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.

Comments

  1. Totally agree. I almost unsubscribed from John Battelle when I read his poll :)

    But I think the 10% reading feeds stat is way, way optimistic. I would bet it’s closer to .1% or depending on how measured (i.e. what counts as a feed?) 1-2% as a stretch.

  2. Totally agree. I almost unsubscribed from John Battelle when I read his poll :)

    But I think the 10% reading feeds stat is way, way optimistic. I would bet it’s closer to .1% or depending on how measured (i.e. what counts as a feed?) 1-2% as a stretch.

  3. Mike: you’re probably right. The number is clearly going up, but isn’t very large yet. The thing is, among influencers (people who tell other people about cool things on the Web, either through blogs or MySpace pages, or journalists in traditional media) I have found that feed reading behavior is a LOT higher.

    Which is why traffic goes up for people who treat feed readers as first-class citizens.

  4. Mike: you’re probably right. The number is clearly going up, but isn’t very large yet. The thing is, among influencers (people who tell other people about cool things on the Web, either through blogs or MySpace pages, or journalists in traditional media) I have found that feed reading behavior is a LOT higher.

    Which is why traffic goes up for people who treat feed readers as first-class citizens.

  5. I know that working on Particls (feed aggregation and Attention platform) we have always been frustrated with partial post feeds, mostly because it introduces a lot of extra variables when it comes to semantic feed analysis.

    If the post is only partially syndicated, then there is simply less data for analysis to occur, often resulting in skewed results and (even WORSE) false positives.

  6. I know that working on Particls (feed aggregation and Attention platform) we have always been frustrated with partial post feeds, mostly because it introduces a lot of extra variables when it comes to semantic feed analysis.

    If the post is only partially syndicated, then there is simply less data for analysis to occur, often resulting in skewed results and (even WORSE) false positives.

  7. Mike Davidson has a post about pagination that got diverted to be about full content feeds in the comments (by people like me ;) ). He argues that his posts are heavily design-oriented and posts a few examples. I think those are edge cases, but it’s an interesting point to consider — some people may not post in a style that holds up well in the style-less RSS feed.

    See the discussion at:
    http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/archive/2007/04/pagination-is-evil

  8. Mike Davidson has a post about pagination that got diverted to be about full content feeds in the comments (by people like me ;) ). He argues that his posts are heavily design-oriented and posts a few examples. I think those are edge cases, but it’s an interesting point to consider — some people may not post in a style that holds up well in the style-less RSS feed.

    See the discussion at:
    http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/archive/2007/04/pagination-is-evil

  9. That is a really good point. I wanted to point out to WordPress 2.1 bloggers using the “More” feature sometimes inadvertently send partial feeds. There is a plugin that you can use to override this and get the glory of full feeds.

  10. That is a really good point. I wanted to point out to WordPress 2.1 bloggers using the “More” feature sometimes inadvertently send partial feeds. There is a plugin that you can use to override this and get the glory of full feeds.

  11. In my view it doesn’t make a difference whether the feed is full or partial, I *always* visit the source website and read the article there. My feed reading consists of almost entirely skimming through item titles and then opening anything interesting in a new tab.

    The amount of extra value you can get from visiting a site is huge; you can usually read user submitted comments, related articles and get to help the site (through viewing / clicking on ads).

    Like yourself Robert, I subscribe to a large number of feeds (including your own Google Reader link blog). Just shy of 400 feeds in fact, through my own online RSS aggregator (http://www.trawlr.com) – sorry for the shameless pimpin’!

  12. In my view it doesn’t make a difference whether the feed is full or partial, I *always* visit the source website and read the article there. My feed reading consists of almost entirely skimming through item titles and then opening anything interesting in a new tab.

    The amount of extra value you can get from visiting a site is huge; you can usually read user submitted comments, related articles and get to help the site (through viewing / clicking on ads).

    Like yourself Robert, I subscribe to a large number of feeds (including your own Google Reader link blog). Just shy of 400 feeds in fact, through my own online RSS aggregator (http://www.trawlr.com) – sorry for the shameless pimpin’!

  13. Also agreed. I subscribe to multiple partial text feeds and found I rarely read them, and when I do, it’s usually because someone else mentions a post on their blog.

    What’s even worse is titles only – not even partial text feeds. I hate that the most – I rarely know what the post will be about, why would I ever click through?

  14. Also agreed. I subscribe to multiple partial text feeds and found I rarely read them, and when I do, it’s usually because someone else mentions a post on their blog.

    What’s even worse is titles only – not even partial text feeds. I hate that the most – I rarely know what the post will be about, why would I ever click through?

  15. The downside though, Robert, is I rarely visit sites that do full feeds, as I don’t need to unless I want to comment.

    Whether that means they are missing revenue or not is debateable, and dependent on what model they use. Commentary based blogs have much lower click thru of ads than product and/or services based blogs. So for the former, it probably doesn’t hurt as much, unless they are using impressions-based advertising.

    Personally, I’m for long partial feeds. Either the first – well crafted – paragraph, or a couple of short paragraphs summarizing the piece.

    Short partial feeds of say 10 to 20 words really annoy; however, even them I still visit the site more than full feeds.

    But a long partial feed that gets me reading the story and wanting to finish it, are the ones I like most.

