Software Engineering in WordPress and Musings on the Deep Life

Hey, Wait – Don’t “Mark All As Read!”

Last week, I talked mentioned I try to write every day. Personal stuff aside, it’s clear that I aim to write for this particular blog five days a week.

Though I’ve no plans to change that, I’ve know that writing daily can create a backlog for readers that makes it difficult to keep up with.

Ultimately, this results in readers opting not to discuss anything in the comments, or it results in subscribers calling bankruptcy on the RSS feed.

To that and (and perhaps somewhat ironically), I’m curious as to what you guys think as well as hearing your thoughts on some potential alternatives.

Mark All As Read (But Not On My Stuff!)

Sure, anyone that blogs has to contend with readers clicking on “mark all read” simply because we’re busy – we don’t have time to consume all of the content some subscriptions publish.

But if we – as authors – can do more to make it a bit more to make our content more accessible or easier to read, then why not, right?

So in an effort to improve the way the content for this blog is delivered, I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the following:

1. Mailing List

One thing that a lot of bloggers use is a mailing list. Usually this list will send out each post on the day it’s published, a weekly digest of the posts, or a weekly email that includes only the most highly commented and/or visited posts.

Though I’m personally not a fan of increasing the amount of information in my inbox, I know that that’s purely a personal preference. After all, others use their inbox in different ways.

Plus, with other bloggers using this particular strategy and continuing to do so, there must be some merit to it, right?

As such, are you guys interested in having a mailing list for the blog? If so, what’s your preferred type of content – that is, would you rather have daily emails of each post, weekly emails of all posts, or something else (like a category feed)?

2. More Tweets

Typically, I only tweet out a link to a post twice a day: once when it’s published, then sometime later in the day.

I don’t use any type of plugins to applications for circulating older content via my Twitter feed, and I usually don’t tweet content more than twice a day.

But, again, others circulate their content – especially their older content – more than once, so I’m curious as to if this method is something that’d provide more access to content?

Honestly, I think Twitter is arguably the greatest firehose we have. Consequently, it’s even more difficult to keep with content rather that an RSS feed or email.

Personal opinion aside, is this something that you think would make content more accessible?

Other Alternatives?

Of course, there are other alternatives but the aforementioned tend to be two of the most popular methods used right now. My primary questions are  if either of those two methods appeal to you.

If not, what other alternatives do you suggest?

Seriously, let me know!


  1. Coen Jacobs

    I’m looking forward to see what you decide, Tom. As you probably know, I’m still struggling to write more myself, so it’s been a great inspiration to see the changes you’re doing and read the thinking that goes behind it.

    The way I follow your blog is through pure RSS and occasionally end up here via one of your tweets. I personally don’t like subscribing to email lists for blogs (because I like RSS), but I know a ton of people who do.

    • Tom McFarlin

      I’ll be sure to do some sort of follow-up once I decided on something, though I’m not sure when I’ll actually implement anything – I’m still thinking about it (and taking some of these suggestions in).

      That said, thanks for your input and for the kind words on helping you to write more. It just takes time, really. Once you get in the rhythm, it’s pretty hard to break it :).

  2. Ajay

    I’ve got my site configured to push updates to Twitter and to my Facebook page as a primary sources. I do have a few mailing list subscribers. But, it’s a small site so it works well.

    • Tom McFarlin

      Thanks Ajay – I don’t normally use Facebook, and I currently push to Twitter when a post goes out, but that’s about it.

      Is your mailing list any different than your actual posts? I’m interested in how others have done this, too.

  3. Kim Parsell

    I like the idea of a mailing list. My preference would be to get daily emails – my eyes glaze over when reading a digest. But that’s just me. :)

    Curate any older links you tweet. While Twitter is a great medium for sharing blog content, it’s used for conversation more. Maybe share 1 new and 2 older, related posts each day? Much more than that and you risk losing followers, and readers. I’ve had people who flood my Twitter stream with links to older content daily (think 10+, RT’d 3-4 times daily). They get unfollowed really quick. ;)

    • Tom McFarlin

      Regarding Twitter, I’m with you. I’m generally more interested in what people are sharing that day or talking about rather than sharing links to their old posts every hour.

      As far as I’m concerned, people are going to use Google to look for what they want anyway, so I figure if the stuff looks good to search engines, I’m okay with drive-by traffic.

      The thing is that I’ve had some people contact me personally basically saying it’s hard to keep up with daily posts, so that’s what triggered this whole conversation on alternative ways of sharing the posts.

  4. Daniel Espinoza

    I would subscribe to a mailing list, but am already subscribed to Jetpack daily notices which is fine with me. I prefer reading daily over my coffee rather than a digest which ends up trashed with tl;dr.

    • Tom McFarlin

      Thanks Daniel – I’m with you in that I normally use my RSS reader to go through my feeds early in the morning, but obviously there are different strokes for different folks so I’m trying to find a good balance for everyone.

      Of course, this also comes at the risk of creating more work, too so I’m trying to balance that, too ;).

  5. Austin Lee

    Before my Grandmother passed away a couple of years ago my dad would have to print out all of my blog posts and mail them to her once a week.

    That might be another option?! ha.

  6. Corrinda

    I would agree with the digests. I find I open those up and create a bunch of open browser tabs and then end up closing most of them when I can’t get to them all. Once a day works pretty well for me. Personally I don’t use an RSS reader I have my subscriptions sent by email.

    • Tom McFarlin

      Yeah, I think closing browser tabs is second to calling bankruptcy on RSS – having too many tabs just becomes a distraction. I’m with you.

      But knowing that you’re interested in digests and that you use email helps. Thanks for the comment, Corrinda! :)

  7. Jim

    I wonder how many of your users have subscribed to be notified. You could run a query on the DB to find out. Might be interesting to know. I mistakenly thought you already had a list because I get notified of every post you make via the notifier.

    Mailing lists are a proven marketing goldmine IF you feed your users valueable content that they keep wanting because it helps them somehow. If you fill it with drivel, you’ll start killing off your userbase as they start ignoring the emails and “fall out of love” with you. I’ve always followed your stuff because you have some really good information. I’m always looking for tips to incorporate into Armstrong Theme and you share some goodies!

    • Tom McFarlin

      Personally, I’m not so interfered in a marketing goldmine as I am making sure that people are happy getting a variety of the content of the site. I know that blogging daily can result in a bit of fatigue for readers, but I don’ plan on changing my schedule; however, I’m more than happy to offer a variety of options to keep readers happy.

      That said, I appreciate your advice and am glad you shared it – there’s no wrong suggestion as far as I’m concerned.

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