Thoughts About WordPress Reader

Update: 2015 Nov 28 The points made in the original post below no longer apply. WordPress changed Reader again.

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by Melanie and Jim

Do you use the WordPress Reader to keep track of your followed blogs? We do. Lately, there have been numerous ‘enhancements’ to Reader. In general, the Reader is going to a one-size-fits-all approach in order to fit content into the small mobile screened world.

Changes in recent weeks were not announced. They simply showed up for us to learn. Some of it has been confusing and illogical. We’ve been quite busy and might have missed the rollout announcement. Was there one? What follows are a few of our reactions to those changes.

Random Reader Views

We were both confused by the views presented by Reader when we clicked on a blog post. It seemed there were two possibilities. For some blogs the click went to a barebones view of the post, with white background and text and pictures. All of the widgets (sidebar information and links), related posts, tabs, and other formatting were removed, as well. Some other posts in Reader went directly with a single click to the actual blog set up by the writer showing the theme with the look-and-feel they had worked to present.

Here is an example, showing the difference between the view directly accessed from Reader, and what is seen as designed by the blogger. If I click on this (within Reader)

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 7.27.02 AM

it takes me to this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 7.28.29 AM

See how it is all white space? The actual blog looks like this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 7.28.46 AM

There is nothing obvious at all about how to get from the white-space view to the blog. It was especially confusing because for some blogs, clicking from Reader would go directly to the blog, skipping the white-space version. Why were some treated differently than others? It appeared random.

As it turns out, another click on the post’s title (not the blog name — that doesn’t help!) in that barebones white view took you to the actual blog. Yes, there were links that would take you to their blog in one click. We didn’t notice them at first.

Eventually, we found a clue. Check out these two screen shots of one of our recent blog posts as presented in Reader. Notice one is slightly different in the red oval. Why is that?

FullText

Summary

By clicking the title or body text of the first one, Reader presented the simple white-space view and did not actually go to the blog. By clicking the title or body text of the second one, Reader presented the actual blog post showing the theme.

Speaking of Theme

Why put a lot of effort into selecting a theme so it looks the way you want? Why make the effort of adding tabs or sidebars with more information? Was Reader bypassing those efforts of many bloggers with the simple white layout? Why do that?

Changing Your Settings 

As noted above, if in Reader your blog shows “Visit [your blog] for the full post” clicks will go directly to the blog. This action is controlled in Settings on your wp-admin page. Choose Settings —> Reading. Then select Summary view in order to have Reader direct to your blog without the black on white view. Remember to Save Changes.

Settings

The Reader App

We have not found a way to view and read the actual blog site using the Reader app on iPad. Maybe someone knows how to do that. For us, it always presents a simple text on white view. No themes show for us.

 

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27 thoughts on “Thoughts About WordPress Reader

  1. katechiconi

    Hi Jim and Melanie. I don’t like it either, and had a nice rant to WordPress about it, with the result that I have been invited to comment on beta versions of forthcoming changes, a slightly dubious honour, I feel…
    Regarding the white generic format; there is another way to get to the original site. See those three little dots at top right? Click there and select Visit Site. That’ll take you direct to the post in its own setting. I haven’t tried this on an iPad as I don’t own one, but it may be worth a try… Kate

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Melanie McNeil

      Hi Kate. Yes, we’ve figured out that “visit site” does actually take you to the blog. Frankly, I don’t think that’s obvious, either, but maybe that’s just me! Jim owns the iPad here so I’ll let him try that for making that work.

      Another thing that bothers me is the comment box in the white version. It’s one line high. Yes, you can drag it larger. But why??? (hear the whine in my voice?)

      Congrats on being a new member of the WP team!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. katechiconi

        They tell me they’re working on making it auto-enlarge when you type in a comment. My whine was obviously quite assertive, so they’ve decided to turn my whinge-power to good use…

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Melanie McNeil

      We didn’t think there was one, but as said, we’ve been busy and thought perhaps we’d missed it. The lack of communication is the thing that annoys me most, more than the changes themselves. WP’s business model may well take them in the direction of phones and tablets. I get that. But we don’t ALL use phones and tablets, or at least not all the time. So throw us a bone of a little information, help us use the site more effectively given those changes. Hopefully this post will provide some of that for our few readers.

