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.

11 thoughts on “Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds

  1. I am a big fan of the full feed. I like being able to quickly get through my blog reading, and with the full feed I get all the meat with none of the bells and whistles that slow down loading. There are a few site that only send partial feeds, like Lori’s, that I care enough to read and so I have Sharpreader set to automatically load the whole article. But it is SLOW because of all the pretty stuff she has on her site, and I would prefer to just get the facts.

    But I’m a geek and I prefer simple anyway. I prefer sites with minimal overhead, quick load times…..

    BTW: for those not familiar with the full feed, any images in your post come through, just not all the images on your site.


  2. I don’t mind the click; the partial feeds usually give me enough information. Usually.

    I wish I could figure out how to set Sharpreader up on 2 separate computers, but 1 account though.


  3. I publish a full feed of my posts. I thought about doing the partial thing so that more people would click through to my site but then I thought that if I’m only posting to get site hits I might as well give up now. I prefer to do whatever makes life easier for those who are kind enough to be reading my posts in whatever way they choose to do that.


  4. Rodney: I’m actually not sure why I’d want more people to click through my site. I don’t do any advertising, so RSS feeds accomplish almost the same thing.

    Stephen: It’s ok. Here’s a cookie.


  5. I don’t offer full feedson my sites for one reason — I’m more interested in building somewhat of a community (however small) and having conversation than making things easier for readers.

    I want readers who will come over, read the post, read the comments, and join the conversation. If that’s too much trouble — fine, nobody has to come read the content I’m providing for free.

    But that’s my bargain. That’s what I want out of the effort. I don’t think it’s unreasonable. 🙂


  6. Kevin, I took a look at your RSS feed and it’s fine – I get enough from your summary and headline to determine if I want to click an article. And I don’t mind clicking if I know I’ll find something useful.

    The only RSS feed recently that frustrates me is the Lonestartimes.com feed which is too short and way too vague.


  7. I just switched to full, and it is bugging me how much room it takes on the sidebar of Bloglines. I do believe I’ll be switching back. I can see the reasons for both sides of the argument, really. I’d like it if the RSS readers would show a preset length of a post so the user can determine how much they want at a time, then I would just keep it with a full post.

    As it is now, I feel that I’m crowding others out. 😆


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