This site and The New Leaf Journal are self-hosted WordPress sites. I have never really used WordPress.com. However, I made a WordPress.com account around the time I started The New Leaf Journal in 2020 for some reason I no longer remember (maybe it had to do with Gravatar, although that is moot now). I gave up on maintaing my now-former Osmosfeed aggregator on GitHub because figuring out why it was not building required too much time and effort for a project that I want to be low maintenance. Instead, I decided to finally take advantage of having the ability to make a free WordPress.com site. Behold, my free WordPress.com aggregator site that shows off my supreme full site editor skills: The Pressed Leaf Reader.
I came across an interesting blog post by Evan Sheeran noting that it is easy for to become overwhelmed by new feed articles using an RSS/ATOM Feed Reader. He stated that “[t]he more feeds to which you subscribe, or the more prolific some of the authors are, the more of a commitment opening your feed reader becomes.” I recommend reading his original post where he considers what an alternative may look like. For anyone facing similar issues, I also recommend my own recent article on organizing feeds. I separate feeds by update frequency, with the three main grounds being Daily, Weekly, and Sporadic. Separating feeds with less frequent updates makes it easier to stay abreast of their new posts. I also linked to other systems for organizing feeds since my method works for my feed collection, but may not make sense for every feed collection. In using a feed reader or RSS/ATOM feeds generally, I encourage people to ask themselves why they are doing so. I use a feed reader and read-it-later tools so I can collect articles and media from websites and bloggers I want to follow without needing to go to each site individually or outsource my reading to an algorithm. To the extent I organize my feed reading so I never end up with 2,000 unread articles, it is so that I can keep tabs on good internet writing. As I noted in my feed organizing survey, not everyone has the exact same goal or style that I do. Understanding your purpose in organizing feeds goes a long way toward keeping your feed reader from being overrun (for lack of a better term).
I came across an interesting passage by blogger Facundo Olano in his blog post about creating a personal feed reader to follow good and meaningful writing from around the web (see the source code for his interesting feed reader project). He assessed his prior usage of Twitter (now “X”) and Mastodon and realized that he was “following people just to get notified when they blogged on their websites,” in effect “following bots to get content from link aggregators.” He concluded that “Mastodon wasn’t the right tool for the job.” I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Olano’s assessment as well as his preference for using personal feed readers to stay abreast of updates from interesting authors instead of social media platforms such as Facebook, X (or Twitter), and even Mastodon. Feeds are the best way for following individual websites and authors (combined with newsletters in some cases). Social media and networking serve different purposes, but I will grant that they can play a limited role in discovering new authors and articles (preferably combined with a read-it-later tool).
No, I won't subscribe to your newsletter... except by using my RSS reader (and a clever feature of OpenTrashMail)!
I primarily use feeds to stay on top of interesting authors and websites. I seldom need to deal with newsletters because almost everything I follow (including a few Substack and Buttondown newsletters and the newsletter for Tablet Magazine) also have RSS feeds. But there are a few exceptions, notably some of the Real Clear network of sites. I started using Omnivore to cover this use case since it supports subscribing to newsletters from inside its app with its own email addresses. Blogger Dan Q here wrote about using an Open Trash Mail instance to handle newsletter to RSS conversions. Apparently one can subscribe to these disposable addresses via RSS. I’ll keep this in mind for future reference.