This post is mostly for those just getting into the blogging arena, both reading and posting. Though, if this post helped you out, leave me a comment. Even if just a simple, “Thanks”, please leave one.
Many bloggers out there have a “Blogroll”. This is a list of blogs the owner of the blog visits regularly. They list it for a few reasons.
- As a list of common interests. It tells you, the reader, the people, writings, and topics that the blog owner is interested in.
- As a recommended list of readings. It’s almost as if you tell your readers, “If you like my blog… you may like these as well”.
- As a sign of respect. You are telling the blog owner, of whom you are listing, that you like their blog enough to tell your readers about it. Hopefully, the blog owner you’ve linked to, will return the gesture, and add you to their list for others to see.
For number 3, just because you list them, do not expect to be listed on their blog. And do not remove their link, if they do not add you. You shouldn’t add their blog, just to be listed on theirs. Doing so eliminates reason number 3… respect.
Now that you have a blogroll, how on earth can you keep up with all of them? Visiting each one can be quite cumbersome, and you may forget who you’ve visited. Enter RSS ( Really Simple Syndication ) or Atom ( Atom Syndication )
Using software called Feed Readers, you can use the RSS or Atom addresses to constantly check for new posts, and alert you. Think of it as email for your favorite blogs. When you open it up, it will tell you which blogs have new posts, and download those posts. Most of them will allow you to “Group” blogs together, and aggregate their posts, so you can see all the posts together, based on categories that you set.
Most Blogs will have a link that says, RSS, Atom, or Subscribe. Many of those links will be the address you subscribe to. For example, on this blog, my RSS feed is below my banner at the top, on the left. It’s called “Entries RSS”. If you click on the link, you just need to copy the address. That is the address you use, when you go to your News Reader (discussed below) to add a subscription. You can also right-click on the link and say (copy link location)… depending on your browser.
Pretty easy way to keep up-to-date, eh? So, let’s give a list of the more common Feed Readers. Since I’m a cheap-skate, I’ll only list the freebies.
- Feed Reader 3 (Windows)
- Sharp Reader (Windows)
- NetNewsWire (Macintosh) — My choice and fave
- NewsGator (Windows – Office) – Installs a news Reader inside Outlook. If you use Office 2007, Outlook comes with a news reader built in (I believe). If I’m wrong, tell me.
- Thunderbird (Windows, Macintosh, Linux) – Email and RSS
You also have many web-based readers out there, but I didn’t include those. I’ve also not included ALL of the programs. These are just ones that I’ve either tried, or heard about. Just Google “RSS Reader” to get them all.