I was asked why I publish full feeds whereas some people only publish truncated feeds. It is a good question and one which has been debated for quite some time. I originally dealt with a related question on one of my other blogs, Wired Gecko, almost two years ago. At the time I published truncated posts on the front page of my blog and a few readers expressed their dissatisfaction with the truncated posts. I took a brief poll and my readers indicated they wanted the full posts and that is what I started publishing.
Since then I have also come across a few arguments for and against publishing full feeds. I have published full feeds for as long as I can remember and one of the main reasons is that if you are going to subscribe to my feed it is because you probably prefer to get your content fix in your feedreader rather than having to visit each blog on your list to catch up. Publishing partial feeds would force you to visit my blog to read the rest of the post and that probably isn’t what you want to so. So while I may benefit from increased traffic to my blog if the partial feed forces you to visit the blog, I also run the risk that you will unsubscribe rather than be forced to consume my content in a way that doesn’t suit you.
Robert Scoble took issue with advocates of partial feeds about a year ago. One of the reasons to publish partial feeds is to push people to visit the blog and expose them to the ads you may have on your blog and make that much more money. Scoble disagreed with this line of reasoning, pretty much on the basis that it is a very limited take on partial feeds. His argument is to publish full feeds, not so much for the benefit of subscribers who prefer them but rather because other bloggers who may have access to far greater audiences who respect their opinions may prefer to subscribe to full feeds and who may just point their readers to your blog if they find something of interest in your posts. What they won’t do is go and visit every post on your blog, there is far too much content out there to do that for every blog. I find that I work in pretty much the same way now. I subscribe to more feeds than I can consume in a day so I wind up skimming through posts looking for posts with something of interest to you, my readers. When I find those nuggets I will visit the blog post itself and either publish a post of my own about that post or at least add the post to del.icio.us (a daily link roll consisting of my del.icio.us bookmarks is published to one of my most popular blogs each day).
Darren Rowse, the ProBlogger, took a look at this issue in February last year (around the time of Scoble’s post) and came up with arguments for and against both partial and full feeds. One of the distinctions between Rowse’s approach and Scoble’s is that Rowse preferred to subscribe to partial posts himself and Scoble preferred to subscribe to full feeds. One of the benefits of partial feeds is that they force readers to your site if they want to read the full post and that exposes them to your ads and other means of generating some form of revenue from your blog. Notwithstanding what I said above about this rationale, you may find that your readers are happy to visit your blog to read the full post and to support you by supporting your sponsors.
Interestingly, Rowse posted an announcement in April 2006 that he was going to start publishing full feeds, largely in response to a poll he conducted to determine what his readers’ preference was. He has continued publishing a full feed for his ProBlogger blog pretty much since then.
For me, it comes down to how I would like to consume that content. I prefer full feeds and full posts so I can read the posts in one go and have the option of clicking on the links to get to the original post. That being said, I subscribe to a few partial feeds and the only issue I have with those partial feeds is that they are not as informative as full feeds and I sometimes skip over partial feeds a little quicker than full feeds and potentially miss some really good content in the process. That is not a desirable result at all.
Here, at least, are a few ideas. I’d love to know what you think so leave a comment or two. You are welcome to contact me as well to discuss the whole thing further.