Home Mainstream Web Watch: Why Alltop Rocks

Mainstream Web Watch: Why Alltop Rocks

Back when the RSS aggregator web site Alltop launched in March of this year, we compared it to another daily start page favorite of ours at the time, OriginalSignal. Designed to bring RSS to the masses, Alltop, like both Original Signal and Popurls, provides categorized selections of feeds that make it easy to scan a lot of news on a particular subject. Since its launch, Alltop has been adding new categories at such a fast pace that it has now clearly blown away its competition in terms of quantity.

Since launch, Alltop has moved from simply being yet another start page, to a valuable resource for anyone wanting to research a certain subject or industry.

Not For You? That’s OK

If you haven’t checked out Alltop since its launch, it’s probably because you fall more into the earlier adopter set – you were interested in taking a look at the shiny new site at the time, but you’re still more than happy with your RSS reader and see no reason to switch. For early adopters like us, using a site like Alltop seems be like moving backwards. That’s OK – that’s as it should be.

We tend to use services like Google Reader or a configurable start page like Netvibes to read our feeds and this is fine for us. However, we’re not necessarily representative of the masses. Not everyone wants to tweak and customize their own personal reader – they simply want a web destination where they can catch up on the news. Alltop can serve that purpose.

Nudge People Into RSS With Alltop

Alltop is also a great resource for getting people started with RSS. Next time you’re trying to explain RSS to a friend, you can just send them a link to an Alltop page instead with a note saying “here’s a great example of RSS in use.” There are so many different subjects covered now, it’s easy to find a page (or two or three) that your friend would enjoy, no matter their interests. They’ve got pages on countries (ex: Argentina), Sports (ex: Hockey), religions (ex: Muslim), activities (ex: crafts), educational resources (ex: personal finance), professions (ex: sales), events (ex: summer Olympics), and so many more.

When your friend returns to you after a while asking if they can add another web site to their Alltop page, you’ll know that it’s then time to move them into a more robust RSS solution like Netvibes, for example. Alltop was just their training wheels – now they’re ready to ride.

Web 2.0 For Beginners

Not only can Alltop help people get into RSS, it’s also useful for those just signing up with various Web 2.0 services for the first time. One of the problems with getting into the social web is that when you come so late the game, you don’t even know where to begin. The early adopter set has been re-creating their friend graph on numerous sites for years – we know who’s interesting to us, who our friends are, who we want to avoid, etc. A Web 2.0 beginner, on the other hand, signs up for a service like Twitter or FriendFeed, and is at a loss.

But that’s where a service like Alltop is, again, very useful. When your friend asks you who to follow, you can point them to the Twitterati and Frienderati “starter packs.” Here, they can pick and chose from those sites’ more prominent users. (They even have the Utterati covered now – who knows what next? Identerati?)


Alltop may not be the most glamorous of today’s web resources, but its extensive pages are great tools to nudge people towards the more complex apps we embrace today as both techies and social media enthusiasts. As representatives of this movement, be it the “groundswell“, social media, Web 2.0, or whatever you want to call it, we need to think about how we can make transitions easier for those who still live very much inside the web 1.0 bubble (besides the occasional foray into MySpace, that is). Alltop is certainly a tool that can help with that move, which is why we felt like revisiting this application today.

Someone once called Alltop a “big pile of nothing” (you know who!). They couldn’t have been more wrong. You may not have a use for Alltop yourself, but it’s time you showed it to your mom and dad.

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