Is full RSS really all that?

Posted on 8/10/2008 @ 7:05 PM in #Non Techie by | Feedback | 4402 views

Self destruct.. postponed

I need some feedback here. A little while ago, I trimmed my full RSS Feed to only an excerpt. Yeah I know # of RSS subscribers is a measure of success of a blog, but I found that:

  • RSS was the #1 reason people steal content. Literally they write a program to suck in the RSS into their sites. I don't mind divulging content for free, but too many people shamelessly scrape, steal and peddle as their own.
  • Many simply subscribe, and forget.
  • 99.99% of my hits were coming from search engines and linkages anyway. RSS was a mere 0.01%, of which, I am not sure how many were actually reading what I wrote on a regular basis. It seemed, to me, that most people were googling, and landed on the page - and got the answer, and moved on.
  • It's been a few months since i discontinued the full RSS, and so far TWO (one, two), people have missed it. I guess, those two actually read what I wrote.

So, in short, I took the crazy stance of trimming the full RSS as being not worth the bandwidth it was chewing.

So, .. if you disagree with me .. please voice your opinion and tell me why.

Sound off but keep it civil:

Older comments..


On 8/4/2008 2:46:13 PM Daniel Fisher (lennybacon) said ..
I don't care if I'm online but of course your readers loose ability to read feeds offline...

Cheers,


Daniel


On 8/4/2008 2:48:10 PM Daniel Fisher (lennybacon) said ..
P.S.:

1) Filter Bots out


2) If you would bold the line that my comment was posted and clear the textboxes you could increase the usability dramatically

:-)

Cheers,


Daniel


On 8/4/2008 2:58:32 PM timheuer said ..
when i see the subscribe link, i expect a true subscription, not a subscription to half content and i still have to go somewhere...that's my current thinking at least. I use RSS because I view a lot of content...I want a consolidated place to go. But if the content is compelling enough in the excerpt (as this one prompted me to give feedback) then I'll go -- but that is a rare occurence for me.


On 8/4/2008 3:08:41 PM Matt said ..
unsubscribed. partial text feeds waste my time.


On 8/4/2008 3:18:29 PM John said ..
Count me as someone that loves the full rss. I recently purchased a new iPhone and the thing that I love most isn't e-mail or the widgets -- it's using Google Reader. The interface of reader with a full rss article is a joy to read. The font is sized well, the width is right and when I'm done, opening the next article automatically collapses the last one.

Excerpts are not as enjoyable. When I get those, I have to wait for Safari to load a new page, which will be formatted in small font. Usually, a quick double-tap on the right will resize a page well, but not always. As it happens, in the case of blah.winsmarts.com, the font is sized too small to look good on the iPhone and it requires scrolling. Then when I'm done, I have to close the new page and find my way back to Google Reader.

So while I enjoy the content and you're on my top 10 blog list, from a user-experience standpoint, I give reading your site an iPhone reading experience of 6, whereas I would give Scott Hanselman's rss feed a 10.

Those are my 2 1/2 cents worth.


On 8/4/2008 3:21:31 PM Jonathan said ..
I subscribe to a number of development feeds and I like spend my (disconnected) train ride to and from work reading blogs. There's now a couple of feeds I subscribe to (yours included) that I can't actually read on the train anymore. That means I'll only read your posts if I happen to check my feeds at work over lunch (like I am right now), or if the blurb makes me think the rest of the post is really insightful or directly applicable to a problem or pain I'm experiencing.

In short -- the excerpt-only feed means I'll rarely get the chance to read your posts just because -- I'll only end up reading the ones that I think apply to me directly and immediately.


On 8/4/2008 3:27:20 PM Adam said ..
Sahil, I am always disappointed when RSS feeds are trimmed. Why? Because now my RSS reader has lost a lot of its usefulness. I now have to go to another site to read the content. I love the ability to quickly read through blogs and glean the info I need. I'm busy, you're busy, we're all busy, right? I read 100+ blogs a day and I skip over most feeds that are trimmed cause I simply do not want to have to go to different sites. That's why I have a RSS reader, to save me time. I can scroll quickly through and get what I need and get out.

You make good points on why to trim but for me, speed is king.


On 8/4/2008 4:04:17 PM Ray Booysen said ..
Hi Sahil. I read your feed exclusively in Google Reader and probably if just excerpts remain, I'll evetually just skim over them.

