Friday, January 25, 2008

Sharing etiquite (or: How to not get removed from Ryan's friends list)

So I haven't blogged in quite a while, not any particular reason I just wanted a break. I have been under a lot of stress at work, at home, and in life in general and I just didn't feel the creative juices flowing.

I am sure I will begin blogging more, probably a LOT more after Annora is born, but for now I am just taking it easy.

But I am coming out of my blog shell for just a minute to post a mini rant. Google Reader has this great feature where you can share items with your friends. It's great if I read an interesting article or see something news worthy that I think my friends will be interested in, I share it. It's a great feature, creates a larger sense of community, and helps spread the word about cool articles.

There is one major drawback, there is zero filter for it. It is either all on, or all off for any given individual. While this is fine, it tends to lead to what I am now deeming "RSS Spam." We all have those friends/family members/coworkers who pass along the "there is an email virus watch out!" or "check out this funny story" or "here is my 100 bajillionth chain letter I am passing on." We all pretty much despise them, but we are too kind and we never say anything... but those of us who are tech savvy write "rules" in our inbox and that annoying relative gets relegated to the "junk" mail folder.

Well in Google Reader I have no ability to write rules about who or what gets filtered, you are either on, or you are off. With that being said, here a few helpful tips to ensure that you don't get "turned off" in my Google Reader.

1) If you are sharing more than say.... 5 items in a day, you are doing it wrong. Sharing isn't caring if you are filling my Google reader with every single article you have read throughout the day. I don't care that you read 400 different blogs today, just because you have that much free time to waste doesn't mean I do. Be selective about what you share, it should be something everyone not only SHOULD read, but WANTS to read. If there is something you want to highlight as "cool" how do I seperate that out from the other 9000 blog posts you shared today. So again, if you are sharing more than 5 items in a day, chances are you are "doin it rong."

2) If you are sharing the same feed more than 2-3 days consecutively, you are once again "doin it rong." If you share something I find interesting, and it's a series, I am smart enough to "subscribe" to that feed and read it myself. If I didn't find it interesting, I don't want to be inindated with 100 more messages all with the same crap. I have a friend who always shares this cartoon. EVERY SINGLE DAY he shares this cartoon feed. Sometimes they are funny, sometimes they aren't. But he is "doin it rong," if I really wanted to read the cartoon every day I would subscribe to their feed, if I didn't, I wouldn't. But being spammed with it only makes me angry at him and the cartoon as well. So rule 2, if you are spamming the same feed every day, you are once again, "doin it rong."

3) Spamming yourself. This is probably my biggest pet peeve, when you "share" items that your readership/friends already all know about. For example, lets say you have a personal blog, and then you have a business blog, and your wife has a blog. When you start sharing stuff out from your personal blog that was posted either on your business blog or your wifes blog, once again, doin it rong. Chances are, if I read your personal blog, I read your professional blog and your wifes blog. If I don't, then either a) I don't care about those areas and you are spamming me with crap I don't want to read or b) I am already reading those blogs, and now I am being spammed with duplicates of stories that I have already read, once again filling up my reader with more junk spam.

I am sure there are more rules, and as I think of them I will post them here, but for now these 3 simple rules will most likely keep you off my "banned from friends" list in GReader. No one has been banned yet, but starting today, 3 strikes and your out.

Consider this everyone's "strike one."


Brian said...

Sharing is nifty, and a nice addition to reader, but I'm really waiting until they get smarter about it. Why it "re-posts" articles you are already getting on your subscribed feeds is beyond me. Seems like a simple banner in the article of "also shared by FOO" would be sufficient...

jeremy said...

I don't subscribe to other people's shared stuff for that very reason.

I like seeing what my friends find interesting and worthy to read. If i really like a blog i find on a friends shared items, i'll subscribe to that blog. But i don't have time to read everything that everyone shares, and i dont want my reader clogged up with stuff im not interested in.

Ryan said...

And Jeremy thats what is sad. If people were only sharing 2-3 items per day, and were genuinely "interesting" it makes sharing a GREAT feature.

As it currently sits, it's a "junk mail" folder in my GReader as it gets spammed with tons of crap that I don't care about because someone else shares every single blog post they have ever read... which isn't exactly "the point."

I can sign up for a news aggregator if I want the news, I don't need you spamming me your entire GReader blog list every day for a month... that just makes me want to beat you with a sock full of nickels.

.justin said...

