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!