Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds

First, if you’re not some techy-geek, skip this post. Better yet, post a comment that says, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Make sure you click on one of the smiley faces that best describes your feelings.

Second, Dwight is running an experiment on Full versus Partial RSS feeds. You might be surprised I’m opinionated on this issue.

I love RSS feeds. I use Bloglines to keep them organized. I actually prefer Sharpreader, but Bloglines lets me read from two different computers without missing posts and without duplicates.

Oops. I accidentally loaded Sharpreader just now. Hold on. There.

I don’t mind partial RSS feeds; if the feed has an interesting first paragraph, I’ll happily click the link to read the rest. My advice to a commercial site that want advertising dollars: go with partial RSS feed. My advice to a non-commercial site: go with full RSS feed, give the readers everything.

My only gripe is bare-bones RSS feeds, like the one at Lonestartimes.com. Their RSS feed gives me the headline and then a 5 word summary, but neither the headline nor the summary give me any indication what the article is about. In other words, their RSS feed is completely useless. Here’s an example of today’s Lonestartimes feed:


Article: Edd Hendee recommends…
Summary: Edd Hendee recommends…
Posted on: Wed, Aug 17 2005 5:00AM

Article: Blogging Israel’s Gaza Disengagement
Summary: Blogging Israel
Posted on: Tue, Aug 16 2005 1:39PM

Article: I’m a festering boil!
Summary: Fun with libs
Posted on: Tue, Aug 16 2005 11:32 AM

Now, why would I click those articles? There’s not enough meat to it to tell me what I’m about to click on. Toss in the fact that Lonestartimes ignores trackbacks and won’t include links to other blogs, there’s not even a carrot to entice me there.

Let’s compare it to Dwight’s article:

Upgrade your geek with Dwight Silverman

Article: You want full-feed? You got it . . . for now
By Dwight on RSS

Summary: As I’ve written before, there’s a running debate on the Web regarding the merits of full vs. partial RSS feeds. A full feed gets you the entire text of a post in your RSS reader; a partial feed delivers just…

Posted on: Tue, Aug 16 2005 2:25

So much better. I know it’s only 2 sentences, but it’s enough to tell me what the article is about.

I clicked Dwight’s article. I haven’t clicked on any Lonestartimes articles in weeks.