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RSS Spam

Warning! Everything I said here is apparently out of date. Two weeks ago this was all true, but kindly friends just pointed out to me that you can now go into “settings” and then “friends” and click “hide” next to each of your friends’ names. Yay!!!! Now please excuse me while I go slap my own hand for not double checking… Perpetual beta bites again. :-)

I’ve been happily reading my feeds in Google Reader all month, and this time, I think it’s matured enough that I’ll forget about my Bloglines account for good. I’m still experiencing oddness with the “all items” having phantom new items, but like I said, I’ve decided to find this amusing. But there’s one thing that I really really don’t appreciate. It’s the spam.

That’s right. Google Reader has seen fit to force us to receive feeds we didn’t subscribe to by pushing feeds from people in our Gmail address books into our readers. The only way to “opt out” of this gift that keeps on giving is to delete friends from our address books. Here’s what the Google Reader help screen says about managing your Google Reader Friends list:

Reader’s friend list comes from the list of people you can chat with on Google Talk or Gmail chat. To invite friends to see your Reader shared items, simply invite them to chat. To remove them, delete them from your Gmail contacts, or from your Talk list.

So there you have it. You can either have gmail/gtalk contacts or you can have a feed reader that only shows you the feeds to which you’ve subscribed. Odd.

Even though I like the people in my contact list, I did not subscribe to those feeds. In fact, I’m now getting some feeds that I’ve deliberately unsubbed in the past. I’m also getting duplicates of some feeds that I already have in my reader. In my book, these unsolicited messages count as spam. It’s information coming at me that I didn’t ask for, don’t want, and can’t turn off.

The first thing I did when I set up my account was to check to see what items I might be shoving in other people’s faces without meaning to, and then to turn that feature off where ever possible. I never ever click “share,” and I’ve made sure that my starred items aren’t shared (since that’s how I save items for later). I sincerely hope I’m not spamming my friends, and I’m so disappointed in Google for forcing friends to bend over backwards so as not to spam each other. Seems like it’d be such an easy thing to add a “do not show me friend’s shared items” option, or even a “show me only those shared items from the following friends” option.

Published inTools and Technology