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Pruning the Blog List

I went through the exercise months ago where I tried to re-organize my blog reading to be more efficient at it. And while that helped some, the truth of the matter is there are a lot of blogs I just never got around to reading. I may have subscribed to them for a good reason, but the truth is in the reading: they just aren't ones I find very useful. Here's a great example:

Methodology for Pruning:

This is a good feed, though it stretches the definition of a blog. And when I originally subscribed to it, I was a systems and security architect and I lived every day chest deep in the security world. But when I looked at, I realized that I couldn't remember the last time I actually read a post from this feed. Google Reader tracks that sort of information, so I hit the details and sure enough, I hadn't read a single post in the last 30 days. The main reason is I get the same information from several other sources. I get it in an email from Microsoft directly. I get the same information from an email sent by the Microsoft Technical Accounts Manager (TAM) for my organization. I get the same information from CERT. I get the same information from Secunia. You get the idea. So the question of whether or not to save this feed or send it into oblivion was an easy one. Unsubscribe one feed.

Then there are feeds I keep up with constantly. A good example is Steve Jones' personal blog (ok, one of them). Because Steve is a friend and he is an interesting guy with a lot of the same sorts of interests (kids, running [I will get back there soon], technology, personal liberties, etc.) and so his blog is one I read even if I have very little time. This is evident by the statistics as to my readership. Now you'll see a week or so gap where there were several posts from Steve but I wasn't reading. Then a surge when I read a bunch all at one time. That week was when I was away at a missions camp. My access to the Internet was rather limited and besides, I was trying to keep 10 teenagers focused on work projects, learing skits, and performing for the community. There wasn't much free time for me. But note that when i got back, I quickly caught up. This tells me at a glance that this is a blog I read and find value in, so it's one I should keep.

Now I know there are a lot of blogs that are on the fence. However, because of the sheer number of blogs I had subscribed to, they may have been overlooked. So I am figuring for the next few weeks I'll be examining what blogs I want to keep and what blogs I don't for those that don't fall neatly into the "Gotta Go" or "Stay Right Here" categories. I figure by the end of July I'll be done with this. It's going to take a lot longer this first time around because of the need for so much clean-up. But I'll be better for it.

Why Do It?

But why do it? Because I was noting that simply scrolling through the blog roll to get to the ones I always read was taking up a noticeable amount of time. And I noted that there were some good blogs I had on the list that I read occasionally, but I often lost them between blogs that I didn't read so often. In order to make better use of my time and to get better use of the information available, it's important for my to prune down my blog roll. If you've got a long of blogs that you are subscribed to but you find that you aren't reading them all, it may help for you to go through the same exercise.

How Often?

I think Andy Warren does his pruning yearly. I tend to pick things up and hold on to them. I'm a pack rat, and this includes with respect to information. So it's probably better for me to pick a slightly more frequent interval to do this sort of review. Otherwise I'm going to be in the boat again where it's going to take a week or two. So I'm shooting for quarterly. The first month of each quarter sounds like a great time to spend a couple of days and leisurely pick through my blogs and make sure I'm staying focused.

What About Aggregators?

I'm torn on this one. SQLServerPedia and SQL Server Central aggregate blogs and SQL Server Central hosts a bunch of blogs. SQLBlog hosts a bunch of blogs and does aggregation as well. So there's a lot of great content coming from each of these three feeds. For the mean time I'm going to stay subscribed to all three global feeds. We'll see how this quarter goes. It wouldn't surprise me, though, if I ended up unsubscribing to the global feeds and subscribing just to the individual ones (I already do this for some blogs).


K. Brian Kelley - Databases, Infrastructure, and Security

IT Security, MySQL, Perl, SQL Server, and Windows technologies.


Posted by Shawn Melton on 15 July 2010

How do you handle the good bloggers that just don't post that often?  Example Kimberly Tripp (of SQLSkills.com), she does not post often but when she does they are great reading.  I have a few in Google Reader that do this, I tend to keep them just so I don't miss the next great post.

Posted by K. Brian Kelley on 15 July 2010

I'll hold on to those known ones which are high quality but not as frequent. I've got them tagged using Google Reader so I know not to get rid of those.

Posted by Jack Corbett on 16 July 2010

I dumped the aggregate feeds long ago.  There were just too many posts that I didn't read, especially SSAS posts.  I subscribed to the feeds that I was reading.

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