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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Turn off the annoying social features in Google Reader

Even though Google Reader is probably the best and most widely used application for following RSS feeds, it still has it’s problems and shortcomings. After the launch of Google Buzz, one of the most common complaint was the connection with Buzz, because it generates duplicates and disables comments on buzz originating in Google Reader.

Since Buzz doesn’t have a way to filter content (yet), for some the only solution to separate the two would be to hide the items shared by others in Google Reader and using only Buzz for social interactions. Unfortunately, if you follow a lot of people, hiding their shared items from the sidebar one by one can be time-consuming.

Apparently, the Reader team has developed a faster way to turn off shared items and I found it on Twitter, when somebody asked them this question. While you are on the Google Reader page, simply type the following JavaScript command in the address bar of your browser and hit ‘Enter’:
After the page reloads, the ‘People you follow’ section from the sidebar will be completely hidden. Furthermore, keyboard shortcuts linking to these items and comments will no longer work. It’s a pretty complete solution!

Google Reader Antisocial offGoogle Reader Antisocial on

Antisocial Reader off                                    Antisocial Reader on


The setting seems to be stored in a cookie, because loading Reader in another browser reverts to the usual, ‘social’ interface. So, if you want to go back to the standard you can clear the cookies or use the same JavaScript code to set the variable to ‘false’: javascript:antisocial('false').

I would recommend however not to play around with this toggle too much; I have noticed that Reader tends to become unstable and slow if you use it too often. It starts to display errors and stops loading shared items, even in the default state. Maybe it’s still experimental, but it would be great if the toggle would be integrated in the settings and stored in the Google account, like for the followed blogs from Blogger.