Why I’m asking for full-text RSS feeds

Today I asked Trevor Cook if he will consider offering a full-text RSS feed for Corporate Engagement, and he asked back:

What’s the benefit of full-text? I’ve read a few people saying that they just make it harder to use an aggregator. People really just want a headline and an excerpt and then they can go to the site if they want to read it?

There’s also an exchange of opinions on this topic over at Allan Jenkins’s Desirable Roasted Coffee.

Here’s my 2 cents on this matter:

  • For me the benefit of getting full-text feeds is that I can read more postings in less time without leaving my aggregator.
  • Different people want different things. I want to read your full postings (read: I value your ideas) without having to make extra effort.
  • Most aggregators offer the feature of showing only headlines, or headlines and an excerpt. If you have a full-text RSS feed, any reader can choose to see only the headlines, or only headlines and excerpts in the aggregator. It doesn’t work the other way around.
  • Click to read more” is interrupting the flow of reading/scanning the postings. I’ll have to go outside my aggregator, read your posting, then come back.
  • Clicking in order to read the whole post might work as long as you’re reading just a couple of feeds. When you read hundreds of feeds (I do), extra clicks do have a price — in time and attention.
  • Not everybody who’s reading your feed has a broadband connection. If one has dial-up, having to open a new page means more waiting time.
  • What’s in it for you? Why is important to have people coming to your blog, instead of reading it in an aggregator?
  • If it’s about knowing the number of readers and other web analytics, you can always use Feedburner.
  • If it’s about selling things, I would rather read short reminders in your feed, now and then (hey, I have a great report/ book/ whatever, check it out!) than have to go every single time to your blog in order to read your postings. (Dear Feedburner, here’s an opportunity: allow people to insert personal –not only AdSense or Amazon– text-based ads in their feeds.)
  • If I hate excerpts-only RSS feeds, and you still make me click to read your postings, do you really think I’m going to look around to see what you want to sell, or I’ll just read the text you refused to show me in the first place?
  • Please don’t get me wrong: it’s your feed, and you’re the one controlling what you want to share. If you want to offer an excerpts-only feed, to use it as a way of attracting people to your weblog or selling something — it’s your decision to make, and I’ll respect it. But I think that you’re actually losing readers and their goodwill by doing so.
  • C’mon, you might lose me as a reader! This should be enough to make you change your mind, and start offering a full-text feed this very moment :)

Notes:

  • The “I’m asking” part from the title should read as “please, please, pretty please!” :)
  • Thanks to Trevor for allowing me to use his e-mail as a starting point for this posting.

8 Comments

  1. Hiya, Interesting posting… I’ve been exploring it too: http://incsub.org/blog/?p=443

    Personally I came to the conclusion that some sites support full RSS feeds (I’ve kept it at my main site) but some, for example where you want to engage in conversation through the comments, build more of an attachment with your blog or sell ads, work better with extracts.

    Plus it means you get to be secure about your content (not getting reposted elsewhere)

    I’ve kinda gone from being a full-feed freak to an excerpt reader too… so it’s difficult to say that it’s a problem – for example I read your feed as an extract – and is especially not a problem is the writer in question expresses themselves well in the title and the first 100 or so words.

    I’ve described my methodology for my non-full feed blog here too: http://blogsavvy.net/how-to-how-not-to-design-the-dynamics-of-your-professional-blog

    Cheers, James

  2. What the customer wants, the customer gets, provided there are enough customers with the same needs. That’s a nice simple rule that will always work for you. It’s called being customer-centric rather than product-driven.

  3. I simply unsubscribe from websites offering partial feeds, it’s just a waste of time. If he/she has anything interesting to say I will find out via other bloggers.

  4. I need full text feeds for my forums (I have a mod that posts it automatically). I have some sources, but all are headline and short description with a link. There’s no sense in drawing traffic to my forums if I redirect them immediately to another site.

    I want the full text so my members can discuss the article, not leave the site! My needs are a bit different, because I’m not really and end-user but a distributor of sorts.

    I know there are some articles you can manually syndicate, but that’s time consuming. Cutting and pasting is a waste of my time when I have a forum to run.

    Jennifer

  5. I personally aggregate feeds to my discussion board, and my members freak out if they’re partial feeds. Maybe, just maybe, if they’re two paragraphs and those two paragraphs summarize the article, they’re fine. Meaning, none of my people complain about slashdot, since the article really is only if you want to know more, and the paragraph is enough for most of us. But it’s not even worth my time to suggest something that’s not full-text to them…

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  7. I have heard that this website is wonderful, but after visiting it I’ll disagree with most of the people, who think so. Yes, there is some fresh and interesting information but most of it looks unprsentable. There are so many ways to check information, haven’t you heard of it? After trying it several times I realized, that it’s not unique.

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