64 CommentsEditorials / By Scamp /

An idiots guide to Google Reader and why you should use it

Discovering Google Reader was the best thing to happen to me on the internet (unlike twitter, which was the worst thing for me to discover of the internet). Google Reader allowed me to keep up a lot more efficiently with the blogs I follow, and various places across the internet (unlike twitter, which enabled me to stop reading other anime blogs because I was too busy watching my tweetdeck update). And you should all use Google Reader too.

No really. Hear me out. If you’re not already using  a feed reader, this will be the most useful thing you’ll read all day.

And if you already use a feed reader, feel free to totally ignore this post.

But what does Google Reader do, and why should I use it? I’m glad I pretended you asked! Google Reader is a single site that informs you when a different site, be it blog or imageboard or news site, updates with new content. What this means is that you don’t have to visit each site independantly, hoping that there will be a new update and then slinking off in a huff when there is nothing new to read. You can simply visit your Google Reader page and it will tell you when there’s a new update. From there, you can either visit the site and see the new post, or you can read it inside Google Reader itself. Plus you can subscribe to anything you want to see updated. From blogs to news sites to a comment section to a tag on an imageboard to a tumblr site to anything. There are other feed readers like Google Reader, but GR is the most popular and it’s the one I use.

Setting up a Google Reader account

Getting a GR account is a piece of piss. Chances are you already have a Google account anyway. If you have a youtube or gmail account, you have a Google account. Go to the GR homepage and you’ll be greeted with this.

Simply type in your gmail/youtube account in. If you don’t have one, hit create an account and follow the instructions there.

Right, GR account set up. But you’re not subscribed to anyone yet, so it’s looking rather empty.

So now we’ve got to subscribe to a few places we like. You like The Cart Driver? Of course, why wouldn’t you. What a fantastic blog this is with incredibly useful information about Japanese cartoons provided in an entertaining manner. Let’s subscribe to The Cart Driver! There are two ways you can do this. First, you can look for a ‘Subscribe to Feed’ button on the site. Oh would you look at that, there’s one right there on the sidebar!

When you want to subscribe to somewhere, look for an orange button like that. The thing you are subscribing to is called an RSS Feed. Click on that to subscribe to the RSS feed of The Cart Driver.

…is how it should work, but the RSS Feed button is a mysterious magical creature that doesn’t always do what it’s supposed to do. For example, it could give you a simple page like this.

Which is all very easy. Hitting the big “add to Google Reader button” will do the job for you. However, as I said, the RSS Feed button is a mysterious button and will sometimes produce something like this.

ARGH! Clearly this is not helpful. However never fear! For there is a second and much easier method to subscribe to sites. First, go back to your GR account and hit the ‘Add a Subscription’ button.

A text box will appear when you click ‘Add a Subscription’. In there, paste in the url for this site, thecartdriver.com, and click ‘add’.

Huzzah! But just being subscribed to one blog isn’t worth much. That’s not using GR properly. Let’s now subscribe to Ogiue Maniax, which you should do, because it’s an awesome anime blog.

Now where’s that RSS Feed button…ah, I see! Right up the top left. Alternatively, you could just paste in the url of the website into the ‘Add a Subscription’ place and forgo the whole ‘search for a rss feed’ button.

The great thing about feed readers like GR is you can subscribe to pretty much anything that updates with new content. You like Zero Punctuation videos? I know I do! Stick that url into GR and you get updated with every new video. You like naked pictures of Horo from Spice and Wolf (NSFW obviously)? I know I do! Stick that url into GR and you get updated with every new picture. Do you like Cyanide and Happiness comics? I know I do! Stick that url into GR and you know the drill. It’s not a foolproof method, and sometimes it throws a hissy fit when you try to throw in something too specific, or the site isn’t optimised for feed readers. But it works 99% of the time.

Let’s say you’re having trouble coming up with what else to subscribe to. Google Reader will provide you with recommendations. Under the ‘browse for stuff’ on your GR sidebar, go to the header marked ‘recommendations’. However if you’ve just set up your account, there won’t be anything there yet. There is a trick I’ve learned though. Click on The Cart Driver in your feed subscriptions. Go to the drop down bar marked ‘feed settings’ and click ‘unsubscribe’.

Ta-da~! A list of blogs people who subscribe to The Cart Driver also subscribe to. Just make sure when you’re done checking them out, you resubscribe to The Cart Driver. It would be awful to forget to do that.

