It used to be that RSS reading was a service that only “early adopters” used. Granted, there still aren’t many average casual users who know about this business of RSS, but those who do understand the power behind it. I figured I should make a guide of some sort on how to pick an RSS reader, but without the here’s-a-difinitive-list-of-rss-readers-and-features part. No, I would rather post on what to look for in an RSS reader, depending on your usage. It’s just a simple process of figuring out what you want, and then looking for it. This should help those of you who have no idea where to start with RSS readers, and help the others who already have one to evaluate what they’re using, and maybe look for something better to suit their needs.
Decide What You’ll Use it For
I can’t tell you how many RSS readers I’ve tried in the past 4 years. Online, offline, email… if it’s out there, I’ve given it a whirl. And honestly, most of them are pretty similar, with only a few cosmetic changes and added features. So it just depends on what type of usage you’re going to be getting out of it. For most people, that means you’ll either use the RSS reader for one of two things: Business or Pleasure.
Business- These are people that need to usually track a lot more feeds. They’ll use the reader to track all different sorts of news, with their subscription lists being typically longer. These are typically bloggers or “information junkies”. In order follow all of these feeds, they need a reader that will allow you to organize your feeds to the hilt. Look for readers that allow you to classify feeds by tagging or categories. Another feature that will be vital to these users will be the ability to save a feed for later, so you can blog easier.
Personal- These readers are doing it for fun, or casual knowledge. They typically don’t need all the categories and organization, and usually have less feeds in their subscription. They would prefer a “river of news approach” reading style where the news is displayed in order from newest to oldest, as opposed to by categories or tags.
Recommended Readers: Technorati Favorites, Newshutch
If you don’t have a lot of time, but you still like to keep up on the most important news in your niche, Tailrank is a great option. It shows you the news based on how much buzz it’s getting around the web. I haven’t taken the time to fully explore it, but it looks very cool.
I’m a blogger, so I read a lot of news and post my thoughts on what’s going on. Depending on which blog I’m posting to depends on what news I’m reading. So I have to have a way to seperate and tag my feeds. If I used a river of news approach, it would turn into something that resembled more of a flash flood.
Online vs. Offline
Another difference in types of readers is whether it’s web-based or computer based (you have to download it). Again, this decision should be based on how or when you’ll be using it.
As far as differences are concerned, they’re usually pretty similar, except for the fact that offline readers tend to have a few more features (but not always). If you are on multiple computers during the day, I wouldn’t recommend a computer based feed reader. I prefer web-based because I am at a lot of different computers during the week, and because I don’t like to install a lot of software on my computer.
Go Forth and Read
Well, hopefully this article helped you articulate what you’ll need in a rss feed reader. You should be able to look for things in feature descriptions on ways to organize and read news based on your preferences. Instead of looking for the most feature packed rss reader, start by looking for the specific things you’ll need first. Then you can get getting pickier.
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