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Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds

Friday, April 20th, 2007...9:05 am

Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds


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Rick Klau, VP of Publishing Services at FeedBurner has made an interesting comment about partial feeds on the official FeedBurner blog. According to Rick there appears to be no significant difference in clickthrough rates between full and partial RSS feeds. This is particularly interesting because one of the major arguments for using a partial feed was the assumption that it would drive more readers to your site.

As people subscribe to feeds, they subscribe to more feeds. And that means they’re consuming more content, which means that each click out of the feed reader is taking the reader away from more content. In other words, feed reading is consumption-oriented, not transactionally focused. We’ve seen no evidence that excerpts on their own drive higher clickthroughs.

He doesn’t go into any more detail regarding the numbers but considering FeedBurner manages over 660,000 feeds it’s safe to assume he does have the raw data to be able to make such an observation.

The main issue I see with publishing a full feed is the risk of your content being used by scraper sites. For those of you unfamiliar with scraper sites their sole purpose is to generate income through advertising by republishing content stolen from RSS feeds.

It’s bad enough someone is trying to make money off your hard work, but to add insult to injury the duplicate content on these scraper sites will hurt your search engine ranking too. Understandably some people who have been hit by scrapers have opted to only offer partial feeds and I can’t blame them.

You can however take measures to protect yourself from scraper sites and limit the damage they can cause.

  • Use internal linking. Not only is it a good practice for SEO, it has some benefits if someone is republishing your content. Most scrapers are too lazy to remove links from a post so the resulting pingbacks will help you track down the offending scraper site. You may get the odd visitor following a link too.
  • Install the Feed Copywriter plugin and add a copyright message and return link to the bottom of your feed.
  • Regularly check Copyscape to see if anyone is using your content. If so, take steps to have it removed. Contact the person running the site, contact their hosting service, and if that doesn’t work get in touch with their advertisers.

Here are some things to keep in mind about full feeds.

  • People are more likely to subscribe to full feeds. There is the odd person who prefers partial feeds but they are in the minority.
  • Full feeds will help you to grow your subscriber base. The more subscribers you have, the greater the chance of someone linking to one of your posts.
  • Feed advertising is a way you can offset some of the revenue you may lose from people subscribing to your feed and not visiting your site. The current offerings are underdeveloped and the payouts aren’t great, but they are bound to improve. I can’t help but think the next big explosion in online advertising will come through monetizing RSS feeds.
  • Subscribers make up a large percentage of your loyal readership. As such, it is in your best interests to keep them happy.

If you take a look around you’ll find most blogs, including the larger ones, use full feeds. As both a feed reader and a publisher, my preference will always be full feeds. Which do you prefer?

70 Comments

  • I’ve made a post on that last year with a specific logo for “Full RSS blogs”
    http://tfmc.blogs.com/the_flying_monkey_circus/2006/08/full_rss_blog_p.html

  • Stupid Question of the Day:

    What is a Partial Feed?

    What is a Full Feed?

    Bruce Wagner
    http://brucewagner.com

  • Defnitely full-text.

    I no longer subscribe to any partial-text feeds myself. One key factor that you didn’t mention is that people are increasingly reading blogs via mobile devices through services like bloglines and google reader. That extra click away to a real website is not only annoying, often times it takes forever to load, doesn’t load, or requires many page loads to see all the content.

    Particularly bad is when people have their sidebar content before their post content in the html, requiring mobile browsers that paginate to click through multiple pages of sidebar before ever getting to the content.

    I do think you underestimate the number of people that prefer partial-text feeds, though. I too thought it was a minority, but looking around I have found quite a number of people who prefer to use RSS as a sort of link aggregator rather than a content aggregator.

    Because you’ll never please all your readers with one feed, I think the only solution is to offer both a partial-text and a full-text feed, and let each individual user decide.

  • Bruce:

    Full-text feeds include the entire article in them, while partial-text feeds usually contain either the first 100 characters or a summary of the article, requiring that you actually load the site the post came from in order to read it.

