How Many RSS Feeds Should One Person Read?

Posted on March 4, 2006

How many RSS feeds should one person subscribe to before it is too many? How many does it take to get the job done? Ollie at Dayorama recently asked the blogosphere this same question.
That's a question I always wonder about and never seem to know the answer to. I'm subscribed to around 50 different feeds on the basis that it'll guarantee something worth reading each day, leaving it up to me to wade through things that don't interest me to get to the good stuff. Some of those feeds will only provide new content every two or three days, some will cough up ten or twelve articles per day. Since no technology is yet good enough at sorting the wheat from the chaff, it still leaves a burden on me to find needles in my RSS haystack.

Maybe 50 is too many, then. Or is it too few? Should I saturate myself with RSS feeds from every blog I've ever thought looked worthwhile, and just allow myself ten minutes to pick my way down a list of articles each day, picking out the quality? Or should I accept that some good articles will sink to the bottom, and just pick up the top articles in my RSS reader whenever I get the chance? Or should I only have 10 or 15 feeds, so that I never miss a thing from sites I know I'll love? But can you think of a site whose posts you know - one hundred per cent - you'll read each time? There aren't that many. I personally would rather pick and choose from a wide variety than rely on a shortlist to constantly come good for me. The alternative is to sit through the bland stuff in the hope that it'll expand my knowledge if nothing else, but that seems hardly the point of RSS.
The RSS Weblog is running a poll on this issue. The responses to the question "How many feeds do you track?" ranged from 0-20 to over 390. The very unscientific survey found that 40% of voters track over 100 feeds and 12% track over 390 feeds.

Another blog recently asking the "how many feeds" question is Bartelme Designs. FactoryCity analyzed some of the comments to the Bartelme post and found that the average person subscribes to about 100-200 feeds. Alex Barnett points to a RSS study that found that the average "Aware RSS User" subscribes to just 6.6 feeds. Robert Scoble, an a-list blogger from Microsoftrecently updated his blogroll which contains hundreds and hundreds of feeds. Luis Suarez at ITtoolbox Blogs discusses subscribing to 350 different feeds. Meanwhile, Technorati's new favorites feature limits people to fifty feeds.

There probably is no right or wrong answer and there is a big difference between tracking feeds and actually reading them. At some point even the fastest reader reaches the limit of the number of feeds they can read.