Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Subscribe instructions ... simplified

Nothing like a technological glitch to send you down the rabbit hole of Google-land. And nothing like the rabbit hole of Google and Google Help Groups to leave you feeling incompetent, confused, and defeated. Depressingly, there’s a whole gang of us down there, shouting into the ether.

How this all started was because of the number of requests I get about how to subscribe to my posts. I point out the little box in the upper right that said “Follow by Email,” thinking that would be sufficient. BUT, I discovered the little box doesn’t appear if you’re viewing this on a smart phone. You have to go to the website.
I know it’s a little confusing because there’s another box underneath it that says Subscribe, but it has little boxes for “Posts” and “All Comments.” What are they for? Those are for RSS Feeds, the source of my journey into Google-land today. We’ll come back to them.
As I looked around on other blogs, I realized that a lot of them use the word “Follow” when they’re talking about Twitter. I am not on Twitter and don’t follow anybody on Twitter. And if you’re just looking to get my posts in your inbox, having the word “Follow by Email” on the subscriber box could get intimidating: will it sign you up for Twitter? As of right now, I changed it to say, “Sign up here to receive Our Third Thirds by email.” Does that work better?
After you type your email in the blank, click on “Submit,” and convince the computer you’re not a robot; it sends an email to you, asking you to verify that you really want to subscribe to my posts. Another batch of folks get derailed here. Sometimes it’s because there’s a typo in their email address, sometimes it just must get lost. But you can always try again.

So I wanted to learn a little bit more about RSS Feeds. I visited Robin, who reads my blog that way, on a service called NetVibes. She puts the things she likes to read on her NetVibes account, and when new stuff is published, it goes to her in one big package of “things to read.” Up pops my blog. For Robin, that works as a way of putting those “things to read” in one spot.

While in Google-land, an article described all the terrific things I could learn about my blog and its readers. The author praised the nifty pie chart that shows how readers were accessing his blog – email, on the web, NetVibes or some other feed service. I’ve looked all over, but my pie chart is nowhere to be found. My data shows my NetVibes is “invalid,” even though Robin is looking right at it.

So that became another question for the Google Help Forum. I didn’t want to miss the answer, so I checked the box to receive notifications. Uh, oh! I hope this means I only get answers to my question, not everyone else’s. See, this is why the word “follow” can get intimidating. If you get swamped, there’s no “unsubscribe.” Then you have to Google to learn how to stop notifications….

One response said the answer was described perfectly here … but the link didn’t work. I tried reaching a real human being to ask my questions, but that required joining Google+. Uh, oh, that sounds like following, like more notifications, like Twitter.

Precious daylight hours went into this trip down the rabbit hole. I found too many things I can neither explain nor understand and too many contacts and sources that have expired, were dead-ends, or look defunct. Maybe it proved too much for them, too.

I have that spacy, brain-dead, exasperated feeling that comes from too much machine and not enough humanity. Tomorrow will be a better day; I’m going to clean my bathrooms.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Barbara! I'm a "follower" (on my computer) and here's how i do it...I moved your 3rdthirds.blogspot URL to my favorites bar (just select the URL and drag it to the favorites bar). I check in every couple of days by clicking on your 3rdthrids icon that's now in a handy spot on my bar. xo janet (San Francisco).


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