Loving RSS…

I am really loving RSS.

For years my only experience with anything remotely RSS-like was the LJ Friends Page, which is (in essence) an internal syndication system that allows external feeds for people who upgrade to paid accounts.

Once Schlock Mercenary had its own RSS feed I realized that I needed to start trying to consume this feed in different ways. After all, I’ve had people tell me for a couple of years now that my comic is the only one they read on its own website — everything else they read, they read via RSS.

I started by adding the Schlock feed to my friends page. If you’re on a paid account, you can add it here. (And please do! It’s a great place to comment on the strip via LJ, because you can confidently post spoilers! Also, you can spread the comic around because sometimes bored folks check out their friends friend pages. Adding the feed is like a public service!)

Enough plugging. On with the story…

Next I started looking for other feed-readers and aggregators that would provide me with a similar experience. I don’t want a list of links in a side-bar, like Sage provides, though I can see how some folks would. The Bookmarks Toolbar isn’t for me, either. I want a “friends page” format. And I got it using the Google Reader. I’ve dropped several comics and other feeds into my Google Reader account, and using the “Expanded” view from the “View All” link, I get just the results I want.

Wow. Never more will I need to click on the OOTS website to see if Order Of The Stick or Erfworld have updated. I’ll get notification (not the comics themselves, sadly) right in my Reader. Also, piles of Failblog, Lolcats, InsectPod, and other stuff. COOLNESS.

About a year ago I was discussing disruptive technologies with fellow webtoonists. RSS fits the bill. I get the sense that in a couple of years anybody without RSS is going to be an also-ran, and the big dogs will be the ones who embraced it to the fullest and exploited it.

58 thoughts on “Loving RSS…”

  1. In the Erfworld feed, just click the title of the entry to display the page within Google Reader. That works with most of the comics I subscribe to.

  2. In the Erfworld feed, just click the title of the entry to display the page within Google Reader. That works with most of the comics I subscribe to.

  3. Actually, I have a free (Basic) account, and I subscribe to lots of feeds. I think you only have to be a paid member to add a feed to LJ’s feed list…thingy. If the feed exists on LJ, you can friend it just like you friend another user or a comm. 🙂

  4. Actually, I have a free (Basic) account, and I subscribe to lots of feeds. I think you only have to be a paid member to add a feed to LJ’s feed list…thingy. If the feed exists on LJ, you can friend it just like you friend another user or a comm. 🙂

  5. I actually read all my webcomics on their own pages. Although, it’s gotten a little unweildy. I just have them bookmarked in two bookmark folders with 20 comics in each and use the “open all folder items” option. Which is extra pointless because of the 40 or so comics Schlock is the only one to update daily. Maybe I should check out this RSS thingy.

    And, actually, one of the reasons I never bothered with RSS was because I wanted a “friends page” format. So I’ll have to check out what you did and see if I like that. Thanks.

    1. I used to use the folders-full-of-bookmarks thing, but now I use Piperka. Basically, it displays a link whenever a webcomic on your list updates, and tracks when you’ve read them via the page.

      I’ve got 106 comics on my list, and reading them is a breeze.

    2. I used to use the folders-full-of-bookmarks thing, but now I use Piperka. Basically, it displays a link whenever a webcomic on your list updates, and tracks when you’ve read them via the page.

      I’ve got 106 comics on my list, and reading them is a breeze.

  6. I actually read all my webcomics on their own pages. Although, it’s gotten a little unweildy. I just have them bookmarked in two bookmark folders with 20 comics in each and use the “open all folder items” option. Which is extra pointless because of the 40 or so comics Schlock is the only one to update daily. Maybe I should check out this RSS thingy.

    And, actually, one of the reasons I never bothered with RSS was because I wanted a “friends page” format. So I’ll have to check out what you did and see if I like that. Thanks.

  7. I’m on a Mac and I use NetNewsWire. It gives me the title of every RSS post and I click on it to read it. It only marks them as read if I click on them, and ones that are marked as read are moved away from the default screen. On the off chance that it’s just RSS notification and not inclusion, I click on the title and it opens the webpage within the browser.

    But the super awesome part of it is that you make an account with NetNewsWire and you can use it on multiple computers, and it keeps track of what you’ve read elsewhere, and if your computer ever dies you just log in to restore it all. I guess Google reader does that too, or adding all the syndicates on LJ, but it’s much better than using bookmarks or del.icio.us .

  8. I’m on a Mac and I use NetNewsWire. It gives me the title of every RSS post and I click on it to read it. It only marks them as read if I click on them, and ones that are marked as read are moved away from the default screen. On the off chance that it’s just RSS notification and not inclusion, I click on the title and it opens the webpage within the browser.

    But the super awesome part of it is that you make an account with NetNewsWire and you can use it on multiple computers, and it keeps track of what you’ve read elsewhere, and if your computer ever dies you just log in to restore it all. I guess Google reader does that too, or adding all the syndicates on LJ, but it’s much better than using bookmarks or del.icio.us .

  9. It’s cool that you’ve come around on this. Last time the topic of comic reading programs for personal use came up you were heavily opposed to it. This was before you left Keenspot though, as you added that Keenspot premium subscribers could read the feed however they wanted.

  10. It’s cool that you’ve come around on this. Last time the topic of comic reading programs for personal use came up you were heavily opposed to it. This was before you left Keenspot though, as you added that Keenspot premium subscribers could read the feed however they wanted.

  11. Im a serial webcomic reader and I don’t use RSS.

    Hell, I don’t use ad blockers or nothing. I’ll be perfectly honest, for a majority of cartoonists that I know of, advertising is one revenue stream. RSS may be convienient but a lot of the time they don’t look good, don’t have advertising and well, do I really need another reason to check my friends page more than the 20 million times I do so already?

