Home Bloglines Returns to Challenge Google Reader – Thank Goodness

Bloglines Returns to Challenge Google Reader – Thank Goodness

Popular RSS reader Bloglines says it’s solved the much publicized recent problems with feed updating that lead smaller services to pursue its users and Google Reader triumphalists to declare the RSS reader market all zipped up. It’s true that Bloglines has a lot of problems, but all software does and competition is incredibly important in any sector, including among RSS readers.

Despite its shortcomings, Bloglines is worth a look and when it works it works very well for many people. RSS is such a powerful media that it’s essential that the market leader, Google, be kept on their toes.

What Happened?

In a lunchtime announcement today, Bloglines’ Eric Engleman (usually a very charming fellow) offered an update that’s unlikely to satisfy at least the most discerning Bloglines users.

Some folks might have noticed that specific feeds were not updating recently on Bloglines, and we wanted to update you and fill you in on what’s been going on. We have figured out what the glitch has been. Over the weekend, a fix was released on Bloglines to resolve the issue. All feeds should now be updating and back to normal.

That doesn’t sound like filling in anyone about what’s been going on, that sounds like an assurance that unnamed problems are solved. That’s fine, it was probably a pretty simple error that lead to feeds not being checked for updates.

Update: More details from Engleman…

More technical details is that there was a bug related to the RSS crawling infrastructure relating to feeds that “errored” out. In other words, specific feeds would “error” out then not get recrawled. Prior to this last weekend, feeds were being fixed on a case by case basis. As of this weekend, all feeds should be updating correctly.

Blogines Is Popular For a Reason

On a good day, Bloglines has a lot going for it. It supports OpenID login, which is great. The year-old Beta version is much more attractive than the washed out colors of Google Reader. Bloglines Mobile is a much better mobile reader than Google Reader Mobile, though we haven’t tested out the iPhone versions. It’s nice that Bloglines shows you how many subscribers a feed has whenever you look at it, and thank goodness for those subscriber counts being put to use for spam control in parent company Ask.com’s blog search, one of the best blog search engines on the web.

Bloglines lets you organize your own startpage view by dragging and dropping feeds you’re subscribed to. That’s pretty cool. We wrote about the new version of Bloglines a year ago this summer and we really liked it a lot.

Unfortunately, we can’t figure out how to get a “river of news” view inside the new Bloglines, meaning: show me the most recent individual post from all the feeds in a folder, in the order the item arrived in, don’t show me every unread item in one feed before you show me another. That’s a deal-killer for this author, though otherwise I’d love to use the Bloglines Beta instead of Google Reader.

Google Reader Should Not Have Monopoly Control Over RSS Readers!

Google Reader, despite its market dominance, superior feature set and burning love from user/advocates, should not be the end of RSS reader development. Google’s control over huge stores of information, including your reading history, isn’t an unconditional good. Perhaps more important to users though, is the fact that Google Apps tend to be crude substitutes for real software and they are almost never updated. Google Reader may be one of the least crude, but it took years before the company added search of all things to Google Reader.

Google made huge waves earlier this month when they said that some time soon they will add RSS to web search queries, making them the last major search engine to do so. This weekend Google made changes to its iGoogle RSS startpage that enraged millions of users.

Do you really want Google to nail down complete dominance over the world of RSS? We sure don’t. We want to see a multitude of viable companies offering competing feature sets, being responsive to their users’ needs and innovating. In other words, Long Live Bloglines!

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