Feed Overload? Hit the Panic Button!

If you’ve been reading feeds for a while, chances are you’ve experienced feed overload. It happens to the best of us. Perhaps we take a break for a day or two, and when we come back to our aggregator we find hundreds of unread items waiting for us.

Even though we don’t have to read them all, we’re so used to email that it’s still stressful seeing so many unread items. That’s when it’s time to hit the panic button.

The "panic button" in this case is a feature I’ve added to the latest version of FeedDemon. FeedDemon will automatically detect when you’ve got a ton of unread items, and then offer to mark them (or a subset of them) as read. Here’s how it looks:

FeedDemon's panic button

You can, of course, turn off the automatic detection and simply display the "panic button" whenever you like – but in my case, I like having it pop up and offer to mark stuff as read. And I don’t have to be concerned about missing some important thread just because I let the panic button mark items read, since I can still use FeedDemon’s "popular topics" to uncover the things people are talking about.

20 thoughts on “Feed Overload? Hit the Panic Button!

  1. @Jesper: looks like there was a lot of dithering in the artwork after I first uploaded it. I corrected this, so check out the screenshot now and let me if know if it still stinks :)

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  2. lo…. This is a good one. It wouldn’t be good for me though – my midweek day can start with up to 2000 unread articles, most press releases. Actually every day I spend 50% of my time reading. The other 50% is writing, reviewing, networking, going to conferences – doing some of my actual work here…

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  3. Great Feature, now we can all dodge that information avalanche feeling when we return from our peaceful holiday or weekend!

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  4. I used Feeddemon since version 1.0 betas but wanted something integrated in Outlook so I didn’t have to have two different programs open so moved to Newsgator inbox. Tell your co-workers to incorporate this into Newsgator Inbox, will ya? :-)

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  5. Wow nice image
    Fancy a spot on here then http://www.thebestsintheworld.com/
    what do you think to “The best panic button in the world.com”
    Just running in demo for the moment and an interactive forums being added any day.
    ok maybe that got your attention.
    If it did then panics over here
    If not then…. im pressing right now
    cheers Helen

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  6. Nice feature Nick however like the Clean Up Wizard, I find that its usefulness is neutered because you cannot apply the action to a single folder – it’s all or nothing. I have some folders which I want to clean up but others I don’t, currently neither the panic button nor the Clean up wizard will help with this.

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  7. What’s the panic button? Is it “OK”? Wouldn’t it be nicer to make a UI that didn’t map a notional “panic button” to a different physical button with the label “OK”? If you want to give people a “Panic Button”, you should make it an actual button.
    I’ll be you get no small percentage of users clicking on the graphic that looks like a button, thinking it’s an actual button.

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  8. …and also, isn’t your basic point “hey, this isn’t email, you don’t need to stress about reading everything” actually at odds with the giant red PANIC button? Shouldn’t it really be “Don’t Panic, these things aren’t important”? Your message to users should consistently be: FeedDemon has it covered, don’t worry.
    You should consider making this a “Don’t Panic” button, or maybe “Don’t Worry” button.

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  9. @Thomas: I’ve had several people mention that the “OK” button is confusing, so I’ve changed this in the next build, and I’ve updated the above screenshot to reflect the change.

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  10. Well, I still think that you shouldn’t be encouraging people to “PANIC” when they get to this point, you want to be suggesting a calm solution. After all, when there’s a fire, and you hit the Panic button (the fire alarm), it’s no guarantee of immediate relief, more like an *escalation* of panic. Panic buttons are for raising the alarm, not suppressing it.
    This interaction is more like a “relief” button, or a chill out button.

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  11. I love the idea of the Panic Button, I often read down feeds and the mark everything as read when I see that the current item is older than 24 hours. One thing I would like though is a way of marking specific feeds so they aren’t affected.
    For example I love Scott Adam’s Dilbert Blog, the posts don’t go out of date and aren’t superceded so I’d never want to just mark them without reading. On the other hand many of Scott’s posts require some thought so I only look at them when I’ve got a reasonable amount of time to spend, whereas I’ll flick through a few Gizmodo posts whenever a minute or two presents itself. Could you add an option to protect the ‘Golden’ feeds?

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  12. It’s an interesting idea but I do not see any sense in Panic button, is it so necessary to use Panic button, for example, if there are a lot of unread letters, I will simply read them all.
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