    I also find I’m much more likely to leave a comment if I read the story at the site, rather than in a feed.

    With a full feed, it has to really make me want to comment, to encourage me to visit..

    The ideal situation will be when feeds can display webpages. Thus all the advertising, comments, and comments form would be contained in the feed.

    You are one of my favorite bloggers at the moment, Robert, but where’s the value for you if I rarely visit your site?

    To me, with full feeds, it seems like I’m just the guy who reads the paper at the local newsagent then puts it back. Who benefits?

  16. The downside though, Robert, is I rarely visit sites that do full feeds, as I don’t need to unless I want to comment.

    Whether that means they are missing revenue or not is debateable, and dependent on what model they use. Commentary based blogs have much lower click thru of ads than product and/or services based blogs. So for the former, it probably doesn’t hurt as much, unless they are using impressions-based advertising.

    Personally, I’m for long partial feeds. Either the first – well crafted – paragraph, or a couple of short paragraphs summarizing the piece.

    Short partial feeds of say 10 to 20 words really annoy; however, even them I still visit the site more than full feeds.

    But a long partial feed that gets me reading the story and wanting to finish it, are the ones I like most.

    I also find I’m much more likely to leave a comment if I read the story at the site, rather than in a feed.

    With a full feed, it has to really make me want to comment, to encourage me to visit..

    The ideal situation will be when feeds can display webpages. Thus all the advertising, comments, and comments form would be contained in the feed.

    You are one of my favorite bloggers at the moment, Robert, but where’s the value for you if I rarely visit your site?

    To me, with full feeds, it seems like I’m just the guy who reads the paper at the local newsagent then puts it back. Who benefits?

  17. Robert,
    I hear you. Given the small percentage of RSS reading people (which includes everyone we know) today, the risk to the page view model is relative less. Need to evaluate further, but keep pushing….

  18. Robert,
    I hear you. Given the small percentage of RSS reading people (which includes everyone we know) today, the risk to the page view model is relative less. Need to evaluate further, but keep pushing….

  19. Jeff: yeah, the YCombinator feeds do that. I hate that even more than partial text feeds, agreed totally!

    Chris: what’s the value? I don’t care if you read me on my blog or over on someone’s link blog or in a reader like NewsGator or Google Reader. If I need to monetize those I better figure out how to do it in the RSS feed itself.

  20. Jeff: yeah, the YCombinator feeds do that. I hate that even more than partial text feeds, agreed totally!

    Chris: what’s the value? I don’t care if you read me on my blog or over on someone’s link blog or in a reader like NewsGator or Google Reader. If I need to monetize those I better figure out how to do it in the RSS feed itself.

  21. Granted, Feedburner is not seeing a difference, fair enough, maybe I’m in the minority and completely off beam. :)

    I must add too, I did find your site through and “influencer” but one who is one of the worst short-feeders of all, Mac Daily News, who only give the first 10 words or less of their articles.

  22. Granted, Feedburner is not seeing a difference, fair enough, maybe I’m in the minority and completely off beam. :)

    I must add too, I did find your site through and “influencer” but one who is one of the worst short-feeders of all, Mac Daily News, who only give the first 10 words or less of their articles.

  23. Robert, is the real value then, simply getting your name out there?

    Is the value going to be different for different folks? Newbie bloggers probably think traffic and income are what’s valuable, but would you suggest, that longer term, reputation is much more valuable?

  24. Robert, is the real value then, simply getting your name out there?

    Is the value going to be different for different folks? Newbie bloggers probably think traffic and income are what’s valuable, but would you suggest, that longer term, reputation is much more valuable?

  25. “I don’t care if you read me on my blog or over on someone’s link blog or in a reader like NewsGator or Google Reader. If I need to monetize those I better figure out how to do it in the RSS feed itself.”

    Robert, the math doesn’t work. Just this morning I was talking to a Feedburner sales rep about buying some ads in the MyWay Network (in support of our new site, http://www.bnet.com/), and the price for the RSS ads was $3 to $5 per 1000 impresions. There are some good business bloggers in that network, and they are getting 1/10 what we charge for ads on ZDNet.

    I love it that you enjoy the content on ZDNet, but we couldn’t support on RSS ads. Full-text RSS is either a power-user nicety that won’t displace Web site visits, or the wave of the future that will. If it’s the latter, then the ad model is insufficient to support great content.

    Please convince me I’m wrong! Arguing with Farber is tiring.

    Stephen Howard-Sarin
    VP, Products
    CNET Networks Business (ZDNet. TechRepublic. BNET)
    shs@cnet.com

  26. “I don’t care if you read me on my blog or over on someone’s link blog or in a reader like NewsGator or Google Reader. If I need to monetize those I better figure out how to do it in the RSS feed itself.”

    Robert, the math doesn’t work. Just this morning I was talking to a Feedburner sales rep about buying some ads in the MyWay Network (in support of our new site, http://www.bnet.com/), and the price for the RSS ads was $3 to $5 per 1000 impresions. There are some good business bloggers in that network, and they are getting 1/10 what we charge for ads on ZDNet.

    I love it that you enjoy the content on ZDNet, but we couldn’t support on RSS ads. Full-text RSS is either a power-user nicety that won’t displace Web site visits, or the wave of the future that will. If it’s the latter, then the ad model is insufficient to support great content.

