Follow the author, not the blog

Bloggers can be itinerants, moving between different blogging platforms, blogging networks, etc. Ideally, as a blogger,  you would want to get to a place and settle down for good, but sometimes you just have to move, maybe because the blogging platform has become unstable, or because you disagree with changes in the philosophy of the blogging network, and so forth.

One big concern that arises due to these moves, is that of losing followers, the essential element of a blog’s success.

Followers have to be informed about the moves so that they can update their RSS feeds and keep receiving the news about their favorite bloggers, but constantly asking followers to do that can be problematic. Not all of them will do it at once and eventually forget to do it. Some may get the code wrong or some may even be too lazy to do it, so if you could find a way to simplify things for followers, then that’s definitely the way to go.

While browsing around the web for such a solution, I came across with Yahoo! Pipes:

Pipes is a powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web.

Like Unix pipes, simple commands can be combined together to create output that meets your needs:

combine many feeds into one, then sort, filter and translate it.
geocode your favorite feeds and browse the items on an interactive map.
power widgets/badges on your web site.
grab the output of any Pipes as RSS, JSON, KML, and other formats.

After playing a little with it, I realized that Yahoo! Pipes could be used to solve the “followers problem”.

You can create create a “generic RSS feed” and aggregate whatever feed you want into it through a pipe, so that the generic feed will display the info from all the RSS feeds you’ve combined into it.

In the figure, you can see I’ve aggregate the RSS info of my current blog, The MolBio Hut, into the pipe output.

I’ve called my generic output “Alejandro Montenegro-Montero”.

So, in the future, if I decide to switch to another blog (with another RSS feed), I can just go back to my pipe, add the new feed in the “Fetch Feed” module and voilá! The new info will be aggregated into the same pipe output, so that if people are subscribed to the “Alejandro Montenegro-Montero” feed, they will receive my blog updates, regardless of whether they knew or not about my move.

Further, if besides a blog, you have a Flickr or Youtube account, you can combine those RSS feeds with the one from your blog into a single one, so that people will be able to follow everything by adding a single RSS feed.

So, by combining everything into one place and giving followers only a single feed to follow, you can simplify things for everyone, and people will be able to follow the person they are interested in (even if he/she moves to another place online), rather than following their blog.

So go ahead and add my new (and only) RSS feed now! No matter where I go, you’ll always be able to get my latest blog updates.

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