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My Blogging ‘A List’

A-ListDo you have a Blog A List?

There’s a lot of talk about ‘A-lists’ in blogging circles from time to time and I generally don’t get into the discussions about what makes a blogger an A-lister or not or how a blog makes it into any such list.

To me these discussions are pretty pointless and are often filled with egos and/or tall poppy bashing.

Having said this – I do have my own ‘A-list’.

My A-list is a folder in my Bloglines account that is the first thing on my computer that I look at when I wake up in the morning and the last thing that I look at before I hit the sack (and I check it throughout the day constantly).

It is filled with around 20 RSS feeds that I consider to be essential reading across the main niches that I follow. They are RSS feeds of blogs that I know will contain any breaking news in those niches.

As a result if I log into Bloglines and see that there are unread items in my A-List I know that it’s fairly likely that important news is breaking that I need to be aware of.

My reason for having this A-List is that my Bloglines account currently has over 600 feeds that it tracks each day. Some of those feeds have many items per day and it’s not uncommon for me to have thousands of unread items at any given time which means that important stories that are breaking can remain hidden for hours (if not days).

An A-List helps me cut through the clutter and keep my finger on the pulse.

So what are the characteristics of MY A-Listers (please note – I’m not writing about the characteristics of good bloggers, just the blogs that are in my A-List folder)?

  • They post regularly – but not too regularly - I want the important news from these bloggers and that’s it. While I subscribe to bloggers who write more commentary type blogs my A-Listers are more newsy type blogs.
  • They have a long term demonstrated ability to be on top of the news and even break stories - these bloggers have an uncanny knack of having posts up within hours of a story breaking – no matter what time of the day or what day of the week it is.
  • They stick to their niche – they know what they blog about and they stick to it. I know when they post that it’s something worth reading.

As I say – I do have other blogs and feeds that I value highly and that I prioritize but they generally write opinion pieces, tips posts and other less time specific and newsy posts which don’t matter if I get to them quickly after they are written or not.

Of course I expect to be asked about who is on my A-List?

I’m not actually going to reveal that information – partly because the feeds in that folder are specific in topic to my own interests and niches and won’t be really that useful to anyone unless they happen to have the same eclectic mix of interests I have. The other reason is that while I call it my ‘A-List’ that it’s not really a list of blogs that I think are better than others. They just happen to be useful to me in reporting the news in those niches.

Do you have an A-List (whether you call it that or not)? What other ways do you get hot or breaking stories in your niche?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Rob Elam says:

    For me nothing beats Digg.com (on tech)

    Think whent he big boys (google, yahoo! ect) see how effective it is, they will either copy it or buy it. Right now it is saturated with open source type geeks (like me). But eventually, when they open it up the impact will be crazy. I’ve got my money on digg.com.

    For blogging it is you, de rossi at masternewmedia.com and others.

  2. Darren, is your Bloglines subscription public? Can we see them?

  3. Darren, you and TechCrunch are the only ones on my A-List, FWIW.

  4. David Zinger says:

    Darren:

    Wow 600 subscriptions and I was worried at having over 100.

    I like the idea of an A list, mine has just been more informal. Every so often I look at the key ones and then just click on “mark all read.” It is so liberating to start with a clean slate.

    David

  5. Yeah I have an A-list but they aren’t in a single folder but whenever I go through my Bloglines, I stop and look at their entries and read them fully. Sounds like a post for my blog… :)

  6. razib says:

    Since, there are not many blogs in field (South Asian Business), I do not maintain a list. Instead, I try to browse successful blogs and bloggers and try to observe their writing style. and write comments. Until a month ago, when I wrote a comment in any blog, my primary goal was to get some visitors in my new blog but now I try to enjoy it.

  7. Bank Locator says:

    D-listing is where the money is at.

  8. razib says:

    (Off topic) I do not know what happened but I am finding it difficult to post comments in Word Press blogs. For example, i tried to post comment in this entry and at first it got vanished into thin air and then when I tried again then it said that I have duplicate comment as I have already said it but I cannot find it. I noticed the same thing in some other blogs which use Word Press. Can anyone cast some light about it? I am sorry for the off topic.

  9. Frank Hamm says:

    Yes, I do have an A-list. Those are bloggers I trust and who know good and fast what’s up. And I have a lot (too much?) feeds that I subscribed to.

    Since Bloglines got its new search I setup some searches with keywords and then subscribed to them as RSS.

    Did the new ask.com search influence your way using Bloglines?

  10. Tillerman says:

    We D-listers have to stick together and support each other. To hell with the A-list.

