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January 11, 2005

For the RSS Feed Subscribers

Evo Terra, host of the Dragon Page radio show, is trying to convince me to have my RSS feed include entire entries, not just excerpts, as part of his overall war on RSS excerpts. I'm neutral on this -- I post 100-word excerpts because it's enough to see what I'm getting at but not too much for the people who just want a recap. But I could expand it if there's a general desire. So if you get the RSS feed (including the LiveJournal Scalzifeed readers), let me know which you'd prefer.

Posted by john at January 11, 2005 12:01 PM

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Comments

Don Demsak | January 11, 2005 12:59 PM

I really prefer full RSS feeds, and that is all I'll ever do on my blog. But, if someone needed to support their blogging habit via ads, then I would understand why they didn't use full RSS feeds (but that is just my opinion).

Tripp | January 11, 2005 01:01 PM

John,

This is OT, but I've searched the site for an email address for you and can't seem to find one. I don't want you swamped with spam, so I understand if you don't publish it, but is there one available?

Thanks!

Fuzzy | January 11, 2005 01:06 PM

I vote yes for full feeds -- I do most of my blog-reading in NewNewsWire and so a partial RSS feed just means I have to hit you twice -- the excerpt tells me you have a new post up and then I have to hit it your web page to actually read it. I understand that philosophy for people who host ads, but you don't.

Glen Engel-Cox | January 11, 2005 01:09 PM

I also vote for full feeds, as I read most of my RSS in Bloglines.

As a blogger myself, I've wrestled with this question, because I always love to see those numbers in my web stats go up. But as an author, I want to be read, and if providing a full feed means that I get read more, so be it.

Guy Matthews | January 11, 2005 01:12 PM

Depends what I'm doing with the feed, both full feeds and excerpts have their uses, so the question might be, what's stopping you from offering both?

d'Herblay | January 11, 2005 01:12 PM

Joining the chorus clamoring for full feeds.

Dawn B. | January 11, 2005 01:13 PM

Nyet. I like the excepts. I mainly use RSS for Whatever to click over when there is something new. You, sir, are wordy. I do NOT want wordy posts in my RSS feed when I can't comment there. Maybe compromise at 200 words? That can sometimes let me know that I don't need to click over *right now*.

John Scalzi | January 11, 2005 01:13 PM

Tripp: it's john@scalzi.com.

Ellen | January 11, 2005 01:16 PM

I like the excerpts. I like RSS feeds because they tell me when there's something new, but I prefer to read entries on the actual page.

Robert Daeley | January 11, 2005 01:16 PM

John, I'd vote for full feeds, as it is much preferable. However, I would also echo Guy's suggestion to provide one of each if possible, giving the users the choice.

Rilina | January 11, 2005 01:16 PM

Is it possible to set up two separate feeds - one full text and one as is? Then everyone could just use what suited them best.

By the way, I'm a Livejournal feed reader, and I also prefer full text.

elizabeth bear | January 11, 2005 01:16 PM

Full feeds good. Excerpts bad.

Greg | January 11, 2005 01:17 PM

Shrug. I use the Sage extension on Firefox, which I have set to list entries, but take me to the actual article pages -- one thing I always dislike about many RSS readers (bloglines, etc) is that you don't get to see folk's pages. So it doesn't affect me either way.

Janni | January 11, 2005 01:20 PM

I'm coming in from Livejournal, and I prefer excerpts. This has more to do with the way LJ groups posts from various bloggers than anything else--when reading down a list of posts by many people, it's useful to be able to see what's there quickly, without any one post taking up a screen or more, and then to be able to click on the things one wants to (or has time to) read.

I'm always a little relieved when an RSS feed I like goes to excerpts--makes things a little bit easier.

Mark Siegal | January 11, 2005 01:28 PM

I'd vote for adding full feeds, please. I find it easy to skim past full entries that don't interest me, but annoying to get the full text of excerpt-only feeds. Though of course I happily do so in your case.

I use Bloglines, for what it's worth.

John Scalzi | January 11, 2005 01:28 PM

"Depends what I'm doing with the feed, both full feeds and excerpts have their uses, so the question might be, what's stopping you from offering both?"

Lack of competence setting up RSS feeds, basically. I'm using MT automatic excerpting function. If creating two RSS feed requires me going in and fiddling with something in the MT set-up that I can't get to through the preferences interface, that's where the pain starts.

Richard Campbell | January 11, 2005 01:29 PM

full feeds, please.

Gamethyme | January 11, 2005 01:31 PM

I'm a Livejournal RSS Feed Reader, and I have a very busy friends list.

I prefer excerpts - if the excerpt catches my attention, I head over and read the full entry. And it doesn't take up that much space on my friends list.

