Oddpost updated their blog yesterday. Normally I've enjoyed their small company feel and seeming care about customers but this time, as I pointed out before, they did something bad. Even more frustrating is their arrogance in forcing their new software on us and claiming it's better. Not "might" be better, just better even though clearly different people will have different needs. Here's my response to them
Please add options to put oddpost back to the way it was before you MESSED IT UP! From your blog > Yes, it soon became apparent that while email and news aggregation are, in many ways, like cookies and milk, rainbows and leprechauns, and being and existential horror, their ideal user interfaces are more like, you know, two things that are complementary yet unique enough to justify treating them differently. In your opinion but maybe some people have different needs than you > For example, whereas an unread count next to a mail folder is an excellent way to give you an at-a-glance sense of pending load (good lord, I have 34 unread messages, I better stop reading Jack Harvey!), that same mechanism next to a news folder induces completely unnecessary stress (good lord, the BBC posted another 57 stories since lunch...wait a sec, I don't care!). No it doesn't. I solved the stress isse by putting all my feeds in a feed folder which I can collapse when I don't want the distraction. The numbers provided two functions. One, they told me if I still had unread items (eg. I already read a couple but there were more) Two, they gave me a sense of how important a feed might be. If 5 of my sites usually only have a (1) by them in the morning but one site of those sites suddenly has a (5) by it I kind of know maybe that site has some extremely special news and in my limited time I should go there first > Similarly, clicking on a feed and seeing dozens of bold headlines screaming for your attention made aggregation start to feel less like a convenience and more like a burden. No it didn't, it let me (1) quickly see many more headlines than your new format letting me get through all my feeds 2 or 3 times faster than I can now (2) it let me read just a few of those headlines and come back later to pick up where I left off since the ones I read are marked as read (4) it let me mark a headline as unread so I'd remember to come back and read it or finish it later. (3) it let me delete headlines I'm not interested in and keep ones I am making what I really needed to follow easier to find. > So we've introduced a better way. No, you've introduced a different way. One that for me is much much worse. So much worse that I can no longer use Oddpost for my news feeds > Next to each feed you'll now see an icon that calmly informs you when that feed contains new posts. Yea, and goes blank the moment I leave that feed even if I still had stuff to read there. > Click the feed at your leisure and not a moment before. When you do, you'll notice a view that accounts for the fact that first and foremost aggregation is about reading. No, aggregation is about paring down all the possible things I could read down to a the few I have time for. Reading a list of headlines helped me achieve that far faster then the new way > Simple controls allow you to set the font, font size and column width just how you like them. And rather than facing a stack of bold headlines that you have to click through to find the posts that interest you, you're presented with each post's full, easy to scan text. I find a list of headlines far easier to scan than paragraphs of text with bold titles. There are more headlines on the screen and it's something I do lots all day long in my e-mail folder so my eyes are far more used to it. > For blogs, it's a lot like reading them on their native web site, only 1) you get the convenience of new content notification, 2) you control the format and 3) posts are atomic, so you can easily archive them or forward them to friends. If I wanted to read them on the native site I'd go there. Why remove all the functionality you had to make it more like reading on the real site. That was what wasted time and what I was trying to avoid. A list of headlines compressed the front page of a site into just a few lines instead of several screens of scrolling. I'm sorry this comes across so in your face but I'm really sad and upset how one of my favorite activities of my day, using Oddpost to scan my feeds, is now my one of my most frustrating. So frustrating that I've had to spend hours looking for alternatives while I hope you put options in the let me put it back the way it was.
That was the reply I sent to them about their blog entry, that doesn't include the message I sent the day the features went live.
Also, in the short time I used it I noticed the little solid/empty circles they use to tell you a feed has new stuff to read are in absolutely no way less stressful than the unread counts they had before. They still scream "READ ME!!!", they are just now less useful for all the reasons mentioned above.
In fact its even worse than stated above. Another benefit the unread counts provided is telling me if I have time to read the feed right now. If the unread count was only 1 or 2 and I have 5 minutes then I have time to check the feed. If the unread count was 10 or 20 and I only have 5 minutes then I know to save it for later. With the counts, at a glance I could tell that info. With the new way I either have to hover over each feeds one at a time, slowly, or I just have to click the feed and hope there is not much new. Of course it takes time to figure that out because none of the topics are marked as read so at a glance I actually have to read the entries and see if I remember reading them before. With the bold unread/read markers I knew that without reading anything. Then, like I mentioned above, if it turns out the feed has lots of updates and I only had 5 minutes I can't come back and pickup where I left off since there is no way to mark what I have and haven't read.
I have a feeling the guys at Oddpost don't use feeds for news, only for blogging. For blogging *they* might want to read every feed. For news *I* only need headlines.
Here's an example of the difference. Here's the feed for slashdot presented the new way
Retro Gaming Gets Hot An anonymous reader writes "Apparently, retro gaming is big business, according to a recent article in The Rocky Mountain News. The story talks to Nintendo, ... # 10:28 AM Washington Mutual Patents the Bank Branch ewhac writes "Okay, so it's not a bank branch per se, but a particular kind of bank branch -- one that has play areas for kids, serves coffee and popcorn, and ... # 7:59 AM Amazon Seeks Divorce, $750M from Toys R Us theodp writes "Responding to a Toys R Us lawsuit accusing Amazon of breaching exclusivity provisions of its $50M-a- year tenancy agreement, Amazon has ... # 6:41 AM
That is all that fits now in my oddpost window. Here is what it used to fit
Retro Gaming Gets Hot Washington Mutual Patents the Bank Branch Amazon Seeks Divorce, $750M from Toys R Us Road to the Robocup 2004 Beastie Boys Respond to DRM Claims Wired on McBride Recent Grads and Experience Beyond the Desktop? The Pragmatic Programmers Interviewed Build Your Own KiteCam NewsForge Reviews Excel Clone for Linux Court Blocks FCC Media Ownership Rules Arctic Ocean Survey May Reveal Lost World NASA Abandons SimCIty Microwave Power Concept Intel Recalls New Chipset-Based Motherboards Apple: Industrial Design Excellence Awards 2004 Your Rights Online: Senate Unanimously Passes Anti-Camcorder Bill
All of that fit on my screen before and it only took a moment's glance to know I only wanted to read about 4 of those. In fact I've marked them. I don't need the excerpt to figure that out, they only get in the way.