Full vs Partial feed argument returns

Filed as General on November 27, 2005 9:55 pm

by Duncan

Duncan Riley> It’s been probably 6 months since this argument last raised its ugly head, but its now returned with Robert Scoble indulging in a RSS subscription jihad against bloggers who don’t offer full feeds.

Scoble argues that he’s too busy to read partial feeds and that its quicker for him to scan full feeds in his feed reader.

John Roberts disagrees, and writes that partial feeds allow him to scan more quicky and then open the posts he’d like to read to read later.

Others, including James Robertson, Dave Winer (who is actually very reasonable on the argument) and Tom Raftery chime in as well.

Not suprisingly, I’m with John on this one, but I’ll explain why.

I’ve written in the past about keeping my feed subscriptions low (I aim for no more than 100) but I’ve also tended to favour blogs with higher number of posts as well to get as much value from my subs. On an average morning I’ll have anything from 1000 to 2000 posts to get through, and if they are partial feeds I can and do get through them more quickly with Bloglines. As Dave Winer writes though, there is a preference for a reasonable short summary as well, so you know what the headline pertains to. As I go through each folder I click on the posts I want to read using the scroll-ball on my mouse, which in Firefox opens the post in a new tab in the background. When I then finish scanning through the subject area I return and read the posts, blogging mention of them if required. It works well for me.

But here’s another thing: every time I open a post I’m also telling the writer, particularly if its a blog post, that I’m interested in that post. If all I’ve done is read it in my feed reader the blogger has no idea that I’ve taken an interest in it, unless I blog about it (and I probably only blog 1 in 3-4 posts/ articles I read). If they are running CPM advertising, this helps there as well, it helps with their traffic stats for BlogAds if they are running them, and if I happen to click on a CPC ad, it also helps them earn some more income to keep up the good work (note I only click on an ad if I am interested in it). Other times I’ll also read the comment thread on the blog, and might even contribute a comment as well. Again, this helps build community and interactivity which further encourages the blogger to continue to write and provide entertainment and interesting content for all of us. What Robert Scoble wants is to cut all of this out and have full text delivered to his feedreeder for free WITHOUT being willing to recognise the importance that a visit to a site entails. He argues that it takes to much time for the page to load; I’d suggest that Robert starts using Firefox and read his feeds like I do, open them in a background tab to come back to a read once you’ve got through your subscriptions, and dare I say: what’s a second or two in the pursuit of encouraging others and being a good citizen of the blogosphere? Unfortunately once again Scoble’s obsession with himself and his inability to consider the points and perspectives of others once again sees Microsoft’s chief blogging spokesperson reflect poor, self centered judgement upon the choices of others.

Disappointing really, particularly when his mentor, Dave Winer, long regarded as suffering from grumpy old man syndrome, can be far more reasonable than the student.

Update: Zoli Erdos adds his points in favor of full feeds.

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  1. By Billy The Blogging Poet posted on November 28, 2005 at 7:48 am
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    Using full feeds is tantamount to giving away the cow to someone who came to borrow a cup of cream. Why would anyone bother to read a blog when they get the entire content in their RSS Reader? The reason for having an RSS feed is to INCREASE traffic TO your blog– full feeds defeat that purpose thus rendering RSS useless to the blogger posting to his or her blog.

    Do you want more advertisements in RSS feeds? That’s what will come if too many bloggers submit to this notion that they should run full feeds. Is that what we want blogs to look like? Don’t get me wrong: I’ve got nothing against advertisers, but there has to be an end to their access to us. I’ve been asked by no less than 6 ad agencies to run their ads in my feeds. So far I’ve resisted but running full feeds would force me to do so.

  2. By Easton Ellsworth posted on December 2, 2005 at 12:20 pm
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    I want to know more about this whole full / partial feeds argument. (Where can I go to read more?) I can see the merits of both – and I feel like a bit of a fence-sitter at the moment. The blogger in me prefers partial feeds because they encourage traffic, and as Duncan pointed out, they let me see which posts people are most interested in (because they bothered to open up the full post to read it all). But the feed reader in me prefers full posts out of a desire for pure speed. At any rate, as long as I know what’s going on as a reader, I don’t feel offended. That is, if a site offers me a partial feed and makes that fact obvious, I’m not upset. As for my own blog, I’m experimenting with both ways and hopefully will get down on the right side of the fence soon – if there is a right side!