• Subscribers read posts, right? If they’re like me, then mostly no.

    On its “Trends” page, Google Reader will tell you what proportion of posts in your blog feeds you read.* For a few feeds I read quite a lot, well over 50% of posts. For the vast majority of my many dozens of feeds, I read fewer than half the posts (strictly speaking, by “reading” I mean “click on” or “open” in my reader).

    Using the Trends data from Google Reader, I sorted the top 40 feeds (in terms of posts per day) by what proportion I read. Voila:

    On average, I read 37% of posts that hit my reader. In other words, two-thirds of content of the portion of the blogosphere that I claim to pay attention to is unobserved by me beyond the titles. I don’t even open them!

    Is this typical? Am I a blogospherical slacker?

    Which blogs I pay closer attention to is probably meaningful. No doubt you can guess what many of them are based on what I cite. They’re big names and get lots of attention. The only one that you may not guess and that probably doesn’t get enough attention is Bill Gardner’s Something Not Unlike Research. I did not know this before I did the bit of navel gazing required to produce the chart, but I read (open) 80% of his posts, which is very high given the distribution above. I probably don’t cite him enough. He’s doing great work.

    [ed note – I read 100% of the posts I subscribe to. No joke. But I admit I’m a little crazy – Aaron]

    * Google Reader’s statistics are only valid if you use it in “list” mode, not “expanded” mode. The latter will show that you “read” everything so long as you scroll passed it all. The former only counts as “read” what you click to open. That’s a far better indication of what you actually read, though not proof of it since you can open and still not read. (I scroll past everything too, so have a 100% rate of “reading” by that measure, just like Aaron. I trust Aaron when he says he reads everything though. Trust me, I don’t.)

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    • Just an FYI, I’m crazy like Aaron and read all my subscriptions– especially TIE. It’s the thing that stresses me out most about going on vacation. Is it sad that my first thought was comparing Austin’s readings to MLR?

      • I just want to make one thing clear. If one uses Google Reader in “expanded” mode then everything appears “read”. I use “list” view and therefore things are only marked “read” if I click on them.