    Please convince me I’m wrong! Arguing with Farber is tiring.

    Stephen Howard-Sarin
    VP, Products
    CNET Networks Business (ZDNet. TechRepublic. BNET)
    shs@cnet.com

  27. [...] Robert Scoble has some great advice to anyone considering delivering partial versus full feeds (nudge Frontburner).  Robert and I hate partial text feeds.  Lots of folks think it helps click through if you offer a partial feed.  Feedburner suggests they are wrong.  Robert explains why partial feeds are a bad idea even if there was a a difference in click through: [...]

  28. As a 350+ feed subscriber, I concur.

    Hell, for the longest time I’ve wished that Fast Company would provide full-text feeds, but they don’t. And you know what? While I love the publication, I don’t visit the website. Ever.

    I’d be a loyal online reader if they did full-text feeds and I’d share articles with others.

    But, they don’t and so they miss out.

  29. As a 350+ feed subscriber, I concur.

    Hell, for the longest time I’ve wished that Fast Company would provide full-text feeds, but they don’t. And you know what? While I love the publication, I don’t visit the website. Ever.

    I’d be a loyal online reader if they did full-text feeds and I’d share articles with others.

    But, they don’t and so they miss out.

  30. ChrisH: depends on how you define “value.” Me? I just want to share information. I don’t really care how you consume it.

    But, if you’re trying to make money off of advertising, then you have to worry about such things. I’m not.

    You can put advertisements in RSS feeds, though. I see them all the time come through Google Reader.

    Why is there any more value in my words if you read them on my blog than if you read them in Google Reader?

    One way? If you value interactivity, er, comments, then you gotta visit my blog cause you can’t do comments through Google Reader.

  31. ChrisH: depends on how you define “value.” Me? I just want to share information. I don’t really care how you consume it.

    But, if you’re trying to make money off of advertising, then you have to worry about such things. I’m not.

    You can put advertisements in RSS feeds, though. I see them all the time come through Google Reader.

    Why is there any more value in my words if you read them on my blog than if you read them in Google Reader?

    One way? If you value interactivity, er, comments, then you gotta visit my blog cause you can’t do comments through Google Reader.

  32. Stephen: you don’t get my point.

    I don’t read you, er, ZDNet blogs, very much at all. I’d rather read TechCrunch or GigaOm or Mashable than go over and read what Dan Farber said. Unless someone else in my feeds points out that Dan said something important to read (which doesn’t happen all that often). Why is that? Because partial text feeds treat me rudely and I’d rather not read content from businesses that treat me, or MY readers rudely.

    I +hate+ partial text feeds. I don’t link to them if there’s an alternative (there almost always is — I read 622 feeds, the vast majority of which are full-text feeds).

    I have 40,000 readers a day according to WordPress.com.

    I’m sending them somewhere else. You should read my link blog. There ALWAYS is somewhere else to go to get the news and get interesting views. There’s TOO MANY information sources. So, I’ll send my readers to places and people who treat readers with respect.

    So, you’re losing money by not giving me what I want. I already told you I link to your bloggers probably 1/20th as often as I would if you gave me full text feeds. About half of my readers don’t use RSS aggregators, either (based on looking at my stats) and the other half? You’re probably already losing too many of them.

    You’re also treating me rudely by doing partial text feeds.

    Do you always treat your best customers rudely?

    Do you always not listen to your best, and most influential customers?

    Let me know how that works out.

  33. Stephen: you don’t get my point.

    I don’t read you, er, ZDNet blogs, very much at all. I’d rather read TechCrunch or GigaOm or Mashable than go over and read what Dan Farber said. Unless someone else in my feeds points out that Dan said something important to read (which doesn’t happen all that often). Why is that? Because partial text feeds treat me rudely and I’d rather not read content from businesses that treat me, or MY readers rudely.

    I +hate+ partial text feeds. I don’t link to them if there’s an alternative (there almost always is — I read 622 feeds, the vast majority of which are full-text feeds).

    I have 40,000 readers a day according to WordPress.com.

    I’m sending them somewhere else. You should read my link blog. There ALWAYS is somewhere else to go to get the news and get interesting views. There’s TOO MANY information sources. So, I’ll send my readers to places and people who treat readers with respect.

    So, you’re losing money by not giving me what I want. I already told you I link to your bloggers probably 1/20th as often as I would if you gave me full text feeds. About half of my readers don’t use RSS aggregators, either (based on looking at my stats) and the other half? You’re probably already losing too many of them.

    You’re also treating me rudely by doing partial text feeds.

    Do you always treat your best customers rudely?

    Do you always not listen to your best, and most influential customers?

    Let me know how that works out.

  34. “But, if you’re trying to make money off of advertising, then you have to worry about such things. I’m not.”

    Shouldn’t you then clarify that before bagging partial feeds? I do find that most folks against partial feeds are in a position where they can be. I’m sure if you were dependent on site based advertsing – like so many blogs are – then you’d never do full feeds.

    The reality is, like ZDNet found, it’s depends on your objectives for your site. Some folks can meet them with full feeds, but some need partial feeds.

  35. “But, if you’re trying to make money off of advertising, then you have to worry about such things. I’m not.”

