Bloglines vs. Google Reader

June 1st, 2007

Update: Looks like I wrote this a little too quickly, I just found out there is a “oldest first” sort! Cool. I’m gonna switch to Google Reader and see how it goes.

I read a lot of blogs, so having a good feed reader is important to me. I’ve been using Bloglines for many years. I have noticed, however, that they do not seem to be upgrading Bloglines very often. I can’t remember the last time any significant features were added to it. I also know that Google Reading has become the most popular reader, capturing around 50% of the market.

I try Google Reader every now and then, but I have been sticking with Bloglines. I’m always disappointed because I’m a big fan of a lot of other Google product. I use GMail as my main email, I use Google docs all the time. Oh yeah, and I even use their search. They just announced that Google Reader is going to take advantage of Google Gears to have the ability to read feeds offline. This seems like a great feature that I would love to have, but I have not made the switch for a few reasons:

  1. Google Reader does not let you order you feeds from oldest to newest. In Bloglines I order my feeds so that the oldest one is at the top. This makes sense to me – I want to read the entries in the order they were written in. Sometimes bloggers refers to a post they did in the past, and it gets confusing if you haven’t read the old post before you read the new post.
  2. You can’t reorder the folders. I keep my feeds in about a dozen different folders, and like to keep the folders I find most important near the top. Google Reader always orders them alphabetically.
  3. Screen real estate is not used effectively. Bloglines divides the screen into two frames. The right frame shows you posts, and the frame stretches right from the top of the browser window to the bottom. Google reader displays the entries in a smaller frame which is only about 75% of the height of the browser window.

Out of the three #1 is the deal breaker. If they allowed you to order the entries in reverse chronological order, I’d probably make the switch. The other two problems are pretty nit-picky and probably wouldn’t keep me from using it. But I really want that offline reading ability. So, if anyone from the Google Reader team reads this, please fix these problems, and I’ll switch.


Follow Up On Vocus Email

May 23rd, 2007

Yesterday I talked about how PR Company Vocus botched their own PR. Here is some more about the backlash and how they are handling it.

It turns out I got this email because I am a customer of PRWeb (I have done press releases through them before), and Vocus bought PRWeb last year. When Vocus sent out this email, they used PRWeb’s customer list. Most PRWeb’s customers had no idea that they had been purchased by Vocus, so this email was completely out of the blue.

Things would have been much different if they had started this email saying “Dear PRWeb user, as you may know PRWeb was purchased by Vocus and here is something we though you might find interesting as a PRWeb user”. If they did this I wouldn’t have thought “Who is Vocus and why are they sending me an email?”

The next thing Vocus should do is take this opportunity to start a conversation with bloggers. They should post comments on blogs that mentioned this email. They should send emails to bloggers. They should start saying “Hey, we screwed up, we’re sorry. Help us do better in the future”. They need to realize that there is a conversation going on about them whether they want it or not. They can’t control the conversation, but they should at least participate in it.

Also, as part of that conversation, they should start a blog themselves. Connecting with bloggers is much easier when you have a blog yourself. There is no better way to get a blogger to talk about then by sending them some link love :)

As I was writing this I just saw this posting that is a statement from Bill Wagner, CMO at Vocus. He apologizes and explains how the email ended up in so many mailboxes of unsuspecting bloggers. That’s a good start. But unfortunately, it had to be issued on Jiyan Wei’s personal blog (and even though the blog has an “author” page, I can’t find the name of the employee. Update: After reading my post he added his name to his author page. Isn’t this conversation thing great :) ). He also sent a similar note to Susan Getgood, one of the bloggers quoted in the whitepaper that was being promoted in the email. Again, it’s good that they are reaching out to bloggers.

Hopefully Vocus will be able to use this as a learning experience, and start to have a more effective conversation . I recommend they read the Hughtrain Manifesto.


How Not To Do PR

May 22nd, 2007

This is the start of an email I received from Tami Queen at Vocus.

