Saturday, January 19, 2013

How to Fix the Stalkers in Google Reader

New to Google Reader?  Read this:  Guide to Using Google Reader 

Update:  Google Reader is being retired on July 1, 2013.  Read here to find out about alternatives.

I used to have several stalkers in my Google Reader.  My stalkers were blogs that I wanted to unsubscribe from, but would always find a way back.  I finally figured out the bad guy:  Google Friend Connect. (Yeah, some friend you turned out to be!)

According to Google Reader, you have to manage blogs that you signed up to follow through Google Friend Connect (which is no longer supported by Google) by going to your Blogger Dashboard and Managing your Reading List.  I tried doing that and got an error message that said, "We are unable to load your FriendConnect data at this time. We apologize for the inconvenience. Please try again shortly."  So I tried again the next day.  Same message.  The next day, same message.  I did a Google search and came across a blog post that helped me figure out to put away the bad guy for good. (See Reference link at the bottom of this post.)

My recommendation if you have been having the same issues with Stalker Blogs is to transfer your blogs from Google Friend Connect to Google Reader, and tell Google Friend Connect to get lost!

Here is how to do it and not lose your favorite blogs:

1.  First, Open your favorite text editor/word processing program (e.g. Microsoft Word, Pages for Mac, Notepad).  You are going to use this to paste the links for your blogs.
2. Go to a GFC widget (found in the sidebar on my blog) and either sign in or join that site.

2. Go back to the widget, and, under your name, click on Site Settings.

3. A popup window will come up. Click on Sites you've joined.  You will see a list of the sites you have joined through Google Friend Connect.

4. Now do a right-click on the link with the name of the first blog listed and select "Open in New Window."  The blog will open in a new browser window.  Arrange your desktop so that you see the popup window for Google Friend Connect on one side and your browser on the other side and your text editor below or behind the popup window (see picture below). You may want to minimize or close any other windows you have open.  This will help set up your desktop for more efficient working.  You can set everything back up to your normal way when you're done.

5.  What you are going to do now is to open a few blogs at a time in new tabs and then go back and copy the links and paste them into your text editor.  I opened all of the blogs that started with the letter A first, closed them, and then went to the B blogs, etc.  Here's how to do it:

Do a right-click on name of the second blog in your list, and, this time, select "Open in New Tab."  Then go to the next blog, and do the same thing.  Do maybe half a dozen at a time.

Now go to the URL of the first tab, select it, and do a Ctrl-C (or Command-C for Macs) to copy the link.  Go to your text editor and do a Ctrl-V (or Command-V for Macs) to paste the link.  If you want, you can simply do one link per line.  I made a table with the name of each blog and the link beside it, but you don't have to do that unless you want to.

If you noticed that there are blogs that are no longer active, have been closed, or you're not interested in anymore, don't copy the link into your text editor.

When you do all of the ones that you have open, close all of the tabs except for one (to leave the browser window in the same place).  When you go back to the popup window, go ahead and click on Stop following for the blogs whose links you have copied onto your text editor.  That will delete those blogs from the list and you can then continue doing the same thing with another set.  Keep going until you have copied the links for all of the blogs you are still interested in and have stopped following all of the blogs.  When you click on Stop following on the last blog, the popup window will automatically close.

6.  Save the document that has the blog links.  Close the browser window you used to open the blogs.

7.  Go to Google Reader.  In the left pane, you will probably have a folder that says something like "Blogs I Follow" (not shown in the screen shot because I already got rid of it.  Sorry about that!)

Open up the folder that says "Blogs I Follow" by clicking on the little arrow to the left of it.  You will see all of the blogs that you opened and pasted the links to in your text editor.  I had hoped that they would automatically be gone, but no such luck.

What you need to do now is to click the little arrow to the right of the name of each of those blogs and select unsubscribe.  Do that for all of them.  As long as you have the links in that text file, you won't miss out on your favorite blogs.  When you unsubscribe from all of them, the folder "Blogs I Follow" will finally disappear.

8.  The final step is to resubscribe to the blogs in Google Reader.  Arrange your desktop so that you see Google Reader on one side and your text editor document on the other side.

Go to one of the links in your text editor and copy it by doing Ctrl-C (or Command-C for Macs).  On Google Reader, click on the red subscribe button, and then paste the link into the little line that pops up by doing Ctrl-V (or Command-V for Macs) and click on Add.

Keep doing this for all of the blogs you want to follow.

That's it!  That should take care of the stalker problem.

BONUS:  This is not part of the tutorial, per se, but a tip.  You'll notice that I have four folders in Google Reader:  Inactive, Keep, Watch and See, and Delete.  For the blogs that appear to be inactive but I want to keep them in case they become active again, I put in the Inactive folder.  The blogs I know I want to keep I put in the Keep folder.  Watch and See is for the blogs that I'm not sure if I want to continue following or not.  Delete is for the blogs that I want to unsubscribe from.  Every so often, I'll go through the blogs that are uncategorized and will put them in the folders.  I'll also go through the blogs in the Watch and See folder and see if I can make a determination about keeping or unsubscribing.

Village Idiot Savant (found via Google search) was the biggest help in figuring out how to fix this problem.
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