Drinking From a Fire Hose

By Deane Barker on November 21, 2006

Are there RSS feeds you can’t keep up with? I have a few that I just can’t stay on top of due to posting volume. A friend of mine called it “drinking from a fire hose.” They are:

I find with these that whenever I open Bloglines, there are a couple dozen posts. I don’t have the time or inclination to read them all right then, so I leave them. Then, next time, there are more. Eventually Bloglines tops out at 200 unread posts, and I click on the blog title just to get rid of the unread and start over.

It’s a little heart-breaking, because all of them have such great content. But that’s something to consider when you’re running a blog. The automatic train of thought is, “I’ll just throw everything out there and people will read what they want.” Not true – too many posts can overwhelm people, and they consequently won’t read any. The volume of your content can render the quality of your content moot.

We’ve discussed posting volume before, and we’ve struggled with it around here. How many posts is too many? How many is just right? I used to shoot for 10 a day, but it wasn’t maintainable. I think we average three or four a day now.

What blogs do you enjoy, but you either don’t subscribe too or don’t read regularly because posting volume is too high?

Comments (6)

adam says:

I have a similar issue, which results in me putting my ‘feeds’ in one of two places – if it’s a low volume, high quality feed, i’ll put it in my google reader (which I primarily read from my google home page).

If it’s higher volume, I add a dedicated module for it to my home page – and the module simply shows the 5 latest entries in the RSS feed.

It just means I can keep a taste for what’s currently being pushed out by that site, and if i have time, it’s also a quick and easy link to the site to look closer.

(Currently, I have DIGG, slashdot, gizmodo and gadgetopia as individual modules, it seems to work really well)

jonathan peterson says:

salon and slashdot have long since dropped off my reading list because of volume, and gizmodo is right on the bitter edge.

Category specific RSS is the way to go. If I didn’t have to see all the cell phones that I can’t buy in the US anyway,and the PS3/Wii/Zune/whatever overhyped thing everybody else is talking about as well, gizmodo would be fine.

Your signal to noise ratio here is MUCH better.

aaron says:

I think the length and density of the average post as well as the consistency of post volume have a huge sway over threshold. I’ll try to read anything Richard McManus writes, but the length of his articles makes it too tough to keep up with his post volume of 2-3 per day (at rwr.) TechCrunch, on the other hand, posts more like 4-6 per day but is easy to keep up with because it’s lighter reading (their posts are easy to scan.)

I haven’t been able to keep up with several of my favorite blogs (lifehacker among them) for a while now. RSS filters have let me get a few back under control, but I’ll abstain from giving the pitch.

caleb says:

the main digg feed is by far the largest hose I deal with on a day to day basis. 50-100 a day!

Deane says:

I finally bit the bullet and unsubscribed from DZone and Slashdot today. I’m going to give Lifehacker a while yet, but the other two were just wasted on me.

3Monkeys says:

One way to narrow your feed intake is to only subscribe to certain sections on these sites. Even though I have some editorial privilege at DZone, I have a select set of tags I commonly read. I set up a feed for each tag and filter those through a Google Reader tag. Therefore, for my reading I get about 25% of the actual total content each day, which makes it more palatable, more like drinking through a garden hose on high.

Stacy Doss

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