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5 Steps to Eliminating Junk In your RSS Reader

Let’s face it, it is pretty easy to get carried away when subscribing to RSS. Its so easy to do, and takes little work except reading to maintain, that you may feel inclined to subscribe to every half-decent blog or news site out there. After going through this myself, albeit not as dramatically, I have finally cut back on my subscriptions, as well as the time I spend reading them. Read on for some feed-nuking fun.

First, classify your feeds into one of these catagories.

1. Blogs, individual sites - These are sites such as Gearfire that you subscribe to because you like the content, and read most of their articles.

2. Catcher blogs – These blogs such as Lifehacker or BoingBoing do the gathering, finding content for you pertaining to their niche.

3. News sites - CNN, Reuters, official news sites that you use to keep current.

4. Social news sites – Digg, Reddit, and other sites that carry web “news” and also act as large catcher websites, mashing up content from around the web.

5. Notification feeds – Include feeds such as your twitter, flickr comments, friend’s shared, and other feeds that are infrequently updated.

Next, choose a goal. This can either be expressed as max time spent reading each day, max number of feed items each day, or target number of feed items per month. However I wouldn’t recommend evaluating your performance based on number of feeds eliminated, simply because some feeds such as digg have 100x more impact than your friend’s flickr feed.


Now that you have your goal, cleaning is pretty easy.

1. Remove any individual blogs, news sites, or notification feeds that are outdated, or you don’t like. I found that I removed quite a few feeds by asking my self if I really needed them. I also use the trends feature in Google Reader to find any dead blogs, or blogs who have changed domains. A good rule of thumb for cleaning blog subscriptions is that if you don’t read over 50% of the stuff, the feed is junk.

2. Evaluate your catcher blogs. You should keep any that you read most of the content from, but delete the subscriptions to ones where you read under 50% of the content. Instead, go right to the source and subscribe there. For me, a big catcher feed was Engadget, which I usually skipped over when ready my feeds. Un-subscribing took out a big chunk of monthly items read.

3. Remove ALL social news sites and large catcher sites. These include Digg, Reddit,, Blinklist, and everything else similar. The problem here is not that these site are a waste of time. Not at all. In fact, when I need to blow of steam and relax, such as between study sessions, I find it much more relaxing and revitalizing to hit Digg and StumbleUpon to find some funny pictures and games, rather than actually reading through heavier stuff such as Even so, you should reserve these sites for specific occasions, and do not feel that you have to read every single item. I know that Digg, Reddit, and Delicious brought in more than 250 items to me each day.

Final (optional) step in your feed-cleaning journey is to re-organize your feeds. I used to have a folder for Photography, comics, and even one for blogging. But as I deleted junk feeds, I found that I had only 1-2 subscriptions in some folders. I changed my entire feed structure to make more sense to me, and decrease wasted time.

Congratulations! You have completed Gearfire’s Essential Feed-Cleaning Course! When I did this, I dropped from about 13,000 monthly items to 2,700. Thats a drop of 80%. Drop us a comment and tell us how much you were able to shave off.

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3 Responses to “5 Steps to Eliminating Junk In your RSS Reader”

  1. Scot Herrick says:

    I sort my feeds into three categories — the ones that match my blog topics. I want to see what is out there on the topics I’m writing about.

    I also have a category for building/running blogs so I can stay on top of what is done to improve traffic on blogs.

    But, you are correct. Unless there is some discipline around the management of your feeds, they will take over your life!

    I’m not sure 50% reading is the right number. I’m more concerned about how recent the posts are that I’m reading about. If I’m out of town on business for three days, I won’t read 50% of the posts because it’s too late. 50% for the day…yup.

    Don’t post for a week? You are gone from my subscriptions.

    It’s a cruel world out there in the blogosphere with the limited time of our readers!

  2. Mr.Byte says:

    Good post on cleaning RSS readers….I am sure mine has lots of junk in it right now…

  3. Good steps to remove junk to rss subscriptions. Good guide about that. Thanks.