RSS:

I won't be likely to comment if:
  • You never ever reply to comments I leave. (It makes me feel like I'm talking to a brick wall).
  • You make it hard to comment (e.g. I have to subscribe to some other service in order to do so).
  • You have a lot of trolls or scary people commenting and make no attempt to moderate the discussion.

Obviously I don't expect people to care whether I personally continue to visit, subscribe to or comment on their blogs. I'm not saying you should necessarily take notice of any of these things. But I thought it might be interesting to see if other people feel similarly about these factors, and if they have other likes and dislikes that influence whether they subscribe to and comment on blogs or not. Presumably anyone out there who is trying to maximise their readership for whatever reason might be interested if it turns out that the above factors do influence many readers' choices.


susan said...

Do you organise your feed folders by how frequently you read them? I have some folders called things like "faves" and "sometimes" and then other folders called things like "parents" or "academics" and I'm not entirely happy with how that works (although if I were more disciplined and only read the sometimes folder sometimes, it'd probably work better). This post has me curious about how other people manage their reading.

liina said...

I don't have any folders as I don't have a life and just keep checking my entire list every 10 minutes or so.

On commenting - I always feel funny replying to comments on my blog - thinking whether I should or shouldn't... I'm just not sure how many people would come back just to read the comments... Sounds like I should though. And to think of it, I sometimes do go back to some of the blogs I've commented on to see the replies or other comments...

Anyway, rambling now. Time to hit refresh on my Bloglines.

wolfa said...

Wow, that does make me neurotic. Do I update too frequently? Too infrequently? Am I too boring? Do I comment appropriately? And so on.

I almost never remove stuff from my rss aggregator, but that doesn't mean I read all of it. I do read the titles and the first sentences almost all the time; if that doesn't interest me, next blog. (Unless I'm trying to procrastinate and everything else is gone.)

But for commenting: I don't much comment in blogs where my comments never get replies. (Most of those I no longer read.) I often don't comment in political blogs, because I don't care quite enough about the America-centricness of them. I generally don't keep commenting on a blog if the owner never comes and comments on mine. I don't comment on ones the owner ignores the comment section of, though obviously you don't have to be there in every post.

I do not comment on blogger blogs that don't allow anon posting. (I use my name and my blog, but not via my blogger acct -- though it's really annoying, because it makes me go through 2 word verification steps every single time.) Generally I stop reading those, because it's too annoying if I do want to comment.

My bloglines account is very poorly tended, and I have a dozen or so blogs I haven't quite put in bloglines.

StyleyGeek said...

Susan: yes, that's how I organise my folders. I don't have them grouped by theme (except for a special folder called "grad students" which I use when I'm compiling the carnival). I have one folder for really frequent checking, i.e. my top most favourite blogs, and another for ones I read regularly, and another for blogs that occasionally interest me for when I run out of other stuff.

Liina: I don't always come back to read the comments, but if I leave a long comment, or ask a question, or say something that I would expect to provoke discussion, I will come back to see if anyone responded. Obviously I don't mind if people choose not to, but if I do this repeatedly on the one blog and it NEVER gets a response, I start to wonder if anyone is even reading the comments, and that makes me less likely to commment.

Wolfa: your blog is in my top folder of blogs I can't live without, if that makes you less neurotic :) (Actually, maybe that will make you paranoid that I am a freaky stalker-type person. Sorry.)

I'm also with you in that I don't really comment much on blogs with a lot of political discussion, because I feel I don't know enough about American politics to be able to contribute much to the discussion.

Jennifer said...

I tend not to comment on blogs which already have lots of comments, since I'm too lazy to invest the time in reading the discussion, and it seems rude not to.

But I often read the posts, anyway.

And I agree with you, if someone posts too often, then I'll take them off my list.

Propter Doc said...

I use bloglines but it is a mess. I tried to sort things according to interest but it didn't work out, partly because bloglines is very difficult to workwith. I don't like google reader.

I scan through blog entries for lots of blogs and usually tune in when things catch my eye, or for specific bloggers that I like.

My main issue is who I link to from my blog because I think that links are endorsements and I'm not really willing to link to morons, creeps or idiots, although I will read them. Sometimes.

~profgrrrrl~ said...

It's interesting to read someone's "rules" of blog reading and commenting. :)

I know I'm guilty of posting too much ... it's an addiction.

Kelly said...

I agree with your guidelines - it's interesting to me to see you spelling them out so clearly. Is this because you are a student of the linguistic arts and I am a mere scientist? What does Geekman do with his feeds?

I, too, used to use Bloglines and I pruned my subscriptions down significantly when I moved to Google Reader a few months back. I predict you will soon love Google Reader for the yummy Googleness it is - once you go Google, it's hard to go back to drab Bloglines.

