Feed Readers & PlanetLotus.org

I’d been meaning to post this for a little while, but a couple things today made me decide to finally do this. Now, let me clarify things first. I LOVE PlanetLotus.org. I think it’s a wonderful contribution to our community and I think it’s an incredible way to get people into viewing the Lotus blogging community. In fact, I have an upcoming IntranetJournal article where the first thing I share with the reader is PlanetLotus.org. So realize this, I think it’s cool. There is NO hating going on.

That said, I will take a feed reader over planetlotus.org only any day.

I’ve seen a couple people recently say they’ve stopped using RSS readers and only use PlanetLotus.org now. That scares me, and leads me to believe a lot of people are missing some great content. So here’s a few reasons I think a FeedReader is much better than PlanetLotus.org on it’s own.

  • Unread marks – An RSS reader will have unread marks associated with all the posts. It’s easy to see what you have and have not looked at.
  • Speed – An RSS Reader pulls down the text of post and stores it locally. So, when you go to read it, it’s immediate. On planetlotus.org you have to click the link and actually GO to the website in question. Sometimes it’s fast, sometimes it’s slow, sometimes the site is down.
  • Offline ability – Since the posts are downloaded, you can read them offline. So sync your feed reader, then take it on the train, under a tree, anywhere you might not have access.
  • Archival ability – I can mark a post as flagged to keep it for later. That way I can keep all the best posts available.
  • Grouping – You can group blogs together in folders based on anything you wish. If I wanted all admin blogs in one folder and all dev blogs in another, or all Quickr blogs in another. I can do that and easily separate content I want.
  • Keyword searching – If I don’t want to group, I can set up my feed reader to flag everything with a particular keyword. I can have it show me everything with Quickr in it if that’s what I’m currently interested in.
  • Synching amongst locations – I use NetNewWire on Mac, FeedDemon on Windows and sync it all through the NewsGator online service. Unread marks and archives and everything travel between my various pieces of software. So no matter where I read stuff, everything syncs up.
  • I’m in control – I don’t have to see blogs I don’t care to read in the midst of my headlines. With PL, I get em all, whether I want to or not.

Those are just a couple technical reasons I like using feed readers better. Another one is this, and I believe this is the biggest thing:

If you don’t read planetlotus.org every hour or so, you will miss stories.

It’s true, because of the amount of posts, things scroll by fast on PL. If you aren’t refreshing PL all the time, you run the risk of missing good stories. Also, I believe most users won’t scroll past that one screen. Right now I see about 20 stories on my screen, and normally if I go to PL, I look at those stories and MAYBE I’ll scroll past that to the bottom of the page. But I’ve never clicked NEXT PAGE.

And what if you make a post that isn’t while half the world is awake? Will people around the world completely miss your post? It’s a possibility, and that kind of sucks. With an RSS reader, you can walk away for a week and come back and still have access to all the content that happened while you were away. You can do that with planetlotus.org, but it’s a lot of clicking. And it’s clicking that I think people just won’t do.

For me planetlotus.org is the gateway drug. It’s the way to get people interested in Lotus blogs. And for casual readers, it’s the perfect end solution. But for someone who really wants to follow the community more closely, I think adding feeds to your RSS reader will ultimately be a better solution for you. Right now, I use PL to search for blogs I don’t already subscribe to. When I find ones I like, I add them to my feed reader.

So for me, I almost never visit PlanetLotus.org even though I find it highly valuable. And since I never click on a headline on PL, I never contribute to what is hot or not. Sometimes the numbers on what are hot kind of baffle me, and that’s one of the other things we can talk about. Maybe in the next post.

So my answer is, promote the hell out of PlanetLotus.org and once you get people hooked on the blogs, get them into using a feed reader. They’ll thank you.