Nov 06 2007

Hey You! Yes you, with the Partial Feed

Published by at 1:24 pm under blogging,rant

Dear RSS Tease,

There’s a good chance I unsubscribed to your blog yesterday.

You see, I set yesterday aside to get on top of Google Reader, as I was way behind and sick of seeing 1000+ unread items.

Perhaps setting aside such a large chunk of time made me more conscious of my reading habits, what I wanted to read and what I didn’t. Maybe I’m not an “average” blog consumer but here’s a bit of feedback.

  • I am subscribed to over 200 feeds.
  • Yesterday, I “read” (as in opened) over 500 items.
  • Some feeds had more of a backlog than others, predominantly because they are “high volume” feeds.
  • For the most part the feeds that I got to last, funnily enough, are those that I value highly because of their content. But I know that they are “meaty” posts, so I tend to save them for when I can digest them.

Well yesterday was the final straw and I culled 10% of those feeds. If you burn a partial feed chances are yours was one of them.

I know I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again.

Please respect your subscribers and DO NOT BURN PARTIAL FEEDS.

I hate, hate, HATE them. I feel insulted and pissed off, that you don’t respect my time. You’ve lost me, and I’m not coming back. How does that feel? Was it worth it?

Why do you do it?

  • Because you think you’re doing me a favour?
  • So you know better, what delivers a higher click through?
  • So I’d click on your advertising?
  • So I’d leave a comment?
  • So I’d increase your Alexa rank?

Well, that’s not going to happen now, is it?

Perhaps you won’t miss me. But what about 100 of “me” or a thousand?

Please consider:

  • you are competing for a reader’s attention – media snackers, remember?
  • constantly teasing, and making it harder for them is going to be counter productive
  • if they’re searching for something relevant in their feeds, how are they going to find your content if it’s not there? (I do this a lot if I can’t remember where I read something, or what was the specific post, I use the Google Reader search function)
  • if you’re concerned about having your content scraped, there are other ways of dealing with it.

I was interested in you enough to subscribe to your blog in the first place. Isn’t that 80% of the battle?

Why did you have to go and stuff it up by being an RSS tease?

Yours sincerely,

Dipping into the Blogpond

p.s. If you’re not sure how to deliver a full feed, please shoot me an email, and I’ll help you out.

p.s.s. Still not convinced? Read the comments on these posts, and you’ll soon get the feeling that I’m in the majority on this. (BTW, I found all the links for this post by searching my feeds).

ProBlogger – Debate, Poll, Poll Results

Putting Partial Feed SEO Bloggers on Notice

Update: I don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier, but Stephen Cronin has devised a solution which caters to both sides of the fence. He has developed a plugin that allows bloggers to have dualfeeds, meaning you can offer your subscribers the choice of full or partial feed. Check out his Dual Feed Plugin.

38 responses so far

38 Responses to “Hey You! Yes you, with the Partial Feed”

  1. Colin Campbellon 06 Nov 2007 at 2:27 pm

    Couldn’t agree more. I hate having to click through to get the whole post. Beats the point of having a reader. It has no impact on my willingness to leave a comment and I do go and visit most of the blogs on my reader, just not every day.

  2. Katieon 06 Nov 2007 at 2:29 pm

    I hate partial feeds too and won’t click through to the rest of the post usually.

  3. Thiruon 06 Nov 2007 at 2:30 pm

    That’s right. I would unsubscribe too from a partial RSS feed. There are plenty of other ways out there to attract people to check out your blog from RSS feed. But, not the teaser method.

  4. Stephen Croninon 06 Nov 2007 at 3:29 pm

    Personally, I prefer summary feeds. I skim through a vast number of feeds, picking out what I want to read. I don’t mind visiting sites for those few I do end up reading. I find it easier if I just have the summary (otherwise I read too much before discarding something!).

    Having said that, I have subscribed to a small number of blogs that offer Full Post feeds. For this small number of blogs, I’m going to read everything they write. In this case, I do much prefer the full text feed.

    Of course, if you use WordPress, you can always use my DualFeeds plugin, which allows you to offer your readers BOTH a full post feed AND a summary feed, so your subscribers can choose the format that suits them best. :)

  5. Megon 06 Nov 2007 at 3:47 pm

    Colin, Katie and Thiru – many thanks for the reinforcement!


    I guess we’re all different :)

    I do like the aggregated feed from Bumpzee in this regard, because it gives me snippets from 150+ blogs that I might not necessarily subscribe to individually. It gives me enough of a taste to know whether to click through.

    D’oh I was looking at your plugin the other day. It’s a perfect solution to give subscribers the choice, don’t know why I didn’t think to include it. Anyhow, I’ve added it in to the post. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. cerebralmumon 06 Nov 2007 at 3:48 pm

    I am SOOOOO with you. It drives me insane. I have unsubscribed from feeds because of this, and if I stay subscribed I will only bother reading about a quarter of the posts at most. Which means less click-throughs and less comments (and less revenue or rank-building) from me. I’m not going to comment on something I don’t read, am I?