    Shouldn’t you then clarify that before bagging partial feeds? I do find that most folks against partial feeds are in a position where they can be. I’m sure if you were dependent on site based advertsing – like so many blogs are – then you’d never do full feeds.

    The reality is, like ZDNet found, it’s depends on your objectives for your site. Some folks can meet them with full feeds, but some need partial feeds.

  36. ChrisH: even if I was dependent on ads, I’d still offer full text feeds. Here’s why:

    1) It treats my best readers well. My best readers have told me over and over and over again that full-text feeds are better than partial text feeds. I don’t tend to treat my best followers poorly — I find that generally causes more bad karma to come my way than the extra money is worth (if there is extra money, and in this instance, I don’t believe there is).
    2) There are new ad models evolving. Why not innovate here, find a new way to put ads in front of your best customers. If you are getting $30 CPMs (very high) on HTML, why wouldn’t you also be able to get $30 CPMs in RSS? I don’t get that at all. But, even if it were true that advertisers were only willing to pay $3 CPMs for RSS it would STILL be adviseable to do full text feeds. Why?
    3) If my goal is to get people to my HTML page, how do I do that? I have a few ways.

    a) Get Digg or StumbleUpon or Slashdot or BBC to link to me (those are the top places to get tech-oriented traffic). That’s really hard. But, ask an average person who participates heavily on Digg how they read blogs. Most will tell you RSS readers. Then ask if they will subscribe to partial-text feeds. Almost always the answer is “no.”
    b) Get Google to rank your stories. But, again, how do you get on Google? Get people to link to you! Guess what, that means you gotta get other bloggers to link to you. Treat them poorly and they’ll link less (ZDNet definitely gets fewer links than other blogs — I track such things).
    c) Get people to subscribe to you in the first place and read you every day (engagement and persistence are two things advertisers are rewarding). Why do those subscribers matter? Because people who read you every day are far more likely to want to interact with you, comment on your blog, etc. Guess what? To comment you need to visit my HTML feed.
    d) Get other influential bloggers to link to you. Why did I whine about Engadget not linking? Cause when they DID link to PodTech they sent something like 40,000 people over. Now, you can get a link while being a rude baaahhhhssssttttaarrrdddd. I proved that. But, generally, will people link to rude bahstards more or less than nice people? I’ve done the research there, too, and people link more to nice people overall.

    Remember, if your overall objective is to get people to visit your HTML page, you’ve got to realize that there’s more than just the dweeb who reads your feeds to worry about.

    What if that dweeb runs the BBC home page?

  37. ChrisH: even if I was dependent on ads, I’d still offer full text feeds. Here’s why:

    1) It treats my best readers well. My best readers have told me over and over and over again that full-text feeds are better than partial text feeds. I don’t tend to treat my best followers poorly — I find that generally causes more bad karma to come my way than the extra money is worth (if there is extra money, and in this instance, I don’t believe there is).
    2) There are new ad models evolving. Why not innovate here, find a new way to put ads in front of your best customers. If you are getting $30 CPMs (very high) on HTML, why wouldn’t you also be able to get $30 CPMs in RSS? I don’t get that at all. But, even if it were true that advertisers were only willing to pay $3 CPMs for RSS it would STILL be adviseable to do full text feeds. Why?
    3) If my goal is to get people to my HTML page, how do I do that? I have a few ways.

    a) Get Digg or StumbleUpon or Slashdot or BBC to link to me (those are the top places to get tech-oriented traffic). That’s really hard. But, ask an average person who participates heavily on Digg how they read blogs. Most will tell you RSS readers. Then ask if they will subscribe to partial-text feeds. Almost always the answer is “no.”
    b) Get Google to rank your stories. But, again, how do you get on Google? Get people to link to you! Guess what, that means you gotta get other bloggers to link to you. Treat them poorly and they’ll link less (ZDNet definitely gets fewer links than other blogs — I track such things).
    c) Get people to subscribe to you in the first place and read you every day (engagement and persistence are two things advertisers are rewarding). Why do those subscribers matter? Because people who read you every day are far more likely to want to interact with you, comment on your blog, etc. Guess what? To comment you need to visit my HTML feed.
    d) Get other influential bloggers to link to you. Why did I whine about Engadget not linking? Cause when they DID link to PodTech they sent something like 40,000 people over. Now, you can get a link while being a rude baaahhhhssssttttaarrrdddd. I proved that. But, generally, will people link to rude bahstards more or less than nice people? I’ve done the research there, too, and people link more to nice people overall.

    Remember, if your overall objective is to get people to visit your HTML page, you’ve got to realize that there’s more than just the dweeb who reads your feeds to worry about.

    What if that dweeb runs the BBC home page?

  38. I have to agree here. I have about a hundred feeds in Google Reader. 14 are partial feeds. Almost every single one of those feeds is one where I read every post, and I’m simply using the reader as a tool to let me know that there are new posts out there to go view. And I’m not actually likely to add many more partial feeds because they’re so annoying. The existing ones I subscribe to are all blogs that I read before I started using an RSS reader.

    It would have to take some exceptional content to overcome this and make me add any more partial feeds. And even if the blog has exceptional content I’m not likely to see it enough to figure this out.

    Note, there is one thing that can overcome this. If the partial feed constists of a summary that has been specifically written, rather than auto-generated this is quite acceptable. The Microsoft blogger Ozymandias is an example of this.