  • I advocate full feeds because in countries like China, where entire domains like Wordpress.com are blocked by firewall/censors, the only way to read a blog is through a feedreader — hence full text insures full readership.

  • Definitely full feed. I have just over 200 feeds I read in my reader with a wide diversification of topics. I like reading the full post and then if I have a comment I click through. I subscribe to a site of interest but if I find they are partial then I delete it

  • Bruce - jer’s explanation is spot on.

    Jer - You make a good point about mobile devices. I’ve not had much experience with them, hence I didn’t mention them, but the issues you bring up would surely annoy the hell out me.

    There has to be alot of people around who like partial feeds otherwise the debate wouldn’t get the attention that it does. :)

    An interesting thing I found when doing some research was that alot of sites who moved from partial feeds to full noticed a sharp increase in subscribers. Some as much as 1000 in a month. From a publisher standpoint, it looks to me like full feeds are the best way to maximize subscribers.

  • Peter - I’m much like you. I have one partial feed in my reader and it’s only because their content is excellent and they don’t update very often so I like to get a notification when they do.

    David - I think censorship is something not alot of us think about very often. It is important to consider especially if your blog appeals to a market where it would otherwise be banned. In that case a full feed would be critical.

  • I don’t understand how feeds would solve the censorship issue… if your domain is censored, then your feed would be too, right? Unless of course it’s a feedburner feed, but I would suspect if they’re going to block wordpress.com, they’d surely block feedburner too, right?

    Or is it more that there are online aggregators that china hasn’t blocked yet?

  • Wrong.

    Very often certain web sites (or domains) are censored, and others are not.

    Or… certain web sites are censored, and the feeds are not.

    This happens alot in the Middle East. For example, some gay sites are blocked, while others are not. Most likely it’s an oversight… and/or due to the limited resourced (and/or competence and/or apathy) of the government workers who are responsible for such blocks.

    For example, it’s easier to get to a gay site in Cuba than in Dubai. And it’s easier to get to a gay site in China than in Cuba.

    Usually it’s about one thing — resources — money.

  • [...] Read Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds [...]

  • Throw this in the pot. After using partial feeds for a year (because of the theft worries and just wanting people to come to the source to languish in its beauty), I turned on full feeds as a test yesterday. Overnight, the comment spam to my site increased 10x. I have no idea why, but it did. I’ve gone back to partial feeds to see if it diminishes again.

    I’ll take the hit on potential readers if it means less housework in the spam area. Also, and this will sound un-friendly but isn’t meant to be, I think people who consume their content in full feed readers make up a very tiny fraction of the reading public and are pretty tech-oriented — not necessarily the target consumers of a general interest blog.

  • I don’t like partial rss feeds and I hate rss feeds that only publish headlines!

    If you wanna make money add contextual ads in your rss feed, which I click on a lot, if they make sense.

    I mostly visit the actual blog entry or site if I see that a vital discussion is going on, e.g. through the feedburner comments count.

  • someone commented about china blocking off the entire domain like wordpress.com; but i guess there are alot of backdoor ways to access too, without having to subscribe. forexample, via yahoo/google’s “cache” function. well of cos, this is jfyi. =)

    best regards.

  • Digg is just as Bad.

  • Interesting findings. If they really have some base, maybe the major websites will agree to provide full content. I personally have unsubscribed to almost all partial feeds cos its just annoying to visit main websites for full story.

    Maybe they can add relevant text based ads like Google. (if their worry is about revenue)

    It looks like time is ripe for p2p architectures for RSS like FeedTree. (http://feedtree.net/ )

  • I agree with this article. The only reason to not provide the full feed is to prevent scrapers not to draw actual visitors. Also not directly linking out from the feed is annoying (Aka digg).

  • [...] na preko Digg.com naleten na tale ฤ?lanek, kjer avtor pojasnjuje vse okoli delnih in celotnih objav v [...]

  • IRT your: “Subscribers make up a large percentage of your loyal readership. As such, it is in your best interests to keep them happy.”

    If one of my feeds becomes inundated with ads, I’ll drop it in a skinny minute. I hate ads, if you need money, go get a job!

