Home / Random Thoughts / RSS and Newsfeed Readers – Why NOT to Use Feedly

RSS and Newsfeed Readers – Why NOT to Use Feedly

I haven’t really integrated feed readers into my daily routine for several reasons.

I like going to my favorite sites and blogs and not only reading the content, but also reading the comments to the content.

In the online world, there is a saying that “content is king.” Content is king for several reasons.
1. Content draws readers. When readers like content and forward the content to their friends, good content draws even more readers.
2. With more readers, content brings more advertising dollars. Advertisers like eyeballs. Advertisers are more interested in sites that have larger readership simply because the higher traffic allows the advertisers to introduce their product to more people.
3. Probably most important to bloggers is that content brings together a community of people with similar interests to engage in discussions. Bloggers create content to engage their readers and the engagement is reflected not only in site visits, but also in the comments to posts. Good or bad, we like reading what you think about what we say.

RSS and newsfeed readers are therefore good and bad.

RSS and newsfeed readers are helpful to the people reading the content because they organize all of the content in one central location. When time is at a premium, it is a lot easier to skim a feed in the morning than it is to read through a couple of dozen web sites. On the other hand, feed readers can be harmful to a blogger’s morale. If everyone reads posts through feeds, then traffic to web sites drops off. When traffic suffers, there’s less feedback to the bloggers, and when there’s less feedback, there is less motivation to sit down and try to create content during your free time.

I get the whole feedback/convenience concept which is why I throw affiliate links into my posts. If people want to support the blog and don’t want to visit, the opportunity is there. If not, I can just imagine the tens or hundreds of thousands of anonymous readers subscribed to my posts and how much I am changing the opinions of medical professionals all over the world. Hey – a guy can dream, right?

Feedly Your Content Belongs To UsWhen Google closed down its reader, there were a lot of questions about which feed reader to use as a replacement. Feedly.com kind of surfaced as the leader. As Feedly became more popular, it began to implement changes that were not so user friendly.

Last month, Feedly tried to require all of its users to have Google+ accounts. An expression of outrage by its current users got Feedly to remove the requirement.

Now Feedly has apparently attempted to lay claim to the content created by independent bloggers.

I read a story on a site called the Digital Reader about how Feedly had secretly changed the way in which it links to content in its reader. Usually, if a reader sees something he or she likes in a post on an RSS reader or a newsfeed, the reader can click on a link to the post within the newsfeed which takes the reader to the publisher’s website.
Feedly apparently began hijacking all of the links to the blogger’s content. When readers clicked on the links to articles within their Feedly feeds, they were directed to other links on the Feedly site instead of the links to the site of the publisher who actually created the content. If Feedly readers wanted to e-mail their friends a link to the content, again, the links would direct those friends to Feedly, not to the original publisher’s site.
In the comments section to the Digital Reader article, Feedly defended its actions, stating that its link theft “helps content creators increase their readership in feedly” and by stating that publishers could simply ask Feedly not to hijack links to the publisher’s material. That’s great, assuming that bloggers even know that Feedly has hijacked the blogger’s links.

What Feedly did was similar to me taking a John Gresham novel, putting a book cover over it with my name and some ads that I get paid for, and offering it to others for free. Great business model for Feedly, not so great for the bloggers.

Feedly apparently changed its tune and stopped redirecting links to its site last night … for now. But Feedly’s actions are a wake up call for bloggers and for those who read blog content. You don’t want to support good content, there will be fewer and fewer people willing to create it. I can only watch so many links to videos of stupid cats and skaterboi handrail crotch shots.

The fact that Feedly changed its tune and reversed course after it got called out for doing so means about as much as a bank robber going back to the bank and giving back the money after learning that he’s been identified by a couple of witnesses. Everyone is a saint when they know others are watching them.

Some dumbass to the Digital Reader post commented that “Content is the commodity, and it. is. cheap.” If publishers didn’t want to abide by Feedly’s theft of content, the dumbass said that he would just “take my attention elsewhere.”
I’m sure that if “Brandon” spent a couple of days on a project at work and then someone else gave it to the boss and took credit for it (assuming he’s not just living in his mommy’s basement and playing XBox all day), he’d have no problems with it because if he complained about others taking credit for his work, the end users of his labors would just “take their attention elsewhere.” My seven year old daughter has better logic than Brandon.

I pulled together a few other options for feed readers besides Feedly. As I said, I’m not a feed reader aficionado, but these were repeatedly mentioned in comments sections on other sites. I’ve used Netvibes in the past and liked it as a home page.

Let me know in the comments section if there are other worthy newsfeed readers out there that you are using.