If you don’t like one of the sites you’ve subscribed to, it’s very easy to unsubscribe, just like that. What I like to do is subscribe to any blog I like a post or two of, and unsubscribe later if I find I don’t like most of their stuff.

There are many other tips and tricks to Google Reader I’ll leave you to figure out yourself. However that’s the very basic beginners guide and some tricks to help you find blogs and places you’d like to subscribe to. If you have any questions about Google Reader, please do ask. No matter how stupid, I promise I’ll try to help you. This actually matters to me, because when someone is subscribed to your feed, it’s an effective method of keeping them reading your blog.

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  1. Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    But Scamp, how can people listen to zzero’s music clips through a feed reader? Sigh, guess we’ll have to visit his namby pamby anime music site when we see it update on GReader unless it’s of an OP/ED theme where we can just stream it through the youtube embeds.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      The youtube video embedder I use doesn’t allow people to look at my videos through google reader. They’ll just have to visit the site and see what craaazy new header image there is for the post

  2. Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

    Google Reader killed Anime Nano, for me at least. Instead of scouring a wasteland of unknowns for one or two interesting blogs, I follow other people who will most likely share the best articles from around the interwebs.

    But GR is as much as a burden as it is a blessing. Subscribing to too many feeds can become a problem; if I don’t check GR for a week, 300+ unread posts could pile up, which has happened. Keeping the unread count under 20 is a good day for me.

    • karry
      Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      “Google Reader killed Anime Nano”

      Naaah, there’s, like, an entire FIVE blogs that are consistently good, others just arent worth subscribing, yet occasionally have their moments. Like that Ogiue Maniax blog, there’s barely anything insteresting there ! Ever ! And many posts are just redirects. But sometimes it can deliver too.

    • Anonymous
      Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

      a week, 300+ unread posts could pile up

      If I don’t check my Google Reader for a week I have about 5 times that… on a slow week. Mark All As Read is god’s gift to the people.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Ah yes, GRSI. I tried that but couldn’t get into it. People kept sharing stuff I had zero interest in and it was clogging up my feed. It destroyed the very reason I signed up to GR. But I guess it’s an option for those who want it

  3. Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Also, if you’re using Chrome, the RSS Feed Extension Button automatically tells you whether or not a site has a feed, and you can just click it… four times, and it’ll add the feed to Google Reader. :/

    TBH I don’t understand how anyone could /not/ use Google Reader, but that’s just me with my perpetual ~900 unread posts :v

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Ooh, that is handy. Definitely better than scouring the website for that stupid orange button

      • Posted June 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

        Firefox used to have this feature on the main UI but when they did usage statistics they found that it was the least used button. So they removed it from the default configuration.

        You can still add it back by right clicking and selecting customise.

  4. Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    But Scamp, you forgot the step where you’re supposed to add Desu ex Machina to your feed immediately upon activating it. How else will people learn about using the right anime websites?

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      Clearly they will already know this, so I didn’t feel the need to include it

  5. Anonymous
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    Everyone worth talking to on the internet already uses Google Reader. I don’t see the point in this blogpost. I also didn’t read it… just came here from my Google Reader to post a comment.

    • Arabesque
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 1:24 am | Permalink

      That’s because there are still some who don’t know about these sort of things, either because they are new to the Internet or they aren’t knowledgeable about it’s secrets.

      Nothing wrong in trying to make someones life easier

      • luffyluffy
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:21 am | Permalink

        I don’t use Google Reader.

        Thank you for the information Scamp, it was useful.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      Very close minded. Most people do not use feed readers because they’ve never heard of them or don’t see the point. Try ask /a/ how many of them use a feed reader and be amazed by the responses

      • Anonymous
        Posted June 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        >implying those people and /a/ are worth talking to
        If you frequent a news site or blog, it’s very hard to miss that ‘SUBSCRIBE’ button. On news sites it’s often even just the word “SUBSCRIBE”, which upon clicking brings you to a page telling you about feeds and readers. It is a well known fact that stupid people do not read what is on their screen. These stupid people then do not notice that they can “SUBSCRIBE” to a site. Result: They don’t, so why should I then bother talking to them? They won’t read, they probably won’t listen either (they often don’t, it’s the internet after all).

        Also, it’s not being “very close minded”, it’s being an asshole.

  6. KBKarma
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    You forgot to mention the bookmarklet you can drag into your browser’s toolbar, which allows you to subscribe to any site with an RSS feed (whether the link is visible or not) in two simple steps, by simply hitting the Subscribe button. Works in Opera, and most likely in Chrome, so it should work with every browser. It can be found by going to the little gear in the top-left of your Google Reader page, clicking Settings, then going to Goodies and scrolling to the bottom.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink

      This comment section is a treasure trove of feed reader tips and tricks!

