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The Differences Between Full and Partial RSS Feeds

April 16, 2008

I recently received a comment from Wayne Liew on this post stating that Super Blogging seriously needs to offer a full RSS feed. I will explain all about Super Blogging’s feed and subscription options later in this post, but what Wayne Liew said really got me to thinking – what do readers like more, and which is more sensible – full or partial RSS feeds?

Full RSS Feeds

I’ve been in the blogosphere for some time now, and in that time my observations have come to conclude that most readers like full feeds more. Why? It’s easier for them. When they subscribe to a blog, it means that they want the content delivered directly to them, whether it be in their feed reader or email inbox. They don’t want to have to subscribe to a blog, and read a portion of the article, and then have to click to read the rest. Face it – we’re all lazy, there’s no denying that.

Offering a full RSS feed on your blog is also easier for you too – there’s nothing to keep up with. If you have a partial RSS feed and a character limit is set, your post could get cut off in the reader in an undesirable spot. With a full feed, this is nothing to worry about. You can post to your heart’s content and your subscribers will see your articles exactly as everyone else does.

However, offering full feeds also has its disadvantages. There is evil out in the blogosphere by the name of “scrapers”. Scrapers either use an automated process or manually steal your content via your RSS feed. When you offer full feeds, you allow those scrapers to steal your entire post if they so desire. This harms your search engine rankings and your credibility. Also, it lets someone else take some excellent content without doing any work for it.

Partial RSS Feeds

Then there are the partial RSS feeds. They are the feeds where, when you subscribe, you only get a fraction of the post and not the whole thing – and then you have to click through to read the rest. This can be done either by setting a character limit so all posts are a certain length, or in WordPress you can also use the “read more” feature and cut off the post wherever you like.

Surprisingly enough, I am a big fan of partial RSS feeds – not in every case, but in many. I have subscribed to a lot of blogs, and it’s pretty impossible to try to read them all. When a blog offers partial feeds, it allows me to scan the headlines and the portion of the post and then I can decide whether to read it or not. This saves me, as a reader, loads of time.

For you, the blogger, it also gives you some advantages – not only does it protect you more from the scrapers I mentioned above, but it can also increase your pageviews. If you have thousands of RSS subscribers to your full feed, you’re losing thousands of pageviews. This can make your statistics and your advertising prices drop. Offering a partial RSS feed will get more people to click through to your site and up those rankings.

However, there are some people who absolutely despise partial feeds, and this can cost you some subscribers. Some people will subscribe and notice your partial feeds and delete your blog from their reader, or just never both to subscribe in the first place.

Which Is For You?

After you read some of the points listed above, you have to decide what you think is right for your blog and your readers – full or partial feed? Consider how you’ll feel and the effects of scrapers taking your content – if search engine rankings are really important to you and you can’t risk duplicate content, partial RSS feeds would help. If you post several to dozens of articles a day, your readers would probably very much appreciate partial feeds. If you’re trying to get your content out there and just want happy readers and people to listen to you and read what you have to say, you’d be fine with full feeds.

It’s up to you to decide, but if you like, you can make a post on your blog asking your readers and visitors which type of feed they would prefer on your site. List all the points, pros, cons, and consequences of each option for them and see what they think. You could also create a poll if you like!

Super Blogging’s Feed

As mentioned in the first paragraph, Wayne Liew was questioning how Super Blogging does not have a full RSS feed. Here’s the facts on that: Super Blogging has always offered a full feed until we got our new blog design. This design has a portion on the homepage called the Featured Post section, where a snippet of a post is shown. I have to place the article there manually and cut it off myself. I use the “read more” feature on WordPress to do that, so the full post isn’t shown there. Doing this also cuts that post off in the RSS feed as well.

Now, not every post on this site is partial in the reader – just the ones I want to show in the featured section, since I have to cut them off with “read more”. There really is no other option. But think of it this way, it’s the best of both worlds! Some articles are partial, some are full. When a person is running a blog not every single reader can be 100% happy, and we all understand that – but we try our hardest. To subscribe to Super Blogging, click here.

I would also like to thank Wayne Liew of WayneLiew.com, another great blog you should subscribe to, for bringing up this intriguing subject. I had never really given this topic much thought after Super Blogging’s redesign and since the change in our feed distribution was made. It’s always interesting to know everyone’s opinion, so thank you!

Creative Commons License photo credit: timsamoff

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16 Responses to “The Differences Between Full and Partial RSS Feeds”

  1. OldSailor on April 16th, 2008 4:53 am

    I use google reader. I find it very convenient to read full RSS feeds in spite of all the reasons listed above.

    OldSailor’s last blog post..China Develops Amphibian Bicycle

  2. Abhijeet from Jeet Blog on April 16th, 2008 5:09 am

    Tay, I think one should go for Full RSS Feeds and install the Antileech wordpress plugin which does a good job keeping the sloggers and scrapers away.