    It’s just plain sucky. Of course, we want people to visit our sites. Of course we want more traffic. But this isn’t the way to get it. “Content is king”, as the saying goes. Who’s going to know if your content is great when they can’t read it? Besides, a subscriber is a committed reader, the kind of reader who wants to read everything you’re writing. The kind of reader more likely to visit your site regularly, and leave comments more regularly. The kind of reader you want! Don’t you think they deserve better treatment?

    If that doesn’t convince you, consider this: I frequently come across a random blog article I like and subscribe without delving into the site. Because I don’t have time right then to explore! What comes through my feedreader after that is what determines whether I will become a frequent visitor or not. If half a paragraph is what comes through (often not even structured to make me want to read more), it’s goodbye from me. And once you’re gone from my feedreader, you no longer exist. There is no bookmark, no record of your existence. Your blog is been buried in an unmarked grave.

    My advice – ALWAYS give me the full feed. If you want to invite comments, add a clickable “leave a comment” at the end.

    And if for some insane reason won’t provide the full feed (which is a BAD BAD BAD idea) at least be conscious when you write your opening paragraphs that they will need to promise me a whole lot, and if I click through, the rest of the article had better deliver on it.

    Meg – a glass raised to you for writing this!

  7. Megon 06 Nov 2007 at 3:58 pm


    LOL and I thought I was pissed off 😉

    Thanks for your passionate argument – it’s nice to know I’m not alone in feeling so strongly about this.

  8. Neeravon 06 Nov 2007 at 4:09 pm

    1. Speaking on behalf of those who offer partial feeds, if you earn little or nothing from your site than you have nothing to lose by offering full text feeds.

    Those of us who earn significant $$ from sponsors can’t afford the risk of losing page views and ad click throughs

    2. The original RSS 0.91 = Rich Site Summary, thats right … summary … not full article text

    3. I prefer to subscribe to rss feeds like APC Mag which offer a short summary with a link to further content –

    I only subscribe to full feeds for a handful of people (Meg, Problogger etc)

    4. If you only read a site’s full text RSS feed you’ll miss out on the great comments which people have left and the replies from the author

    let the flaming begin

  9. Megon 06 Nov 2007 at 5:02 pm

    Hi Neerav

    1. I agree that bloggers not earning money don’t have anything to lose by offering full feeds.

    2. Obviously technology’s come a long way in the last 7-8 years. People are also changing.

    3. Partial feeds certainly have a place in high volume blogs.

    4. I click through to posts I like – to see what other people have written, or to comment myself. If I’m only presented with a snippet then I am being FORCED to click through to read the whole article. Let’s face it, not every post will be of interest to every reader.

    5. Call me defiant, but I like to make the decision myself, not be forced into clicking through. That in itself is enough to make me resentful, and less inclined to visit.

    6. There are so many blogs out there to compete with. You have to keep your readers coming back for more. Annoying them, causing resentment and not respecting that their time is valuable is only likely to drive them away. Then you’ve got ZERO chance of getting them to your site.

    7. I’m sure there’s proof somewhere that those who subscribe to blogs (often bloggers themselves) are a poor revenue source.

    I’m surprised that those of you “who earn valuable $$” don’t see the value in keeping your loyal subscribers happy. If they’re not there, they’re not going to click through, ever. They won’t keep your page views clocking over, and chances are they’re not the ones clicking on your advertising anyway.

    Well that’s my 2c anyway. It’s your business model and I’m sure you’ve worked through the logic.

  10. Kelleyon 06 Nov 2007 at 5:10 pm

    OK guys, help out a complete idiot. I have no idea whether I have a full or partial feed!

    I don’t want to annoy anyone any further than when they actually read my drivel :)

    I use Bloglines, apparently there are other ways to subscribe to a blog. Again, I am clueless!

    Anyone want to help me out?

  11. Megon 06 Nov 2007 at 5:22 pm

    Hi Kelley

    Your feeds are most certainly full text.

    You set this under “options” and “reading” where it says “full text” or “summary” (but please don’t change it)! The summary means that only a certain number of characters will be sent out in every post.

    If you have it set to full text, you can overwrite this at any time by using the “split post” option on the visual editor (it looks like a sheet of paper cut in two). If you use this, then a subscriber will be forced to click through to the post to read more (can be useful if you’re writing about something “sensitive” – you can warn your readers first and they click through fully aware)!