  11. melly says:

    And I thought I was so smart for having my own private A-List.
    But I have three of them, a general newsy one, and two others – one for each of the topics I write about, including keyword searches.
    I even call them Writing A-List and so on.

  12. razib: You have to register to comment. Darren posted about this a few days ago.

  13. pcunix says:

    Where’s the Kathy Griffin of the blogosphere?

    Are you a D-lister?

    Are you rudely and routinely ignored if you request an interview for a blog post?

    Does Ping-O-Matic return a “Yeah, sure, we’ll get to that someday” page when you submit your blog?

    Does your spouse make an odd face when you mention your blog?

    Do your friends joke about your “world domination”?

    Did YPN turn you down for their beta ad program?

    Are you too unimportant for Alexa to save any of your pages?

    Are all your pages PR0 in Google?

    Will your Adsense income forever be too small for Google to cut a check?

    Can you actually read your access_log and commit the whole thing to memory?

    Does Technorati still show 0 links from 0 sites?

    Given your bandwidth limitations, could someone a thousand times more popular use the same hosting service?

    Could your hit counter work just as well if it rolled over after 999? How about 99? 9?

    Are the only blogrolls that list your site owned by your friends?

    Did they misspell your site?

    I think you know how to score your own answers. If you answered “yes” to all of these, you need work even to be a D-lister. If you answered “no”, well, you might still be a D-lister but at least you know things could be worse.

  14. saurab says:

    excellent post. Even I am beginning to group breaking news type blogs / sites into one folder for the exact same reasons as you mentioned : too many feeds to read and too little time, and I want to get to the breaking news as fast as I can.

    OT: prnewswire and other such press release sites that do offer syndication, are (depending on what your niche is) worthy of being grouped under this so-called A-list folder: especially useful for blogs that cover digital electronics and stuff….

    to break news you need to get to the sources that journalists in the traditional media are exposed to, and that would mean subscribing to official feeds of companies, institutes, organizations, etc… for instance, a science and technology blogger would do well to subscribe to feeds offered by research institutes, and not just your usual science news sites… because normally what happens is that these latter news sites get their breaking news from these former sources, and if you’re referring to these sources yourself, you can regularly break news as well, no problem ! one can follow this approach with other niches as well, although identifying these “primary” sources would obviously take some research (which in my opinion is well worth it, if you’re going to be breaking news faster than well established news sites on a regular basis).

  15. Bank Locator says:

    Wait you are telling me that my traffic and Alexa rating put me on the C-List? Well let me tell you about my corporate sponsorships!

  16. Shan says:

    Excellent topic Darren. Since my interest is technology news and happenings in the world of new media, I have a short list of blogs I make sure I read daily. I would not exactly call it my blogging ‘A List’ but I’ll let you know when I come up with a name for it.

  17. TourPro says:

    Since I’ve started using Bloglines it has become an integral part of my information gathering system. The only time I use a bookmark now is if the site doesn’t have a feed. I’ve got “A-list” folders for most of the information niches I track. Those are complimented with a folder of relevant search feeds. This reminds me that I’ve got to do some Spring cleaning.

    Suffice it to say, nothing happens in “my world” without me knowing about it.

  18. Brad says:

    This is really a great post! I am currently compiling an “A list” of blogs that I check throughout the day. However, for a few years now, there are websites that I check for updates as soon as I wake up in the morning.

    The bad news is, a lot of these sites don’t update very frequently at all – and they are high traffic sites.

    Even though I am still pretty new to the blogging world, I learn a lot just by reading other blogs and seeing what other people are doing. For example, I try to update my blog at least once a day just to keep any regular readers (if I have regulars yet) happy. But I also try to publish quality content – things readers will find usefull or amusing.

    Again, great post! Keep up the good work!

    http://www.bradsreader.com

  19. ann michael says:

    “They post regularly – but not too regularly” – AMEN!

    I also have a couple of A-lists – one on blogging (so I can learn and try to keep up) – one for marketing – a general business list – and one for my sanity (the lighter side). Then I have a whole bunch of blogs that I try to get to at least once a week.

    (I need to start commenting on your site to help the female statistics – we’re out here, Darren!)

  20. Drew says:

    I have an A-List, but I choose one of the simplest tools out there to monitor it.

    I’m using Google’s personalised homepage, my A-List also includes all of my own sites that have feeds.

    The reason I use such a simple service is that I’m guessing that it might help my own sites get indexed/ranked better/faster by Google.

    I have no proof of this, it’s just a guess.

  21. Stuart says:

    My reading list consists of 75 blogs with only 4 on my A list.

