Invasion of the Feed Readers

Update: based on this article Feedly has made some changes (and damned fast, 5.5 hours) to the first-time experience. Make sure to read the comments.

So everyone has been talking about Feedly. It’s a Firefox plugin that gathers your feeds from Google Reader, does some magic, and tries to present all the articles you love to read in a magazine-like way (I’ll link it further down, but recommend you read the post first). It’s a beautiful idea that I was immediately excited to try out. Considering how much time I spend reading feeds, and how little time I spend with well-designed newspapers and magazines, and how boring and ugly even the best feed readers are, my first thought was, “I’m on that bandwagon!” I signed up, installed, and restarted Firefox.

I had my first creepy Feedly experience in just 2 seconds. From the first load, Feedly showed me all of my Google Reader content. Why was that creepy? Well, I never logged into Google Reader, and Feedly never asked me for anything. It just pulled all of my feeds in there automatically, I assume by taking my Google Reader login from a cookie. I very consciously avoid saving my Google passwords in any browser, so this was creep-out no. 1.

Creepy Feedly experience number two occured the next morning, when I cooked myself an espresso and opened Google Reader on my iPhone. I was actually just thinking, “Hrm, for Feedly to actually be useful to me, I’d have to be able to open it on my iPhone.” Then I scrolled through my list of folders/tags (Google’s still confused about these terms). First of all, most folders had far more unread items than they should’ve (everything was on 0 yesterday), and secondly there were 3 new folders/tags: z.feedly.favorites, z.feedly.people and z.feedly.seeded, and they were all overflowing. The night before I’d played with Feedly for all of 5 minutes, and not selected anything as a favourite, nor selected any people, nor “seeded” anything, whatever that is. Feedly just added tags/folders automatically, and based on some criteria I don’t understand and were never explained, added articles to them.

So the Feedly folks have taken a great idea–a feed reader with a magazine layout–and have turned me, someone who’s actually wished for something similar in the past, completely off of it in less than 24 hours. I’ll be uninstalling now. I understand that Feedly is just trying to be helpful. A neighbour might break into your house to wash your laundry for you with the same motivation, but would you thank him?

If at some point Feedly sufficiently explains the mysterious things it does before installation, or makes invasive man-handling of my Google Reader account optional, I’ll reconsider using it.

And if, in spite of all of this you want to try it out, go install Feedly (Creeply?) and see for yourself.

Update: thanks to Kosmar I now know how to uninstall Feedly properly, and a little more about privacy and Feedly. Kudos to Edwin Khodabakchian, the guy behind Feedly, for being so straight about these issues.