WordPress.com is the largest WordPress multi-site installation in the world, and for many people, it’s synonymous with WordPress itself — an understandable mistake. As an online publishing platform it’s hard to beat for reliability, security, and an idealistic corporate ethos focused squarely on creative self-expression and user empowerment (including data portability) that puts the likes of Facebook and Google to shame. One of the coolest features of the site is that, for logged-in users, the home page — WordPress.com — is a feed reader. The latest posts from all the WordPress.com blogs you subscribe to appear there in excerpt form, and if you click on a title, you’ll instantly get the whole post, and can even comment on it without clicking through to the site if you don’t want to. And it’s just had a re-design to make it easier to use and better looking than ever.
The feed reader is pretty hard to avoid for WordPress.com users, and therefore has gotten a high level of adoption as the site continues to evolve and take on some of the features of a social network. What a lot of users don’t realize, I think, is that they can subscribe to any site with a working feed — Blogspot blogs, sites on Squarespace, Weebly, you name it. That naturally includes Moving Poems and Moving Poems Magazine. Here’s how.
Go to WordPress.com and log in if you’re a member, or follow the instructions to sign up for a free membership if you’re not. Once you’re in the Reader, you’ll notice a left sidebar where the top item should say Followed Sites (if you’re using a mobile device, you may have that text appearing at the top, above the content: click on it to go to the sidebar items). Click on the button that says Manage, and you’ll go to a page with a listing of all the sites you’re following (if any) with a search bar at the top that says “enter a site URL to follow.” Try it! Go to any site on the web with regularly updating content, copy the home page URL out of your browser, and paste it in. If it has a feed, the site title will appear as an option immediately below with a link to click that says “Follow.” Voilà!
Moving Poems and Moving Poems Magazine are actually two separate, interlinked sites, but I’ve created a combined feed using a service called Feed Informer, so you could just copy and paste in that URL if you want: http://feed.informer.com/digests/GVVXE6OY6V/feeder.rss. This will give the full content of the posts, including videos that will play right within the Reader. But if you subscribe to each site separately by pasting in the respective URLs, movingpoems.com and discussion.movingpoems.com, that will not only give full content but also the ability to comment on posts without leaving the Reader — comments that will then show up on Moving Poems itself!* Whichever way you subscribe, as of the latest re-design you should now even be able to watch the daily videos without even expanding the excerpts to read the whole posts (though if you’re in that much of a hurry, you should really probably re-examine your priorities in life).
Lots of people already subscribe to Moving Poems (including the magazine content) through the weekly MailChimp newsletter, and if you’re an email-oriented person and you don’t follow very many other blogs, magazines and online newspapers, that will probably continue to be your most convenient option. But if you do follow a bunch of different sites, it might make more sense to use WordPress.com — or another feed reader such as Feedly. But for sheer ease of use and social network-like features (comments, likes, re-blogging) you’re unlikely to beat WordPress.com at this point.
*For the tech-minded who are wondering how that’s possible, it’s because these are self-hosted WordPress sites and I use the Jetpack plugin from WordPress.com on both of them, in part because it’s the best “related posts” plugin out there.