I did miss the Bloglines "blogroll" type system for displaying my subscribed feeds on my website, but I've codged up a sort-of replacement using the "Share" function in Google Reader. Check out my blog for an example (just don't pay too much attention to my sparse postings; I'm writing my thesis while holding down a full-time "postdoc" job!).

Anonymous said...

i agree about the password and other thingies. and though i do read political blogs, i usually don't comment...

Bardiac said...

I always feel a little awkward commenting on comments. But I realize that I like it when people do that, so I try...

I'm such a luddite, I don't even do feeds! I just have a LONG favorites list thing.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Wolfa's comments made me laugh, because I was exactly that same kind of neurotic. My response was more like "Note to self: Don't update three times a day. Oh, and don't write long posts. And try to learn how to be funny. And reply to Styley's comments." Because I'm an obsessive rules-follower. (Oh, and an obsessive people-pleaser. Okay, I'm obsessive in general.)

StyleyGeek said...

Q of WP, you are safe from my demotion list anyway, since we interact often enough outside of our blogs that I will keep reading you no matter what!

I think it is really about who I feel is a real person and who I don't really get that sense for. I see people as real people if I interact with them at all, either in the comments, or off blog, and also if they comment a lot here.

Profgrrrl, you do post a lot, but your posts are usually short enough that I can read them quickly, so you haven't been demoted :) Although I have to say if I ever miss a few days of your blog for some reason, I find it hard to catch up again!

Kelly, Geekman doesn't really read blogs, so he doesn't use an RSS reader at all. But I too am curious about what other people do...

RageyOne said...

Wow. I don't think I've really thought through this like you have Styley.

I do like Google Reader and I don't have them orgainized in any way whatsoever. They are just in there alphabetically. Also, I only have blogs in there that I read regularly. I don't often comment on them, but I do read them.

ADHD Librarian said...

mmm, but why do I read your blog?

Anonymous said...

What makes me read your blog:

You've mentioned before what an incredibly upbeat person you are, and although that level of cheerfulness usually gives me a headache, you are blessed with an intriguing quirky perspective (which, personally, I believe is due to all the time you spend with the freakin' parrots but, hey, I got no problem with that...and, actually, now that I think about it, it may be Geekman rather than the parrots) that makes your posts a pleasure to read.

Because, you know, there is a lot of darkness in the blogosphere. I noticed myself, when I was blogging, that it makes a great place for letting off steam. Also, as people sometimes mention, happy posts are not always quite as interesting.

Still, it seemed that at least 95% of the bloggers I was reading were in a very not happy place. It sometimes seemed everyone's mental health was suffering due to problems with careers, relationships or sometimes both. Most of the time, you were one of a very, very few who didn't seem to be in danger of being overwhelmed by whatever was going on in your life. And it’s not like, between leaky roof, immigration, dissertation chapters and whatnot, you didn’t have your share of problems. But you blog them with a wryness that is mostly amusing, sometimes thought-provoking and always interesting. I can empathize with you without having to worry for you.

Of course, that’s my problem, I worry for others when there is nothing I can do for them. Since I am blessed with family members who give me more than enough to worry about, the blogosphere was bringing more stress into my life than I actually had room for. All of this is by way of saying that, while I will now and then visit some of my old haunts to see how people are faring, yours is one of the few blogs I keep up with on a fairly regular basis.

Sorry for going on and on but, since I don’t have a blog of my own anymore, you get a post-length comment here. I was always one of the long-winded ones, heh heh.


StyleyGeek said...

Hey Rebecca, thanks for that. I like compliments :) And I blame Geekman and the parrots in equal part.

Adhd librarian: I don't know. It continually astonishes me that anyone does!

liina said...

See, I came back :)

StyleyGeek said...

And was it worth it?

susan said...

Hmmm...I think I will need to check out google reader now, although first I will pop to the next post to put my birthday wishes in the proper spot!

wwwmama said...

i am learning a lot from this discussion! i just work from a list of favorites too. i still feel like i live on that line of being a committed (know what i'm doing) blogger and being a complete newbie idiot. i kinda like living on that line, truth be told. it means i can be blissfully ignorant of all the rules i'm breaking, because i too am an obsessive rule-follower!

Badaunt said...

You don't like long posts? Uh... perhaps I should send you a private email.

StyleyGeek said...

I don't count your posts as "extremely long", BadAunt. By that I mean the sort of post that takes up the entire front page of a blog (screens and screens full) and bloggers who do this consistently. Plus, even your longish posts are easy to read because you appear to be in control of paragraph breaks and sentence transitions and other writing devices that the long post offenders I was thinking of don't seem to understand.