Monday, March 05, 2007

How many posts is too many?

You can't have too much of a good thing, right? Not so, suggests a recent poll on why readers unsubscribe from blogs. The (admittedly unscientific) survey on ProBlogger found that "too many posts" was the most common reason for readers unsubscribing from a blog's RSS feed, way ahead of "infrequent posting" and "uninteresting content".

Whilst the methodology and sample size (109) can hardly be described as robust, the sentiment struck a chord with me. It also bought to mind a recent Read/WriteWeb post on The Attention Economy, which argues that the information explosion precipitated by the Internet is causing a scarcity of attention. We no longer read, we skim. And we vote with our feet.

This chimes with my recent experience of trying to keep on top of 40 odd feeds via Bloglines, some of which are populated with new posts upwards of 40 times a day. Catching up with all my blog reading only to return a few hours later to find dozens of unread posts elicits a bailing-out-a-sinking-ship feeling in me, which is why I too have started voting with my feet. Is Ubergizmo a half-decent gadget blog? Yes. Are the posts generally interesting? Yes. Do I have the time/inclination to read 40 Ubergizmo posts a day? No. Have I unsubscribed as a result? Yes.

"But you don't have to read them all!" I hear you cry. Well, that's true but I don't want to have to scroll through all those posts to see if there are any that really float my boat. Not when I can subscribe to Gizmodo UK which publishes a far more manageable number of posts per day.

Of course, one man's over-posting is another man's under-posting and there's clearly no optimal posting frequency (there are no doubt some readers eagerly refreshing their browsers every other minute in anticipation of the next Ubergizmo missive).

Maybe the problem isn't that there are too many posts, but that I need a more effective filter. Perhaps it's outmoded of me to attempt to source my reading solely by author/publisher. Which is presumably where Spotplex is hoping to come in. The recently launched Digg-alike differs from the daddy of all popularity sites by tracking user click-throughs (rather than votes) to determine which posts should make the front page.

Whilst it's nice to have an alternative barometer of the blogosphere, Spotplex doesn't (yet) take account of my personal tastes or those of my friends (which Bloglines kind of does do, albeit in a dumb way). I'm thinking maybe I need some sort of mash-up of the two which indexes my favourite blogs, but prioritises the most popular posts, as well as filtering the wider blogosphere against my profile for posts which may be of interest to me.

On the basis that pretty much anything I think of in Web 2.0 space of late seems to have already been realised somewhere, I'll wait for someone to point me in the direction of a Spotplex/Bloglines hybrid. Until then, I'm off to cull some prolific posters from my blogroll...

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