Chad Orzel | January 11, 2005 01:34 PM

I think the excerpts are just fine (and, indeed, have my own blogs set to exceprts only). I don't really object to full text, but for blogs with lots of long posts, I think the excepts are easier to deal with.

Kristy | January 11, 2005 01:36 PM

Also checking in via LiveJournal--excerpts are fine by me, seeing as how if I want to comment, I come over here to do it. Subscribing via LJ just lets me know when there's something new here. And excerpts keep my friends page nice and tidy.

Jette | January 11, 2005 01:40 PM

I prefer a full-entry feed, but I don't have a problem with excerpts either. Do you feel like people need to visit your site personally to read every entry? If you don't care, then go for the full feed. I use Bloglines too and it's nice not to have to open another tab/window to read articles that aren't enhanced by the visual layout of the author's wite.

Jette | January 11, 2005 01:40 PM

I prefer a full-entry feed, but I don't have a problem with excerpts either. Do you feel like people need to visit your site personally to read every entry? If you don't care, then go for the full feed. I use Bloglines too and it's nice not to have to open another tab/window to read articles that aren't enhanced by the visual layout of the author's site.

Sherwood | January 11, 2005 01:49 PM

Full feeds!

Shelley | January 11, 2005 01:52 PM

You're asking the wrong people. You should be asking yourself, "Do I want people reading my writing in an aggregator, or do I want them to visit the site?"

If you don't care, then by all means -- put your full feed into RSS. If you do, and especially if you want to see how many readers you really have, then you don't.

People that 'demand' others conform to their expectations of what should or should not be, really don't deserve much courtesy. If someone were to email me to tell me of my 'offense', I would asscan the email, and go on as I would.

BTW, I subscribed to your weblog, and your excerpts provide more than enough for me to determine what the full writing is about. But then -- I allocate more than 2 seconds to the reading.

Joel Tone | January 11, 2005 02:01 PM

I prefer full feeds. That being said, I find your 100 word excerpts give me a good idea of what you're going to be writing about, so if I'm interested I have no problem clicking over to your site. Shelley makes a good point.

John Scalzi | January 11, 2005 02:05 PM

"People that 'demand' others conform to their expectations of what should or should not be, really don't deserve much courtesy. If someone were to email me to tell me of my 'offense', I would asscan the email, and go on as I would."

Heh. Sounds like something I would say.

However, in this particular case I am curious if there is a preference one way or another, And Evo's letter is a convenient excuse to bring up the topic.

I personally have a tendency to visit people's Web sites over getting an RSS feed, but that's mostly out of habit.

Rilina | January 11, 2005 02:18 PM

If creating two RSS feed requires me going in and fiddling with something in the MT set-up that I can't get to through the preferences interface, that's where the pain starts.

I notice that Electrolite has 2 feeds set up - you might ask PNH how he did it. On the other hand, as a reader, I'd rather have you use your limited time to post than to fiddle with MT.

Anna | January 11, 2005 02:32 PM

Your site is one of the few that I read that does not give me a full feed. I'd be delighted if it did. The points raised in comments above about people visiting the site are worthwhile, in that if you feel you must have people see what you wrote here in your frame, on your terms, then you probably don't want to offer a full feed. I sometimes forget what the sites of people I read actually look like, especially those that don't allow comments, because I NEVER click through if I don't have to. However, if you aren't a control freak, doing the math for hits on the rss feed plus the site is just basic addition. Neither is going to give you an accurate rendering of readers, of course, but I'm puzzled by Shelley's suggestion that full feeds somehow deny you the knowledge of how many readers you really have. The aggregator hits the site just like the people do and the stats for both should be readily available to you. I like Guy's suggestion of offering both full and partial feeds (but I would, it's what I do) since it's technologically easy and would please everyone, but if you're determined to make it an either/or proposition, count me as a full feed voter.

Mary Messall | January 11, 2005 02:52 PM

I vote full feed.

Holly | January 11, 2005 03:15 PM

I get the feed on LiveJournal, and I'd prefer the full version. That's because if I only have a few minutes to read -- which is usually the case *g* -- I won't click off my reading list to get additional content, but I will read whatever is right in front of me.

Ruddy Red | January 11, 2005 03:37 PM

Me like full feeds

Ehud | January 11, 2005 03:37 PM

I prefer full feeds. Your site is one of the few sites with truncated feeds that don't really bother me. Why? 100 words is a large enough to give a good sense of what the post is about, and the site loads really fast.

Martin Sutherland | January 11, 2005 03:39 PM

Another vote for full feeds.

Shelley | January 11, 2005 04:22 PM

Anna, Bloglines and other online aggregators access the feed once for many subscribers. In addition, the subscribers could be public or private, so I have no idea the exact count. But it is just the one Bloglines access for all the people.

(Which is rather efficient.)

