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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What Is an Aggregator?

There are probably some people who don't know what an aggregator is. It's a feed reader, or a program that reads the news feeds from your favorite web site. This is how you can keep up with the news on all the important blogs like Sandwalk!

I use the Goggle Reader that's featured in the following video by commoncraft. It will teach you all you need to know about Really Simple Syndication (RSS). There are other readers that are just as good but I like the web based readers 'cause I can access them from several different computers.

There are two types of Internet users, those that use RSS and those that don't. This video is for the people who could save time using RSS, but don't know where to start.

[Hat Tip: Shelley Batts who used to read blogs the old fashioned way.]


sylas said...

Hey Larry... I recently discovered feeds, and was instantly hooked.

Have a look at my blog, and you can see that I've put the little orange feed icon next to my feed links. It really helps draw the eye. I've put two feed links (for posts, and for comments) at the top of my sidebar, and I've added an icon to the feed link at the bottom of the post and blog pages, by modifying the template.

One good feature of blogger is that you can subscribe to a feed of all the comments for a particular blog article. I am currently subscribed to the feeds for three of the posts in your blog, just so I can keep track of the comments people are making.

This link is available at the bottom of a post page, but it's not clear what it is really for. I've added the icon to help make it stand out.

When I was first setting up my blog, "Sandwalk" was one of the blogs I looked at to help decide what features to use. It would be cool if I can return the favour. Use the icons! I did it by uploading the icons to imageshack and linking to that. I'm not sure if that is the best way, but it's working well for now. I can give you some template details if you like!

Unknown said...

I've never used icons. I've always just copied the URL of the site and used the subscribe to feed type of link in my reader.

I wonder, does a reader count on something like Stat Counter as a visit? I've noticed gator showing up in my links, but I've never seen google reader show up.

Thanks for the post. I'll look into adding icons on my page.

sylas said...

My understanding is that site counters do not count access through a feed.

Nevertheless, I think it is a good idea to provide the feeds, because they add value for the readers. People like them, and I encourage my readers to use them. If they are subscribed to my feeds, they'll see when I have material posted, even if it is not "counted" as a visit.

Sometimes they'll actually click on the links to shift from the feed readers to your blog directly; and trip the counter. I see this happening in my blog stats, with the referral of a visit being the google feed readers.

Without the subscription, my visitors might never even have seen it.

There's debate on whether or not feeds should be full feeds or partial feeds, and whether the feed should include adds. My aim is to give the best possible value to my readers, and get traffic because lots of people are aware of and subscribed to the blog. There are some indications that a partial feed will give increased visit counts; but it may be that long term you are still better to get a wider reader base simply by providing the most usable service possible.

See discussion of this and related points at The end of the RSS experiment (Cognitive Daily).