Cognitive Daily

Quick reader poll

I noticed from last week’s mega comment thread and also from the referrer log that many of CogDaily’s visitors read the blog via Google Reader. Wondering what all the fuss was about, I tried it out over the weekend. It certainly seems to be a serviceable reader, very similar in appearance and function to Bloglines. However, when I gave it the full workout for the “In other news” segment this morning, it crashed my browser, so it’s back to Bloglines for me.

This all got me to wondering: How do CogDaily readers access the site? I use three different methods to track visits to Cognitive Daily (Sitemeter, Feedburner, and Google Analytics), but none of these seems to give complete site statistics (Feedburner, for example, doesn’t register Google Reader visitors). So I thought I’d set it up as a poll, and find out directly from you how you got here:

I’d love to hear more about how you read CogDaily and other blogs, and I’m especially interested in what Google Reader users see as its advantages. Let me know in the comments.

In other news:


  1. #1 Jonathan Dobres
    January 16, 2007

    Most commonly, I access Cognitive Daily through Sage, a great lightweight RSS reader addon for Firefox. A lot of other readers are overkill, either pushing content into your browser or clogging your reading experience with automatically highlighted keywords that are rarely ever useful. Sage does one thing and does it well, making it really easy to keep up with great blogs like this one. :-)

  2. #2 Dave Munger
    January 16, 2007

    Interesting observation:

    If we tracked this poll in real-time, we could actually measure the speed of the various blog readers. For example, I’d bet the reason that Google Reader doesn’t have any votes yet is that this post hasn’t yet been posted on Google Reader. Bloglines, OTOH, already has it.

  3. #3 meerasedai
    January 16, 2007

    For the record, Dave, I polled as having come here via Netvibes, but really it hadn’t posted there yet; I hit ‘refresh’ on my scienceblogs feed to see what was new.

    Also, I have no reason to use netvibes as my reader other than it was the first one that I tried and it takes considerable effort to set up the forty-some feeds I’ve got!

  4. #4 UK Daryl
    January 16, 2007

    I’m using Google Reader at the moment, having recently switched from Windows Live which I used pretty much from when it was beta’d. (I’m a sucker for new stuff!). I like that I can see all 47 of my feeds in one place, and can tell it just to give me the ones I haven’t read. I can very quickly scan through and mark off those I want to mark as read without actually having to read them. I haven’t tried any of the other methods, for much the same reasons as given by meerasedai.
    Only just polled as I’ve only just fired Google Reader up having come back from lunch, so don’t know how quickly it appeared!
    WIndows Live, by the way, is very limited/limiting in terms of using it as a RSS reader.
    Perhaps now I’ll also tryout some of the others mentioned here!

  5. #5 arby
    January 16, 2007

    Recently added scienceblog feed to Google Reader. Easy to add feeds, if I find something I like I just hit ‘subscribe’ in toolbar, a couple of clicks later it’s added. I am condemned to crummy rural dial-up, and the only time it has crashed Firefox is when I have a half-dozen tabs downloading at the same time. There are currently 100+ articles waiting in the reader, so…

  6. #6 BenP
    January 16, 2007

    Using the rss feeder of Safari !

  7. #7 majkia
    January 16, 2007

    I use google reader after using a variety of readers before. It is simple and easy to subscribe to new feeds. I’ve not had any issues with crashing firefox.

  8. #8 Brock
    January 16, 2007

    I use Google Reader but I cannot really speak to its advantages as I have never used any other feeder. But I’ve experienced no problems with it so far. I only very recently began using Google Reader and I came across Cognitive Daily when I subscribed to a preset science group through Google Reader that had about 7 different science sites.

    I can say that I was looking at Google Reader when this feed came through at just a little before 12:30 EST, although it appears some people received it earlier; I’m not sure why that is.

  9. #9 Garrett
    January 16, 2007

    I use Google Reader, and was almost too lazy to come click on the poll, because I had to leave GoogleReader to do so. If I’m any indication, you’ll have a drastic underestimate of Google Reader users who were too lazy to click on the poll while reading their other 94 newsfeeds.

  10. #10 Tom
    January 16, 2007

    I’m one of those wacky Google Reader users.

    Things I like:

    Integration with Google services – Through the Google Toolbar, clicking on any feed link gives you an option to add it to your feed list.

    Labels – You can have Starred, Shared and labeled messages… and set up outgoing RSS feeds for any of them, allowing me to forward interesting items out to friends just by adding the list name to the field.

    Auto Sort – Items from less commonly published feeds show up on top, allowing you to read the more interesting materials first. Definitely a plus, considering that Digg’s Tech feed spams the feed buffer.

    One Button Reading – Surf the net with a spacebar! Nothing like laziness to encourage use of a tool. 😀

  11. #11 Dave Munger
    January 16, 2007

    If I’m any indication, you’ll have a drastic underestimate of Google Reader users who were too lazy to click on the poll while reading their other 94 newsfeeds.

    I’m not sure that will be any different from users of other blogreaders — I don’t think the polls show up in any of them. We may have an overrepresentation of readers who read directly through, though.

