Blog reading tips

Someone I met today was talking to me about reading blogs and said “I wish bloggers made links pop up as new browser windows.” Or something like that. Hated using the back button.

I said “did you know you can shift-click on links to get them to open up as new Windows?”

Later I was talking to a guy who is working on a report on blog usability and I realized just how unusable my blog is for non-geek users. No “home” link. No “about me” page. Why not? Cause I figured most of my readers are Web-savvy and can figure these things out. But, I get a lot of accidental visitors due to search engines, so I shouldn’t make that assumption.

I was talking with Dave Winer this morning and I was complaining to him about how badly most weblogs behave on mobile phones. He said that he gets it now that he uses a Blackberry and wants to read more blogs on his mobile device. I think I’m gonna make good on my threat to out them on my video show.

But, I was wondering what tips do you have for reading blogs?

Yeah, my #1 tip is to learn to use an RSS News Aggregator. That makes reading blogs a lot more pleasant (and productive!)

But, are there other tips?

One thing I do is on Google I add the word “blog” when I’m searching for something just to see if there’s a blog. For instance, looking for a trucker who blogs? Just search for “trucker blog.” Here, I did it for you.

What other tips would you tell to people who are just starting to get into the blog world?

Published by

Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, Scoble travels the world looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology for Rackspace's startup program. He's interviewed thousands of executives and technology innovators and reports what he learns in books ("The Age of Context," a book coauthored with Forbes author Shel Israel, has been released at http://amzn.to/AgeOfContext ), YouTube, and many social media sites where he's followed by millions of people. Best place to watch me is on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RobertScoble

Comments

  1. I find that the banner image on a website should always link to the home page, no need for a “Home” button – a banner is as identifiable as it gets.

    On the techcrunch blog, there is a form to subscribe via email, more than once I’ve used it for search, so putting search on your site and having it easily available and accessible is really going to be helpful.

    RSS feed. Sometimes I have to right click and view source, then do a ctrl + f to find a feed on a site. Make your RSS feeds easy to find, please.

    A car is made up of various parts, but throwing everything in under the hood isn’t going to help, even if you have everything, using it properly is important.

    A good font size is a plus, too, the most important thing is that I want to read the blog, after all. Sure, I can get it via an aggregator, but there is always someone behind the times so to speak, so in addition to a good font size, support older standards where applicable.

  2. I find that the banner image on a website should always link to the home page, no need for a “Home” button – a banner is as identifiable as it gets.

    On the techcrunch blog, there is a form to subscribe via email, more than once I’ve used it for search, so putting search on your site and having it easily available and accessible is really going to be helpful.

    RSS feed. Sometimes I have to right click and view source, then do a ctrl + f to find a feed on a site. Make your RSS feeds easy to find, please.

    A car is made up of various parts, but throwing everything in under the hood isn’t going to help, even if you have everything, using it properly is important.

    A good font size is a plus, too, the most important thing is that I want to read the blog, after all. Sure, I can get it via an aggregator, but there is always someone behind the times so to speak, so in addition to a good font size, support older standards where applicable.

  3. One tip, on many blogs, hitting alt+1 will take you to the title link at the very top of the blog. This isn’t true of mine (sadly). Not using a mouse, I can’t say if that’s helpful, but it can be a nice tool. It’s a quicker way to find the home page link at least.

  4. One tip, on many blogs, hitting alt+1 will take you to the title link at the very top of the blog. This isn’t true of mine (sadly). Not using a mouse, I can’t say if that’s helpful, but it can be a nice tool. It’s a quicker way to find the home page link at least.

  5. What other tips would you tell to people who are just starting to get into the blog world?

    Quit cold turkey. Of course, you know what they say…best way to stop, is never to start.

  6. What other tips would you tell to people who are just starting to get into the blog world?

    Quit cold turkey. Of course, you know what they say…best way to stop, is never to start.

  7. Put the time AND date above each entry not at the bottom – it’s easy to get confused about which entry is from which day.

    I’m not entirely convinced that ‘most recent first’ is the best way to go either – a little against the establishment I know…

  8. Put the time AND date above each entry not at the bottom – it’s easy to get confused about which entry is from which day.

