Links Blog Yea or Nay?

July 5th, 2006

I started the Red Sweater Links blog as a place where I could feel comfortable spitting out short pointers to interesting things without worrying that I was overloading the main blog.

This solution has been a partial success, but there are some definite down-sides. I often find it difficult to choose whether something is a link or an article. And often a link turns into something I want to talk more about. I am feeling a draw to just merge the two back into a single blog.

This is your chance to share advice or opinions before I “throw the switch.” If you’re a subscriber to both the links and the main blog, would you find it easier to just have one source to monitor?

Another thing I could do is attempt to aggregate several “links” into a single post to minimize “entry pollution” while still having a unified feed.

Can you tell I’m confused about this situation?

22 Responses to “Links Blog Yea or Nay?”

  1. Tyler Hall Says:

    3 Feeds.

    * Articles
    * Links
    * Combined feed

  2. Blake Seely Says:

    I vote for a single feed – which I’m guessing is primarily your longer articles, sprinkled with some posts that are links with some commentary/analysis. I think the red-sweater value is in the long articles anyway. I’m guessing that if you wait to collect several “link worthy” things into one, they’ll be less timely, so you’ll end up not posting about them – and I’m pretty OK with that.

  3. Chucky Says:

    I subscribe to, read, and enjoy both feeds.

    I don’t care how you architect it.

    (This may not be all that helpful, but I wanted to express my appreciation for your blogging…)

  4. Stridey Says:

    I’m in the 3 feed camp. I think people who read both feeds now will have a lot to gain from it, but we don’t all read both it’d be a pain in the butt. I have plenty of link blogs – I’m sure I read pretty much the same blogs you do. I value your commentary and longer articles, but honestly, there’s not a lot that you can provide me in a list of links that I’m not getting elsewhere (or at least, there wasn’t the last time I checked out the link feed).

  5. charles Says:

    Disclaimer: I like your blog and always read it with great pleasure.

    Now, to my opinion on your question. I don’t read the links feed, mostly because I am afraid of being overloaded and am likely to find these links elsewhere. It might also dilute the regular posts and make them less attractive (I know, this is completely irrational).

    3 feeds as proposed above does not make too much sense, as the whole point of RSS is to aggregate stuff. So if one wants both feeds, one subscribes to both. Duh! (but if some people want the 3rd feed, let them have it! Listen to your users ;-)

    A link-compilation feed is something I might ultimately subscribe to, as it is much less likely to clutter my rss reader, and is easier to just skip on a busy day.

  6. Haris Skiadas Says:

    I personally didn’t even know about the links feed until now. I like the idea of aggregating links to a single post. In any case, I agree with charles that three feeds does not make much sense. Either keep the two separate, or merge them and aggregate several links into a single post.

  7. Will Says:

    What about a daily links-digest incorporated into the main feed? Like a “Red-Sweater morning links”. You could queue them up in a tool of your choice for automatic publishing, maybe at midnight each night, or 9am, whatever. I think that’d preserve a decent signal-to-noise ratio for those readers who aren’t necessarily here for the links, but still aggregate for others.

    Not sure if this solves the problem of wanting to expand on the links, but potentially you could include a paragraph or two in the daily digest about a link. Any more than that, and it’s probably a dedicated article.

    The titles could be all prefaced like “[RS Daily Links]” so if readers want to get fancy, they can filter them away.

  8. Andre Stechert Says:

    I’d say skip the whole comments blog and let people know your del.icio.us username. There are RSS feeds for every user. There’s a notes field. Done. Also, you help improve the global “bookmarko-sphere” and your links show up in the context of what other folks are looking at. So, e.g., collaborative filtering is in effect.

  9. Arden Says:

    I’m with Will on this one. If you’re going to do the links, do something where you just post each link as you find it, and they get automatically gathered into one post until theres 5-10 links per post, or all the day’s links, or what have you, and post at the appropriate time. It would definitely make subscribing simple (though writing the PHP might not be so simple).

    Or you could do a Gruber-style running commentary on various links you come across, and just publish the articles…

  10. Arden Says:

    Oh yeah, and I forgot to mention… having one feed would provide people with all your content without having to subscribe to more feeds than we already do. ;)

  11. systemsboy Says:

    Personally, I’m in favor of keeping the two sites separate. This is mainly because I read your blog and never really read the links site, so it’s totally just my personal preference. As others have said, you could do a Gruber-style thang and I’d probably be just (well, almost) as happy.

