Full text vs. Partial text feeds, Argument #495

Ahh, the arguing over whether to do full text or partial text feeds continues. This time with Feedburner saying they aren’t seeing a click-through difference.

Personally I hate partial text feeds. I’ve subscribed to a few of them, particularly ZDNet’s bloggers, but I notice I read a lot fewer of their items than I read items from, say, TechCrunch or Mashable, who offer full text feeds. And I link to them a LOT less.

I keep bugging Dan Farber (who runs the ZDNet blogging group) about this and he says he can’t do anything about it because of the advertising model that ZDNet has chosen. He also says that he hasn’t gotten enough feedback to the contrary to take back to his management.

The thing is he won’t. Here’s why.

Out of, say, 1,000 people who are on the Internet, only a small percentage read a lot of feeds. Let’s say it’s 10%. That means only 100 out of any 1,000 people will read feeds and of those 100 people only a small fraction will bother with ZDNet’s feeds.

The thing that partial texters are forgetting is that the other 900 people will find out about you from an influencer. Someone who will tell them. So, your traffic growth will be far slower if you only offer partial text feeds. Many of my friends who are journalists or bloggers just won’t deal with partial text feeds anymore. You certainly see that I link to mostly full text feeds on my link blog.

John Battelle realized this after he polled his readership about this issue: “From the results of my very unscientific poll, I’d clearly be alienating at least a very vocal minority.”

I wish ZDNet came to the same realization cause the quality of their content is really high.

113 thoughts on “Full text vs. Partial text feeds, Argument #495

  1. Hi,

    I changed to full feeds from partial feeds…. There was increased activity in comments section compared to before. No evident increase in page views. But the big problem was, the feeds were posted on splogger sites. Sometimes, they had better search ranking than mine. Some site like feeds4all, does not even give a link to the original site..

    Considering my small RSS base, almost negligible, I am back to partial feeds. Thats the only way to be safe from scrapers/sploggers

  2. Hi,

    I changed to full feeds from partial feeds…. There was increased activity in comments section compared to before. No evident increase in page views. But the big problem was, the feeds were posted on splogger sites. Sometimes, they had better search ranking than mine. Some site like feeds4all, does not even give a link to the original site..

    Considering my small RSS base, almost negligible, I am back to partial feeds. Thats the only way to be safe from scrapers/sploggers

  3. @43. Again resorting to ad-hominem attacks? Lovely. What I may or may not have done has no relevance to the argument. Try to stay focused. I see you failed to answer my question with any quantifiable data to support your position.

    “How did Channel 9 get to 4.3 million unique visitors a month? By providing full-text RSS feeds.”

    Proof, please. This again seems to be your opinion. I’m not saying it’s not true. It quite possibly is. But given your track record for accuracy, I’d prefer to see the actual data. Nevertheless, Channel 9 is somewhat an irrelevant example. I may be wrong, but I don’t think Channel 9 was trying to monetize the site, was it? All I’m saying it I believe ZDNet has ample data to support their position. All you seem to have it your opinion.

  4. @43. Again resorting to ad-hominem attacks? Lovely. What I may or may not have done has no relevance to the argument. Try to stay focused. I see you failed to answer my question with any quantifiable data to support your position.

    “How did Channel 9 get to 4.3 million unique visitors a month? By providing full-text RSS feeds.”

    Proof, please. This again seems to be your opinion. I’m not saying it’s not true. It quite possibly is. But given your track record for accuracy, I’d prefer to see the actual data. Nevertheless, Channel 9 is somewhat an irrelevant example. I may be wrong, but I don’t think Channel 9 was trying to monetize the site, was it? All I’m saying it I believe ZDNet has ample data to support their position. All you seem to have it your opinion.

  5. trying to monetize your feed is pretty much a useless endeavor. rss ads generate negligable revenue and, as the comment above confirms, partial feeds do not drive folks back to the site.

    giving away your content via a full feed is basically giving away your content for free. that’s exactly what rss was designed for. if your site is ad-supported, and you’re worried about lost revenue due to rss, don’t have an rss feed.

  6. trying to monetize your feed is pretty much a useless endeavor. rss ads generate negligable revenue and, as the comment above confirms, partial feeds do not drive folks back to the site.

    giving away your content via a full feed is basically giving away your content for free. that’s exactly what rss was designed for. if your site is ad-supported, and you’re worried about lost revenue due to rss, don’t have an rss feed.

  7. Thanks Robert. You do make some good points. I’m a prolific RSS reader but the only feeds I’ve ever deleted because of their content quantity are the ones that provide none at all.

    I look at partial feeds like an opening paragraph. If the opening paragraph is no good, I’m not going to read a full feed. conversely, if a partial feed’s paragraph is good enough, I’ll click thru.

    I must add, I use NetNewsWire (Mac) which, for me, revolutionised reading feds because it oncludes a built in web browser.

    If I still had to open my partial feeds to a separate browser, then actually, I would read less partial feeds.

    So, since most of the world isn’t lucky enough to have NNW, then I guess I can see the reasoning for full feeds.

    PS What I like about NNW too, is if I don’t have time to read a feed or its page, clicking thru effectively saves it for later.

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