I want to take a deeper look at The Feed Directory at Pine.blog: how it works and is it useful?

I am not going to spend time in this review on the free feed reader and paid blog hosting aspects of Pine.blog – you can discover them for yourself.

The Feed Directory is a logical compliment to the feed reader because it helps users find useful, interesting, quality RSS feeds that they can then subscribe to and read in the reader.  The logic being that if you want people to use your feed reader you need to make it easy for users to discover good feeds.  It works for that.  Keep in mind that a whole generation of web users have grown up never using a feed reader, RSS, directories, or even reading independent blogs, so Pine.blog is making it as easy as possible for these these folks to onboard and get started.  It’s a Good Thing.

A Look at the Feed Directory.

When you hit the directory index page you see a search box, some Featured Feeds and then a list of broad categories with feed examples in each.  So far it looks like a conventional, old school directory, where you can either search or drill down through the categories to find what you want.  But you would be wrong to assume that, the categories only list “featured feeds”, you cannot browse through all the listings in a category only those that have been featured by either an editor or followers of that feed.  This creates some confusion: old time directory users expect to be able to find all listings under a particular category and you don’t get that, also it makes the directory index appear to be smaller than it really is.

While confusing, this is not automatically a bad thing.  1. it provides a quick starter selection, 2. feeds that are exceptional get rewarded by human users for being exceptional.

It’s All About Search

The power user secret, behind The Feed Directory (TFD), is in using the search functionSearch gives you access to the entire index.  TFD spiders the actual content of each feed, this could be 5, 10 or more posts.  This makes it much more like the old time RSS search engines Technorati and IceRocket and less like old time directories (eg. Indieseek.xyz, Dmoz).  TFD’s spider also goes back and respiders each feed at set intervals to index the content of newer posts.  (As I write this, I don’t know if TFD keeps older posts that have dropped off the feed and if so how far back they go. Hopefully they do.)  It’s this spidering of content that sets TFD apart and makes it exciting.  This is much more powerful than conventional directory searches like Indieseek.xyz.  Bottom Line: use the search form!

Search Results

When you perform a search you get a SERP with a list of feed titles (blog titles) that, somewhere, contain your search term within the feed.  You don’t see a fragment of text containing your keyword like you do with Google, so you have to click through to see the whole feed.  Frankly this is probably good because you get a better idea of what the blogger writes about by seeing numerous posts so you can make a more informed decision before you subscribe.  Being so used to search engines like Google and Bing, one might find it a bit frustrating.

Bias Towards the Recent

By their very nature, feeds only show the most recent posts.  So just like RSS search engines of the past, TFD is going to have a bias towards more recent posts.  Yet it’s not trying to be a breaking news search engine.  One should just keep this in mind.

Openness of Search and Listings

It is to Pine.blog’s credit that they made TFD pretty open for everyone to use and to submit their feeds to. Or course they make it super easy to add a feed to your Pine.blog timeline (reader) but searchers who use a third party or self hosted reader can also use the search function to find good feeds and with a tad more work can add those feeds to a feed reader of their choice.  Win – win.

Part of that openness is allowing, anybody that registers for free, to submit their feeds – subject to editor review.  TFD does not only list blogs hosted by Pine.blog.  It is not a closed ecosystem like Facebook and Twitter.

Providing a search API is another part of the openness.

Not a Search Engine

TFD, even in it’s early stages, is so slick you might start thinking of it as you would a search engine.  But it still is a directory even though it spiders content.

  1. Feeds submitted are subject to review by a human editor.
  2. The directory does not search the web for feeds.  TFD isn’t going to just find you, you have to add your feed URL.  This means if you want your blog’s feed to be included you need to submit it.
  3. The bias towards more recent posts (see above.)  It will not have the depth of a fully spidering web search engine.

None of the above are negatives.  In fact, human edited directories are a plus.

Conclusions

I’m on record for wanting a new Technorati or Icerocket RSS search engine.  TFD is a really good start.  It is not perfect but it is kind of a big deal, one would think the blogging community would be burning up the pixels talking about it.

I highly recommend all active bloggers should add their feeds, because someday this will be a great way to attract readers.  The index is rather small right now and it will only get better with  more feeds listed in it.   I also recommend people use the search function on The Feed Directory to find good blogs to read, wherever or however you read RSS feeds.  Heck, I may add it to Vivaldi browser as a search engine.

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