    Oh, and for what it’s worth, I don’t really use a feed aggregator. Just read everything in the browser. So I’m not sure if my opinion really counts here. (Does this only concern people who use aggregators, or would this affect the site itself?)

    I did want to say, though, that I really like your blog. It’s one of the most fair, even-handed and yet still interesting blogs I read. Thanks for managing to be critical without being a dick.

    -systemsboy

  12. Mike Zornek Says:

    I read both so combining them would make it a little simpler on my end, but I don’t **need** it. I would recommend not bunching up links … for me those list-of-links posts are sometimes overwhelming. If you do bunch it up, please no more than 3 or so.

  13. Luis de la Rosa Says:

    Unified is probably good, at least for me. I have too many feeds as it is in NNW, though judicious grouping helps.

    Please don’t do the “digest” format. For some reason it makes it harder to read.

    One thing you could do if you’re worried about the site being cluttered is to disable some WordPress stuff in your template for items that are marked as being a link somehow and don’t show things such as comments since you always have them turned off.

    Maybe if you also have the “legacy” full-articles feed (again not quite sure how you can mark individual articles as being “full”) + a unified feed, you’d probably satisfy 99% of your readers. I doubt there’s people who just want your links – they’ll also want your full-length novellas! :)

  14. Simone Manganelli Says:

    I highly encourage you to do it the Gruber-style way. Three feeds: a linked list feed, a weblog feed, and a combined feed (although I suppose the combined feed is kind of superfluous). And I like commentaries included with each linked list entry. Oh, and snarky commentaries are always welcomed and much appreciated — you need to do more of those. ;)

    – Simone

  15. sjk Says:

    I’d be satisfied if the feeds remain as they currently are. Right now my preferred change would probably be an additional unified comments feed since it’s more tedious subscribing to every individual comment feed I want to follow (e.g. ones where I’ve replied) than simply filtering/ignoring comments of disinterest. Oh, the format of summary headers in long “unified” feeds makes a significant difference in how (in)efficient they are to process (in NNW), e.g. how usefully can the available sort criteria be applied to different summary groupings.

    I have too many feeds as it is in NNW, though judicious grouping helps.

    Feed overload forced me to make judicious grouping an ongoing prerequisite about six months ago and it’s been mostly successful. NNW’s subscription management is overdue for an overhaul.

  16. Andy Lee Says:

    In NNW I subscribe to Daring Fireball’s links feed as well as the regular articles. To me it all looks like one rolling mass of stuff to read — I wouldn’t notice if Gruber merged the two feeds tomorrow. (Well, they behave slightly differently, but not in a way that matters to me.)

  17. Rob... Says:

    It’s your blog – do what you feel most comfortable with :)

    Personally, I think it depends on the quantity of links you post as to what it’ll do to the look and feel of your main site.

  18. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Thanks everybody for the comments so far. I really appreciate knowing how “real readers” feel about the issue. I’m going to let it simmer for a few days before I do anything drastic, so if anybody else wants to chime in, please do!

    sjk: There is a unified comments feed … looks like I accidentally removed it from the sidebar at some point, will have to fix that. It’s really simple:

    http://www.red-sweater.com/blog/comments/feed/

  19. Trevor Fancher Says:

    I personally don’t mind either way since I will be reading both anyways.

    For those of you with feed management issues I recommend http://google.com/reader/ . I totaly switched from NNW to Google Reader about 2 weeks ago and I love it. Feed management is basically tags like Gmail.

  20. sjk Says:

    There is a unified comments feed

    Excellent. And that gave me a clue where to find the hidden link for Hawk WIngs, too. Thanks Daniel!

  21. Andre Stechert Says:

    BTW, when making the point about del.icio.us, I should also have pointed out that if you publish your feed through feedburner, you can do what they call link splicing. I.e., they’ll automatically splice in your link feed from delicios, furl, digg, or whereever. You can easily create feeds with/without the splicing. This is also true for photos and other splicables.

  22. Nathan Says:

    I like the feeds separate, the links is something I check almost immediately after posts, whereas with the regular blog, I set aside more time for myself to read more in-depth entries

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