RSS, why no full text???

29 11 2008

RSS, or Really Simple Syndication is a great tool for staying on top of the latest news. But a growing trend is hindering this protocol.

I love the fact that my RSS reader allows me to quickly browse through all the blogs I read,—plus it wirelessly syncs up with my iPod Touch (Thank you NewsGator/FeedDemon/NetNewsWire)—however, lately I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. A few feed publishers have begun offering only a short summary of their articles, requiring you to click a “Read More..” link(I’m calling you out Ars Technica), forcing you to open the page in a new window. The reason this bothers me so much is that the whole reason I use RSS is that I want all the content from multiple blogs in one place. Having to open up the article in a new window is frustrating, but it’s even worse on my Touch, where I can’t quickly switch back and forth between windows. Of course, to add insult to injury the article isn’t pre-fetched, slowing me down even further.

More importantly, I don’t understand why Ars would choose this format. They were never in print media; they started as a technology blog that caters to technologists who are on the go and want information quickly. Why would they want to slow down their readers, much less force them to work to access their content? Furthermore, even the newspaper industry, which has traditionally provided only snippets of text, is starting to relax its death grip on its content. For example, The Guardian has started releasing full text in its RSS feeds.

So, to all content publishers out there remember, readers want information on their terms, not yours. This includes letting your readers selectively subscribe to your articles, which has been a request by many readers on other blogs during this election season, who think that tech blogs and politics do not mix, (cough lifehacker cough). Really, just give the readers what they want.

Keep a look out for my next post coming up in the next few weeks.



7 responses to “RSS, why no full text???”

30 11 2008
Felix (21:23:33) :

Page Views.

Any blog that’s trying to make money, needs page views to snag advertising dollars. If the blog allows the full text in the feed – nobody would visit the site. No visitors = no advertising = dead blog.

30 11 2008
Keith Hobin (21:30:08) :

But you could still track visitors using tools like feedburrner, or tools built into word press (like we do), and if advertising is a problem, you could also put them in the RSS feeds like some other blogs do, or at the bottom of posts.
There are too many solutions to that problem to allow it to hinder how a reader gets info from your web site.

1 12 2008
Joe Schmidt (10:43:10) :

If you’re under the impression (hah, get it?) that an ad in an RSS feed can in any way provide the same amount of revenue as an ad placed prominently on the front page of a big site like Ars Technica, then you’re just not that knowledgeable about online advertising.

If I had to guess, any ad in an RSS feed shown to the same user that might potentially see it on the front page of a site of that site would generate at least 10-20x more money for the site.

The economics, it would seem, are not in your favor.

1 12 2008
Keith Hobin (12:43:30) :

I am definitely not saying that it is the same, but there are ways of getting ad revenue . Plus, I think its a bit harder to ignore ads in RSS feeds, since you can’t use tools like Ad Block Plus.
Also, you could use other tactics to get RSS views to your page (and looking at your ads) like offering the full text, but not putting in images and photo galleries, then show the alt text of the photo as a short description and saying to view the web page to see the image.
I really think that by just offering short text your just alienating readers and annoying them to no end.

17 02 2009
D (16:24:12) :

This is the stupidest thing I ever heard… RSS sucks for full text.. loss of ads and everything.. RSS will draw less views of your website.. causing peopl to just see the info.

THIS IS SUCH A n00b site. EPIC FAIL. P.S… nothing makes you ladies different than the thousands of other tech ‘blogs’ out there.

17 02 2009
Keith Hobin (18:30:38) :

Uh.. maybe because this site is oriented for the consumer, not the webdesiger. And I know that I read so many more blogs by using RSS, and most stories have adds at the end of there articles. There are tons of ways you can still monetize off RSS.

And what makes us different is that this site has a college student focus, written by college students. It’s quality over quantity.
If you don’t like it, don’t read it.
– Keith

23 07 2009
Hias (00:08:28) :

Hey there,
for this iPod Touch issue I have a solution for you: Newsstand. It’s an iPhone app, you can preload all your rss and it has a button to show the full page in newsstand and you can switch between rss view and html (web) view in the app. So no more switching between rss viewer and Safari.
Downside of it is – no preloading of the full web page.

I think the real issue here is that the rss reader you are using is not able to preload and save the web page. the way I use rss with firefox as a dynamic bookmark I kindof dislike feeds that include the whole text. Basically I only need a headline, the read/unread status and the link to the webpage containing the whole article. I dont want the pictures embedded. Although nobody else cares I still think we ought to keep bandwith down. Why do we even have html when we get the same (is it the same?) on rss?

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