  7. Posted June 21, 2011 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    I recently added one or two sites to my Google Reader, but I hardly use it at the moment…I should really start using it properly. Thanks for the tip about finding other interesting sites via one you currently follow, but I just checked and it’s not actually necessary to do the ‘unsubscribe and then subscribe again’ routine. I think you only have to click the specific site in the reader, then go to ‘Feed Settings’, and then ‘More Like This’. That seems to get the same result, although hopefully I’m not mistaken.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      Ah, that would be much better. Admittedly, I used that example to show how to unsubscribe to a feed too, because it’s a useful thing to be able to do.

  8. Arabesque
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    Google Reader saved my life. Before Google reader, I used to bookmark all the blogs I used to visit, and would spend about an hour trying to check all of them for updates. With Google reader, I don’t need to do that anymore, and I managed to get married, start a company, have children, and secure their education and future.

    Thanks Google Reader!

    But seriously, this a very useful tool.

    • mcm38
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      XD nice advertising comment

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Man, all it’s done for me is allow me to know if there’s new Horo ~ecchi~ pics. However, sometimes, that’s enough

  9. Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    I’ve never been a big fan of Google Reader. The Cart Driver just doesn’t look the same without Lelouch on the upper right hand corner.

    Though I do use it to check on blogs that I frequently read…

    Get­ting a GR account is a piece of piss.

    what does this mean anyway

    • mcm38
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      ‘piece of sh*t’

      to it’s Irish altered version.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Oh you and your lack of knowledge of British and Irish slang~

    • morbious
      Posted June 24, 2011 at 6:20 am | Permalink

      I thought piece of piss was like piss easy, not hard

  10. luffyluffy
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 2:17 am | Permalink

    I don’t need Google Reader, 25% of your hits are probably me refreshing in a huff anyway.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      It’s more than just for blogs though! Fanfiction updates, new Tiger and Bunny pixiv pics, anything!

  11. Posted June 21, 2011 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    I’ve twice made it a New Year’s Resolution to start using an RSS reader and still haven’t found the will to do it. Anime Nano takes care of just about every anime blog I read. The few non-anime sites with an RSS feed that I read regularly (football blog, finance blog…actually that’s it) update predictably enough that it doesn’t really set me back to give them a each a click an hour/day/week/month, as opposed to logging into Google Reader to check them every hour/day/week/month.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Nano is packed full of blogs I have no interest in reading though. I discover the blog through Nano and then subscribe to it in GR. Most of my subscriptions are anime blogs anyway, apart from the odd webcomic, football podcasts and naked Horo pics

  12. linger
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    I already use it for RSS feeds of fanfiction of my favorite series.

  13. Posted June 21, 2011 at 3:27 am | Permalink

    Can you organize your subscriptions in Google Reader? Like, say, CLICK HERE for just “Anime Blogs” or “Art Blogs”? I wouldn’t want all my subscriptions in the same thingy, feel me?

    Oh, and another question! Let’s say I want to subscribe to a certain blog, but I don’t want this certain person to find out about it. Just how private is Google Reader? Will people know I subscribe to… NEOPETS?!? If so, how can I keep my dignity?

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Yup. Mine is sorted into ‘anime’ and ‘everything else’. Anime is still bigger than the everything else folder.

      And yes, it’s totally secure. I wouldn’t want anyone to know I subscribe to new naked Horo pics now, would I?

  14. Posted June 21, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    screw new technology! young whippersnappers and their feeds and ipads and hipster music…

    actually, i have my bookmark bar neatly set up exactly the way i like it and there’s really only about 4 central sites i visit everyday anyways. which update everyday no matter what. everything else is filler pretty much. plus i’m wayyy too OCD to set something new up exactly how i like it.

    • mcm38
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:00 am | Permalink

      Idem, no need for that many bloggs to subscribe. Just only subscribe to the few ones you like. I only read 3 to 4 bloggs which doesnt require that much time to check upon all of them.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      For stuff that update regularly, there’s not much need. But for stuff that sporadically update, like fanfiction or fanart, or fan created stuff in general, it’s great. You know when something that has gone on hiatus returns with a bang

      • Posted June 21, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

        even for that it wouldnt be any good…the fanfiction i (still) follow…most haven’t updated in over 2 years, but i will still get an email notification if they ever do!! ;__;!!

        you know now that i think about it…actually i don’t follow a lot of fan-created stuff. biggest thing is scanlations but MU will tell me everything that’s released without fail <3

  15. fathomlessblue
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    While I use Google Reader, it’s only once or twice a week for the ‘lesser’ blogs I follow; the ones that aren’t very prolific, or only occasionally have posts I’d like to read. For my favourite 15 or so sites, I’d rather click on the site and find out for myself. Call me sad but I like wondering whether anything has been posted, I consider it part of the experience.

