Sam Brown

RSS Feeds, full or excerpt... How do you eat yours?

RSS has become the norm for people looking to keep track of articles written on other sites, but how do you consume your feeds. Do you read whole lengthy articles from the sites you subscribe to in you RSS reader or do you, like me, click through and read them on the site they were intended to be published on?

This is something I have thought a lot about in the past and while I personally feel it is important to read an article in context, on the publishers site, I realise that everybody is going to have a differing opinion.

The RSS Feed for this site displays the full articles, no matter if its one sentence or multiple, giving you the opportunity to do with my content as you see fit. I’ve learned from past experiences that this is probably the kindest option to your readers, I’d much rather someone read my words in their favourite feed reader than not at all.

So, where are you reading this and how do you publish your RSS Feeds?

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Ross C Brown 6 December 2008, 01:17 #1

Short posts, like this, in my RSS reader.

Long posts, unlike this, on the website as the good lord intended.

Unless the post looks ugly in the RSS reader and then I’ll hit up the site.

Michael Castilla 6 December 2008, 01:24 #2

Hey Sam,

I use NewsFire to manage my RSS Feeds, but there are certain sites that I’ll always click through to the site and read it “in context”.

I also publish my feeds as full articles instead of summaries. And that’s how I prefer other blogs do it as well. If your user is subscribed to your feed, give them the option to read your (full) posts wherever the want!

Winnie Lim 6 December 2008, 02:23 #3

Most of the time I read my articles in google reader, because I subscribe to too many feeds (i devour information) and it’ll take forever if I were to open them in a site window. However, I’ll click on to the site if like for this instance, I want to comment on an interesting article, or I want to read the comments on the site, or if the site as as gorgeous as Jason Santa Maria’s :)

Jérôme Verzier 6 December 2008, 02:39 #4

I think that whatever the way do people read their RSS feeds, they should always offer full length content.

Cut-off or excerpted RSS feeds have grown in me a hatred passion. It often results in me not reading the item, just to avoid the added loading time.

That said, as Winnie wrote, I sometimes prefer to read the article on the site it was posted on, solely because it does look gorgeously better in a full frame window — like Jason Santa Maria’s blog, or yours.

Wolf 6 December 2008, 03:08 #5

Full length all the way; give people the choice where to read. It can be argued that if someone puts a lot of effort into his website and individual article design to use excerpts, but I feel people will click through anyway if they know a nicely designed article is waiting for them on the other side of the link.

For some sites (with ridiculously bad legibility) I prefer to read my feeds in the feedreader. One other argument for full feeds could be that when on the move, you really don’t want to load a full website and much rather use google reader mobile for instance.

Michael Mistretta 6 December 2008, 03:48 #6

I use NNW, so I quickly go through all the feeds for the morning, and arrow out to the ones from blogs that I love (like this one) or stories that I’m interested in from sites like TUAW or Engadget. They all load up in a single Safari window behind NNW, and then I go through and read all the interesting articles of the morning, the way they were meant to be read.

Phil Bowell 6 December 2008, 03:55 #7

Like Michael I use NNW and go through and arrow out all the feeds I want to read. Occasionally I will read on in NNW but most of the time I like to read them in the context they were created for. The mjority of my feeds are for blogs, rather than the mass news sites, so I feel when reading them in context there is more of a connection with the author.

Richard Henry 6 December 2008, 05:34 #8

I almost always read excerpts and then click through to the site, with the exception of linked lists where it’s just a sentence or two at most with a link. For articles on websites like yours or Daring Fireball for example, it’s just much more pleasant to read the content as it was intended.

Jorge Quinteros 6 December 2008, 07:14 #9

I share similar RSS reading habits with everyone else by starting off with NNW to quickly peruse through articles that catch my attention and if it does, then I navigate to actual website to read in it’s entirety.

I agree with you in providing the reader the option to read ones full content however they please rather than showing quick short summaries, who’s only purpose is to force the reader to go to the actual site and for the publisher to gain another hit on their page.

Spencer Fry 6 December 2008, 10:42 #10

I’ve got over 100 RSS feeds in my RSS reader, so that doesn’t lead me to reading any too in depth. So because of this I always just skim ‘em inside the news reader and then if I plan to comment or if it’s a really exciting article then I’ll bring up the full post.

Matt Wilcox 6 December 2008, 13:41 #11

You have to be sensible with your feed, based on your article type. For example, short articles are great in RSS, and long one’s can be great. But really long ones, they are a big hindrance. In fact I have un-subscribed from a couple of feeds (Smashing Magazine I’m looking at you) because they only offer full-content feeds, and some of their posts are absurdly huge “Top 50” rubbish, made even worse by the fact that they also load up 50+ photo’s or screen-grabs. They wreck my reader work-flow.

Also, there are some site’s I want to follow, but certain topics from them I don’t (e.g., I like a lot of posts by a certain author, but don’t ever want to read about Django). When I re-do my personal site I will be offering some very customisable feeds, and a page where you can set your feed preferences. Based on tags. All power to the reader!

Mike 6 December 2008, 15:17 #12

Generally I read it my reader, but if it doesn’t read right, is an excerpt or it seems like things didn’t get included (code blocks, images, etc…), I’ll go to the original site. Definitely prefer reading it in my reader though. Takes out the distraction of the website and let’s me focus on the articles.

Dave DeSandro 6 December 2008, 16:13 #13

Full articles! Consider Jason Santa Maria’s feeds look like. Since every post has its own design and page layout if you visit the page, but I can still get all the text content via the RSS feed. At this moment, I’m a big advocate of less clicking in favor of more scrolling.

Julian Schrader 7 December 2008, 05:06 #14

I’m using NetNewsWire to manage my feeds—on the Mac I’m generally clicking through and reading the posts in context on their authors’ sites.

But sometimes I’m also using NNW on my iPhone—at those times I’m lucky to have full feeds where I don’t have to click through to read the post.

Brendan 7 December 2008, 20:42 #15

I keep track of my regular reads through an iGoogle page, but click through to read the articles on their own sites. I’ve just never been able to get used to using a feedreader.

I do however publish my own feed as full articles, if someone actually wants to read what I write they can read it however they prefer.

Richard Henry 8 December 2008, 00:53 #16

Heh. I read “Spencer Fry” as “Stephen Fry”, and briefly thought “amazing”.

Daniel 8 December 2008, 02:59 #17

I use google reader, and I prefer full articles, regardless of length. I dislike having to visit the site the article was published on in order to read the whole thing because it takes me away from google reader, unless I do a right-click, open in new tab – in which case is more clicks than I like to commit to early in the morning which is when I check the feeds I follow.

However, If I know an article features a lot of images or interactive demos, or I want to make a comment – I have no problem making the effort to visit the article’s source site.

devolute 8 December 2008, 09:26 #18

I use google reader as well. I open media-heavy articles in a new tab. I’m more likely to do that for pages I know I like the look of. I’d love to visit each page separately (especially more attractive pages), but that would require me to dramatically cut-back on my number of feeds (else invent some sort of time-manipulation device)

Lee Munroe 8 December 2008, 12:59 #19

I always click through to the site to read posts. I usually take a look at the list of posts in my reader, decide if there’s any decent posts or new posts (like this) then open the site in a new tab. Usually I end up with 40 new tabs and it takes a night to go through them though :)

Lina 16 December 2008, 10:53 #20

Only excerpts from rss better.

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Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.