Scoble vs the average blogger
Duncan Riley> Microsoft uber-blogger Robert Scoble, who I’ve always considered to be good bloke, has posted that he’ll stop reading blogs (more precisely their feeds) if they don’t offer full text feeds. Turboblogger has a bit more coverage on this, but I’d like to add my two-bobs worth.
I think the decision by Scoble is disappointing and discriminates against the average blogger. And yes, if I was on his list for the Blog Herald, it looks like I’m about to get kicked off because I too have resorted to partial text feeds.
Firstly you need to consider that most bloggers don’t get paid to blog by a third party like Scoble does (with Microsoft), and therefore rely on advertising on their blogs to sustain their activities. Sure, a lot of very good bloggers blog for love, and that’s an important thing, but I also know a lot of good stuff that has been created and achieved through the moneterization of blogs. Personally if I didn’t make 1 cent from The Blog Herald I’d keep on blogging anyway because I love what I do, and I love sharing the news of the blogosphere, and even helping people on occasion as well. However the revenue the site brings in means I can dedicate more time to The Blog Herald and less time to other projects that bring in money. In economics terms it’s basic opportunity costs theory. I know of many others in a similar position, who blog for the love of it, but create more because of the revenue blogging brings in, because the opportunity cost of actually blogging no longer takes away from other opportunities as it may have once done.
2. RSS advertising is not proven, moneterizing RSS feeds is still not universally acceptable to everyone, and nor is it universally available. Since I dropped full feeds, clickthrus from Bloglines subscriptions has rocketed from around position 20 on the referral stats to the No 1 position. These are readers who are viewing ads, leaving comments and helping the over all prosperity of this blog.
3. Scrappers. Its a battle that the average blogger has neither the ability to, nor the resources in which to fight effectively. If somebody started scrapping Scoble’s site he’s got the might of Microsoft to threaten legal action against the person or persons missuing his content. The simple reality is that the rest of us don’t. In the past 6 months I’ve sent nasty emails to 3 sites that were scapping the previously full feed offered here, with no success, and I know of others that are as well. At the end of the day people are stealing content, and the only way for the average blogger, who doesn’t rely on an employer, to deal with this is to limit their feeds to extracts.
By all means if Scoble can suggest an alternative course of action on any of these points, I’d consider it, but this is the reality for many bloggers. If Scoble persues his dumping of non-full feeds then the net result will be a more limited, and less diverse view of the blogosphere and the world in Scobles Bloglines account, and ultimately the only person who may be worse off for this is Scoble himself.
All I can say is that you had better make your headlines compelling, because it is a lot faster and easier to read the whole content on Bloglines than to click through, and the whole purpose behind RSS feeds is to make reading content on the Web faster and easier. If I want to go to a website, I’ll use my bookmarks.
I’m with Scoble on this one. Much of the reason I’m switching from Web surfing and email is to get away from the obnoxious advertising.
With the Herald you definitely want readers to click through because like a newspaper it’s a lot more than a few articles. My own blog, SYNTAGMA, is not fully monetized, but serves as a platform for my books, so I’m happy to publish full feeds. Horses for courses.
Duncan, I must admit that I was disappointed that you went partial text. I personally read less of your postings now than I used to. However, I do understand the need (or at least desire) to monetize the writing. Hey, if you can do it great. I use full text feeds but I don’t run any adds.
If you have compelling exerpts and don’t disappoint on the click-thru then it will probably work out.
It is also alot easier for an established blogger to go partial text than for a newcomer.
Darryl and John
It’s not something I did lightly, and the Scrapper issue was particularly bad for me. When it came down to it, I let my own behaviour be the judge, when I read content I’m interested in on partial feeds, I click thru, and that remains my challenge now in terms in writing style.
I’d be interested to know what everyone thinks about RSS ads? If I knew I could put them in, they’d get at least a little bit of revenue, it wouldn’t upset too many people, but more importantly would upset the scrappers, I’d reinstate the full feed tomorrow.
To be honest i’d use a greasemonkey script to filter them (i use bloglines as my feedreader) so you can put adds in your feeds as much as you want.
I don’t know where I fall with respect to the majority of your readers.
In reading Scoble’s reasons for dropping partial feeds, I think he made the right call. If someone writes something interesting, then noise will be made and he’ll hear about it. The man keeps 1300 feeds in his aggregator for crying out loud.
Re your choice to go partial, i think you should use the excerpt facility in wordpress to write better teasers instead of letting wordpress chop out the first few sentences. That would be helpful.
And re rss ads… the ones that i’m seeing aren’t very relevant but they’re also not very intrusive but restraint is not a quality that I assign to the webvertising industry. I expect rss ads to get much much worse and when that day comes, those feeds are out the window.
On RSS ads, I note that Rok Hrastnik thinks they’re not part of RSS DNA. So does Dave Winer. I must say I find the ads from Jason Calacanis’s personal blog, which I view in Newsgator, as loud and tacky, like a brawl in church. I wouldn’t dream of clicking on them. Having now seen the beasts in action, I won’t be using them ~ even when I get 100 subscribers (How can you tell?).
Again, though, it’s horses for courses. Short tail stuff, maybe; long tail stuff, probably not. I suspect though that it’s inevitable and coming bigtime to an aggregator near you.
1300 full text feeds – Scoble probably needs to drop some so that he can actually do some work at Micro$oft anyway. As I commented on my own post about his toys-out-of-pram rant, it doesn’t make much difference to me what content he does or doesn’t get as I don’t read his M$ propaganda anyway.
As someone who publishes a blog of sorts I always find it amazing when readers complain about advertising. At a certain point if readers want quality content on an updated basis someone as to be, err, writing, that content. And that takes time, which, take money.
I always wonder what reader like John Redelfs does for a living. I assume he works. Would he be ok if I came and took his paycheck because I found paying him obnoxious.
The equation is rather simple. There will always be hobbyist bloggers, but there will also be sites, like this one, that are far more than blogs. In order for them to exist, advertising is needed.
110% with Mr. Stern. I’ve written this before, but anyone who uses an ad blocker to block the inline (I don’t serve popups, popunders, invues, interstitials… any of that stuff, just a few on the page ads – not that it matters) is not wanted by me as a visitor. That may seem like a crazy thing to say, but I consider it to be a matter of respect and to block ads is disrespect.
An analysis of my ad revenue shows that only 1% – 2% comes from regular readers who enter via the front page. Almost all ad revenue comes from people arriving at an archive page on the site via a google (etc) search.
Accordingly I have no problem with regular readers reading via RSS.
Feedback from regular readers who do click on ads do so specifically to contribute to the revenue of the site and presumably will continue to do so.