RSS: Either publish in full, or gimme a meaningful summary!

I’ve become a big fan of RSS. Using an aggregator means I can catch up with way more web sites than before.

If web sites are interested in eyeballs for their content, they should be sure to publish a full RSS feed. Not doing so is a very bad idea — why do you think I have the time to come click on your web site every day? I don’t. I’ll read from within my aggregator, and if I want to comment, then I’ll click.

I’m a little more forgiving than Scoble. Okay, so some sites want you to visit so they get the advertising revenue, so they don’t do a full feed. But for heaven’s sake, if you’re not going to publish a full feed, then please get your headlines and summaries in order. Don’t make me guess what the article’s about, because I won’t bother — I’ll just skip to the next thing.

ArsTechnica does okay on theirs: An article entitled “EA brand ‘tarnished’ according to analyst and with the summary “A game industry analyst has issued a report stating that poor ratings and low-quality games are starting to diminish the EA brand. We’ll delve into the challenges the gaming giant may be facing” sums up everything the article is about, so I can make an informed decision about whether it’s worth clicking through.

The brilliant Daniel Rutter does absolutely crap at this on his blog: An article entitled “Saving the environment without looking stupid: A primer with a summary of “There’s something to be said for dog-sleds, too” gives me absolutely no clue that it’s a very good, detailed look at the qualities of the Toyota Prius.

No clues. Should I click, not knowing if it’ll be worth the X seconds to decide if it’s worth reading? If I’m at all stretched for time, I won’t bother. It’s not like there’s nothing else to read out there.

PS. Interesting article on full feeds vs partial.

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3 thoughts on “RSS: Either publish in full, or gimme a meaningful summary!

  1. josh

    Herr Rutter has an interesting way of linking too: random words (as far as I can tell). Or perhaps it’s random links. Never does the link text indicate where you’re going. Granted, he provides many links, but little context.

  2. Jeremy

    RSS is okay (certainly it beats going to a website yourself to check for updates), though it’ll be nicer when PubSub takes off. While RSS requires the client to poll for updates at a set interval through http, with PubSub the server instead pushes out the update. Thus, saving the server valuable resources from having clients poll for changes and delivering the content to the client much quicker.

    I’m currently using the RSS support built into Safari so it’s fairly primitive and not really an aggregator. Does the job, none the less (and yes read this post using RSS). Though with polling, it could take up to half an hour before I see changes. Looks like Mail.app in Mac OS X 10.5 ‘Leopard’ will have RSS built in so that will be more of a proper aggregator (for the time being though, I’m not going to bother with running yet another app). If only they’d include PubSub in it as well.

  3. Ren

    Bah, where’s your sense of adventure?!

    (Says the person who loathes, detests and despises RSS feeds and refuses to use them…)

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