May 10, 2020

Subscribing to RSS with Inoreader

For the purposes of these posts, I'll be using a free Inoreader account that I set up just for this purpose, and you can do so much with a free Inoreader account! Later on, if you decide you want more Inoreader features, you can upgrade. I use the Pro account so that I can export my blog network as HTML (for example, displaying it in Canvas) and also use Inoreader "rules" in order to automate the process of adding tags to incoming blog posts.

There's also an Inoreader app for Apple and Android. I do have the app on my phone, but I don't use my phone much, so I'm not an expert on the app. I do occasionally use the app to check and see if there are new student blog posts, though, and the app seems to be very good. Maybe someone who is a serious mobile-user can chime in with a blog post based on their experience using the Inoreader mobile app. For these posts, I will be talking about the browser-based version with screenshots from a Firefox browser.

Setting Up an Inoreader Account

Just got to, and click the "sign up" link. You have the option of signing up through Facebook, Google, or with an email address.

When you're done, you will see an empty Inoreader. This may be the last time you will ever see the "everything read" message, ha ha, so enjoy it while it lasts. :-)

Adding Feeds

There are lots of different ways to add feeds to Inoreader. The easiest is just to paste the address of a blog or website in the upper left-hand corner box, and Inoreader will then attempt to automatically detect the presence of an RSS feed.

For example, if I paste in the address of this blog in order to subscribe, Inoreader detects both feeds that Blogger makes available: an RSS feed, plus an RSS-Atom feed. They are both the same; it doesn't really matter which you subscribe to.

Other blog systems like WordPress automatically offer both an RSS feed for posts and an RSS feed for comments (in Blogger, this is not automatic; I'll say more later about subscribing to comments for a Blogger blog). This is the blog of Keegan Long-Wheeler, one of the WordPress gurus at my school, and you'll see there are two different previews here: one is a post preview, and one is the comment preview, with a separate "subscribe" link for each one.

Not all sites make it easy for Inoreader to automatically detect the RSS feed, but sometimes you will find an RSS feed link of some kind on the page which gives you the address of the actual RSS feed file, and when you paste that address into Inoreader, it will be able to access the RSS file instantly.

Organizing Feeds

The best part about Inoreader is the way you can organize your feeds. 

Rename feed. Often blogs have weird names, which is fine... but you might want to rename the feed in Inoreader so you can remember who the author is, etc. You can give each feed a new name of your choice, and you can change that name anytime you want. For example, my students give their blogs all kinds of weird and cool names, but for my purposes, I use the students' names (or their pseudonyms) as the names of the blogs in Inoreader, with the class name abbreviation as a prefix, like for the Indian Epics class:

Put in folders. You can organize your feed in folders and, importantly, the same feed can go in multiple folders. This is extremely useful for organizing a student blog network, for example: I put each student's blog in a folder for that specific class and also in a folder for all my classes in a given semester. (I'll have more to say about student blog network strategies later on.)

When you first add a feed, Inoreader will prompt you both to rename the feed and also to put it in folder(s), but don't worry if you are not sure yet. You can change the names of feeds and add them to folders at any time. To do that, just click on the feed in Inoreader and then click on the little down arrow:

That will give you options to rename, add to folders, along with much more.

Find Some Feeds!

Start by subscribing to your own blog! Or your own blogs (plural) if you decide that you have started creating different blogs for different kinds of projects.

I would suggest you spend some time looking for blogs you want to subscribe to, and also news sources that you might enjoy. You can use Inoreader's own search feature to do that; just put in "Education" in the upper left-hand box (the same place where you put in an address to subscribe), and then choose the "Feeds" panel from the search results. 

And just to sing the praises of Inoreader URLs, check out the URL for those Education search results:

There's a lot of Inoreader you can share by sharing URLs with people; people will need to have an Inoreader account for the URL to work... but as you saw, signing up for an Inoreader account is very easy to do.

And start reading... the next post provides an overview of some Inoreader display options.