The death of Google Reader and the future of RSS

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feedlyA few weeks ago, Google announced that they were shutting down Google Reader, the tool used by thousands of Offbeat Empire readers to follow our RSS feeds. I had some super strong feels when the announcement was made, because I’ve been personally using Google Reader pretty much daily since it launched 8 years ago. For those of us who digest a LOT of information online, RSS is an awesome method, and Google Reader was the best tool.

Most of you have no idea what I’m talking about, and that’s totally fine. RSS never really caught on, and most Offbeat Empire readers use Facebook as their way to follow along when our new posts go up. As a nerd, this makes me a little sad because Facebook is terribly unreliable as a feed reader, but whatever: people will use the tools that work for them, and for the vast majority of our readers, RSS is not what works for them. (If you’d like to try RSS though, this video is the perfect introduction.)

For those of you who DO use and love RSS, however, the announcement about Google Reader shutting down in a few months was rough. And again, while it was sad for me personally, it was mostly a theoretical sadness because honestly? I’d already switched to a new RSS reader a few months ago: Feedly.

In the weeks since the Google Reader shut-down announcement, Feedly has totally emerged as the front-runner replacement, which totally makes sense to me. It’s way prettier than Google Reader ever was, set-up is a breeze because it automatically slurps up your Google Reader subscriptions, and it’s got stellar mobile apps for both Android and iOS phones.

How do I know Feedly is the frontrunner? Well, I can see it in the web stats for the Empire. Here are my analytics showing the number of referrers coming from Feedly since the Google Reader announcement:
feedly referrals
Yep! That tells me that a lot of you Google Reader refugees are already using Feedly, which is awesome.

Among web publishers, there’s some concern that the death of Google Reader will mean a big drop in traffic, but I have to say that I’m not worried about it. RSS use among my readership is a relatively small, committed crew — of 600,000 monthly readers, less than 10,000 of you subscribe to our RSS feeds. If you’re nerdy and committed enough to already be using RSS to follow us, I figure that you’re likely going to be nerdy and committed enough to keep following us via Feedly or another tool.

All this is to say that while I’m personally sad about Google shutting down Reader, I’ve already found my replacement, and I’m not really worried about it from a business perspective. Fellow RSS nerds, I salute you!

Comments on The death of Google Reader and the future of RSS

    • I’ve also heard good things about which tries to recreate some of the social functions like commenting and native sharing that Google Reader had before G+ came along.

      • I’ve tried out both feedly and The Old Reader since the announcement. I liked The Old Reader, but it was slow to catch new updates, and slow to load. It also doesn’t have a mobile app, or sync up with Google Reader (not a problem in the future, but annoying now).

        Feedly took a little bit of getting used to, it’s a bit flashy. But, I’ve settled in and I like it.

        • I had a similar experience with The Old Reader… even Feedly has strained a bit under the flood of traffic they’ve gotten since the Google Reader announcement, and they’re a WAY larger project than The Old Reader.

    • I’ve been using bloglovin for a while, but I’ll have to check out feedly. OPTIONS.

  1. I was pretty choked about Google Reader because dammit, I was used to it! There was some curmudgeonly resisting change going on. It took some convincing to make the switch to Feedly because I’d tried it before and had preferred Google Reader. I tried a few other options and came to the conclusion that most of them were going to cause me more cursing than Feedly so I’ve accepted my fate. It was a bit easier after a friend shared this awesome post by Feedly with tips for migrating. I found out how to switch some settings that I hadn’t found before. I played with the look a bit more. I admit, I don’t want a magazine layout style, partially because some of the blogs I follow don’t do pictures so it just doesn’t work that well.

    That said, Feedly functions. All my RSS feeds imported, all my categories imported, and I have some good control over determining how I read things. I still find it frustrating when I scroll through a feed, hit the end of new content in my scrolling but am told that there are still articles I haven’t read (sometimes there are, sometimes it just didn’t catch that I scrolled through one). It’s not perfect and I’m still adjusting. But I’ll get used to it (and it will improve with more traffic, I hope).

  2. It blows my mind that people regularly reading multiple internet sites don’t use RSS readers. Do you just go to each website one at a time? Do you watch the facebooks for updated posts? What if you miss one? How will you know? I repeat WHAT IF YOU MISS SOMETHING?!!? Oh god. I can’t handle it. This is why I freaked out when Google Reader told me it was leaving me.

    Come to me, oh Feedly my love.

    • Totally. When you’re used to RSS (where subscribe = show me every single new post, every single time) the concept of using Facebook as a reader is boggling. You Like a blog’s Facebook Page, and then just sort of hope and pray that Facebook decides to show you any given new post. Then again, I guess using Facebook as a feed reader makes more sense than what I used to do pre-RSS, which was going through a list of my favorite blogs one by one to see if they’d been updated. Ultimately, folks are on Facebook all day every day, so it’s a place that makes sense for most when it comes to following new posts.

      • Hehe, I remember going through my bookmarks one by one to see which blogs had updated. I even had a series of folders in my bookmarks file–sites 1, sites 2, and sites 3, where the higher number contained sites that updated the most often. I’d go through sites 1 every day, sites 2 every few days, and sites 3 every week.
        I do not miss those days.

        • HA! I had a series of folders too, although I organized bloggers by region. In fact, I still have East Coast, West Coast, and No Coast categories in my RSS reader… a vestigial left-over from those days!

        • ” Hehe, I remember going through my bookmarks one by one to see which blogs had updated.”

          SHUT UP!!!!

