I've been using Bloglines for a while now and though I'd registered at a number of other sites, I've never really used them. Today that changes. The reason that I've decided to switch to something else is that, although there are many features of Bloglines that I like, there are more that simply don't work. These have become too annoying so I'm moving on.
The main annoyances are:
Inaccurate reporting of fresh material: Steve Rubel doesn't really write 30 posts a day, but Bloglines is always telling me that my subscriptions have new posts even though, when I visit them, there is nothing there.
Navigating my folders: folders are important, but Bloglines, at least as I experience it in linux/firefox simply doesn't present them well at all. The names of the folders and the presence of absence of new posts, are often hidden and I need to scroll the frame around to see if there is anything to read.
Non trivial OPML exporting: ironic that this would be a reason to leave, but I find the path to exporting OPML from my own account poorly designed - so much so that I'm sure I've missed something. The only way I know to export my own OPML is by going to a view of my account as others see it.
Having reported the above, things that I will probably miss:
Bookmarking posts: it is a great way to collect posts for further reading and blogging.
The 200 post limit: this limitation is a good one - when I see a feed reaching this limit, I know that it is losing my attention and a candidate for deletion.
So far, I've looked at two alternatives. The first is Attensa's free online service. It pretty much fell over when I uploaded my OPML. The foldering structure doesn't appear to be there (which is weird, when you consider OPML). In addition, many (most) of the feeds haven't come through and are stuck with a 'downloading...' place holder.
The second that I have looked at is Rojo. I looked into this very early on and didn't really do much with it. Now, however, I find that I'm really starting to like it. It had no trouble uploading my OPML; the folders are all there, I can read the name and status of all the feeds; the reading space is very nicely designed. I'm going to keep with Rojo for a while and see if it sticks.
Ok - I'm going to call it. Bloglines has been failing to report subscription numbers for feeds for at least the last 24 hours. Previously, when you viewed a feed in Bloglines, it would report the number of subscribers to that feed. Now, there is no information and when you click through to view the subscribers lists it reports no subscribers. A bug.
I recently posted about Bloglines - how their features were stuck and how their quality was starting to go down hill. The Bloglines team posted this on their blog a couple of days ago:
We're not going to beat around the bush about this. Bloglines
performance has sucked eggs lately. Why? In short, Bloglines has been
busting at the seams like the Incredible Hulk.
All of us here at Bloglines have been foregoing sleep and social
lives over the past several months to keep Bloglines running and
preparing for our move to a new access center (with bigger britches and
a very elastic waistline).
So hang tight because there's a light at the end of the tunnel. The move will happen soon; we'll keep you posted.
- The Bloglines Team
With web 1.0, search engines built businesses out of content that they appropriated from web sites. With web 2.0, the relationship between the content (both providing and accessing) and the content creators is a lot closer. Consequently, their is far more pressure on companies that are making money at either end (e.g. blog services and rss aggregators) to be stable. A melt down on TypePad and Bloglines, for instance, would cut me off to a large degree from the blogosphere.
The question these companies need to be asking themselves is: where is the tipping point at which customers are going to flee like rats from a sinking ship?
What is more likely: Steve Rubel created 75 new posts in the last 4 hours, or Bloglines is getting its feeds in a twist? Much as I appreciate the creative output from Mr Rubel, my money is on Bloglines. Recently I have found that the feed reading portal has been all over the place in terms of quality and yet has stood still in terms of development.
The main quality issues I am aware of are:
The interface tells me there are no new messages for a certain feed. However, when I click on the item, I do see new messages.
The interface tells me that there are new messages for a certain feed and when I look, they are all old (as in the case above).
In addition to these quality issues, I'm somewhat at a loss to understand why they haven't developed any of their features or provided any new ones. Why am I still sticking around? Because Bloglines doesn't provide a simple way to export OPML!