There's been a minor discussion going on within the tech blogosphere about some of the tools that we as bloggers look to in order for our content to reach our readers as quickly as possible. As well the whole idea about blog searching rather than just general search has had a post or two written about its sad state. I would go one step further and suggest that in general the tools that bloggers use on a daily basis pretty much suck wind.
Yes I know – bloggers are a minority in the larger scheme of the Internet and as a result there is no real financial incentive for startups; or established web companies, to consider dedicating services to make our lives easier. Much of the discussion that is going on was started by Steve Gillmor but it was Dave Winer who pinpointed specifically to RSS and Feedburner; which gave him a chance to espouse on his favourite theme of federation. While he was willing to give Feedburner / Google a break because of the holidays I personally don't think that a company the size of Google needs it.
The fact is that Feedburner sucks. Some days are worse than others but in the general run of the mill day to day operation Feedburner isn't living up to expectations. Not only has the very distribution of our posts become flaky at times the reporting of subscriber numbers goes up and down worse than a hooker on a Friday night. It looks though that Dave has decided to look into creating a federated Feedburner clone so only time will tell if it is only a matter of competition that is required to get Google to wake up and deal with the problems.
However it's not just whether our RSS feeds are easily discoverable and reported on or not. Another big area of contention within the blogosphere is the current state of blog search. At one time Technorati was the big dog on the block in this arena but is has slowly been relegated to a company confused about its direction. This is where the fact that it isn't financially feasible for a company to solely depend on the blogosphere to make it stable and attractive to buyers. More than once we have heard the rumours about Technorati being up for sale but nothing comes of it and they still fail to a large degree in blog search.
While Google's BlogSearch might be marginally better it suffers from the same problem that Technorati does – too much damn garbage polluting any results. On top of that BlogSearch is rumoured to include things BlogRolls (the list of blogs you see in some blog sidebars) and every other bit of nonsense that litter the blogs out there. Half the time if I'm going searching for something to do with blog articles I turn first to FeedDemon's built in search of my subscribed to feeds. Chances are I will actually find what I am looking for instead of having to be left to the vagaries of Google's BlogSearch or Technorati's splog listings.
I agree fully with Rob Diana who said in his post on LouisGray.com
However, I think the conversation regarding "finding links" is missing something. What do we really want in blog searching? Are we only searching for links to our posts? Are we searching for blogs that are talking about a specific topic? Are we just searching for new blogs to read? Are we really just trying to find out where our blog ranks, like Technorati's authority?
Part of the problem is that we are focusing on one issue with blog search. Basic link searching will probably always suck because of the problem with spam blogs. They will add links to some sites and detract from others. Spam is just a hard problem to fight, so we probably will have to live with some of those problems. The other questions are much more interesting, but I am not sure that people really want those types of features. Do we want to use something like Technorati to find new blogs?
I know for me when I go searching it is not links I am looking for – I get plenty of those from FriendFeed and Twitter – no .. I'm looking for information or some post that has been written. the problem is when using any of the services out there right now I am faced with having to slog my way through pages and pages of bullshit.
In today's current climate bloggers are in desperate need of a reliable way to get what they have written in front of their readers eyeballs as quickly as possible. This means that we need a Feedburner – or clone – that will actually work all of the time not just when it feels like it. A large majority of us all need to know that the numbers that are being reported are accurate and up to date as we rely on those numbers to, in part earn our living. As well our time is our most valuable commodity and the less time we have to spend wading through crap search results is priceless.
It's too bad that our tools we need everyday can't seem to keep up.