Countless accounts of “PR Flaks” who have spammed bloggers, mis-targeted pitches or just plain gotten blogger relations wrong fill the Internet. Don’t risk finding your next pitch blasted on your favorite blog!

As a Public Relations professional, it is your job to find every opportunity to get your organization covered and be an expert on the inner-workings of the media. However, the explosion of the blogosphere has left many confused and wondering: How do bloggers operate? What type of approach will get my news covered? How can I integrate blogs into my overall PR strategy?

The new media landscape calls for additional tactics and approaches to the PR practitioner’s toolbox. Download the FREE Vocus white paper “ Five Golden Rules for Blogger Relations” to get insights on how today’s PR professionals can successfully incorporate blogger relations into their PR strategy and build effective relationships straight from four of the top blogging experts in the industry!

It’s just so ironic. They send out a mass email about how to connect to bloggers? Really? What were they thinking? And the fact that they said “Don’t risk finding your next pitch blasted on your favorite blog!” made it just to tempting not to blast them on my blog.

Sending mass emails is NOT the way to connect to people. I’m trying to see the possibilities here:

1) They really don’t get it. That makes it so sad because they claim to be experts in this area.
2) This was their way of getting some blogger attention. I can just see the meeting now “Let’s send out a really stupid email that will get the bloggers yelling at us. There is no such thing as bad publicity, you know!”

Either way, I don’t appreciate getting this type of email.

Update: Here are some other blog entries about this same email:
Dear Blogger: Here’s how not to spam bloggers – by spamming bloggers
Check Out This Spam From a PR Flak
VOCUS Demonstrates How to Screw Up Blogger Relations
Don’t Assume We Know You
What Happens When You Spam Bloggers (Hint: It’s a Small World)


The Blogging Toolkit

September 28th, 2005

Geeky Info has a post about The Blogging Toolkit, talking about what tools they use while blogging. Here is my list.

  • WordPress – A great blog publishing platform
  • Bloglines – Good web based news reader. Essential for keeping in touch with the blogosphere
  • Firefox – I wouldn’t surf with out. Tabs Rule. Nuff said.
  • Eclipse with the PHP plugin – All my PHP is written with this.
  • Paint Shop Pro – Cheaper than Photoshop but still does everything I need it to.
  • Google Toolbar for Firefox – For spell checking.

Found via ProBlogger.


77% of People Consult Blogs Before Shopping: Bad Reporting?

September 27th, 2005

I saw a post on The Blog Herald today: 77% of people find blogs useful for shopping: survey. The post referred to a BBC article: Shoppers Use Blogs For Bargains.

This article claims that Hostway did a survey that found:

More than three-quarters of those questioned in the research said they had consulted blogs before shopping.

I find that statement completely and utterly incredible (as in no credibility). How could 77% of people use Blogs to research purchases when I’m sure that 77% of people don’t even know what a blog is? Neither the Blog Herald nor the BBC article mentioned where the survey results could be found so I did a little digging. I found the following survey results at

The first line in the survey is: Percentage of participants surveyed familiar with blogs. The answer – 63.1%.

Later in the survey we see this:

Have the participants ever referred to blogs to look for information about products or services they were considering buying?

  • 69.0% No
  • 23.2% Yes
  • 7.8% Can’t Remember

I am assuming that the only people who answered this question were those familiar with blogs. (Or else how could they even answer that question?). So if we multiply 63.1 by 23.2 we get about 14%. How did the BBC reporter get a 77% result out of this???

It could be that I am looking at a different survey, but even if that’s true why are the numbers so radically different on two different surveys taken by Hostway?

Can someone explain what is going on?

Update I sent a note to Hostway about this and got a response that said “The BBC article was a actually a little misleading as it was actually that 77% of people would use blogs to find information rather than 77% do actually use blogs”. I think that clears things up a little.