  39. I have to agree here. I have about a hundred feeds in Google Reader. 14 are partial feeds. Almost every single one of those feeds is one where I read every post, and I’m simply using the reader as a tool to let me know that there are new posts out there to go view. And I’m not actually likely to add many more partial feeds because they’re so annoying. The existing ones I subscribe to are all blogs that I read before I started using an RSS reader.

    It would have to take some exceptional content to overcome this and make me add any more partial feeds. And even if the blog has exceptional content I’m not likely to see it enough to figure this out.

    Note, there is one thing that can overcome this. If the partial feed constists of a summary that has been specifically written, rather than auto-generated this is quite acceptable. The Microsoft blogger Ozymandias is an example of this.

  40. @19 “Do you always treat your best customers rudely?

    Do you always not listen to your best, and most influential customers?”

    You start out your comment by telling Mr. Howard-Sarin that you don’t read ZDNet blogs that much, if at all. So…..how does that make you one of Mr. Howard-Sarin’s best and most influential customers? I would think ZDNet doesn’t much care what you think about their feed strategy given that by your own admission you don’t patronize them much. Or are you saying that if they didn’t do partial feeds, you WOULD be their best customer? Would you read them religiously if they did full feeds? I’m sure that’s the question ZDNet would like to know. But, it seems even they they don’t much care because they wouldn’t be making much money from a reader like you anyway. Apparently your ego is getting in the way of understanding ZDNet’s business model.

  41. @19 “Do you always treat your best customers rudely?

    Do you always not listen to your best, and most influential customers?”

    You start out your comment by telling Mr. Howard-Sarin that you don’t read ZDNet blogs that much, if at all. So…..how does that make you one of Mr. Howard-Sarin’s best and most influential customers? I would think ZDNet doesn’t much care what you think about their feed strategy given that by your own admission you don’t patronize them much. Or are you saying that if they didn’t do partial feeds, you WOULD be their best customer? Would you read them religiously if they did full feeds? I’m sure that’s the question ZDNet would like to know. But, it seems even they they don’t much care because they wouldn’t be making much money from a reader like you anyway. Apparently your ego is getting in the way of understanding ZDNet’s business model.

  42. Scoble, you probably realize that the FeedBurner guy has a commercial interest in this full text/partial text debate ?

    A convincing argument has to come from a NEUTRAL party.

    It’s a stupid debate by the way. On the one hand, you have readers that refuse to visit web pages, therefore allow the blogger to either get some ads impressed, or some widgets activated, …. Therefore those readers, if they refuse to “donate” by visiting the web page, perhaps don’t deserve the full experience.

    On the other hand, scraping a web page to get the full text as a regular RSS feed. It’s not a big deal. That’s what I do.

    Last but not least, when you enter this debate Scoble, you should always keep a hand to slap Winer and co in the face for such as travesty protocol as RSS. See, where do you see comments in Google Reader? Where can you add yours without visiting the web page? All of that just does not exist because RSS is short-sighted.

  43. Scoble, you probably realize that the FeedBurner guy has a commercial interest in this full text/partial text debate ?

    A convincing argument has to come from a NEUTRAL party.

    It’s a stupid debate by the way. On the one hand, you have readers that refuse to visit web pages, therefore allow the blogger to either get some ads impressed, or some widgets activated, …. Therefore those readers, if they refuse to “donate” by visiting the web page, perhaps don’t deserve the full experience.

    On the other hand, scraping a web page to get the full text as a regular RSS feed. It’s not a big deal. That’s what I do.

    Last but not least, when you enter this debate Scoble, you should always keep a hand to slap Winer and co in the face for such as travesty protocol as RSS. See, where do you see comments in Google Reader? Where can you add yours without visiting the web page? All of that just does not exist because RSS is short-sighted.

  44. Tricky one Robert – as evidenced by sharply divided opinion in the comments. If I am a noisemaker with a revenue model that is dependant upon maximising the number of visitors to my site, then I am stuck with HAVING to use partial feeds. If that slows or stops the ‘influencer’ traffic, I am going to have to live with that.

    On the other hand, if the key is to get the maximum number of people reading my stuff, the truncated feed posts are clearly self defeating. Possible solution – particularly for content-heavy tech sites? Offer 2 feeds, one truncated, one not. Experienced users can then vote with their feet.

    I am reminded of the long-running debate about the toll plaza on the one-and-only ring road here in Dublin, Ireland. Congestion levels are crazy on the road as we built the road we could afford rather than the road we needed. The government spent big bucks hiring various consultants, all of whom stated that the toll booths were not a significant contributor to the gridlock. Users were shouting loudly, and to the contrary. Then a smart senator said that he was going to use his R&D budget to pay all the tolls for a day and get the gates lifted. Guess what happened?

    Sometimes you just have to dip your toe in the water.

  45. Tricky one Robert – as evidenced by sharply divided opinion in the comments. If I am a noisemaker with a revenue model that is dependant upon maximising the number of visitors to my site, then I am stuck with HAVING to use partial feeds. If that slows or stops the ‘influencer’ traffic, I am going to have to live with that.

    On the other hand, if the key is to get the maximum number of people reading my stuff, the truncated feed posts are clearly self defeating. Possible solution – particularly for content-heavy tech sites? Offer 2 feeds, one truncated, one not. Experienced users can then vote with their feet.