  12. #12 Art Oglesby
    January 16, 2007

    I.too, had to leave Google Reader to do this poll. What percent of news skimmers will take the time to do this?

  13. #13 Dave Munger
    January 16, 2007

    I.too, had to leave Google Reader to do this poll. What percent of news skimmers will take the time to do this?

    I don’t have stats for this post specifically (they are delayed 24 hours), but I can give you the stats for last week:

    We averaged 1,939 subscribers to our feed (not counting Google Reader, unfortunately). Of those, on an average day, there were an average of 319 clicks through to CogDaily posts. That’s about a 16 percent clickthrough rate.

  14. #14 Ryan Fox
    January 16, 2007

    Yeah, leaving Google Reader is a pain. I wish you didn’t make me have to click a link to view the entire post. What’s the point of the feed if I don’t get all of it?

  15. #15 Jacek
    January 16, 2007

    I also use GoogleReader. The most important features that convinced me to start using it are clean and easy user interface and the fact that I can use it from anywhere. I use 3 or 4 different computers on daily basis (and read mail/news from each one of them) and I’d hate to have to browse through already read articles every time I switch to a different machine. That is also the main reason why my favorite mail reader is mutt on a remote server and the favorite nntp reader is tin.

    Several readers mentioned that they don’t follow links from the articles because they don’t like to leave GR. I don’t like it either. And I don’t have to! I can just middle-click on a link and it opens immediately in a new tab in my Firefox. No annoying windows popping up on the screen, no need to leave <name-your-favorite-web-application-here>.

  16. #16 Dave Munger
    January 16, 2007

    Yeah, leaving Google Reader is a pain. I wish you didn’t make me have to click a link to view the entire post. What’s the point of the feed if I don’t get all of it?

    I agree, it’s a pain, but that’s what pays the bills around here. The RSS feed is supposed to lure you in to clicking the link and looking at our ads. I believe that some web sites are trying ads in their RSS feeds (though I couldn’t find an example in a brief search), but I suspect those, too would annoy some users.

    At least we’re not as bad as some (unnamed) competing science sites, who give only the headline in the RSS, then force you to sit through an ad before viewing the article.

    My experience is more like Jacek’s — in Firefox on a Mac, you just click on the link and it opens in a tab. I collect all the posts I’m interested in, then flip through the tabs later at my leisure (though this is what crashed Google Reader for me).

    But I think I’m learning that PC users have a very different experience. (The Google Toolbar, for example, is not available for Macs)

  17. #17 valerie
    January 16, 2007

    I use Google Reader after using Bloglines for a while. I like that it “knows” what I’ve read and what I haven’t. Bloglines would mark everything as read once it loaded in the right-hand panel unless I intentionally marked it as unread. Google Reader marks things as read as I scroll down.

    Works fine on Firefox for me.

  18. #18 Khalil A.
    January 16, 2007

    Well, I actually use Google Desktop. However when I see that there’s a new blog post, I’ll just read the title and if it seems interesting to me (most of the time) I just visit the site through Firefox.

  19. #19 valerie
    January 16, 2007

    Also, Google Reader has bundles of feeds related to different interests – News, Sports, Technology, Geeky, Photography, etc. Cognitive Daily is included in the Science bundle. That’s how I found you and probably why many/most of your readers use Google Reader.

  20. #20 Dave Munger
    January 16, 2007

    Wow, there are only 6 blogs in that bundle. While I’m honored (lucky?) to be included, the folks at Google probably need to visit Coturnix’s site to learn a bit more about all the science blogs.

  21. #21 tmdowling
    January 16, 2007

    I, too, have never used a reader before, and use Google’s because it was so easy to get going with and is so easy to stay with. Using Firefox; never had the reader crash the browser, afaik.

  22. #22 Dave Munger
    January 16, 2007

    Thanks for the poll responses, everyone. If the ratio of poll responses accurately reflects the distribution of readers used, then there’s a ratio of about 2.5 Google Reader users for every Bloglines user. Which means there are approximately 1,250 Google Reader users that aren’t accounted for by our Feedburner stats — which suggests that the actual number of subscribers to the CogDaily feed is around 3,100.

    This still doesn’t count a few other sources, such as readers of the ScienceBlogs combined feed, or people who find our posts via the ScienceBlogs Brain and Behavior channel, but it should give you some idea of our regular readership.

    Interestingly, since we averaged about 2,000 unique site visits per day last month, it appears that more people are reading CogDaily via the RSS feed than actually visiting the site, which suggests that RSS is becoming an extremely important vehicle for blog readers.

  23. #23 LeisureGuy
    January 16, 2007

    I use Google Reader. So far as I know, it doesn’t crash Firefox—but may it does, because my Firefox occasionally crashes. However, I do like GR much better than Bloglines. I use the Greasemonkey script (via Lifehacker) to make GR more efficient.

    And I enjoy your blog. :)

  24. #24 Liz Ditz
    January 16, 2007

    I use bloglines; haven’t tried others (if it ain’t broke…)

    I click over the read the whole post in the original if the topic is of interest to me.