    Abhijeet from Jeet Blog’s last blog post..Making Everyday Schedules For Better Productivity

  3. James Chartrand - Men with Pens on April 16th, 2008 6:33 am

    There is a WordPress Plugin called “Full Feed”, I believe, that allows you to have excerpts on your home page and still deliver a full feed in people’s readers. You really should get it. Cutting off your readers to fight scraping really isn’t worth it – how many A-listers do that? You lose readers, it’s annoying, and it makes you look paranoid, in my opinion. Yes, I HATE partial feeds. When I see a partial feed, I think to myself, “Oh, this blog doesn’t care about me as a reader.” Instant unsubscribe. Sorry, but if you’re writing for readers, you do everything you can to make sure they’re happy, I think. (Within reason).I hope you’ll put up the full feeds again.

  4. m-alo on April 16th, 2008 6:42 am

    I think it’s an easy to answer question. And one that could be answered with another question: Which is more important to you, your content or your design?If the answer is: your content, then go with full feeds, if it is your design: go with partial feeds.Personally I prefer full feeds. If the content is interesting enough to me or I would like to comment on your stuff, I’ll visit your blog anyway. If I can’t have a full overview of the blgpost/article right there in my feed reader, I just get annoyed and probably won’t dig deeper…

    m-alo’s last blog post..Yazoo Reconnected Interview 2008

  5. Biodun on April 16th, 2008 1:41 pm

    I deleted all the partial feeds in my feed roll few weeks back.
    Although I surely understand why people use partial feeds, I use Full feed, partial feeds are more an annoyance than in a web based (multi-tab browser) feed reader.

    Biodun’s last blog post..Broadband to go? Three is your vehicle

  6. Steven Snell on April 16th, 2008 7:57 pm

    I subscribe to a few partial feeds, but I typically ignore them. Unless they’re a friend I won’t stay subscribed. I use an RSS reader for convenience, and having to click to a blog isn’t convenient, in my opinion. Personally, I get my comment scraped but it doesn’t really bother me. My search engine traffic is up and I don’t waste time trying to stop them.

    Steven Snell’s last blog post..How Much Attention Should Bloggers Give to Social Media?

  7. Jug on April 16th, 2008 11:18 pm

    Personally, I don’t like partial feeds. :) I want to read what I want to read without having to click here and there and everywhere. ;)

    Jug’s last blog post..Hello World… Not Yet!

  8. Tay on April 17th, 2008 3:02 pm

    @James Chartrand,

    I’m not really worried about scrapers myself, but I still felt that I had to list all of the pros and cons for each. As for the plugin that allows you to have excerpts on your homepage but full feeds, I have that one – that’s what shows the latest posts from the Blogging Tips, Making Money Online, etc. categories on the homepage. But the featured post one I have to cut off myself – it’s all manual. Like I’ve said, I don’t really have a choice. It’s kind of upsetting that it bothers my readers this much, because you guys ARE the most important thing to me. But I’m not quite sure how I’m going to work around it. Thanks for your input.


    Obviously my content is more important to me than my design, but both do go hand-in-hand. I can’t have my content wrecking up the design, but I can’t have the design be the only thing I care about. It’s a tough balance. Thanks for sharing your opinions!

    And thanks to all of you for sharing your opinions with me. It’s not that I use all partial feeds, but some of the posts I do have to cut off – those that I manually put in the “featured post” section on the homepage. The other homepage excerpts are made with a plugin and don’t affect the feeds – but I have no choice with the featured area. Since I can see how many of you prefer full feeds, I’ll try to figure something out. My readers are obviously the most important thing to me and if you guys aren’t happy then it’s really pointless! If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be very happy to hear them. Thank you! :)

  9. Taylor Blue on April 17th, 2008 4:58 pm

    Thanks for the compliment over at my site Tay! I like full rss feeds more. I don’t like having to go to the site to read the rest…and most times if I see a partial I’ll delete it. Except for your’s of course…I read every last word!! :) Mine is full…and I think it suits me… :)

    Taylor Blue’s last blog post..emzy.collins and Eric Szmanda: Separated At Birth??

  10. Koka on April 17th, 2008 10:22 pm

    I have always been a fan of offering the full feed view. Now after reading your post I am reverting back to partial feeds. Since my site offers several sections for readers to look at, the full feed could actually pull away from that and readers could miss some older greater posts.

    Koka’s last blog post..The Naked Vlog Campaign

  11. Louis Liem on April 18th, 2008 11:43 pm

    I choose the full feed. As for scrapers, I add a copyright footer at the end of my feeds

    Louis Liem’s last blog post..GPT – Summon The Titans!

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  13. nepspeed82 on April 24th, 2008 8:51 am

    I’m using full feeds too, and I kinda find it inconvenient to jump from my reader to the feed’s blog. About the scrapers, I’ve encountered about two already who’s posting my content under some strange author “abu khalagit” something. And I found it because it’s sending me traffic from their site and one of the highest referrer actually. They never really scrape my feed hardcore, just a portion of it with a “read more” anchor text that links back to me. I got to hand it to them for not forgetting to link back to me except that they didn’t asked for my permission to repost my feed. I want to report them to google but I was having second thoughts since it’s a also link back to my blog which helps with my traffic too. I don’t know maybe I should leave them alone for now.

    nepspeed82’s last blog post..Soge Shirts

  14. Tay on April 28th, 2008 3:36 pm


    I get that a lot too – where they scrape and link back with some odd name. I’m not getting much traffic-wise, but since they’re only posting an excerpt and such not much harm is being done. I haven’t done anything about it so far, but let me know what you do, and good luck!

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