    I am reminded of the long-running debate about the toll plaza on the one-and-only ring road here in Dublin, Ireland. Congestion levels are crazy on the road as we built the road we could afford rather than the road we needed. The government spent big bucks hiring various consultants, all of whom stated that the toll booths were not a significant contributor to the gridlock. Users were shouting loudly, and to the contrary. Then a smart senator said that he was going to use his R&D budget to pay all the tolls for a day and get the gates lifted. Guess what happened?

    Sometimes you just have to dip your toe in the water.

  46. Rowan: you’re seeing it the wrong way again. Sorry for continuing to harp on this.

    If you want the most readers (maximizing the number of visitors, as you put it) you will use FULL TEXT feeds. Why? Because influencers are WHO brings more visitors to your site! (I watch these traffic trends very closely — how do you think popular sites get popular? Cause someone with a lot of traffic linked).

    Remember, most visitors on the Internet don’t read feeds at all. How do they find out about new sites? Hint: someone links to them. Hint2: the someone who links to them probably DOES read feeds. Hint3: if that someone who links to them reads feeds, and gets pissed off at your partial text feeds, will they link anymore? No. So, no more visitors.

  47. Rowan: you’re seeing it the wrong way again. Sorry for continuing to harp on this.

    If you want the most readers (maximizing the number of visitors, as you put it) you will use FULL TEXT feeds. Why? Because influencers are WHO brings more visitors to your site! (I watch these traffic trends very closely — how do you think popular sites get popular? Cause someone with a lot of traffic linked).

    Remember, most visitors on the Internet don’t read feeds at all. How do they find out about new sites? Hint: someone links to them. Hint2: the someone who links to them probably DOES read feeds. Hint3: if that someone who links to them reads feeds, and gets pissed off at your partial text feeds, will they link anymore? No. So, no more visitors.

  48. LayZ: >>Would you read them religiously if they did full feeds?

    Yes. I already subscribe to a few. I would subscribe to more. And I would definitely link to more if they had full text feeds.

  49. LayZ: >>Would you read them religiously if they did full feeds?

    Yes. I already subscribe to a few. I would subscribe to more. And I would definitely link to more if they had full text feeds.

  50. Scoble is right because he understands the role of influencers and links in generating traffic. Indirect evidence of this in my own case comes from examining the search generated traffic I get versus the link referral traffic. Numerically the search generated traffic is greater but quality wise – quality being defined as “people hitting on posts for the reasons I wrote them” — I get “better” traffic on my little specialized blog from links and referrals, since so much of my search generated traffic seems to be tangential to my real topics.

    For example, I get a ton of hits because my last name is the same as a famous fast food restaurant.

    While I don’t have advertising, I would still think that advertisers would prefer quality over quantity, given the specialized nature of my site.

    ps – say hi to Jeremiah for me next time you see him.

  51. Scoble is right because he understands the role of influencers and links in generating traffic. Indirect evidence of this in my own case comes from examining the search generated traffic I get versus the link referral traffic. Numerically the search generated traffic is greater but quality wise – quality being defined as “people hitting on posts for the reasons I wrote them” — I get “better” traffic on my little specialized blog from links and referrals, since so much of my search generated traffic seems to be tangential to my real topics.

    For example, I get a ton of hits because my last name is the same as a famous fast food restaurant.

    While I don’t have advertising, I would still think that advertisers would prefer quality over quantity, given the specialized nature of my site.

    ps – say hi to Jeremiah for me next time you see him.

  52. Robert, I would be more than happy to see your feed in full, too. I am using Google Reader and Bloglines, an on both of them I see only the excerpt of your posts. Do something about it if you are not aware of the situation. FYI, just in case.

  53. Robert, I would be more than happy to see your feed in full, too. I am using Google Reader and Bloglines, an on both of them I see only the excerpt of your posts. Do something about it if you are not aware of the situation. FYI, just in case.

  54. Web 2.0 has decided to give away many services for free to consumers and support their costs with advertising.

    As traffic grows they need more money to support infrastructure and have to increase advertising revenue or take VC money.

    Either way the end result is that eventually users are a site’s assets and advertisers are the customers. John has stated pretty clearly recently that advertisers are telling him to use comscore for measurement and that they are not interested in paying premium rates for advertising on feeds.

    Early adopter tech bloggers may not like those choices, but Zdnet,Cnet and Time Warner will use Comscore, provide partial feeds and take the money.

    Unless the blogger early adopters adapt they may miss out on the revenue part of Web 2.0.

  55. Web 2.0 has decided to give away many services for free to consumers and support their costs with advertising.

    As traffic grows they need more money to support infrastructure and have to increase advertising revenue or take VC money.

    Either way the end result is that eventually users are a site’s assets and advertisers are the customers. John has stated pretty clearly recently that advertisers are telling him to use comscore for measurement and that they are not interested in paying premium rates for advertising on feeds.

    Early adopter tech bloggers may not like those choices, but Zdnet,Cnet and Time Warner will use Comscore, provide partial feeds and take the money.

    Unless the blogger early adopters adapt they may miss out on the revenue part of Web 2.0.

  56. Robert, for you — a blogger with a substantial audience and a willingness to link back — I’d be happy to provide a full-text feed. It’s just the folks who aren’t media professionals that I’m worried about. The actual readers are the ones I need visiting ZDNet in order to have a business.

