Kinja Wants to Be Blogging Training Wheels

I tried to upload my subscription file to Kinja, but here’s what I got: "The file you are attempting to upload is too large. Files must be no larger than 512k." With 464 feeds, my opml files (once exported by Newsgator to trim its own extensions) weights 103KB, so file this as a bug. Oh, they must mean kilobits, with a small k. Well, even trimmed below 64KB, import repeatedly didn’t work for me. A random diet down to 39KB finally made it.
Anyway, that’s not a big problem for Kinja since they’re not even targeting people who already use newsreaders, and most people who do are subscribed to less than 300 feeds anyway, so their OPML files should be significantly smaller. There’s a bunch of obsolete feeds in my list but Newsgator doesn’t give me a convenient way to keep it clean (say, by giving me a list I can sort by last update date and error status).
Still, shouldn’t an XML parser worth its salt be able to make sense of a partial stream, properly close it, and import what it can? Please put that somewhere at the bottom of your "maybe one day" feature list. Also, the spider seems to have visited some blogs ages ago, but maybe I’m missing something. Infrequent blogs must be a pain to code against: you don’t want to waste cycles parsing them if they’re not updated, but if there’s a sudden burst of activity your going to miss it. Is Kinja using ping backends such as (As an aside, on Rick’s blog, I was wondering how Kinja creates its abstracts.)
Tech stuff aside, I’m not sure I agree with the premise behind Kinja since people (even newbies) use search engines a lot more than directories. Even if you’re not a power user, it’s hard not to discover blogs related to the topics you’re interested in, then take it from there. Sooner or later Yahoo or Google will take you there, and rather sooner than later those days. And now that MyYahoo supports RSS (albeit their implementation doesn’t scale too well), "Add to MyYahoo" icons are mushrooming on many sites.
Plus there’s the social effect: everyone will eventually know about blogs through friends and family (just like laggards heard about email, for those who weren’t exposed through the workplace). Because my blog is written in English and is focused on obscure &web stuff", nobody in my family ever read it. But now that my girlfriend blogs (among other things) about our daughter and our expat life in Portugal (with pictures), my parents and sister do know what a blog is. My years of obscure biztech ramblings never broke through; two pictures of a smiling kid were more than enough to evangelize the concept even to my mother who sent her first email a few weeks ago.
Are the people who need handholding likely to be engaged by blogs anyway? Maybe this will work for the same users who do search queries on MSN, no matter how inefficient it is. There are advertisers willing to pay for that crowd (who else is going to pile on expensive credit cards and buy junk pop music?). I thought Kinja would be a different animal, more a conversation tracker than a blog compilation. Let’s wait till the beta is over and the editorial side of things has had a chance to grow. Even power users sometimes would like to discover new blogs – for that matter, using RSS (where blogrolls are invisible) can get you in a rut – so I’m not shorting the site just yet.

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