    I’m not entirely convinced that ‘most recent first’ is the best way to go either – a little against the establishment I know…

  9. Hi,

    “Someone I met today was talking to me about reading blogs and said “I wish bloggers made links pop up as new browser windows.” Or something like that. Hated using the back button.”

    I just discovered ony a few minutes ago that in using Firefox with the scrolling mouse button click on the link and you will open the link in a new tab.

    Cheers Plu

  10. Hi,

    “Someone I met today was talking to me about reading blogs and said “I wish bloggers made links pop up as new browser windows.” Or something like that. Hated using the back button.”

    I just discovered ony a few minutes ago that in using Firefox with the scrolling mouse button click on the link and you will open the link in a new tab.

    Cheers Plu

  11. I actually find myself using Technorati more and more and spending time reading “the long tail” of blogs; I just search for the story-of-the-day and see what people have to say about it. There’s a lot of junk but there’s a surprising number of gems you’ll miss if you’re only reading the “A List”. Their blog finder isn’t too bad either, if you’re looking for good blogs on a particular niche hobby.

    Actually, I find myself subscribing more and more to the long tail blogs and just getting my fix of A list blogs through Memeorandum/Techmeme. I don’t think I’m missing much.

    On the usability issue, I think the following things are critical (all IMHO, of course)

    1. An about me/about this blog link or blurb; someone landing via a search engine should instantly know what the blog is about.
    2. A standard RSS icon (or minimally, an orange RSS icon) and a word that says “subscribe” – people get subscriptions, many are clueless about what RSS is. Personally I link it to my feedburner page; a raw XML page wouldn’t make much sense to a noob.
    3. A search box.
    4. Post permalinks should also be pretty prominent, as well as where to leave a comment (if you want them to leave comments, anyway).

  12. I actually find myself using Technorati more and more and spending time reading “the long tail” of blogs; I just search for the story-of-the-day and see what people have to say about it. There’s a lot of junk but there’s a surprising number of gems you’ll miss if you’re only reading the “A List”. Their blog finder isn’t too bad either, if you’re looking for good blogs on a particular niche hobby.

    Actually, I find myself subscribing more and more to the long tail blogs and just getting my fix of A list blogs through Memeorandum/Techmeme. I don’t think I’m missing much.

    On the usability issue, I think the following things are critical (all IMHO, of course)

    1. An about me/about this blog link or blurb; someone landing via a search engine should instantly know what the blog is about.
    2. A standard RSS icon (or minimally, an orange RSS icon) and a word that says “subscribe” – people get subscriptions, many are clueless about what RSS is. Personally I link it to my feedburner page; a raw XML page wouldn’t make much sense to a noob.
    3. A search box.
    4. Post permalinks should also be pretty prominent, as well as where to leave a comment (if you want them to leave comments, anyway).

  13. Of course I’d never take advice from someone who doesn’t practice what he preaches! :-)

    Not every social drinker becomes a raging alcoholic.

    And true, I am no Saint, more strategically pragmatically hypocritical. And it’s not a perfect world, and heck, I might even start up a real blog. But I am still theoretically against such…but same advice I’d give to World of Warcrafters and others, quit before it ruins your life.

  14. Of course I’d never take advice from someone who doesn’t practice what he preaches! :-)

    Not every social drinker becomes a raging alcoholic.

    And true, I am no Saint, more strategically pragmatically hypocritical. And it’s not a perfect world, and heck, I might even start up a real blog. But I am still theoretically against such…but same advice I’d give to World of Warcrafters and others, quit before it ruins your life.

  15. I would suggest going for the feed if you are on a mobile phone – should be much easier.

    As for reading – yes, the open in new tab is a concept which is the most helpful in reading but hard to explain to most people. “What do you mean you can have more than one window open?”

    I am curious how IE 7 will change that. :)

  16. I would suggest going for the feed if you are on a mobile phone – should be much easier.

    As for reading – yes, the open in new tab is a concept which is the most helpful in reading but hard to explain to most people. “What do you mean you can have more than one window open?”