    As I was telling Y!’s J.Z. just the other day, I stay in Reader (even better now with Preview) unless I want to save it in my delicious account.

    Because I doubt I’m the only one doing this, it kinda puts a hamper on all the work that goes into web design IMO (something I enjoy doing myself).

    Oh yeah, we all know non-fulls are annoying, especially come mobilization time.

  • I disagree, partial is better - mostly because of content thiefs - there’s a plugin that removes all urls from a post, so it’s used by these rss scrapers to steal your content and remove your urls from getting any PR or promotion through their site. Plus if you’re a smaller sites, it’s best that you only give a partial feed - but make the partial feed slightly a bit longer.

  • I like full feeds in my readers - and I appreciate the sites that use them.

  • [...] Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds (tags: Feed) [...]

  • I do prefer full feed too. Honestly, if a blog doesn’t offer full feed, I will simply unsubscribe the feed from my feed reader. But, once in a time, I will go back to the blog again to read their contents. But, sometimes, I may forget the blog too if it is not in my feed reader.

  • I would always settle for Full Feeds…

  • [...] The Wrong Advice has a nice article on this matter. [...]

  • [...] ื?ื ื™ ื—ื•ืคืจืช ื•ืฉื•ืœืคืช ืžืŸ ื”ื?ื“ืžื” ืกื•ืก ืžืช ื‘ืžื™ื•ื—ื“: ื”ืžื?ืžืจ ื”ื–ื”, ืฉื˜ื•ืขืŸ ืฉื?ื™ืŸ ื”ื‘ื“ืœ ืžื”ื•ืชื™ ื‘ื™ืŸ ื”ื”ืงืœืงื•ืช ื‘ืงื•ืจื?ื™ RSS ื‘ื™ืŸ ืคื™ื“ื™ื? [...]

  • [...] Vs. Partial RSS Feeds Filed under: Uncategorized — recar @ 5:36 pm Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds According to the FeedBurner blog there appears to be no significant difference in clickthrough [...]

  • Re: “content thiefs”

    Why worry about this?

    It’s just as easy to steal content from your site.

    Besides, people do not respect plagiarism. Just try it. The wrath that comes down on anyone who is exposed as posting your content as their own… is Very bad. They will lose all credibility, and Fast!

  • Thanks for the link to the copywrite plugin. I hadn’t seen that one before.

  • trying to monetize your feed is pretty much a useless endeavor. rss ads generate negligable revenue and, as the comment above confirms, partial feeds do not drive folks back to the site.

    giving away your content via a full feed is basically giving away your content for free. that’s exactly what rss was designed for. if your site is ad-supported, and you’re worried about lost revenue due to rss, don’t have an rss feed.

  • feedburner wants you to use full feeds because it’s good for their business.

    but FULL FEEDS ARE NOT necessarily good for the ad-supported blogger. in fact, FEEDS IN GENERAL ARE NOT necessarily good for the ad-supported blogger. feeds draw traffic away from the main site, and thus decrease ad revenue. however, a lot of bloggers endure this revenue-sucker as a convenience to their readers.

  • This echoes the panel discussion on RSS Feeds at Web 2.0 Expo last week. They raised a lot of these points, plus other creative ways to use feeds like pulling up your own deep content to increase reads of older posts and keep people on your own blog or site longer.

    The excerpt vs. full post was a big issue, and your notes on the issues–loyalty, opportunities for deep linking and advertising–are spot-on with what they said.

    Reading the comments here, I had no idea people felt so strongly about this personally. I definitely need to update my settings….

    (Detailed summary of the panel is on my blog if anyone wants to read it.)

  • [...] use full RSS feed or partial RSS feed for your blog? TheWrongAdvices wrote a very good post about Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds. Personally, I opt to use full feed and I only subscribe to those blogs that provide full RSS [...]