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    1. Melanie McNeil

      Yep on the 3 dots. Jim actually showed me that. We considered adding even more info and commentary in the post, but we decided to go ahead and post it, rather than bog it down in more detail. Glad we could help!

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  2. shoreacres

    There are a couple of ways to keep up with WordPress.com changes. One is to scroll over your avatar at the right side of your page (the one with the black admin bar), click on the “Help” function at the bottom of the drop-down menu, and then click on “News” in the upper right hand corner. What that opens is, essentially, the offical WordPress blog.

    If you want, you can follow the blog by email, which makes it easy to keep up with some of the changes — although not all. There’s a lot of tweaking that goes on, since WP.com and WP.org are constantly in development and WP.com sometimes functions as a platform for beta testing for WP.org.

    Here’s the post that was published about the changes to the Reader. Some changes that were instituted have been changed already. One that I threw a hissy fit about on the forums was their inclusion of a suggested “reading time” for each post. That’s been changed now to word count, which is better.

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    1. Melanie McNeil

      Honestly, “reading time” did me in, too! How is that determined? Most likely by word count, so let’s just do that. ugh…

      Yes, I know you can “follow” the WP blog just like any other blog, and I used to. But so much that was delivered was not pertinent to me. This in particular seemed like it had such wide-ranging impact (on anyone who uses Reader) that IMO, it should have been delivered to every Reader, whether following or not. Thanks for the link to the original, though. I’ll take a look.

      (Stepping way aside — Facebook changes so much, so often, that notices would be useless there. Apparently their algorithm used to determine our News Feed views changes multiple times a week. Seems like that would be too frequently for them to even gauge success of the changes. All I know is that very little I see in my News Feed has anything to do with me.)

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      Reply
    2. Melanie McNeil

      I’ve looked at the original post. It actually does not explain the changes, just congratulates WP itself for having made them. The explanations are coming in the comments, and the WP rep who is answering questions (Sheri) is not clear in all her answers. Still not impressed with the communications… Thanks, though.

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  3. Lisa in Port Hope

    Thank you, this was very informative. I use a feedly delivered reader on my mobile devices, and email delivery for WordPress platform blogs I follow, but I will check my blog’s reading settings.

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      1. Jim in IA Post author

        I agree. Several blogs I follow have attractive and useful content in addition to the text of their post. Some widgets offer things I want to see. I miss all of that if I only use the reader. My readers will miss what I offer, too.

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  4. snarkyquilter

    Great, WordPress now gives me another opportunity to be a cranky old person complaining about too many tech changes. I don’t use WordPress reader, but follow blogs via Feedly or direct to my email box subscriptions.

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  5. helenofmarlowe

    This has been helpful. I don’t like the changes — although I have a samsung tablet, I actually sit down at my desktop linux computer most of the time, so I appreciate your helpful hints.
    Helen, sitting at desktop

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  6. Steve Gingold

    The only time I go to the reader is if I want to make some change to what I am following. Otherwise I just get the emails which does clog things up a bit but I never cared for the reader. And I have never received any sort of notification from WP about changes. Not much help from me, I guess. 🙂

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    1. Jim in IA Post author

      I understand that you don’t use the reader. Does it matter to you that people who do use it are not seeing your actual blog with your theme? They are missing out on other information you provide in your sidebar.

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  7. Mrs. P

    I too, found the changes to be confusing and at first I stumbled along trying to figure it out. Idon’t read on my phone and prefer the full blog view. I had mentioned to another blogger that I also had trouble finding where to put my comments and was not able to comment for several days.

    Lately my lack of visitation to blogs has been due to schedules with the house project and a recent vacation…but I do understand what you are saying.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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