Feed Reading – What’s Your Number?

Last night Darren Rowse, author of ProBlogger.net, asked a question on Twitter. He wanted to know how many feeds his ‘followers’ were subscribed to. Darren has posted about the question and Twitter’s usefulness for such things.

For an answer it was a relatively simple thing to hop over to the manage subscriptions page in Google Reader and see the number: 390. Three-hundred and ninety?! Really? After giving Darren his answer, I set about some feed whacking.

On the first pass (which took longer than it should have – GReader has a poor feed mgmt UI, imo) I trimmed almost 100 old feeds. These were mostly comment feeds from posts I wanted to follow several months ago or blogs that I was interested in for a specific reason at a certain time – but are no longer of interest.

So I am left about 300 feeds – that’s still too many. There are many that have simply withered on the vine. A quick look at the Subscriptions Trends page shows two that have NEVER been updated (ZAP!) and almost forty that haven’t been updated since mid-2007 or earlier and flagged by Google Reader as inactive. I’m inclined to leave these as they are since they clearly do not add to the influx of new posts every day – and there may be useful content in those posts that I’ll want access to someday.

All of which, I think, points to the irrelevance of Darren’s original question (no offense, Darren – I didn’t realize it either until I dug a little). I could be subscribed to 2000 RSS feeds, but if only a handful are active, the number is meaningless. What is significant, however, is how many posts flow through my daily ‘river of news’. The answer to that requires just the tiniest bit of math. Google reader reports that I have ‘read’ 9107 items in the past 30 days. That averages out to just a hair over 300 items per day. Wow.

The items/day average also requires some qualification since most posts that come through my reader never get more than the few nanoseconds it takes me to read the headline and move on.

The point of all this? A follow-up question to Darren’s:

How many posts arrive in your reader on an average day?

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4 Responses to “Feed Reading – What’s Your Number?”

  1. zoe says:

    considering im quite new to the feed reader business my count of 20-25 /day is quite manageable. I’m also an organization-nazi sooooo……

    i once read a great post on how to organize your Bookmarks and I’m certain it would be the same with your feed reader.

    Delete. Delete everything. Don’t look it over. Jut delete.

    Then, from memory, find all the blog and add them to your reader.

    The objective is that the ones you do remember will be the ones that are worthwhile to have in your reader. I doubt it will be anywhere near 300.

  2. Dave says:

    I’m not quite as voracious a reader as you.. my stats are messed up since I recently tried switching to a desktop reader (NetNewsWire at home, FeedReader at work, synced with NewsGator) but after the syncing stopped working mysteriously I’ve gone back to Google Reader. I like to just skim through all my unread items, hitting the space bar to flip to the next one. Google Gears lets me access feeds offline ( a godsend when you’re commuting). Also I enjoy the mac-style Google Reader by Jon Hicks : http://www.hicksdesign.co.uk/journal/greader-14-the-my-goodness-i-almost-gave-up-on-this-one-release
    I suspect I average about 20-30 items a day. I trimmed out the high volume but not really relevant to me feeds so I can actually keep up.
    Lately I’ve subscribed to some mailing lists and google groups so now gmail is becoming more of a conduit for info (if you use Gmail, you can install the nifty GMail notifier : http://toolbar.google.com/gmail-helper/notifier_windows.html
    (windows, for the mac there’s a Growl plugin)
    happy Reading,

  3. Colin Carmichael says:

    Hey Dave! Nice to hear from you… thanks fro stopping by!

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