  12. Andrew Boydon 06 Nov 2007 at 6:34 pm

    Hi Meg,

    I’m with you. I won’t read a partial feed any more – or if I do, the author had better make the site easy to use in whatever I am reading it in :)

    Best regards, Andrew

  13. Kelleyon 06 Nov 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Thanks so much Meg!

    Everything I write could be classified as sensitive :) But I guess if someone subscribes they are well aware of that aren’t they!

    Don’t worry I wont change it. Already felt the wrath of the internets….. it wasn’t pretty.

  14. Neeravon 06 Nov 2007 at 7:26 pm

    Hi Meg

    I guess in the end I have to balance almost definitely losing $ if I move to full-feeds against increasing my RSS subscribers

    $ always wins the contest

    PS even if that argument didn’t apply the problem of RSS content scraper thieves raises its head.

    Through analysis of my logs I know there are several sites republishing my rss feed in full on their own sites.

    Allowing full text feeds would mean their site would exactly the same content as mine…. and realistically there’s no way I could stop them profiteering from that


    PS I’m not an unreasonable man .. out of curiosity would it make any difference to the anti-partial feed crowd if I increased the character limit for each summary from the standard wordpress amount of 60ish words to maybe 120-150 words?

    That way I’d be meeting your requests half-way

  15. Megon 06 Nov 2007 at 8:44 pm


    “Everything I write could be classified as sensitive :) But I guess if someone subscribes they are well aware of that aren’t they!”

    LOL – you’re not wrong there. I guess I should have qualified that with “more sensitive than usual”! I gather you’re readers pretty much know what to expect when they subscribe.

    It’s refreshing to read someone who doesn’t hold back. Me – I balk at using “pissed off”! :) Didn’t mean to appear “wrathful” – but hey, what’s a blog worth if you can’t have the occasional rant?


    Just wondering if you’ve actually had a trial at publishing full feeds – say giving it a week or two, or a whole month? Or is that just too risky?

    I understand your concern about scrapers. But imagine the likes of TechCrunch, Darren, Andy Beard etc… Strategically placed links within your posts to your own blog could work for you – getting link backs and to drive additional visitors to your site. And I’m sure in practicality those sites will rarely rank as well as you do for your own content.

    I’ll see if anyone else has an opinion on increasing the brevity, but for me – I’m an all or nothing kind.

  16. Megon 06 Nov 2007 at 8:50 pm

    Andrew – sorry missed your comment in there, thanks.

    For mobile snackers such as yourself, this issue would be further compounded. It’s a lot more difficult when you’re on a mobile device – and that’s only going to increase…

  17. Stephen Croninon 06 Nov 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Hi Meg,

    Thanks very much for including the plugin in the post! Actually, I think I agree with you on this. Most of my reading in the past was via aggregated feeds like the BUMPzee one, so I only wanted a taste. Now that I’m working out which blogs I read again and again, I’m adding their individual feed to my reader – and in that case I do much prefer full text.

    Regarding business logic etc, there will be sites which prefer to offer summaries because of commercialisation. They will lose readers, but if they’re making money from the remaining readers, I guess that’s fair enough. I’ve been approached by people in two distinct scenarios, who want the DualFeeds plugin to publish both the full text feed and summary feed, but they want the full text feed to be hidden.

    In one scenario, it seems there is a Russian law requiring sites to offer a full feed – they don’t want to because they want the users to visit the site and see the ads. The site in question isn’t your typical blog, so I understand it in their case.

    In the other scenario, it seems that some blogs charge people to get the full-text feed, but provide the summary feed free of charge. It seems these are high end blogs. If they can get people to pay for the full text feed, I guess good on them (I can tell you I won’t be paying!).

  18. Megon 06 Nov 2007 at 9:03 pm


    Interesting scenarios. Fancy a law mandating full feeds? I wonder if it’s so content can be easily monitored?

    I’m with you on paying for the full feed. It would have to have exceptional content!

    No worries about adding the info – if I was thinking straight it would have been there in the first place.

  19. jenon 06 Nov 2007 at 9:04 pm

    Yes, full feeds please. I have heard of the rss scrapers though so understand why some people only offer partial feeds. Damn thieves ruining it for everyone!

  20. Gregon 06 Nov 2007 at 9:21 pm

    I hear you there because partial feeds shit me off no end. Ironically for one of my blogs i have to have a partial feed as there are some issues with it being read by the source of 95% of my traffic.

    I think i will take a stand and delete all my partial feed subscriptions.

  21. Cellobellaon 06 Nov 2007 at 10:37 pm

    I’m with you too Meg.

    I have only one partial feed in my reader and that’s a blog I click through to everytime anyway – I use it as a reminder and don’t read the partial bits … just using it as a link. Sure I could click via my blogroll I guess but these days I read everything through reader and only click through when I want to comment or read what others have to say, or in the case of this blog read the whole post and see the pics.