    P.S. I’ll compare your research to my live site data over dinner any time. My treat.

  57. Robert, for you — a blogger with a substantial audience and a willingness to link back — I’d be happy to provide a full-text feed. It’s just the folks who aren’t media professionals that I’m worried about. The actual readers are the ones I need visiting ZDNet in order to have a business.

    P.S. I’ll compare your research to my live site data over dinner any time. My treat.

  58. The whole value of RSS is speed to consume information. If you have to click through to read, you’re diminishing the benefit of the technology. I have unsuscribed from feeds that are partial (and dont’ read others)…Probably read 25 feeds or so a day. It’s annoying when it’s partial, so I skip it, and the author loses a relationship building oppty.

  59. The whole value of RSS is speed to consume information. If you have to click through to read, you’re diminishing the benefit of the technology. I have unsuscribed from feeds that are partial (and dont’ read others)…Probably read 25 feeds or so a day. It’s annoying when it’s partial, so I skip it, and the author loses a relationship building oppty.

  60. @30 “Remember, most visitors on the Internet don’t read feeds at all. How do they find out about new sites? Hint: someone links to them. Hint2: the someone who links to them probably DOES read feeds. Hint3: if that someone who links to them reads feeds, and gets pissed off at your partial text feeds, will they link anymore? No. So, no more visitors.”

    Is there research that supports this, or is this just your opinion based on anecdotal evidence. I’m sure ZDNet and others would love to see the proof of this. My guess is, though, they already have a pretty good idea of their visitors behavior.

    Who are you defining as “most visitors”? Your insulated circle of friends and acquaintances, or broader more representative population? If it’s the former, then what you basically have is a self-fulfilling prophecy. My guess is that “most visitors” don’t read feeds but rather find things via some search engine or have been emailed a link to that web site. But, unlike you, I’ll happily admit that that is just my opinion and don’t have any data to support that. Now I’m sure at this point you will say “But LayZ, I have eleventy-million readers, so they would surely read my link blog and click on every link in there” Well, we don’t know that for sure. In the end, this ia about ZDNet’s ability to make money providing full feeds. And it seems, based on what Stephen has said, they don’t see them paying off. Bottom line, you need to prove to companies like ZDNet that full feeds will generate the level of web site visits ZDNet needs to make money. According to Stephen– which I would bet has a lot more data to support his position than you do– doing full feeds doesn’t pay. You need to provide more than just your opinion to make your case when it comes to trying to change a business decision.

  61. @30 “Remember, most visitors on the Internet don’t read feeds at all. How do they find out about new sites? Hint: someone links to them. Hint2: the someone who links to them probably DOES read feeds. Hint3: if that someone who links to them reads feeds, and gets pissed off at your partial text feeds, will they link anymore? No. So, no more visitors.”

    Is there research that supports this, or is this just your opinion based on anecdotal evidence. I’m sure ZDNet and others would love to see the proof of this. My guess is, though, they already have a pretty good idea of their visitors behavior.

    Who are you defining as “most visitors”? Your insulated circle of friends and acquaintances, or broader more representative population? If it’s the former, then what you basically have is a self-fulfilling prophecy. My guess is that “most visitors” don’t read feeds but rather find things via some search engine or have been emailed a link to that web site. But, unlike you, I’ll happily admit that that is just my opinion and don’t have any data to support that. Now I’m sure at this point you will say “But LayZ, I have eleventy-million readers, so they would surely read my link blog and click on every link in there” Well, we don’t know that for sure. In the end, this ia about ZDNet’s ability to make money providing full feeds. And it seems, based on what Stephen has said, they don’t see them paying off. Bottom line, you need to prove to companies like ZDNet that full feeds will generate the level of web site visits ZDNet needs to make money. According to Stephen– which I would bet has a lot more data to support his position than you do– doing full feeds doesn’t pay. You need to provide more than just your opinion to make your case when it comes to trying to change a business decision.

  62. LayZ: I’ve been studying reader behavior for more than six years, both at Microsoft, and at PodTech, and on my blog.

    What the hell have you ever done on the Internet? Nothing, that’s what, other than be a troll on my blog. Have you ever seen a referer log? Have you ever done customer surveys? I doubt it.

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

    The problem is I’m sure there’s lots of evidence that can be made to fit any damn theory you want.

    Either way, Stephen at ZDNet demonstrates he’s willing to piss off his readers in order to make a buck.

    Long term that strategy doesn’t sound like a good one to me. Readers have almost infinite choices now and ZDNet’s content isn’t heads and tails better than other sources that DO provide full text.

  63. LayZ: I’ve been studying reader behavior for more than six years, both at Microsoft, and at PodTech, and on my blog.

    What the hell have you ever done on the Internet? Nothing, that’s what, other than be a troll on my blog. Have you ever seen a referer log? Have you ever done customer surveys? I doubt it.

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

    The problem is I’m sure there’s lots of evidence that can be made to fit any damn theory you want.

    Either way, Stephen at ZDNet demonstrates he’s willing to piss off his readers in order to make a buck.

    Long term that strategy doesn’t sound like a good one to me. Readers have almost infinite choices now and ZDNet’s content isn’t heads and tails better than other sources that DO provide full text.

