Following blogs and other widgets

Blog-hosting platforms such as Blogger (Google), Typepad, WordPress etc are constantly upgrading and offering their bloggers new features, I presume in an attempt to keep them interested in regular posting as much as to keep them with the service – because nobody moves blog platforms lightly, as it means a change of URL. I did it once, in 2006, in order to be able to categorise and tag posts. Having gone through the agony of moving from Blogger to Typepad, exporting the blog, telling everyone I'd moved and would they mind updating their blogrolls etc, Blogger introduced tags and categories about a month later. I now realise that when one blog platform "rolls out" a feature, the others will probably do the same fairly soon afterwards.

Blogger blogs, however, have started featuring a "following" widget, by which the visitor can receive RSS updates of the blog and have their icon appear as one of a little array of postage stamps on the blog's main page. I don't use this feature to follow other people's blogs (apart from the first I tried as an experiment, Euro Crime) because I already subscribe to and read these blogs in RSS. If I use the "follow" widget, I get the same blog twice. I don't want to delete my existing subscription because I have everything arranged by subject.

So, if I do not appear to be "following" your blog, it doesn't mean that I am not following it – just that I'm doing so in a reader that tracks all RSS feeds, not just Blogger's. I am a bit surprised that Google hasn't got its act together in that if someone elects to "follow" a blog but already subscribes to it in Google Reader, GR can sense this and not add it as a duplicate subscription. Maybe it'll work out how to do that in a few weeks.

Another widget that Blogger provides is a mini-RSS feed of all your blog subscriptions, so the visitor can see all the latest posts and conversations at the blogs to which the blogger has linked. This beats a static blogroll any day – a blogroll is a pain as blogs are always going defunct, or getting boring, so I take them out of my RSS reader, but then have to go into the Typepad dashboard to update the blogroll (or, actually, not, as I can't be bothered - so the Petrona blogroll isn't very current the further down it you go, and probably has some serious omissions, sadly).  I have asked Ginerva at TypePad if she'll consider introducing the same "mini RSS feed" feature as Blogger has, in order to save the work of hosting a static blogroll. She says she will consider it. 

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