What To Do When You Can't RSS

By samooresamoore (1251644907|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Some sites, for whatever reasons, don't have an RSS feature that allows you to receive updates through your blog roll. This can became inconvenient when you want to see if a site has changed without having to spend the time to check the site frequently. To get around this, you can use email alerts. Email alerts allow you receive updates in your inbox whenever a site has changed.

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Email Alerts

You can get updates via email in several different ways. The ways that I have experimented with have been through Google Alerts, Yahoo Alerts, and GoogleAlert (which is a separate company from Google). All of these three involve signing into an in account in order use them.

Google Alerts

Google alerts allows you to search very specific items and send them to your email. Likewise, you can specify how frequently you wish to receive updates, which can make it much less overwhelming when you receive updates from hundreds of sites. Although Google has a lot of resources, I found Google Alerts to not be very helpful for helping you develop your query if you did not know what you wished to specifically receive information about. Therefore, I recommend refining your query through Google before using it in Google Alerts.

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Yahoo Alerts

I personally did not find Yahoo Alerts very helpful for my particular research. However, for more general purposes, such as "Market Updates," it can be a useful service. The interface has a menu of choices that you can choose from. Then it is relatively easy to select the desired alert and watch its progresses on Yahoo. The problem is that if you have a search topic other outside their menu options, it can be very unhelpful.

Google Alert

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Google Alert is a separate company from Google, which searches only Google documents. Google alert I found to be the most useful for conducting specific and originally research. However, to make the most of it, I found I needed to use the "Advanced Search" option. Even with this feature, though, there can be dozens of retrievals. Therefore, you really need to know what you want before query. Otherwise, you will get so many retrievals that you really won't be able to get much use out of them.

Making the Most of Email Alerts

The key takeaways I found with email alerts was that you have to spend a little extra energy before you begin to make sure that you email alerts are useful instead of an inconvenience.

Having a specific and useful query is key-otherwise the email alerts wont be relevant and will overwhelm your mailbox

Likewise, if you have Yahoo or Google email accounts, you should set you email that your alerts go to so that they go directly to your folder. For example, you want all your alerts about [Market Updates] to go to a folder, you can add the name of your folder into your email address so that it doesn't go the main inbox.

Where To Go From Here

I highly recommend email alerts for topics that you want to be informed about but don't have the time to track manually. I also recommend Google Alert, of all the tools I tried, even though you have probably never used it before. However, I am slightly disappointed that it isn't more strait forward how to filter your email alerts that you will receive before they actually are sent. Currently, you type your query and then they send you emails without you having much say in the ones that are sent initially. This is not to say that you can't edit them later. But it would be nice to filter them initially. Likewise, I would appreciate if they allowed you to send emails to a specific folder through university email accounts, for those of us that just are somewhat old fashioned and use our university email accounts.

On the whole, though, I found this new tool really exciting. It allows another way for you to make the most of the web without having to spend endless amounts of time searching and checking up on sites. You should definitely try it the next time you find a site that you like that doesn't have RSS feeds.

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