What’s with “Link Dumping” and Invisible Advertising?

I subscribe to a lot of RSS feeds. I have noticed a bit of a change lately and I am not sure I like it. I am not sure if it is because people are stuck for things to write about in their blogs or they are just using a new feature. But what I am seeing is the practice of “link-dumping” getting a bit out of control. It is almost RSS spam.

Every other post that some bloggers are doing is just a list of links. While these links are usually related to del.icio.us or something similar and related to their area of interest and maybe mine. I just do not see the point. I am not really that interested in what they have bookmarked for the week or day. In addition if I was interested in what people are bookmarking I can always subscribe to their del.icio.us feed. As this is usually the tag that is added. Why cross post their links on their blog and del.icio.us?

It does seem like an excuse to post rather than something useful to say. I realise that they think they are providing their listeners with useful information or curious content, I would rather no post than a “link dump” thanks. It would seem that the proverbial social bookmarking phenomenon is taking over the world.

Something else that angered me this week was a nasty trick that some RSS feeds seem to be employing. It might be an error but it has occur more than once and I am starting to think it a ploy. What has been occurring is “invisible” adverts. In other words an embedded ad that you can not see but if you hover over it there is a link there in the feed-reader screen display. I think that for most the temptation to click would outweigh leaving it alone. While there is nothing wrong with clicking the ad – who wants to? In addition yesterday I accidentally clicked one and I was so annoyed at myself for doing it. But perhaps they are banking on that too.

Adverts in RSS was always going to happen but when companies try to trick people into clicking their ads I believe that to be wrong and uncalled for. The best way in my opinion to combat this as users is to not click anything, make the ploy ineffectual or boycott the feed until they shape up. I don’t mind the advertising but please lets be sensible and abstain from trickery and nasty ploys of entrapment.

Ask.com Blog and RSS Feed Searching

I found this great search engine today. Part of Ask.com, you can now select to search Blogs and Feeds. It has also been reported on various blogs but there is a major error that I have not seen others post about.
There are a lot of feeds and podcasts out there now and finding what you are after can be a nightmare. Ask.com seems to make this process fairly easy. You also have the function of searching just the feeds. I also noticed that the addition of podcast in the search gets you on the right track as far as searching for podcasts.

You also have a number of options to use as a filter in your search such as Posts, Feeds, News as search areas. Then the option of displaying the results; relevance, most recent and popularity. As well as showing the results within certain time-frames such as hour, day, week and month. A nice touch is the “Top Feeds” that display on the right side of the search window. Nice because it can cut down your time in the quest for quality and the fact that I only got one result when I search for our podcast and it was there! Cool.

Once you find what you are looking for you can hover over the binoculars and get a preview of the feed or the site. One bug I have found in testing this is the fact that searched for Global Geek Podcast and sure I got the right podcast. But the preview plane was anything but correct, it was displaying feeds from I don’t know where. But some of the previews were from sites that linked to Global Geek Podcast. So that error probably has something to do with how the results are assembled. I hope they are going to fix this, they need to fix it.

Lastly there is the option to subscribe to the feeds through various mainstream feed readers such as Bloglines, Google Reader, NewsGator, but there is also a plain old RSS link as well. You can also post the result to a few services such as del.icio.us, Digg, Newsvine and Bloglines. The convenience is nice with an obvious slant towards the web based applications that are becoming more popular.

With time I am sure that we are going to see more search engines like this one with more options and intuitive searching, exciting. This is absolutely crucial to podcasters and the subscriber; to get what they want in a timely fashion. Otherwise the saturated choice that people are left with will be so baffling that they will not bother, or are we there already? Will this help RSS, Blogs and Podcasting to get out of the “Geek’O’sphere”?

POPURLS dot com: What a Great Site

POPURLS BannerI was cruising the RSS today and although I had heard of POPURLS in passing I had not visited it until today. I was pleasantly surprised.

This site is a sort of a aggregator for sites that are updated frequently or have RSS feeds associated with them, or some other kind of community contribution on a regular basis. POPURLS summarizes this data into a “all-in-a-view” style. I don’t think that it is everything that comes out of these sites but it is a nice summary. The site has a very nice single page design and you can swap the default white on black to black on white. You can also make the text larger for those of you who are blind. The other cool option is that you can expand the headings to include more feeds or data. Lastly you can hover over a title of an article you get a summary of the article, click on it and a new tab opens with the full text from the site, cool.

POPURLS covers a huge range of sites: digg.com, del.icio.us, furl.net, flickr, reddit.com, tailrank.com, fark.com, youtube.com, news.google.com, news.yahoo.com, newsvine.com, video.google.com, shoutwire.com, slashdot.org, wired.com, odeo.com, nowpuplic.com, metafilter.com.

You will notice that not all the “feeds” are text based. There are video feeds as well and that’s something that average newsreaders don’t do. I think that is a nice addition, so is the fact that there are Flickr photo’s as well. I am not sure what the relationship between POPURLS and the contributing sites is but it makes you wonder how others might get on the list. Just something to think about.

That aside I think this is a great idea and one that finally puts RSS feeds into the hands of “regular” users. While it does not unleash the true power of RSS and aggregation it is a taste and might spark some interest for some people, it also connects you with the information that may enable you to better utilize RSS fully. In addition to these points, even if you were a super geek; it is just a fun site and a great way to have a quick catch up with what is going on in cyberspace and beyond, a cool distraction from whatever it is you are meant to be doing. Have a look you will end up staying a while.