Cheers


Ray


On 8/4/2008 4:13:30 PM Eric said ..
I think it is. I just subscribed to your blog today, but it was an instant let down when I saw that it was a partial feed. I tolerate it if the blog is really good. If not, then I usually just unsubscribe and forget about the blog. What's the motivation of your blog? If you're worried about losing advertising dollars you could add them to your feed.

My 2 cents...


On 8/4/2008 4:20:40 PM Greg said ..
One Vote Against Summary Feed

Summary feeds bug me. I'm probably unusual in the number of feeds I subscribe to (900+ feeds, many being arrogated feeds like blogs.msdn.com, etc) and so I need to be able to quickly scan all my feeds. As I travel down the river of news I scan for interesting stuff, stuff that is rarely in the title or first few words. I'll usually key on something in the body and then read the post in depth.

Without a full feed, this just doesn't work and I miss some great content...

From an purely emotional level, I feel that summary feeds are just bait and switch means to pull people to a website for hits or ad's. Where as I feel bloggers who intend to really share, do everything they can to get their content out. I'm NOT saying that you're doing this, it's just how it "feels" sometimes.

Yeah I know our stuff gets stolen, re-used, re-purposed, etc if we provide a full feed, but still are you really in it for the ad's or site traffic? If 99% of the traffic is coming from search engines, then why not provide a full feed...?

If one or two (now three) have commented, then that's how many people in real "net numbers"? If feed changes bugs people, they just drop it... (well at least I know I do)

"Many simply subscribe, and forget." That's kind of a good thing! LOL. I shows the POWER of feeds, of the opt-in model. We can read what we want, when we want, as we want too.

Without the emotional queues of an in-person chat my comments maybe coming across more "Directly" (My wife calls it my "SGT mode" or my "Being Direct" ;) than is meant. PLEASE understand I do not mean to flame or attack. Just expressing my feelings... :)

Take care and thank you asking the question,


Greg


On 8/4/2008 4:44:44 PM Sasha Goldshtein said ..
I would prefer a full feed. Right now, I am skimming over most of your posts in Google Reader because opening them in a separate tab is too much work (comparatively).


On 8/4/2008 5:15:53 PM Jesper Lönnqvist said ..
I really prefer full RSS feeds since I use Google Reader to read all my feeds.


On 8/4/2008 5:32:17 PM Eber Irigoyen said ..
I prefer full feed, I rarely engage on reading a page that comes from partial feed, plus on your specific case, advertisement takes pretty much all the space of the "partial feed", bad Sahil! bad Sahil!

best regards


On 8/4/2008 8:38:30 PM Bryan Bass said ..
I prefer full feeds as well. If I'm interested in related content or in the comments then I'll click through to see them.


On 8/4/2008 10:13:28 PM Pete said ..
I can't say too much to how you feel about content being stolen, but as for the bandwidth, why don't you just outsource your feed to FeedBurner and be done with it. I publish my entire articles there and I'm pretty happy with them.

I vote for full feeds, too. I don't even like blogs that show partial content and want you to read more "after the jump". My next jump is usually off the site.


On 8/4/2008 10:22:40 PM Stewills said ..
I do like to see the full length of the post. I see all my subscribed feeds on Google reader and would like to do all my reading there (personal preference). I also read more of the post before deciding if I want to read more when it is a full post.


On 8/4/2008 10:34:11 PM Dave Ward said ..
I feel your pain when it comes to the scrapers. My content gets "repurposed" a lot too.

Instead of turning your readers away, another alternative is to insert a message and/or backlink in the header and footer of your RSS feed. That way, anyone who accidentally ends up at the scraper site will see that the post originated here and usually click through to the original. It also turns those scrapers into (low quality) link generators for your benefit, turning the tables on them.


On 8/5/2008 12:36:09 AM Sahil Malik said ..
Holy moly man! Where were you guys hiding when I post nutty jokes in my blogposts.


Okay, heard ya loud and clear. Will restore full feed shortly.

Now, I still think a better solution needs to be worked out to prevent the theives/scrapers. I like Dave's idea, but I've been doing that. I'll keep thinking over it, and come up with something good. My whole site needs an overhaul anyway - one day I'll get to it, just too darned busy at the moment.