Even with the subscribers, I have no idea of who is interested enough in my writing on a specific topic, unless they click through and read the item. If I have a full feed, all I see is an aggregator hitting my feed once an hour. Whether anyone reads this or not, haven't the foggiest, unless people come through to read and leave comments.

If I have a partial feed, then those who click on their aggregator and come to my site, give me additional information. Hey, you like this topic! The title's cool! You want to read more!

A good excerpt (and I don't do this as well as I should) is like a good description on the flyleaf on a book -- makes you want to buy.

John's entries are more than just words on a page. They are words, in a designed page, with fluffy clouds in the background, and anciliary material provided in the sidebar and with images, and comments leading to impassioned discussions, and...well, it can get very exciting.

Those poor slobs who read in aggregators? They miss all the fun. Now why would John want to do that to his readers?

Ellen | January 11, 2005 04:31 PM

Reading someone else's comment about leaving comments, I was reminded of a problem full feeds seem to often fall victim to, at least on LiveJournal: people not realizing that the feed is not, in fact, a LiveJournal, and leaving comments on the entry, which, of course, the author never sees. This happens pretty much daily on Neil Gaiman's RSS feed on LJ -- people directing comments to him which he'll never read.

I found it interesting that the post you linked to of Evo's says, "Posting excerpts in RSS feeds is fine in principle, but for Cripes sakes, make it a large enough excerpt so I know what you're talking about." I've never had a problem discerning the topics of your entries, but maybe a longer excerpt would solve this problem.

iJames | January 11, 2005 04:38 PM

Scalzi:
"I personally have a tendency to visit people's Web sites over getting an RSS feed, but that's mostly out of habit."

My own habit has been to check Bloglines to find out which sites have updated, and then click to hit that person's site if the post title looks even vaguely interesting. I can do that just as easily with excerpts or full feeds.


Anna:
"I'm puzzled by Shelley's suggestion that full feeds somehow deny you the knowledge of how many readers you really have. The aggregator hits the site just like the people do and the stats for both should be readily available to you."

Except that when an aggregator hits a site, it's pulling content that will then be served to a lot of people you'll never see in your logs. For example, Bloglines currently lists 34 subscribers to its Whatever feed. If those people never visit the site, then that's 34 actual reads collapsed down to 1 hit on John's server.

walter | January 11, 2005 04:52 PM

Waiter? Can we have some full feeds over here? Thank you!

Kevin Q | January 11, 2005 05:05 PM

I use the "Live Bookmarks" feature of Firefox (RSS bookmarks), so I just get a title, either way. However, I would vote for full-feed, because when I used a separate aggregator, it was aggrevating to have to read part of the post, click over, and read it again.

K

Michael Rawdon | January 11, 2005 05:56 PM

Like Shelley, I want people to come to my actual site to trigger my hit counter, and also to get content I don't want to bother formatting for feeds (tables, images, sidebars). So my journal only has an excerpted feed.

As a reader, I don't really care whether I get the full entry or just an excerpt. "Just click the link!" is the feed analog to "Just hit the delete key!" to eliminate e-mail which offends thee.

cirocco | January 11, 2005 06:08 PM

I get the feed excerpts via Livejournal, and the 100-word teasers are fine by me.

Christopher Davis | January 11, 2005 07:11 PM

I would like the option of a full feed. I've set up both on my blog.

However, you can set up a full Atom feed up in about 10 seconds. (MT already generates it by default, and yours is at the default URL for that, and it works in NetNewsWire 2.0....)

Just include a link to http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/atom.xml and those that want it can use that; folks who don't have Atom-capable readers, or who want excerpts, can use the existing RSS feed.

Scott Elyard | January 11, 2005 07:44 PM

I vote for excerpts.

John Scalzi | January 11, 2005 08:06 PM

Christopher Davis says:

"Just include a link to http://www.scalzi.com/whatever/atom.xml and those that want it can use that; folks who don't have Atom-capable readers, or who want excerpts, can use the existing RSS feed."

I have done just that. Thanks!

Ryan Freebern | January 11, 2005 08:24 PM

I vote for full entries.

RooK | January 11, 2005 09:58 PM

Oh, poor Ryan Freebern. Not only is his vote too late, it always had an ethereal existence anyway. Such is the nature of the tyrranical Scalzocracy that we suffer under, here in the Whatever.

John Scalzi | January 11, 2005 10:16 PM

Love it or leave it, pal!

RooK | January 11, 2005 10:21 PM

Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.
Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system!
HELP! HELP! I'm being repressed!

Mitch Wagner | January 12, 2005 03:01 AM

I vote for full entries.

Alan | January 12, 2005 10:22 AM

I vote for full entries. I agree with the people who point out that you write a lot, and I do feel their pain, but every so often I read my rss offline and it's much easier to do so if I have the full text.

And I tend to read through every post of yours. :-)

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