51% of US Journalists Use Blogs

August 26th, 2005

In a recent blog posting about the small percentage of Americans who are blog readers, I said:

The people reading blogs, like the press for instance, are probably more influential than the average person.

There has now been a study that backs this statement up. It reveals that 51% of American journalists read blogs regularly, and 28% rely on them for their daily reporting. Despite what some people say, blogs are an influential medium that is going to be around for a while.

Found via The Blog Herald. Launches

August 23rd, 2005

i have just launched a new website: It is a resource to fight spam blogs, or ‘splogs’ as they have come to be known. It will be a resource center for dealing with the problem of splog. It lists actions that can be taken, sources of information and news. Problems

August 18th, 2005

Frank recently started a new service:

It’s a nice idea but I see a few problems with it.

  1. SpamReporter itself open to spamming. If the spammers start spamming SpamReporter with a bunch of legitimate blogs, the information in it will be useless. Maybe using a Captcha or something would help.
  2. I’m not sure I see how the blog search engines could use this data. Just because a blog is marked as spam by someone doesn’t mean it is really spam. Maybe the more “spam votes” a blog gets would reduce it’s relevancy or something, but I’m just not sure how much sense that makes.
  3. If this data is publicly available, the spammers will be able to use it too. As soon as they find out one of their spam blogs is on the SpamReporter list, they just start up a new free blog.

I hate to criticize a well-meaning project, but hopefully my suggestions can make it a better service.


Blogger Makes a Small Step Forward at Fighting Blog Spam

August 18th, 2005

As reported on BlogHerald, it seems Blogger has been listening to some of the unhappiness about spam blogs. They have announced a new “Flag as Objectionable” button.

It seems like the main purpose of this is to try to hide offensive material from being accidentally found:

When a person visiting a blog clicks the “Flag?” button in the Blogger Navbar, it means they believe the content of the blog may be potentially offensive or illegal.

The spam blog part seems like its almost a afterthought:

For more serious cases, such as spam blogs or sites engaging in illegal activity, we will continue to enforce our existing policies (removing content and deleting accounts when necessary).

This is a small step in the right direction. I’m sure now that Spam Blogs are getting more attention more resources will be spent on defeating them and the community as a whole should be able to get a handle on them. Its good to see everybody getting in on the action to defeat these spammers.


More on Spam Blogs

August 17th, 2005

There has been a lot of buzz about blog spam in the last week or so. On August 9th Technorati’s David Sifry talked about Spam and Fake Blogs, and then on August 15th Mark Cuban (Investor in IceRocket) talked about splogs. I’m sure it’s just coincidence that this happened after my August 4th post on the topic.

Mark Cuban’s remarks that:

If you are an individual blogger whose blog is hosted on, every day the chances of you being excluded from’s, and other search engines’ indexes increases.

His implication is that one way to help produce better searches is by not indexing any of the blogs on Blogger. This seems like a very heavy-handed way to go about things. Eliminating spam from search results is all about providing their search users the best possible experience. If including Blogger blogs causes their search results to be awful, and removing them improves things, then they might to do it. Its up to services (like IceRocket, Technorati, Bloglines, etc) to decide what the best way to fight spam is. In my opinion its not removing Blogger blogs from their index, its finding an algorithm to distinguish spam blogs from real blogs.

David Sifry (from Technorati) seems to agree:

it requires a lot of algorithms, deep thinking, and human intervention to build and monitor systems that deal with these problems. It is also an ongoing issue that needs time, care and attention as spammers come up with new and innovative ways to get game search engines and affiliate networks.

All the major web search engines like Google and Yahoo have had to go to great lengths to try to eliminate spam from their results, and now the blog specific search engines are going through the same thing. It’s an ongoing battle in web search and it will be an ongoing battle in blog search.

The winner of the blog search engine wars will be the one that does the best job of returning relevant results to their users, and a big part of this will be filtering blog spam.

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