Saturday 27 March 2010

My petition for full RSS-feeds in euroblogs (updated)

I just wrote on Twitter that I "hate"* when blogs don't have full RSS-feeds, which in my case meant some of the many euroblogs I read. Let me explain why.

Update (29 March): The European Parliament webeditors have reacted promptly and their blog that I used as an example below now has a full RSS-feed that you should follow here if you aren't following them already now.

They are impressing - and if you think you don't have time to follow so many blogs, just stop following this blog and follow them!

First, for those not at all familiar with the subject of RSS, I recommend reading Jon Worth's post on why RSS is great.

Second, I should remind those who already have a clue what RSS is that you can either have a full RSS-feed, one that translates whole blog posts into RSS content, and partial RSS-feeds that just send the first lines or a special summary so that you have to click into the feed to read the full post on the original blog website.

Third, you can find a bunch of good arguments for and against full feeds on the web, but for me it kind of boils down to the question whether I want readers or visitors.

So here are my personal arguments:

I only read every third or fourth blog post from feeds that don't show the full article because I don't take the time to click on every article that might be interesting although with a full feed I would actually know whether it is interesting.

Blogs that have only partial RSS-feeds want appear to tell me where I should read their content, instead of leaving this decision to me which is can be a sign that they care more for stats than for content (Update: or it can be unintentional as Tayebot from the EP webeditors told on Twitter).

Take for example the blog of the EP-webeditors:

It is a blog with great posts written by great people, but I only read them about once a week because they don't provide me with a full feed. I get their partial feed every day, but I mostly don't click on the articles. Which means that they spend time writing good blog posts that I don't read although I would love to.

One could say that this doesn't matter because if it is about visitors I'd still come more often on their blog than I do when I am just a reader. But now, because I don't have a full feed, I am a just-slightly-more-frequent visitor but a much-less-frequent reader.

This means that I will comment less frequently, link their articles less frequently and promote them less frequently on I might also miss important information or interesting discussions that I don't anticipate from first lines (the ones I see in the partial feed) that didn't attract my attention (Update: like this wonderful article on Klaus Welle that I had almost missed hadn't I written this post).

And there is another important problem with partial RSS:

In full feeds I scroll though semi-interesting articles to see whether there are at least parts of the text that I find interesting or links to more interesting blog posts that I didn't read so far. I then might click on a link to these blog posts in the full feed, something I wouldn't have done in a partial feed.

So having only a partial feed reduces overall traffic to blogs that are linked in articles of these blogs because I will miss these links whenever I don't click on an article in a partial feed. So the interest to get more visitors to one's own blog or the usage of partial feeds for other reasons [update] reduces the chances of other blogs or websites to be noticed, which reduces the overall online conversation and readership.

So in short: Please use full RSS-feeds! and be happy to have frequent readers instead of hoping to just get some more visitors from time to time!

PS.: I have twice as many people who follow my feed than I have unique visitors.

* Please don't overestimate the formulation, that was more a spontanious formulation after I went through the fifth partial feed.


Unknown said...

Yay! You're right. It's obvious, but it needed stating.

Anonymous said...

in general when you encounter sites that dont offer full feeds (or any feed at all) you can just use diffbot feedbeater (e.g. )