Thanks for the feedback. Full feeds will be restored by the weekend.

Adios,

Sahil


On 8/5/2008 12:10:34 PM Peter Seale said ..
Yes please switch to full RSS.

For counting readers I recommend you switch your RSS to Feedburner, it's not a perfect solution but is "good enough". I think they allow you to embed a hidden image there also, so you can count each time someone reads a post as well.

I don't think you'll win the war on content thieves, no matter what you try.


On 8/5/2008 12:49:12 PM Sahil Malik said ..
Peter - I think someone once told me that Feedburner will also save bandwidth. Can you confirm/deny/explain how?

Sahil


On 8/5/2008 5:13:37 PM Greg said ..
As I understand it Feedburner will cache your feed. Feedburner slurps in your feed (you ping it when you do a post) and then people hit the Feedburner servers and get the content that way.

This also gives you a chance to "add value" to you feed, insert ad's, etc. It will also let you convert the feed into different formats, etc (say if people want the feed via email and such).

Plus the price is just right, free. BUT it is owned by Google and does make for a single point of failure. If feedburner is down, goes away, etc, then everyone who subscribed to that feed will be lost... (that's the bad of it).

I've been using them for a few years now and have been VERY happy with them and their service...

Hope this helps,


Greg

But it has been around for forever and is now backed by a major corp (hard to be more major than Google) so I'm putting my bet there.


On 8/6/2008 7:40:15 AM Ashish said ..
Shall be unsubscribing soon, if partial feeds (or text) is not removed. This wastes lots of time wasting ...clicking,opening browser,etc...Defeats the point RSS was made.

Why u so worried abt. the number of people reading or not? haven't u ever heard of:


"Karma karey jao, phal ki chinta mat karoo"?

:) Better still, if you really want to save bandwidth & shoo away people, implement a captcha to read them.

One of your reader.


On 8/6/2008 1:58:31 PM Sahil Malik said ..
Oye Ashish, karma kiye jaa aur fal ki chinta mat karo. Tabhi to India ki population itni out of control ho gayi hai!

bad advice, no?


On 8/6/2008 7:45:34 PM Peter Seale said ..
Greg covered it well, so I'll just say "what he said."

Ahh, as I vaguely remembered, Scott Hanselman had a post on this: http://www.hanselman.com/blog/BlogStatsAreConfusingGETsViewsUserAgentsReadersEyeballs.aspx - also links to other posts on the topic, I think he did the dasBlog Feedburner integration bits, so he has the nitty gritty on how to set it up.


On 8/6/2008 10:37:50 PM Speednet said ..
I don't mind the partial feeds, as long as they provide a somewhat lengthy abstract. The thing I can't stand is not having enough content to decide if the article will be worth the wait and "hassle" to load.

I subscribe to well over a hundred feeds, and I keep on top of them all. I love when the full text is included, but I can forgive partial content if there is enough of it.

For example, the amount of content you're currently providing is not nearly enough. One or two sentences?


On 8/8/2008 1:26:06 PM Mallik said ..
Sahil,

I am a regular reader of yours and few other blogs.

I must say, it is not very appealing to me ever since you started posting only excerpts (not the full post). I prefer to read all my feeds from my aggregator. So nothing against your posts, but having to go your website to read doesn't interest me.

I see people like JoelOnSoftware, Jeff Attwood & Ayende, CodeBetter etc..(who I read regularly) are doing fine posting complete articles...

Again, it is your content/time/effort/knowledge... so I am cool with whatever you decide... but I think you'll have more readers by posting full articles...

Regards,


On 8/8/2008 5:46:11 PM Bob said ..
I'll echo what others have said. Full text in the rss please.


On 8/10/2008 5:12:00 PM Gorgo said ..
I deffinitly read your blog by rss and find it very usefull. Keep a good work.


On 8/10/2008 10:40:21 PM Sahil Malik said ..
Guys - Feedback accepted, and addressed.


Full RSS is now available at http://feeds.feedburner.com/winsmarts.


See you there & thank you for your readership.


On 8/11/2008 3:45:17 AM will said ..
To hit this site it is usually through search or by RSS using the Aggregated Feed: Sharepoint MVP blog listing.

Off my main iGoogle page so if I notice a new headline easy to click and read.