Best RSS Newsfeed Readers

Netvibes.com (free)
Newsblur.com (free, $24/year for premium account)
Feedbin.me ($3/month or $30/year)
Kouio.com ($5/month – now free in beta)
Silverreader.com (free)
Inoreader.com (free)
Bloglines.com (free)
FeedsAnywhere.com (free)
Rolio.com (free)
Also, the SeaMonkey Project is a complete web browser, e-mail program, and newsfeed. Great for the desktop.
Newzie.com (desktop app – free)
Greatnews (desktop app)

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14 comments

  1. I use a feed reader for almost all my blog reading. I follow 60+ blogs, and the reader lets me quickly check to see who has updated and read new posts. Trying to manage all those sites through bookmarks would drive me crazy. Just opening all the pages and scanning the top post on each one to see if it’s an update would take 10 minutes.

    For posts that I find particularly interesting, I’ll click through and read comments, save the post to review later, or even subscribe to email comments.

    I will look at your feedly alternatives; I ended up with it since it was the best option for a quick migration from Google Reader, but I’m not happy to hear that they’re rewriting links.

  2. “That’s great, assuming that bloggers even know that Feedly has hijacked the blogger’s links.”

    That right there shows why the opt-out assumption was wrong, and why Feedly is never going to be able to put a positive spin on it.

  3. I use Flipboard on my iPad: https://flipboard.com/support/
    I’ve got a magazine set up with just med blogs.

    • Be careful with third party RSS readers that don’t have their own front-end. I have no idea about Flipboard, but a lot of RSS Reader / Magazine-format apps have opted to use Feedly’s API for their programs and as a result, they will be vulnerable to any changes that Feedly decides to make (like hijacking links).

  4. If you want to export your feeds from Feedly to use in another RSS reader, go to feedly.com#opml and download your feed list to an OPML file.

    That OPML file can then usually be very easily uploaded to the reader of your choice.

  5. I guess I’m a blogging purist in that while I do appreciate the need for a more timely access to favorite blogs …I LOVED the basic blogging when I started in 06. I just loved that people wrote posts and we all commented and linked to each other and it felt like more of a community. I’m not a fan of all the adds either. I just like writing and reading and also for those of us inclined to do so ..the personalizing the blog. Maybe blogger is the only one that allows that – not sure.

    I hated going to comment moderation, but it does help with spam. And I love when blog authors interact with their commenters – the most fun. I realize if busy blog then that is a lot to expect.

    It also seems that twitter, podcasts, fb, etc., have stolen some of the blogging thunder and I couldn’t keep up. So …blogging is always my first choice. I finally gave in and joined fb and it has been great for rekindling relationships, staying current etc. …but blogging will always be my first love. Blogging and visiting/commenting and I long to get back to it. :)

    Btw – I do like the new look to this blog. :)

  6. Didn’t realize feedly limited site views for your blog, but this post has swayed me into not using it anymore. Also, I’ve noticed posts from http://drwes.blogspot.com/ in feedly only showed a short preview of the full post, and I have to actually go to website to view the entire articles. I’m not sure how that was set up, but this could be a good solution for you to gain more views from people who continue using rss readers.

  7. I do not understand or use any newsfeed readers. Nor do I use fb, twitter, podcasts, etc. (don’t understand, or trust, them either.)

    There are only 3 med blogs that I regularly visit this one, your blog on EP Monthly, and Dr. Grumpy In The House. I used to read ERP’s blog, as well, before it disappeared.

  8. As the first commenter said above, I ended up with Feedly because it was an easy transition from Google Reader. If anyone knows anything about the alternatives, I would be happy to switch. I only follow about 10 blogs and the most important features for me are being able to have categories of blogs as well as being able to keep the entries sorted from oldest first.

  9. I am so glad you did this post! I went to feedly …. trying not to lose you, Rob, Ramona, Seaspray and others that were my friends. My life was getting increasingly busy and changing yet I wanted to keep up. When I tried to transfer you all…boom, I got wierd content that was not all my regular people, I disengaged. Thank you for some other links. My life hasn’t slowed down in changes, but I will try to figure out which way to go.

    It was in NO WAY your content or the others I loved to follow. So disappointing when google discontinued that reader.

    I will try to find one of these that suits my needs, so I can keep up with those I want to.

  10. “If you aren’t paying for the service, then you are the product.”

    The web contains a steady stream of criticism of the many companies providing free services, usually for behavior that makes the consumer into a commodity. But this is the natural result of being unwilling to pay for services.

    If you want a web that gives you privacy, minimal ads, features that suit your needs, etc. then the way to advocate for that is with your wallet. If you are a paying customer then you can make demands and they should be met. Google’s paying customers are the ones paying for ads and clicks, not the ones using youtube all day.

    It’s easier than you think for customers to change the model by making their preferences clear, but you can’t have it both ways.

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