    That it, I’ve decided! Google Reader is sorta the cancer possibly killing the blogosphere maybe…

    Seriously though, thanks for the informative post!

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      That’s a pretty neat way of using it. Welp, however you can get your use out of it is cool. Google Reader is just that versatile!

      (man, they should really pay me for doing this)

  16. mcm38
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Ignoring the GR subscribing. Scamp, I can’t follow you on Twitter for some reason. Always forgot to ask you why.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      You need your own twitter profile. Otherwise idk how you would be having a problem. Maybe you did follow me and I thought you were spam and blocked you?

      • mcm38
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Nah. I keep following, but the button Unfollow button turns back to Follow immediately denying my follow request. It never happened before either. But I’ll try it again.

      • Scamp
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        What’s your username? That sounds like I blocked you

      • mcm38
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        Username is mcm38 (Yeah this guy uses the same username everywhere he goes.)

      • Scamp
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

        I can see why I might have blocked you, seeing as your profile is just shortened links, which is a sure sign of a spammer. But I don’t appear to have blocked you at the moment, so try again?

      • mcm38
        Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

        K it’s done.

  17. Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Personally, I like to give my favorite blogs the physical traffic by visiting them daily, even if there’s nothing new there. I use AnimeNano and AnimeBlogger.net Antenna for the rest. Then again, I’m the person that refuses to use a self-checkout lane because I don’t want a person to lose their job.

    As for the other stuff, is does look cool but is there something else that does what Google Reader does but isn’t from Google? You know for all those slightly paranoid types that like to split up their on-line presences (i.e. google for searches, firefox for browser, microsoft for email, wordpress for blogging, etc) ?

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      There are other feed readers. Someone earlier mentioned something called Pulse? idk, trying googling ‘feed reader’ and see what you get

  18. Mr. Anon
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Is there a way to have it give me notifications on my desktop? Going from F5’ing 10 sites to F5’ing one site is an improvement I suppose, but not good enough.

    I never need to check my mail anymore, because unless Google Talk has already told me otherwise, I know I don’t have any mail. If things could be that way for every other website as well, that would be ideal.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      It refreshes automatically whenever there’s something new. I don’t know about a desktop client, but I’m sure there is one

  19. mizu
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    You just totally saved my life. Thanks, Scamp.

  20. DesuSexual
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Right now it isn’t too necessary for me because I only read like, 4 blogs. UNLESS SOME KIND SOUL HAS RECOMMENDATIONS :V

    • Scamp
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      Look at mai blogroll on the sidebar

  21. Posted June 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    I use google reader primarily to follow webcomics. Lots and lots of webcomics. It would be an impossible task without the feeds.

  22. A Day Without Me
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 2:16 am | Permalink

    You can’t make me.

  23. JJR
    Posted June 22, 2011 at 2:34 am | Permalink

    Meh, I get by with Firefox using the “smart” bookmarks toobar to get my RSS feedness. I don’t keep up with that many blogs to justify to myself messing around with Google reader.

  24. Posted June 22, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Cool thing with the danbooru feed! I have been using Google Reader for a while but I did not know I could do that!

    Go feel appreciated.

  25. Posted June 22, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Shit, I never knew I could do that with danbooru feeds. Every time I wanted to look out for new pictures I had to keep refreshing the goddamn page. Now I can watch Danbooru’s every movement from my fortress of solitude. Every update of tags I desire. Man, that’s hardcore.

  26. laura
    Posted June 23, 2011 at 1:12 am | Permalink

    If I subscribe to a blog on google reader, can the blogger tell who I am? Can they see my email address/login name if I only read it on google reader? Thanks.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 23, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      Nope. I can only see that sort of stuff if you make your profile more public by, say, publicly ‘liking’ a new post or something along those lines

  27. Posted June 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    This blogpost is gold. Five star post.

  28. Rustle
    Posted July 1, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    Feedly ftw! But I will see into google reader

  29. Posted April 15, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    I love it when individuals come together and share views.
    Great site, stick with it!

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