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RSS Feeds: Full posts or extracts?

Posted By Darren Rowse 13th of January 2005 Blog Design 0 Comments

Another tip from Leave It Behind’s Building a Better Blog is to ‘Syndicate your Entire Post‘. Brian writes:

‘Again, in the never-ending effort to ensure happy readers, be sure to syndicate (i.e. send) your entire post through RSS. I follow over 75 weblogs (which is probably a low number on average). With the amount of time it takes to keep up with the constant stream of information, it is a great benefit to be able to read each post in its entirety without a separate trip to the browser. I know it is especially tempting for businesses to try to drive traffic to their site by forcing readers to visit the website in order to read the full article, but inevitably I end up unsubscribing from those sources instead.’

I thought this would make an interesting discussion. what are the benefits and costs of syndicating full posts? Do you?

Whilst Brian gets frustrated with only excerpts making it to RSS feeds I actually get frustrated with full posts. I use Bloglines and like to be able to see as many headings and excerpts on a page as possible. I track over 300 feeds and find myself skimming over and even removing feeds that are too long. I guess it depends how long your articles are – but is there a risk in frustrating your readers by publishing full posts in your RSS feed?

Are there other possible costs/risks in publishing your full RSS feed? Here are a few that come to mind:

– As Brian observes in the above quote – do you risk having readers never come to your blog? I guess it again depends upon your motivation for blogging. If you are writing purely to inform your readers than this doesn’t matter – but if you’re trying to monetize your blog it may be more beneficial to drive traffic to it as income streams from RSS are yet to really pay off in my experience.

– Do you run the risk of having your content hijacked? Over the past couple of months I’ve noticed more and more sites popping up that use the RSS feeds of blogs as their own content. It is pretty easy to do and something that concerns me on some levels. One of the ways of protecting yourself from this type of content hijacking is to limit your RSS feed to an excerpt. I have a feeling that whilst there are only a few sites using RSS for their own content at the moment that it will be an increasing issue for bloggers in the future.

What are your thoughts on publishing an RSS feed? Do you publish full posts or just extracts? What is your reasoning for doing so.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Thanks for the post. I only publish excerpts. Yes, loss of revenue stream and fear for content hijacking are the key concerns.

  2. My blog’s entries have a body and sometimes and extended field.
    I syndicate the body, not the extended.
    Thus my feed’s entries are sometimes not full.
    If visitors are interested they go read the extended text on the blog.
    I prefer reading an article in my browser rather than in my aggregator’s browser.
    I have AdSense on my blog and I do want to earn money this way.
    Once, I saw ads in a feed and hated that.

  3. As a reader, I like the excerpts. If the article looks interesting, I open it up in a new window anyway, since I see some value in looking at the site as a whole, and reading a nicely formatted entry.

    I use Feed On Feeds to read, so I get one huge page of all the new items since I last checked. I go through the list, opening new windows/tabs for anything that looks interesting.


  4. Extracts only… get people to visit you site (and see your ads etc.) otherwise they are effectivly stealing from you.

  5. I like having the whole feed to read – especially in the case of the sites which are so tarted up with ads and things that blink – so I offer the whole feed. That’s fair.

  6. Another comment … even as a rank newbie I was aware that concealing part of a post behind a “more…” link was a way to increase page hits. As a reader I resent it and generally not follow the links.

  7. each to their own I guess melinama.

    In terms of the ‘more’ feature – I don’t use it to get more page impressions but because I don’t want long long posts viewable on the front page of my blog. I’d rather keep my front and category pages to a manageable length. I guess this is because I tend to ramble on in my articles.

  8. Feeds are supposed to be extracts. Often I publish multi-page posts. If someone, including myself, have to look them using a RSS reader, it would be plain torture. Suppose he doesn’t like the post. Then with readers such as Awasu, he would have really long scrolling to do before he gets to the next post.
    OTOH I do not like extracts which is just a copy of the subject and no more. They should have interesting content to draw the attention.

  9. I have always posted full posts in my feed. The reason I did this was, from the outset, the friend that got me into blogging said that he wouldn’t read my feed unless I posted the full article. I use bloglines and hate having to click through to read the whole article.

    But now, as I am trying to monetize my blog and see 30-50+ people that read the feed but don’t go on the site every day, I am wondering if I made the wrong decision.

  10. […] One of the main arguments for truncated RSS feeds is that excerpted feeds drive traffic to your blog, assuming the visitors will click on your ads. But these visitors, according to Google Adsense, won’t do that. In fact, they probably lower your adclick ratio when they drive up your adviews without clicking on the ads. […]

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