Why I'm quitting Google Reader

In a nutshell, Google is sharing me to death.

RSS is the life blood of my work. I rely on it to keep me informed on the industry in a timely fashion. Long ago, I switched to Google Reader, because it did what I wanted it to do: It displayed my subscriptions in reverse-chronological order.

At some point, Google added sharing. I ignored it. That is, until Buzz came out.

Google decided that everyone you choose to follow on Buzz would also automatically be followed on Google Reader as well. It's as if all the movies, photos, blog entries and e-mails of every person you followed on Twitter suddenly came flooding into your e-mail inbox every minute of the day. It's crazy.

Google's solution to the problems created by this bizarre design decision was that you could individually "hide" Buzz people in Reader. One. At. A. Time. (Here's how to do that.)

I've talked to Google about this, and they told me that the problem doesn't affect most users, so it's not something they're currently planning to address.

I have been trying to tolerate the chore of hiding every new person I follow. I've been spending between 5 and 15 minutes every other day or so repetitively hiding people.

But now, even after I get to the bottom of my user list and have hidden everybody, I still get hundreds of shared items. Under the area where you hide people, it says there are a bunch of items. Before, this number would go down to zero after I hid everybody. But now, that number remains high even after everybody's been hidden.

I wrote a tip telling how to use a buried feature in Reader that lets you stop shared content based on the source. For example, if you don't want anything shared from YouTube, Flickr or Friendfeed, you can just de-select those items. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for me anymore. Attempting the tip crashes Firefox and causes Chrome to hang indefinitely. The same thing happens with all my computers and all my browsers. I'm guessing that the number of people I follow on Buzz (currently 1,380 people) is beyond the capacity of Google Reader to display on the page.

For serious RSS users like me, Google Reader is flawed both from a design point of view, and also from a software stability point of view. Google Reader is seriously broken.

I just want to subscribe to RSS feeds, and read those articles. I don't want to share them. And I don't want my list of subscriptions, which I've spent years fine-tuning, to be shuffled in with every random thing my Buzz community feels like sharing.

So now I'm looking for an RSS reader. You know, for reading RSS feeds. Not sharing. Any suggestions?

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