Monday, May 22, 2006

[RSS] The long and short of it.

In the last year, the way I read the internet has changed dramatically. Before I used to click through links from my own blog to every site I follow, but now I have an RSS reader [I use google, myself]. This way I can read hundreds of blogs very quickly [more blogs than I used to read before] homing in on the ones that catch my eye.

So, whilst before it wasnt much of an issue for me, now the length of the feed you provide for me in my reader does have a bearing on whether I read you or not. Personally, because I have no ads on my blog, whether you read me in your rss reader or whether you read me on my actual blog page isn't an issue to me. So I provide a full or 'long' feed and my pictures are included. I feel no need to entrap you on the pages of my actual blog and am quite happy if you are reading me elsewhere without ever visiting me [although, of course, i do, like most people I imagine, love getting comments!].

But some people only provide a short feed to rss readers. Sometimes only a sentence. Of course, I would prefer to have the whole post in my feed but understand that some people need traffic to their site for Advertising purposes or because they don't like to be syndicated (totally understand that).

If you are one of those short feed writers then let me just say one thing. You better make your headline and the first line of your post both interesting and compelling if you are going to tempt me to click right through to your blog. You are going to have to work just a little bit harder then those who provide a full feed in order to draw me in. If the ad or the syndication issues don't bother you (are there any other downsides I am forgetting?) then I would even suggest you give your feed as full. I know I certainly prefer to read that way. What do other people think on this issue?

This Post was written by Sam from B&P


Elise said...

Hi Sam,
I think the bigger issue is these days that if you provide full-feeds, you make it very easy for aggregators to steal your content. All of it.
That said, I provide a photo and a full paragraph in my feeds and really appreciate it when others do as well. That way I can see more, and see if I want to read more. Those who only provide a sentence I rarely click through in my feed reader.

Andrew said...

RSS is going to be the way to view the internet - it is the only way I view peoples blogs now.

I use newsgator inside outlook for daily reading and blogbridge for weekly reading... as you say if the title isnt compelling then I doubt i will read it.

I rely on the google ads for a little income but still post full feeds.. go figure. But the ads that automatically get added to my feed do not bring in anything money wise (in case others were thinking of going this route).

Rachael Narins said...

Uh...since I still have no clue what RSS is, I have a most blogs start out as full posts and then opt to have shorter feeds or the other way around? Maybe that is why people have them in the first place...maybe they don't know they are doing it. I certainly have no clue if mine is short or long.

G said...

Rachael, If someone was reading your blog through a reader, your whole article would show. if you had on your posts part of the article then a link that said - continue article.. (or something like that) and then the person would have to click that link to read the rest of your post. so, if someone was reading your blog in RSS, then they would only see that first part of that article until they clicked so there would be less information for you to grab their attention.

G said...

And I really do need to try reading some blogs that way.

Andrew- Why did you choose those two readers? and why do use one for daily and one for weekly?

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope that rss doesn't become the way to view the web.

We might as well all go back to green screen monitors if all we care about is the raw content. That said I realize the majority of blogs are using the same four or five templates these days, so presentation isn't so important.

What I'd like to do is provide full feed, but not serve the pictures. That would have the two fold effect of drawing visitors to my page to see them, and keep the content thieves from prettying up their sites with my pictures.

Anyone know how to do this?

(I figure an htaccess line or two would work but is their some rss line that would do this?)

Kalyn Denny said...

Currently I'm reading about 20 of my "must not miss" favorite blogs on Bloglines, but I have to agree with Paul that I much prefer visiting the actual site. Somehow what shows up on the feed reader doesn't always capture it for me, even when the person has the full feed showing. When I have the time I still prefer to read food blogs through FPW or links from other sites.

Alanna Kellogg said...

Someone like Elise (with an established voice and audience) MAY be okay to provide an abbreviated feed.

But the newer bloggers? I just moved three new-ish food blogs that only provide abbreviated RSS feeds from "weekends" to "skip".

Short posts are the worst: clicking into a post with a partial feed only to find the actual post only a sentence or two longer.

There's time-and-attention competition: if it's hard to access your content, you've lost this reader entirely; if you make it easy, you've got a shot.

As for Elise, I still wish she'd provide full content! ;-)

G said...

Okay. My ignorant question of the day.

What are news aggregators and what do you mean by stealing your post and images?

Sorry and thank you in advance

Dolores said...

Okay... from someone who added the "read more" link to her template fairly early in the history of her (albeit very young) blog, how do I now remove it.

Callipygia said...

Hi everyone, I am both completely new here and new to the blog world. I am finding this thread very interesting. I had never heard of RSS feeds and was beginning to feel quite anxious reading about it. What strikes me is how pervasive it is in our society to be able to "deliver the goods" right away (too much to do, not enought time). During my architectural training I noticed two major camps: those who could deliver the eye candy and those who were more process oriented. Hopefully one's terrific content ripples through to the first few lines of a short feed or to "the look" of the site. But I suspect many good blogs would be passed over with RSS. It would be too bad if in the pursuit of "catching an audience" one altered their original voice.

MizD said...

Y'know, it would be super peachy if someone who knows RSS backwards & forwards could do a little seminar post for us folks struggling thruough it. (hinthinthint to the techie brainiacs out there.) I've just done a major site redesign and switched from MT to Wordpress and one of the things I'm dealing with is what the heck to do with my feeds -- or rather, how do I do anything with my feeds because I know next to nothing about formatting feeds and as far as I know, my site's feed in Bloglines is now kaput. I'm adding lots of extras to the site so I really don't want everyone to just read my posts in bloglines, but driving folks away with tiny excerpts is not good either. Somewhere out there's a good balance. Me, I'd lean toward Elise's one paragraph + photo. (if I can figure out how the heck to do it!)

Catherine said...

Hi there,

I have to admit I have no idea how one sets the length of an RSS lead. How about some more 'how to' info on this so us low-techs aren't shooting ourselves in the foot unknowingly. Thanks in advance.

Alanna Kellogg said...

re Catherine's question:

In Blogger, go to Settings / Publishing / Description. You may select "full" to publish the complete post or "short" to publish an abbreviated version. (Where Blogger cuts off, I don't know ...)

In addition, at least in Bloglines, you also have the option of selecting "complete" or "short" or "title" for each blog you're subcribed to -- complete works only if the blog's published that way.

I'm presuming that the infant RSS will grow up -- and that all the brand identities that go into posts will carry over, as will advertising, as will traffic counts ... AND that the blog world will figure out a way to send the content thieves to the guillotine so that bloggers/publishers (like Elise and even the "new" culinarily curious ;-) can allow their READERS to choose how much/when to read without worrying about plagiarism.

And for those who worry about RSS, yes it's a concern for measuring readership / traffic. And yes good content matters. But WITH RSS, one can follow many-many-many more blogs (ask Sam how many she follows, ask me some time ... Andrew, no telling!) than one can even barely contemplate poking tediously from one favorite site to the next, wondering if someone's maybe posted something new, oh they haven't, and on to the next one.

Winslow said...

Hi everybody,

As someone who has a Blogger blog with short feeds, yet reads many blogs as an RSS feed, I can see several sides for this argument. As a writer, I'm really unhappy about the prospect of having my "content" stolen. On the other hand, as a reader, it helps to have all or most of the post show up in a feed reader. One of my favorite food blogs has a feed that is a single sentence for each post. I had to take that blog off the RSS feed, because I just wasn't clicking through to get the full post. Even when I knew I wanted to read the blog, I didn't click through. The competition of other blogs with fuller feeds was too much. That doesn't mean it will be easy for me to decide to provide full feeds for my own blog, though.

No easy answers here, unfortunately.