    I am curious how IE 7 will change that. :)

  17. Just wanted to add that one of the things I love about the new blog template in Sharepoint is how easy it is too add additional pages and content. Plus on the mobility front it is totally mobile friendly out of the box. You simply add a /m to the base URL (for example my site is http://www.mikeysgblog.com but to see the mobile friendly version it’s http://www.mikeysgblog.com/m ) I admit that it would be nicer to have it automatically detect rather than add an M but I still think its a big step up. The mobile interface even extends to editing and if you check on my site you will see my vacation entries this week were all done via my Mototrola Q phone via the mobile interface.

  18. Just wanted to add that one of the things I love about the new blog template in Sharepoint is how easy it is too add additional pages and content. Plus on the mobility front it is totally mobile friendly out of the box. You simply add a /m to the base URL (for example my site is http://www.mikeysgblog.com but to see the mobile friendly version it’s http://www.mikeysgblog.com/m ) I admit that it would be nicer to have it automatically detect rather than add an M but I still think its a big step up. The mobile interface even extends to editing and if you check on my site you will see my vacation entries this week were all done via my Mototrola Q phone via the mobile interface.

  19. tip for new reader: use a browser that supports tabs. (oh, say, FireFox)

    Practice clicking links with the right mouse button or the scroll wheel. I say practice, because if you’re really new, you may not be used to it. (If you’re using a Mac, get a Microsoft Mouse–which I use and can recommend–or maybe a Mighty Mouse, which I have never used, so I’m not sure. If you’re using a MacBook, set your preferences so that tapping two fingers on the trackpad gives you a right-click).

    I love Dave Watanabe’s NewsFire reader on Mac.
    http://www.newsfirerss.com
    It works well for newbies, but also has a ton of powerful features that let you switch easily between folder views and river of news, and also let you set special smart feeds that use any of the main blog and web search engines to pull in posts that match your search criteria. (warning; it’s relentless nagware during the free trial, but it’s worth paying for.)

  20. tip for new reader: use a browser that supports tabs. (oh, say, FireFox)

    Practice clicking links with the right mouse button or the scroll wheel. I say practice, because if you’re really new, you may not be used to it. (If you’re using a Mac, get a Microsoft Mouse–which I use and can recommend–or maybe a Mighty Mouse, which I have never used, so I’m not sure. If you’re using a MacBook, set your preferences so that tapping two fingers on the trackpad gives you a right-click).

    I love Dave Watanabe’s NewsFire reader on Mac.
    http://www.newsfirerss.com
    It works well for newbies, but also has a ton of powerful features that let you switch easily between folder views and river of news, and also let you set special smart feeds that use any of the main blog and web search engines to pull in posts that match your search criteria. (warning; it’s relentless nagware during the free trial, but it’s worth paying for.)

  21. For my blackberry blog reading I try to bookmark the print version, as those are typically a lots cleaner and less navigation-heavy…

  22. For my blackberry blog reading I try to bookmark the print version, as those are typically a lots cleaner and less navigation-heavy…

  23. I always assumed the well read bloggers considerred this in their blogs. It should certainly be a consideration for mobile readers, mom and pop readers, as well as tech readers who just don’t care to invest the time in thinking too hard.

    For mobile devices email and SMS is still king….. I hope Dave comes up with something good for blackberries but in the meantime there is ZapTXT

  24. I always assumed the well read bloggers considerred this in their blogs. It should certainly be a consideration for mobile readers, mom and pop readers, as well as tech readers who just don’t care to invest the time in thinking too hard.

    For mobile devices email and SMS is still king….. I hope Dave comes up with something good for blackberries but in the meantime there is ZapTXT

  25. ..I use NewsGator that comes into Outlook. But, I’m also playing with Attensa, which has some advantages, as well as FeedDemon..

    Scoble, how do you manage synchronizing three readers ? I know Feeddemon and NG can connect but how about Attensa ?

  26. ..I use NewsGator that comes into Outlook. But, I’m also playing with Attensa, which has some advantages, as well as FeedDemon..

