Sunday, 21 August 2005

HOWTO subscribe to a blog... 101

Sometimes, we get too close to a subject. We forget that people who are new to it don't understand the nuances. Ever since I published the post about subscribing to the blog by email, I've seen a lot of people searching Google with phrases like "how do I subscribe to a blog." This post explains how to subscribe to a blog...

OK, so firstly, what is subscribing? Subscribing basically means getting alerted to new posts on your favourite blogs. You use something called an aggregator to tell you when there's a new post. So subscribing is the process of telling the aggregator that you want it to start tracking a blog.

So why would I want to subscribe? Instead of having to go and manually check the sites you often read, you can let the aggregator take the strain. Having the aggregator track a list of blogs for you is much easier than having to check them all yourself every day.

Which aggregator should I use? Choice is good. Choice is bad. If you want my opinion, a good start is Bloglines. Alternatives are My Yahoo, NewsGator (an Outlook plugin), NetNewsWire (for MacOS) , or there's functionality built in to Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird. IE7, the next version of Internet Explorer will have something built in (hopefully it won't be as broken as it seems to be in the beta).

What about RSS Feeds? Good question. When you subscribe, you're telling the aggregator to watch a feed. This could be formatted in speccy-techie formats like RSS, Atom, RDF, or some other weird XML flavour. Don't worry about it. Most aggregators have a way of discovering a blog's feed.

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