[TONE NOTE: begin humorous, sarcastic, cocky comment]

since i'm the target of this blog post, i'd like to take a minute to say F-U, mr. smith!


this is a selfish post.

you should unsubscribe to my feed right now.
and here's why:

in our circle, i am the original google reader user [thanks to YOU showing me RSS a few years ago!]

i also was the original adopter of the nifty little java widget that updates my blog's side column with shard items from my reader. i loved it because this allowed me to remove my "running blogroll" from my side column and just share items that I found interesting. [july 24, 2007 - point #2, july 1, 2007 - 5th line down.] that is what i continue to do. i share items that i personally found interesting.

i do not email them directly to you or others.

i share them so that they travel away to my blog and show up on the list there. it's a sort of "here's what i'm reading" list, not "email this link to a friend" list. i believe this is what the original blogroll was designed for. for the visitor to your site, NOT the regular readers, or subscribers.

i KNOW that you, ryan, "strategically share items", and i get that... thank you for your strategy. but, you are not the purpose or intention of MY shared items list.

and yes, brian you are absolutely right, Google reader's shared friends list is a great idea, but it still sucks balls like a fat hippopotamus doing ballet.

and just an FYI, i don't share all the ASBO jesus cartoons, just the ones that i find poignant, witty, truthful, or funny... which are most. [but not lately. he seems a little bitter or power-trippy lately. i liked them better earlier.] and i share them as a way to give them props, a link, and acknowledging that i like them and that i identify with them.

on the contrary to popular-RS-belief, the world doesn't revolve around ryan.

my suggestion is either:

1. petition google to get their crap together on this possibly awesome feature

2. unsubscribe to my shared feed... because i don't consider you or the smaller amount of google readers that i have on my blog my main audience. instead, the people who are actually ON my blog get the main target award.

[50-100 unique visitors per day vs. 33 readers via feedburner... already friends and readers]

some further comments:

i'm anal retentive/OCD. you know this. here's something that would bother me, but apparently doesn't bother jeremy: [sorry dude. no offense.]

in twitter:
jeremy knows that i "follow" his twitter stream. when he had a blog, it also live updated into his sidebar. [sweet app!] there were times that i would write a tweet, and in his twitter stream, jeremy would reply to my tweet with a tweet of his own [while not using the newly popular "@puaahunter" twitter-protocol]. THEREFORE, his readers would just see his reply and it wouldn't make any sense at all. this would really bother me. i would suggest the proper way to respond to one of my tweets would be with a personal email or IM.

[side note - this shows hoe unhip i am: myspace commenting is the WORST at this. so lame. the next generation is going to be organizational retards. all organized filing systems will be gone by the year 2020]

now, that being said, last night i posted a tweet about waiting for my bass player to confirm. it is true that this is what i really was thinking, but the truth is, i knew jeremy would see it, and i was just nudging him to let me know what's up. he responded with a probable, then a yes. now, if he had a blog, or anyone following his twitter stream, this would make absolutely NO SENSE because it was out of context.

what does this have to do with Google Reader? a little bit, but mostly it was an example of me caring more about what it looks like on my blog page, than in my friend's google shaared items account because of my OCD.

here's what it DOES have to do with gRead:

i shared, for maybe the first time, a tweet that i made. [waiting for my bass player]... then i shared BOTH of jeremy's answers [probable, then yes] for two reasons:
1. it gave the answer to my questions that i posed, thus bringing resolution to my problem. and it needed context, so my original question was up too... i even shared them "in order" so it would appear in consecutive thought order.
2. i thought it was witty and fun on how he answered.

if there were other times that i shared a tweet of my own, it was because i wanted it to receive more attention than my assumed oft-overlooked twitter-stream.

i agree that i HATE email junk mail and that i've told people to quit sending me dumb ass bible/christian/etc. forwards. maybe i lost points with them because i did, but somebody has to love them and tell them like it is!

so, that's what my comments are on your post.

i thought it was well written, and "very ryan", but i love you and you're my friend... so i appreciated it.

and that is why i'm replying with the smart ass remark:


[/TONE NOTE: end humorous, sarcastic, cocky comment]

*maybe i'll reconsider my sharing habits... maybe... maybe.........

Ryan said...

hey... I have 5 other friends on G-Reader, so it isn't JUST you Mr.

But seriously, RSS is one sweet technology, but much like email and everything else that has to do with the internet... it is suspect to the rule that EVERYTHING on the internet must be spammed (be it email, blog comments, myspace, or anything else) and I just figured we should head it off nice and early.

Thats all, and come on, I LOVE some of your shared items, and I enjoy reading them... but when I log in and have 57 shared items from one person.... thats.... painful.

.justin said...

a few more clarifying thoughts:

also, sometimes i wish i was subscribed to a blog, just so i could share one article that i read on it, but i could care less about the rest of their posts. but i don't care enough about it to devote a whole post on my blog to it. like this.

or there are also many many blogs i read that don't provide many "sharable posts", so if i do share them, that doesn't mean i'm suggesting everyone else should subscribe.

.justin said...

i like the idea of "spammed RSS feeds" that you suggested. very clever.

throw a patent on it, you just made your millions.

i recently just subscribed to the TUAW rumor site. i like SOME of their articles, but not 80% of them. i've been feeling like they are spam lately.

i also like the YPulse blog. but i only like about 80% of their posts too. i've been feeling like they are spam lately as well.

i think a lot of the fault is in Google Reader's current technology.

a button that says "block this blog's feed from my friend's shared items" would be EXCELLENT...

Big Brother Google, where you at?!