    And I guess that supports Neerav’s argument, except to say Neerav that I was reading this blog everyday religiously before I found reader so the partial feeds didn’t entice me. In fact if I had just found the blog and added it to my reader as a trial, I probably would have deleted it by now because I find partial feeds most annoying.

    Speaking of feeds… I have these weird ??? coming up in the middle of mine… does anyone know how to fix that?


  22. Megon 06 Nov 2007 at 10:55 pm

    Jen – thanks and it is a shame about the scrapers.

    Greg – Be firm!

    CB – I’ve hung on to a couple – but only because the content is exceptional. Also one of them is not monetised so I know that it’s not because of any financial motive (though I don’t understand why). Not that I’m against advertising on blogs, of course.

    I’ve noticed your ???s, but I haven’t got the slightest clue as to why it’s not doing the characters properly. Do you write in WordPress, or copy and paste from another document?

  23. Gamermkon 07 Nov 2007 at 2:51 am

    Great rant! I agree completely that partial rss feeds are the devil!


  24. […] my ever growing google reader!   which needs a thorough cleaning soon and I will be thinking of Meg’s letter to her subscribers and her criteria for dropping some feeds,  ’coz I find it intimidating to see 1000+ new […]

  25. Sephyrothon 07 Nov 2007 at 5:49 am

    I know that I used to have a partial feed on my site, but decided to switch to a full feed. Personally I disagree that serving a partial feed will lead to more readers visiting your site, even if you have something like the Google Reader Preview script I have.

    There are the few times when I will click through, but most of the time I will either leave it unread and say that I’ll come back and read it. Eventually, I just wind up marking it read and not reading. I think that I’m down to maybe 4 or 5 blogs that have a partial feed, and most of the time I still don’t read their posts in full.

    However, there is one blog (which I’ve mentioned in a comment somewhere else) which not only offers a partial feed – all the little FeedFlares at the end of the item actually go for longer than the feed item itself…strange that. 😕


  26. alyndabearon 07 Nov 2007 at 7:00 am

    I didn’t realise that people could CHOOSE to publish half vs full feeds – Being relatively new to Bloglines, I figured it was something that happened occasionally beyond their control. Now that you mention it though, it seems a wee bit sneaky.

    Am just glad mine goes through fully – I checked it by adding myself and seeing what the feed came through looking like!

    Thanks for the information, though. And congratulations on your nomination! :)

  27. Megon 07 Nov 2007 at 10:49 am

    Gamermk – hey, thanks :)

    Sephyroth – thanks for that – seems I am a pretty typical blog consumer, after all.

    alyndabear – well, I’m not familiar with all of the blogging platforms, so it may be there are some instances where it IS out of their control. But with all the major ones I know of, it certainly is optional.

    Also, I suppose that some people may not realise they are doing it, or how to change it. Subscribing to your own feed is always a good idea!

    Thanks :)

  28. Dan Antonon 07 Nov 2007 at 4:19 pm

    Hi Meg, I’m just learning about RSS feeds….I know kinda late 😉 but from reading what you wrote than doing a little research I don’t see advantages to using partial feeds as well. Just seems like it would help the person releasing the feeds rather than the end user like you stated with traffic, comments, etc. Not sure if I’m that against it now, now that you showed there’s a dual plugin 😉 . Thx for knowledge though and a good read on feeds

  29. […] Hey You! Yes you, with the Partial Feed – Blogpond […]

  30. bLuefRogXon 11 Nov 2007 at 6:31 pm

    The —more– tag creates a partial feed doesn’t it? I seem to use that a lot, how would I get around that?

  31. Megon 11 Nov 2007 at 6:40 pm

    I’m assuming that you use that so that your full posts aren’t show on your home page? But that you’d like to feed the full post?

    There is an Excerpts Plugin that might help with that.

  32. […] Meg has a message for everyone – Hey You! Yes you, with the Partial Feed […]

  33. Sydneyon 13 Nov 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Ditto to that. You just gained another subscriber.

  34. […] RSS feeds of my favorite blogs (I hate RSS, even full feed – but they are a necessary evil. Still, I try to actually read blogs that I […]

  35. lynxon 22 Nov 2007 at 11:31 am

    huh! I didn’t even know there was a difference…. been messing around with websites and stuff for years but only recently started a blog so i’m still getting the hang of RSS. thanks for the post, i added the dual feed plugin to my site. hopefully that’ll make everyone happy. =)

  36. Megon 22 Nov 2007 at 12:08 pm

    lynx – I’m glad you found it useful :)

  37. […] wasn’t really conscious of this change, until I read Meg’s Hey You! Yes you, with the Partial Feed. I started off by defending summary feeds, but ended up realising that I’d come to value full […]

  38. […] pointed me in the direction of this post back in November by Meg at Dipping Into The Blogpond. From that one post, I followed a Bloggy Brick […]