          Maybe I should look into RSS 😉

    • Actually, it’s not that hard, mostly thanks to the magic of tabs and a remarkably short attention span. I have a tab opened to Offbeat Home & Life, one to OBB, one to APW, etc, etc. I don’t close these tabs, and when I get bored I sort of stare at my line of tabs and go “I wonder if OBHL updated yet.” Then I refresh it. In general, I refresh everything about 2-4 times a day, because I’m crazy like that. If I didn’t keep up that date, well, I know what I have read, and I’ll go back to it later to catch up.

      Mostly it’s a hold-over from webcomics, where I just have a giant folder with all of them and a good idea at their update schedules. The ones that update more frequently are close to the top.

      I tried an RSS once… While this should be an ideal solution to me, it just didn’t work well. Though Pulse on my tablet was excellent, maybe I should re-install that on my phone…

      • I follow over 50 blogs, and have restrictions on data usage at work. I can’t possibly imagine refreshing those all day! I’d get my internet access cut off, AND I don’t know a browser that works well with that many tabs open. 🙂

    • I go to each website, one at a time. For me, it’s a self-restraint thing. I am forever multitasking everything, so I skim over a ton of things and never fully read what I’m supposed to. So if I make myself to go each place that I want, I commit my attention to each one.

      And just for stats purposes, I think I keep up with about 11 blogs (there’s probably more, but I’m not checking at the moment).

      • Aww, 11 blogs! For comparison, I currently follow the RSS feeds for 78 blogs. 🙂

  3. I’m still clinging to Google Reader because I have a Blackberry and there’s no Blackberry app for Feedly!

    I really liked Google Reader because it’s a website, not an app. I can access it from anywhere without having to download a thing, and the mobile site was really nice to look at and easy to use. I use my reader most on my phone, so if I can’t get an app or a mobile site it’s not much good to me.

    I also dislike the idea of having to download an app on any computer I want to view my feeds on.

    • Feedly is a website! There are apps available, but I think you can also just visit it via your phone’s browser.

      Yep, Feedly is a plugin.

      UPDATE JUNE 19 2013:
      Feedly now has a web-only interface!!

  4. I’m still choked up and not ready to abandon Google. Like I’m waiting for an 11th hour pardon from the governor. But it’s good to know there’s a soft landing spot waiting for me when I do come around.

  5. Thanks for this. I was so annoyed when that little pop up box popped up to say “Google Reader is closing down”, I just sat there and went “Well, why the fuck is that?”. It’s good to have another option.

    That said, the About page on that website is really incredibly annoying.

  6. Feedly confuses me because when you log in, it asks if it can pull data from your google reader. When google reader goes away (damn you google), how it will it pull the feed?

    • From Feedly’s blog:

      Google announced today that they will be shutting down Google Reader. This is something we have been expecting for some time: We have been working on a project called Normandy which is a feedly clone of the Google Reader API – running on Google App Engine. When Google Reader shuts down, feedly will seamlessly transition to the Normandy back end. So if you are a Google Reader user and using feedly, you are covered: the transition will be seamless.

      Read more:

  7. I’m with Sabrina – even though the idea of the 1000+ unread items in my GReader is daunting, I don’t know how other people follow multiple blogs without using RSS and a reader. It’s like rewinding time and having to shuffle through my favorites folder, one link at a time again. :shiver: no thank you. And since Facebook me and Blogworld me are two different people, it’d be inconvenient to try to merge them (or set up a separate account). Looks like I have to bite the bullet and migrate: thanks for the tutorials and tips.

  8. I am completely in love with bloglovin. It was super easy to transfer all of my google reader information over and now I am all set. I just think the bloglovin interface is really lovely. It’s a very visual reader and it takes you directly to the post on the site that it was published & then just gives you a really easy top bar to page through any new blog posts. You can also add favorites to come back to. I think it is just beautiful.

  9. Yes! I’m so glad you addressed this. I had no idea I was such a nerd in the eyes of Google!

    My favourite thing to do in the morning is slowly wake up reading Google Reader. I’m a Canadian living in New Zealand, so the time difference makes the feed full of unread goodness in the morning. Bliss!

    I was so sad too when I found out! Makes me feel better that I wasn’t the only one to shed a tear 🙁

    I’m wondering about the plug-in or something similar that Feedly made me install when I first used it. This could be a problem for two reasons. First both my husband and I use this computer, so can we each access our own feeds? And secondly, can I not just log in at any computer anytime (e.g. at work, library) to check my feed? Lots of public computers restrict you from adding a plug-in too. Sigh. Hopefully I have this wrong…

  10. I’m liking feedly at home, but also not liking that you have to download the plug-in. I’m going with it for now because I had issues with The Old Reader not getting all the updates, but I often check my RSS feeds on my lunch break or browse through the book blogs I follow looking for material for posts for the Facebook page of the library where I work. Right now I’m using Feedly at home and checking Google Reader at work, but I hope that I’m not stuck unable to check my feeds at work when Google Reader goes away.

  11. RSS is my gateway to the internet; has been for years. Fortunately, I am Bitchy Old Tech Chick who wants to control everything and I have been using NetNewsWire for almost as long as it has existed. Desktop app, ILU.

  12. So far my only issue with Feedly is that the tab in my browser says, “All in feedly” and when my eye catches that in my peripheral it sees, “Ally Sheedy” and then my brain wonders why they hell I have a tab about Ally Sheedy open. I do this ten times a day.

  13. Thanks to this post, I switched to feedly — and I love it! I hadn’t been on google reader, just using firefoxish rss extension on chrome, which stopped working. I love being able to skim through everything on my phone, then leave the heavy reading stuff for later. Thanks for helping me make the change!

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