  64. Stephen: again. You aren’t hearing me.

    How do “average” readers find you?

    My studies show that most readers come from blogs, or secondary effects of blog links (a link from a blog like mine, for instance, will get you found in Google). Or from closely associated portals like Digg, TechMeme, or StumbleUpon (all controlled by influentials).

    Or, do you think your readers come from only some other place?

    Most readers don’t use RSS. And most RSS readers don’t subscribe to many feeds (ask Google’s Reader team, I have).

    So, your risks of losing a page view to an RSS reader are FAR LESS than the risks of losing the INFLUENCE of that reader on other people’s reading behavior.

    But, I’m sure you have lots of data to prove your theory too.

    In the meantime TechCrunch and Mashable are getting more readers AND MORE INFLUENCE than most of your bloggers.

  65. Stephen: again. You aren’t hearing me.

    How do “average” readers find you?

    My studies show that most readers come from blogs, or secondary effects of blog links (a link from a blog like mine, for instance, will get you found in Google). Or from closely associated portals like Digg, TechMeme, or StumbleUpon (all controlled by influentials).

    Or, do you think your readers come from only some other place?

    Most readers don’t use RSS. And most RSS readers don’t subscribe to many feeds (ask Google’s Reader team, I have).

    So, your risks of losing a page view to an RSS reader are FAR LESS than the risks of losing the INFLUENCE of that reader on other people’s reading behavior.

    But, I’m sure you have lots of data to prove your theory too.

    In the meantime TechCrunch and Mashable are getting more readers AND MORE INFLUENCE than most of your bloggers.

  66. [...] the same time Robert Scoble, previous victim of my ire, posted about Feedburner saying that partial text feeds don’t really increase click through, and mentioned how much he hated partial text feeds (something I already knew). I put a comment in [...]

  67. UPDATE! I unsubscribed from your feed and subscribed again using google reader’s add feed function and using just the address scoble.com and now its fine.

    I don’t know what was the problem.

  68. UPDATE! I unsubscribed from your feed and subscribed again using google reader’s add feed function and using just the address scoble.com and now its fine.

    I don’t know what was the problem.

  69. Robert, I’m not trying to piss you off, and if my failure to get your point is driving you to distraction, I apologize.

    Full-text RSS is obviously more user-friendly. Of course I’d prefer to let people have what they want — if it won’t hurt the core business. And we’ve been experimenting with full-text feeds on one ZDNet blogs and all BNET blogs since Feb., to get real data in their impact. I hope it’s as beneficial as you say.

    Rather than respond to your specific points here, I’ll reiterate the dinner invite. There’s info about ZDNet’s traffic that I’d prefer not to post publicly.

    But I will say this: The direct impact of influential sites like yours or TechMeme (or even Digg) is not as profound as one might think for a large site like ZDNet.

    Discussion of indirect impacts requires a nice bottle of red.

  70. Robert, I’m not trying to piss you off, and if my failure to get your point is driving you to distraction, I apologize.

    Full-text RSS is obviously more user-friendly. Of course I’d prefer to let people have what they want — if it won’t hurt the core business. And we’ve been experimenting with full-text feeds on one ZDNet blogs and all BNET blogs since Feb., to get real data in their impact. I hope it’s as beneficial as you say.

    Rather than respond to your specific points here, I’ll reiterate the dinner invite. There’s info about ZDNet’s traffic that I’d prefer not to post publicly.

    But I will say this: The direct impact of influential sites like yours or TechMeme (or even Digg) is not as profound as one might think for a large site like ZDNet.

    Discussion of indirect impacts requires a nice bottle of red.

  71. I’m game for dinner and an education.

    I just used to have a boss that used to do anti-user stuff too. It drove me to leave and, later, drove him almost into bankruptcy.

    I get lots of links on ZDNet blogs and don’t get much traffic from them. I wonder why that is, now that you’re saying that you’re a “large site.”

  72. I’m game for dinner and an education.

    I just used to have a boss that used to do anti-user stuff too. It drove me to leave and, later, drove him almost into bankruptcy.

    I get lots of links on ZDNet blogs and don’t get much traffic from them. I wonder why that is, now that you’re saying that you’re a “large site.”

  73. Why don’t you initiate a poll or something where every one will vote asking ZDNet to publish full feeds?. I am sure they would take a look at it and probably listen

  74. Why don’t you initiate a poll or something where every one will vote asking ZDNet to publish full feeds?. I am sure they would take a look at it and probably listen

  75. Prasanna: a poll probably won’t work well. Why? Because out of 1,000 people on ZDNet I bet only 10% are RSS subscribers, if that high. So a lot of people would vote without having any skin in the game.

  76. Prasanna: a poll probably won’t work well. Why? Because out of 1,000 people on ZDNet I bet only 10% are RSS subscribers, if that high. So a lot of people would vote without having any skin in the game.

  77. 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.

  78. 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.

  79. 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.

  80. 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.

  81. @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.

  82. @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.

  83. [...] Use full text rather than partial text. When your post is viewed in a reader, like Google Reader, make sure your feed is set to display the entire post. The click-through rate for full text vs. partial text in feeds is basically the same, and there are a variety of other arguments in favor of full text feeds. See what Scoble says about this. [...]

  84. 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

  85. 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