Today I’ll be preaching from my podium about the joys of full RSS feeds. First of all, for those of you who don’t know what an RSS feed is or why you should subscribe to the blogs you read, go read Simple Mom’s explanation of RSS feeds.
Did you read it? Seriously, if you don’t understand RSS feeds, the rest of this post will make no sense.
First of all, I recommend setting up your blog’s feed through Feedburner. It’s very easy to do this, as you just follow the instructions on Feedburner’s site. Feedburner allows you to analyze and customize your feed, and track subscribers.
(I apologize, but I know very little about wordpress.com and Typepad blogs so this information may only truly apply to self-hosted WordPress and Blogger users.) If you’re a Blogger user and haven’t yet set up your feed through Feedburner YET, go set up your Feedburner account, then you can redirect your feed’s traffic! Learn how HERE! Self-hosted WordPress users can use the Feedsmith plugin that you can download HERE.
So now that we’re all set up with our RSS feeds, lets cut straight to the chase and talk full versus partial feeds.
A full feed is one where you can read the entire post in your feed reader. A partial feed is one where you get the first few sentences (and in some cases only the first sentence) and have to click through to the site to read the rest.
In a word, partial feeds are EVIL, or at least they are in my opinion. Evil is certainly a strong word, so possibly they just annoy the ever-loving crap out of me. Around the blogosphere there are raging debates and differing opinions. Certainly people should have the option of choosing whether to offer full or partial feeds, but as a reader, I’m HIGHLY UNLIKELY TO CLICK THROUGH to read the rest of your post. With over 300 blogs in my feedreader (Google Reader), I don’t have time to click through to every site. If I see a partial feed, those first few sentences will probably not lure me in and make me want to read more.
There are two main reasons that people choose to offer partial feeds.
1. They are afraid of their work getting scraped and republished elsewhere.
This can definitely happen, no doubt. However, if someone really wants to steal your content, they can quite easily steal it directly from your blog. One way to help deter icky thieves (and again, if they really want your content, they’ll take it anyway) is to put a copyright at the end of your feed. (You can do this if you’re feed is set up through Feedburner.)
2. They think it will get them more hits on their site.
False! Like I mentioned, it’s unlikely that I’ll click through to read the rest unless those first few sentences are irresistibly luring. What’s more likely to happen is that the number of hits on your site will go down. Period. People simply don’t have time to click on every single one of your posts, no matter how charming you are!
For more information on the full vs. partial feed debate, go visit Deb, Mom of 3 Girls, where she discusses it in plain language and includes MANY links to others who’ve tackled this debate.
Basically? If you want readers, OFFER FULL FEEDS! For the love of Betsy, offer full feeds! Be generous.
The other day on Twitter, several of us were having a discussion about our subscriber numbers and how they go up and down. Mrs. Fussypants asked me to explain the reasons behind this so….I’m going to explain this as I understand it. THIS INFORMATION IS BASED ON MY LITTLE UNDERSTANDING AND KNOWLEDGE AND MAY NOT EVEN BE ACCURATE. FOR REALS. If you have more accurate information, feel free to correct me…but do it nicely.
First of all, your feed count is updated ONCE each day, typically in the morning. This number will usually vary from day to day and is based on the number of people who access your feed (meaning: they simply opened their feedreader or logged into their Google account, where Gmail, Google Reader, and Blogger are all intertwined). The number of subscribers you have is based on the the PREVIOUS DAY’S information.
So let’s say it’s Monday morning and you notice that your subscriber count has gone down by 10 or 50 or 100. The most likely cause is that there are lots of people who don’t have time to read blogs on Sundays, so they don’t bother opening their Bloglines account. Therefore, Feedburner has no way of counting those people as subscribers since they didn’t even access your feed by simply opening their feedreader.
There are also days where Feedburner gets all wonky and somehow forgets to count all the people who read through Google Reader. I’ve woken up to a feed count 300 less than the previous day. Certainly it’s disconcerting, but it’s not because I actually lost 300 readers.
Discuss. Tell me your thoughts of full feeds (YAY!!) and partial feeds (*glaring*). Also, let me know if the subscriber count thing is understandable now.
Homework: Next week I’m going to focus on your unanswered questions about the topics I’ve already covered or anything else blogging related. I need you to EMAIL ME your questions to playgroupie at gmail dot com. In the subject line put “Question” so that I don’t lose it. Please don’t leave your questions in the comments section! (Unless it’s a question about today’s post!) Also, let me know if you want me to link you with your question or if you’d rather remain anonymous. No question is a dumb question. I don’t promise to know the answer to every question.