Aiding the Atheist Blogroll

Like any good atheist, I’ve been trying to keep myself in the loop by monitoring the Atheosphere. Unfortunately, due to the sheer quantity of such content (At the moment, the Atheist Blogroll is at more than 700 individual active blogs) it has always been a bit overwhelming.

I’ve tried using Planet Atheism, but I quickly realised that it is tracking only a limited amount of blogs (certainly not as many as the blogroll).

I then registered to the all the Atheist blogs through the OPML for a while but that was just overwhelming, not to mention time consuming (to update the folder each time a new blog was added). I then tried simply registering to the Google Reader tag that Larro is maintaining and that was a bit easier but I still had the problem that the quantity of the posts was overwhelming. With more than 1000 posts a month it is simply impossible to find the good ones. I even tried using other services like Reddit Atheism, and Atheism Spot but these have generally very low output and generaly partisan-y.

The Bashboard of AideRSS

The Bashboard of AideRSS

In the end I just decided to see how I could fix this and fortunately, I happened upon AideRSS. After a bit of struggling and some firefox restarts (simply because of the amount of ram all the scripting ended up consuming) I managed to get it organised and ready for the godless.

How does this help? Well instead of simply seeing each and every post people are making, many of which will be not be very relevant to your interests, you can choose to limit the items you see to only the ones that have been more “popular” or succesful.

‘Ah’, I hear you say, ‘Won’t that just mean that the popular bloggers out there like will hog all the spotlight, even more than they do now? Small blogs can rarely get 5 comments on a post where, Pharyngula would be hard pressed to get less than 20.’

Have no fear. This is where the beauty of this particular system is. The posts you see when you filter by popularity, are not the most popular posts compared to other blogs but compared to other posts in the same blog. Thus while I may, on average, get 1-2 comments per post, a post that gets 10 will be considered good and one that gets, say, 30 will be well on its way to “best”. Also, since it takes into consideration diggs, del.icio.us bookmarks, linkbacks etc, you may get “popular” even without any comments at all.

This way, even though my post got 10 posts while Pharyngula’s got 100, we are both simply “good” since, compared to ther of our own respective posts, these are simple “higher than average”.

This does not mean of course that you should stop using Reddit, Digg, Stumbleupon etc. On the contrary, you should keep using them because the popularity of each post is using (Well, not at the moment, but very soon I’m being told) ratings on these services as well. The only difference is that this popularity does not stay in the respective service but it helps people who use AideRSS to see the more interesting posts.

So how can you get in into that action? There’s a few ways.

  1. You can grab either the Atheist Blogroll Good posts of the Best posts OPML files that I’ve created and import them into your feed reader of choice. The Good posts will give you more content as the bar is lower.
  2. You can simply subscribe to my own Top Stories that I’ve set up on my account. I will try to keep this updated with new additions to the Atheist Blogroll.
  3. If you’re using Google Reader, just grab the plugin and you’re done ;)
  4. If you’re using NewsGator, just set your Sort Order the AideRSS Postrank.
  5. You can create an account with AideRSS, grab the original Atheist Blogroll OPML [3. Will become outdated on the next blogroll update though] and the use the import function there. Once the feeds are insterted in your account (it won’t take long as they’ve already been analyzed with my import) you can change the filter settings to what you want and grab you own customised feed. You’ll have to update your blogroll manualy with this method however. However now you can select some on low filter and others on high.

So you’ve got quite a few capabilities to work with this already. If you are getting as overwhelmed with news and posts as I am, hopefully this will help you cut down on the clutter. Plus, if you join AideRSS you can get the stats for your own site and see with one look which of your posts are the more popular. You can see the Division by Zer0 here for example.

Hope y’all find this as useful as I did ;)


About this entry