    Scoble, how do you manage synchronizing three readers ? I know Feeddemon and NG can connect but how about Attensa ?

  27. When I started reading Blogs last year I started using and RSS reader, Feed Demon. I am not sure if I would have continued had it not been so easy to surf around and have the reader identify RSS code on a page, ask me if I want to subscribe and then go out and check to see whats new on the subscriptions I follow.

    I came late to following blogs because I didn’t think I had the time to search through web sites. I had no idea that something like RSS was available. Lastly, I can’t remember the last time I was told something was Really Simple and it was. Usually it was simple if you were a systems programmer with 15 years experience. But this time, it couldn’t be easier.

  28. When I started reading Blogs last year I started using and RSS reader, Feed Demon. I am not sure if I would have continued had it not been so easy to surf around and have the reader identify RSS code on a page, ask me if I want to subscribe and then go out and check to see whats new on the subscriptions I follow.

    I came late to following blogs because I didn’t think I had the time to search through web sites. I had no idea that something like RSS was available. Lastly, I can’t remember the last time I was told something was Really Simple and it was. Usually it was simple if you were a systems programmer with 15 years experience. But this time, it couldn’t be easier.

  29. An About page is crucial. I got to far too many blogs where the author assumes I’ll know who they are. Then if you want to cite them, who are they? Even a little background is helpful. Here’s an example. Since you keep going on and on about Zefrank, I’m like, hmm. Maybe I should check this out. So I go over to figure out what the hell it is. I looked and looked, but there’s like no background at all.

  30. An About page is crucial. I got to far too many blogs where the author assumes I’ll know who they are. Then if you want to cite them, who are they? Even a little background is helpful. Here’s an example. Since you keep going on and on about Zefrank, I’m like, hmm. Maybe I should check this out. So I go over to figure out what the hell it is. I looked and looked, but there’s like no background at all.

  31. I use NewsFire on the Mac and a multi-tiered approach: I have several categories (Tier One Blogs, Tier Two Blogs, Tier Three Blogs, Podcasts, News, Social Bookmarks, Social Photos, My Content) and I sometimes cherry-pick on categories I read depending on time. News is usually the most noisy and least relevant as it is various sources from NYT and other high-volume professional publications.

    I have NewsFire set up so that when I click on links it magically opens up new tabs in Firefox. I then cmd+tab over to delve deeper when I want to.

    I think it sucks that after several years of doing this stuff we’re still stuck with the same damn problem of having to constantly context switch from one application to another to consume a large inter-related set of data. Feed consumption needs a new usability/UI paradigm, badly, and it needs it right now. Unfortunately, much easier said than done.

  32. I use NewsFire on the Mac and a multi-tiered approach: I have several categories (Tier One Blogs, Tier Two Blogs, Tier Three Blogs, Podcasts, News, Social Bookmarks, Social Photos, My Content) and I sometimes cherry-pick on categories I read depending on time. News is usually the most noisy and least relevant as it is various sources from NYT and other high-volume professional publications.

    I have NewsFire set up so that when I click on links it magically opens up new tabs in Firefox. I then cmd+tab over to delve deeper when I want to.

    I think it sucks that after several years of doing this stuff we’re still stuck with the same damn problem of having to constantly context switch from one application to another to consume a large inter-related set of data. Feed consumption needs a new usability/UI paradigm, badly, and it needs it right now. Unfortunately, much easier said than done.

  33. I’ve been using the RSS ticker ( https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/2325/ ) for the past couple of months and really love it. No need to have a seperate aggregator, just leave Firefox up (as it is most of the workday anyway), and it checks all my feeds on a regular interval and then scrolls the blog’s icon and the title of the post across the bottom of the window if there is a new post. You can then hover at your convenience, and it brings up the first couple of lines of the post. One click and it’s opened in a new tab. Lots of options as to frequency of checking, scrolling, etc. too. Nice.

  34. I’ve been using the RSS ticker ( https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/2325/ ) for the past couple of months and really love it. No need to have a seperate aggregator, just leave Firefox up (as it is most of the workday anyway), and it checks all my feeds on a regular interval and then scrolls the blog’s icon and the title of the post across the bottom of the window if there is a new post. You can then hover at your convenience, and it brings up the first couple of lines of the post. One click and it’s opened in a new tab. Lots of options as to frequency of checking, scrolling, etc. too. Nice.