  25. #25 coturnix
    January 16, 2007

    I just come to see you in the morning Dave – no need for feeds. And the 24-Hours pages is the best ‘feed’ for tracking the activities of SciBlings.

  26. #26 false_cause
    January 16, 2007

    I also use Sage in Firefox.

  27. #27 Hartmut
    January 16, 2007

    I use the rss to mail forwarder, so I can organize all my information gathering in my mail client.

  28. #28 Matt
    January 16, 2007

    I use an OS X program called Shrook. I know NNW is a better program, and I’ve even used it a little, but I love the look of Shrook, and it is free.

  29. #29 Dave Munger
    January 16, 2007

    I should add that for our nonscientific, “speed of tracking” metric, Google Reader does seem to be slower than the other RSS readers, taking a good two to three hours to get any votes at all, then sailing past all others, even direct site visits, who might be more likely to vote.

  30. #30 helen
    January 16, 2007

    I recently switched from bloglines to Google Reader – I like that you can tag them, and so have one feed in two or more places.. I like the layout a lot better and the share and email facility.. also I would never have found this blog without the search on Google Reader – plus I have a widget on my Google Homepage that lets me know when there are new feeds. Google is great!

  31. #31 Matthew
    January 16, 2007

    I use Newshutch, which is similar to netvibes (in that they are both ajax based), but better, in my opinion, because of the flagging feature, that netvibes doesn’t have for some reason. I also like it better than Google Reader because when you mark something read, it’s gone forever. I don’t like having to look at posts once I’m done with them.

  32. #32 charlene
    January 17, 2007

    I used to use Bloglines. I gave google reader a try and it took about a day for me to give up Bloglines forever. I love that I can read all my feeds in one place, and the tags and folders are just way more streamlined. I also love the keyboard navigation.

    Matthew, you know you can tell Google Reader to just show you new items, right? Then you don’t have to look at posts you’ve already read.

  33. #33 Sacha
    January 17, 2007

    After using Sharpreader for a long time, I gave Google Reader a try and then made the switch. Here’s why:
    1. Love getting my feeds from any computer.
    2. Easy to click on Google Reader from my personalized Google Homepage.
    3. LOVE the Starred items feature. I can quickly scan for articles of interest as they come in, then go back and read them in depth when I have more time. Much more organized.
    4. Quick scanning through posts with the space bar.

    At first I thought note having three window view was a problem, but actually this is better. I still don’t like waiting for “loading” but it’s worth the trade for the other features of being online.

  34. #34 Giancarlo
    January 17, 2007

    The one thing I like the most about Google Reader, it’s its starred-posts sharing capability. I find great material from time to time on some of the feeds I read and, instead of sending links to my friends (who may or may not like being interrupted by “Hey! I found this great post!” mails on their inboxes), I just “star” them and voilá, they appear on the right column of my blog. If a friend likes my starred items, he/she may easily subscribe via RSS to my favorites, and he can receive them in his reader (be it Google Reader or any other). You can see a working example in my own blog, if you look for the “Posts Muy Recomendables” section on the right column (sorry, in Spanish).
    This is just a great -and easy- way to share great material!

  35. #35 Liz B
    January 17, 2007

    I’ve never tried anything besides Google Reader, but I also appreciate some of the things other commenters have mentioned: ease of adding subscriptions, being able to see only unread items, and ability to use it on different computers.

    I probably click through to 15% of the items in my reader — but I gather I’m more selective in my subscriptions than a lot of other people (I have 30, and some don’t post very often).

  36. #36 John
    January 17, 2007

    I’m fed via yahoo reader.

  37. #37 TasReader
    January 17, 2007

    As an educator interested in web 2.0 technologies I use both Bloglines and Google Reader so that I’m familiar with them. I have different subscriptions on each. Since the google reader’s science bundle of popular science blogs includes your blog I picked it up that way. I still prefer bloglines though as it its easier to manage the folder structure and your preferences but that may just be that I’m only a newbie with the google reader. Bloglines are really helpful if you have a question whereas google reader you seem to need to join a group to discuss problems

  38. #38 Steven Alexander
    January 17, 2007

    I read thru Sage under Firefox, coming over to only if something doesn’t display. (Btw, I started reading via MindHacks.)

  39. #39 Jean
    January 18, 2007

    I use bloglines and figured I’d better cast my vote lest you determine we are few and far between. I haven’t looked at Google Reader to consciously make a choice between then because I have a zillion blogs here and don’t want to mess with switching them all over. It’s the same reason I’m with the same bank forever since I bank electronically (switch all those bill pays! no way!), and have had an AOL account long enough to have a real-word user name.

    BTW, I love reading Cognitive Daily for the info I get here. Ihaven’t found anything like it.

  40. #40 Jan
    January 25, 2007

    I’m reading the RSS-Feed on my Nokia 770, which is great for storing the feeds and reading them anywhere in spare minutes. If there is a WLAN, I can even comment :-)

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