    Three of those are search engine related and one is a marketing blog – I lead a sad cloistered life :(

  22. Bill says:

    Bank Locater, I am familiar with your blog. I think you know you are an A-lister quit joshing with us whose blogs aren’t quite so popular or making as much money.

  23. It’s clear from the previous comments that most people have an A-list, whether they publicize it or not. I do, too. Not necessarily because I’m into ranking people and/or content, but because there are just so many hours in the day, and I have to make my time count. So with my A-list, I can spend more time reading stuff that I’m really interested in, and less time looking for it.

  24. Liz Strauss says:

    I have a list of about four blogs I get to everyday. Though, I find I’m not often clever enough to comment on them. Then there is a rotating list that I pop in on to see what they’re doing depending on what’s been going on around the conversation on my blog.

  25. Miriguy says:

    Well, I would use del.icio.us and also blogsearch from google. They’re very cool :)

  26. City SEO/M says:

    Could everyone’s favourite ProBlogger have optimized this post for A-List anymore? Hmmm, let’s see:
    “A-List” in title? Check
    In first paragraph? C
    Bolded? CCCC
    In variant forms? Check
    In the closing paragraph? “Do you have an A-List (whether you call it that or not)? What other ways do you get hot or breaking stories in your niche?”

    Nice bit of on-site SEO :).

  27. Darren Rowse says:

    city SEO/M – nice comment. Bizaarly enough I didn’t think of SEO while writing the post at all. Perhaps the principles have soaked in to the point where they’ve just become natural to me!

  28. Don M says:

    This is a great topic. I think I posted under your “No one links to the linkers” topic a comment that I got sick of seeing the same post across multiple blogs in the same or related niche.

    In my main nicke blog, I found I get most of my scoops by subscribing to Google News Alerts.

    As an example, today’s “Links Collection” was culled entirely from the last two days of Google News Alerts for the search term “songwriters”. You can see the post here.

    Hopefully that doesn’t sound like a shameless plug. It’s not like I expect to get a lot of readers of THAT blog from THIS site. Heheh.

    Point being … other blogs don’t always need to be the source for scoops.

    -dm

  29. Darren, I hope I can someday make it onto your A-list – which I guess could be called the D-List (D for Darren).

    Now I suppose if you ever needed to form a super-secret subset of your A-list feeds, it could be called the ADD-List (A-list for Darren, squared). I know I certainly feel like I have ADD sometimes as a blogger!

    Anyway, joking aside – great post and I totally understand why you keep those feeds personal.

Trackbacks

  1. AListReview says:

    Who’s On Your A-List?…

    Darren Rowse of ProBlogger writes about the characteristics that his A-List have: They post regularly – but not too regularly – I want the important news from these bloggers and that’s it. While I subscribe to bloggers who write more……

  2. Jason Haley says:

    Interesting Finds: June 13, 2006 PM edition…

  3. [...] Like Darren, I now have over 600 feeds and like to organise them by priority so as not to go insane. I see problems like this becoming more common place as peoples feeds list grow. I’m hoping someday soon a personal online OPML(Outline Processor Markup Language) news meme reader will become available to help with the load. Allowing me to subscribe to authority figures online OPML and automatically retrieve updates of them. On top of that I’m finding while using bloglines is great for the most part, I find myself desiring a way of rating feeds. Easily and in my feed view by say; clicking say a star rating system at the end of feeds. I’d love a top ‘click-through’ feed list for full and partial feeds too (one the doesn’t count click-throughs so as to ascertain my attention. While I currently track my online attention with Root.net, I’d like to be able to do it in my reader. Additionally I’d like to be able to read my OPML by predefined search terms. Marking individual posts as read upon scrolling to view items. Often I’ll find myself in the middle of reading my news and have my browser crash or have to leave the computer. At the moment the only way to pick up where I left off is to place my computer into hibernate. That shits me, especially when it doesn’t come back up cleanly… [...]

  4. [...] I gotta say, I’m an Adirondack convert. In fact, you could say I’m a professional minister of sorts. Turns out that people would rather listen to the guy sitting next to them in the pew than the preacher. Duh.  Funny thing, I think I’ve formed a Web 2.0 sect within my church.  Got a couple Bishops interested, but mostly they think I’m a nutjob. Seth has been shifted to my A-list, not because he is breaking news, but because he is breaking the mold. [...]

  5. [...] You might notice some things about the subscription list. There is an A-list which is a recent addition thanks to Darren’s idea. These are blogs that I read first and the ones I pay the most attention to. If there’s an entry from one of these bloggers, I immediately stop and read while others I might skim. [...]

  6. [...] Do you have a blog? If you do, then these comments will make sense to you… The original post came from proBlogger on the topic of having a blog A-list. [...]