  35. I use my Blackberry to keep up on RSS feeds. I use the Berry Bloglines tool, which is perfect. If I read a post on my Blackberry it gets marked as read when I view my feeds through Bloglines on my computer. Who could ask for anything more? Highly recommended, and it lets me keep up while I’m standing in line, sitting in a boring meeting, etc.

  36. I use my Blackberry to keep up on RSS feeds. I use the Berry Bloglines tool, which is perfect. If I read a post on my Blackberry it gets marked as read when I view my feeds through Bloglines on my computer. Who could ask for anything more? Highly recommended, and it lets me keep up while I’m standing in line, sitting in a boring meeting, etc.

  37. I would try to read/track no more than ten blogs on a daily basis and supplement that with Techmeme/ Memeorandum/Digg and keyword feeds. Be selective. I know too many people who try to follow hundreds of blogs and let it take over their life.

  38. I would try to read/track no more than ten blogs on a daily basis and supplement that with Techmeme/ Memeorandum/Digg and keyword feeds. Be selective. I know too many people who try to follow hundreds of blogs and let it take over their life.

  39. May I say that I am most certainly NOT a “tech geek,” yet I read your blog almost every day. And while I did find it frustrating at first that your links did not open up to a new page, a simple right click will open it up in a new window. I have no idea what an RSS News Aggregator is, and I don’t open blogs on my non-existent Blackberry. Your blog seems just fine the way it is. No “about” page. No “bio” page. Just your thoughts about the tech world. Which is the best way for a non-tech geek like me to learn. And it works, very well for the tech geeks, too. Obviously.

  40. May I say that I am most certainly NOT a “tech geek,” yet I read your blog almost every day. And while I did find it frustrating at first that your links did not open up to a new page, a simple right click will open it up in a new window. I have no idea what an RSS News Aggregator is, and I don’t open blogs on my non-existent Blackberry. Your blog seems just fine the way it is. No “about” page. No “bio” page. Just your thoughts about the tech world. Which is the best way for a non-tech geek like me to learn. And it works, very well for the tech geeks, too. Obviously.

  41. My suggestions (for what they’re worth) are these. 1) Don’t try to read everything. When I’m going down my list of RSS items I don’t read all the posts that come in. Especally when it comes to my digg feeds. 2) Don’t just go subscribe happy. 3) Comment! I’ve come to think of the blogosphere as one large forum… which is really what it is.

  42. My suggestions (for what they’re worth) are these. 1) Don’t try to read everything. When I’m going down my list of RSS items I don’t read all the posts that come in. Especally when it comes to my digg feeds. 2) Don’t just go subscribe happy. 3) Comment! I’ve come to think of the blogosphere as one large forum… which is really what it is.

  43. Download FeedReader for Windows http://www.feedreader.com/ hack the hell out of the atom.xsl file and there you go.

    Right click to get options to open in a new browser window or click the “Open in Browser” button on the top right of the preview pane.

    I will never use online aggregators and I will never go back to using combo apps like Thunderbird or Opera.

    All the best,
    Jay

  44. Download FeedReader for Windows http://www.feedreader.com/ hack the hell out of the atom.xsl file and there you go.

    Right click to get options to open in a new browser window or click the “Open in Browser” button on the top right of the preview pane.

    I will never use online aggregators and I will never go back to using combo apps like Thunderbird or Opera.

    All the best,
    Jay

  45. Use online readers if you use multiple computers. Use a small device to read in bus, bed or bathroom. Bloglines also works great on PocketPC, except for Scoble’s feed; although I got pretty good at guessing what the missing 10% of words say. I hate horizontal scrolling

  46. Use online readers if you use multiple computers. Use a small device to read in bus, bed or bathroom. Bloglines also works great on PocketPC, except for Scoble’s feed; although I got pretty good at guessing what the missing 10% of words say. I hate horizontal scrolling