Minimum Blog Feed Criteria

There was a post on HackerNews recently asking for everyone to post their personal blog. A few days later, some people had hacked up projects based on that data, including this OPML file, which you can import into a feed reader to follow all of the blogs.

I imported it and realized immediately that there were way too many to follow, so I started to cull them. I still have a long way to go, but I noticed a few things that made me want to delete feeds from my list immediately.

Here’s my list of things your feed should have:

  1. A title. For some reason, there are a bunch of untitled feeds. The <link> tag has a title attribute, and I’m pretty sure that if you leave it blank, most readers will pick up the site’s <title> tag.
  2. The full post. I don’t know if it’s intentional or just a default of some blog software. If you have a feed, I recommend putting the full post in it.
  3. A recentish post. I know it’s hard to keep a blog up-to-date, but if you are going to add your site to a list, go put up a new post if your latest is very old. Even if it’s just a short intro and a few links to your best posts.
  4. Not too many posts. I possibly post too much, but there were a few blogs with several posts each day. They were short posts, but I still found that they dominated my unread list too much, so I ended up deleting them.

There were other reasons I deleted blogs, but most of them had to do with the general topics of the blog, which were just not interesting to me personally.