    Sure, it’s nice to have that option. But I guess on my side of the fence it’s almost a habit, check shortpacked when it pops up through Willis’ journal, open schlock sometime after lunch when it updates. get home and hit the “webcomics tab” and go make a cup of tea.

    In fact, I guess you could call RSS a “Weapon of Mass Distraction”

    1. I’ll be perfectly honest, for a majority of cartoonists that I know of, advertising is one revenue stream.

      Indeed it is. But I would cheerfully trade all my current ad revenue for a significant increase in readership, and a concomitant increase in book and merchandise sales. Diversified revenue streams are good, but I think that a broader base of readers is ultimately better.

      1. /me shrugs

        Fair call, but will RSS bring the broader base of readers? (Well, it won’t just by itself to a certain degree…) To be honest I would place RSS as being a device for reader retention.

        1. Absolutely. It makes the comic easier to share, and the last time I checked (admittedly it was 4 years ago) word-of-mouth accounted for 66% of the introductions to my strip (according to 4,000 survey respondents.)

          RSS, like social networking (LJ falls into that category) is a very, very powerful word-of-mouth marketing tool.

          I’m not saying you personally have to use it. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see webcomic sites get a lot leaner in years to come, as they find most of their readers switching to feeds.

          1. Its cool, I just for some strange reason wanted to pitch in two cents 😉 But what you’re forcasting is pretty potent, the idea of the death of advertising revenue (it’ll never completely die, just limp along).

            You will always have it, trying to read archives through a RSS is a pain, so there will always be a requirement for a well run website.

            Then again, if you can pay yourself solely through selling your own product, you have a good thing going. Ironically using your on site advertising to do that will then have a decreased effect ^_^;

          2. Its cool, I just for some strange reason wanted to pitch in two cents 😉 But what you’re forcasting is pretty potent, the idea of the death of advertising revenue (it’ll never completely die, just limp along).

            You will always have it, trying to read archives through a RSS is a pain, so there will always be a requirement for a well run website.

            Then again, if you can pay yourself solely through selling your own product, you have a good thing going. Ironically using your on site advertising to do that will then have a decreased effect ^_^;

          3. In terms of sharing, very very few things are as easy as clicking “share” in Google reader. That’s a meaningful improvement right there.

          4. In terms of sharing, very very few things are as easy as clicking “share” in Google reader. That’s a meaningful improvement right there.

        2. Absolutely. It makes the comic easier to share, and the last time I checked (admittedly it was 4 years ago) word-of-mouth accounted for 66% of the introductions to my strip (according to 4,000 survey respondents.)

          RSS, like social networking (LJ falls into that category) is a very, very powerful word-of-mouth marketing tool.

          I’m not saying you personally have to use it. But it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see webcomic sites get a lot leaner in years to come, as they find most of their readers switching to feeds.

      2. /me shrugs

        Fair call, but will RSS bring the broader base of readers? (Well, it won’t just by itself to a certain degree…) To be honest I would place RSS as being a device for reader retention.

    2. I’ll be perfectly honest, for a majority of cartoonists that I know of, advertising is one revenue stream.

      Indeed it is. But I would cheerfully trade all my current ad revenue for a significant increase in readership, and a concomitant increase in book and merchandise sales. Diversified revenue streams are good, but I think that a broader base of readers is ultimately better.

  12. Im a serial webcomic reader and I don’t use RSS.

    Hell, I don’t use ad blockers or nothing. I’ll be perfectly honest, for a majority of cartoonists that I know of, advertising is one revenue stream. RSS may be convienient but a lot of the time they don’t look good, don’t have advertising and well, do I really need another reason to check my friends page more than the 20 million times I do so already?

    Sure, it’s nice to have that option. But I guess on my side of the fence it’s almost a habit, check shortpacked when it pops up through Willis’ journal, open schlock sometime after lunch when it updates. get home and hit the “webcomics tab” and go make a cup of tea.

    In fact, I guess you could call RSS a “Weapon of Mass Distraction”

  13. easy feed

    Go to the reader main page. click on settings, then goodies.
    There is a “next” button you drag onto your favorites.
    Every time you hit “next”, the next unread feed is fully displayed in your browser.

  14. easy feed

    Go to the reader main page. click on settings, then goodies.
    There is a “next” button you drag onto your favorites.
    Every time you hit “next”, the next unread feed is fully displayed in your browser.

  15. I looked into LJ-based RSS feeds, discovered they required a paid account, and haven’t thought much of it since.

    As for me, not only don’t I use it, I don’t have a clue HOW to use it- and, considering my dialup bandwidth limitations, I’m not all that eager to learn, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

          1. I was going to add your shared items to my reader, but then I realized that everything you shared is something you wrote. Howard, I already read you on three feeds – don’t make me read you again! But if you are really going to start using Google Reader, and sharing what you read, then I’d like to read your shared items.

          2. Hmmm… It looks like reader lets me share feed items, but not full feeds. That’s actually quite smart. I’ll start picking and choosing the stuff that I really LIKE from my existing feeds, and sharing those.

  16. I looked into LJ-based RSS feeds, discovered they required a paid account, and haven’t thought much of it since.

    As for me, not only don’t I use it, I don’t have a clue HOW to use it- and, considering my dialup bandwidth limitations, I’m not all that eager to learn, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

  17. Okay, you’ve convinced me. I’ll try Schlock as a feed on the Google Reader page.

    Amusingly enough, I saw this less than 18 hours after deciding to give Google Reader a try as my feed reader, too.

  18. Okay, you’ve convinced me. I’ll try Schlock as a feed on the Google Reader page.

    Amusingly enough, I saw this less than 18 hours after deciding to give Google Reader a try as my feed reader, too.

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