How to monitor blogs

June 22, 2006

Do you keep track of other people’s blogs by bookmarking them all and then visiting each one daily to see if they’ve been updated that day? That’s what I did until this past Tuesday, when I finally admitted that this system is only practical if the total number of blogs you read is less than, say, five. I’m now using a news aggregator, also known as a feed reader, and am much happier because of it. I mention all this in case any readers of this blog are even farther behind the times than I am and have yet to discover the joys of news aggregators. This post is for you, you clueless Luddites! Turn off your record players and pay attention!

In brief, a news aggregator monitors your “playlist” of blogs, checking them for updates and notifying you when new content has been posted. Some aggregators are web-based, while others are downloadable programs that are launched from your hard drive. If you use a web-based aggregator, you simply log onto the aggregator website, which then displays and/or offers links to new blog entries that have been published since your last login.

The aggregator I currently use and recommend is [updated on 8-8-09] NewsGator, although Google Reader also looks decent. To get started, you just create an account by providing a username/email address, password, etc. Then you tell the aggregator which blogs you want to subscribe to. The only tricky part here is that you can’t always enter the blog’s “home page” address (e.g., running-blogs.com/crowther); you may need to specify the address of the blog’s feed (e.g., running-blogs.com/crowther/index.xml). A feed is a specially coded version of the blog that allows it to be exported to aggregators. Many blogs have little RSS or XML buttons (RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication, which is written in XML, a coding language similar to HTML) that, if clicked upon, will show you the feed’s address. However, if all you know is the address of the main blog page (e.g., running-blogs.com/crowther), the news aggregator can usually figure out the feed address for you.

What if you only follow one or two blogs that aren’t updated very often? In that situation, you might want to sign up at Blogarithm.com, which will email you when new content is posted to those blogs.

I hope this tidbit is helpful. If so, pass it on!<

One comment

  1. On a commercial level it would make sense to efficiently monitor blogs. On a personal level, I enjoy "knocking" on people's blog-doors to see how they are doing, if there's something new, as chance to read archives and not just recent stuff… let's call it a neighborly approach… However I envisage highly competitive and roastin-postin bloggers out there, quite interested in a pushy broadcasting-monitoring edge…

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