  • [...] Full versus Partial RSS Feeds: I am not into partial RSS feeds. In fact, with a couple of exceptions, I basically do not subscribe to sites with partial feeds. I like full RSS feeds. Ads in the RSS feed, so long as they aren’t obnoxious, are fine with me. I just wish I could figure out how to get MHonArc to output a full RSS feed for FW1-Gurus. [...]

  • [...] Full versus Partial RSS Feeds: I am not into partial RSS feeds. In fact, with a couple of exceptions, I basically do not subscribe to sites with partial feeds. I like full RSS feeds. Ads in the RSS feed, so long as they aren’t obnoxious, are fine with me. I just wish I could figure out how to get MHonArc to output a full RSS feed for FW1-Gurus. [...]

  • [...] Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds It appears to be no significant difference in clickthrough rates between full and partial RSS feeds. Feed reading is consumption-oriented, not transactionally focused. There’s no evidence that excerpts on their own drive higher clickthroughs. (tags: blogging feeds rss marketing full partial community traffic content web blog) [...]

  • [...] want to use full feeds out of the fear of content being used by scrapper sites, check out this excellent post by Dan over at The Wrong [...]

  • [...] monetizing options (which one is more profitable may ultimately be debatable). Apart from that, Dan brings up an important issue, that of RSS content-scraping which may prevent some people from [...]

  • Having been the victim of content theft on three separate occasions within my blog’s first year, I’m hesitant to use full feeds. While I realize that thieves can steal right from my site, the fact remains that much of this happens through feed scrapes. Content thieves are lazy and there are a number of ways of automating the process.

    Aside from that, while I like using feeds, I don’t expect to get full feeds. I appreciate bloggers wanting to generate a bit of income for their sites and I won’t take that away from them. I also enjoy commenting so I typically end up going directly to their page anyway.

  • [...] Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds: According to Rick Klau from Feedburner there appears to be no significant difference in clickthrough rates between full and partial RSS feeds. [...]

  • [...] for both of these issues, there are a few things that you can do to try to prevent and catch content theft (via). You do have to be vigilant, but I’d recommend checking up on this issue whether you [...]

  • [...] Also from the Wrong Advices, more advice on protecting your content from thieves. [...]

  • [...] Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds (tags: rss abuse blog webdesign links copyright) [...]

  • I think it has to be full for me. IMO partial feeds are annoying.

  • [...] use full RSS feed or partial RSS feed for your blog? TheWrongAdvices wrote a very good post about Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds. Personally, I opt to use full feed and I only subscribe to those blogs that provide full RSS [...]

  • i prefer full feed too.

  • [...] Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds …there appears to be no significant difference in clickthrough rates between full and partial RSS feeds, The main issue I see with publishing a full feed is the risk of your content being used by scraper sites. [...]

  • [...] Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds (tags: rss)   [...]

  • [...] complete article [...]

  • [...] me to visit your blog to read what you have to say is being an “RSS tease”. It is indefensible, in my opinion. And it shows that you don’t value my time, or my loyalty as a reader. [...]

  • [...] your blog. Make sure you’re creating a full feed, partial feeds have their advantages, but it has been found that most subscribers prefer full [...]

  • [...] Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds [...]

  • It has been suggested on my blog that I should use full feed, but my main reasons for choosing partial feeds is that too many people are already scraping my content. I don’t want to give these sploggers my full content.

  • Do partial feeds affect bots?

  • Partial feeds have to go unless you are trying to protect your commercial content or limit access to information.

    The FEEDBURNER automatically truncates feeds from EVERYBODY thats just killing the service.

    Why does a Auntie Ann’s Baby Blog need have a partial feed?

    Want to print your blog out like a newspaper or magazine? A new application I’m excited about is the FEEDJOURNAL.

    Check it out at: http://www.Feedjournal.com

    Tell em Becktemba sent you.

  • no doubt: full feeds are better than partials. if i open my feedreader and see partial feeds probably ill delete them.

  • [...] if you’re concerned about having your content scraped, there are other ways of dealing with it. [...]

  • [...] Good debate here about advantages of Full vs part RSS feeds [...]

  • I like full feeds in my readers and appreciate the sites that use them. But I donโ€™t want to give these sploggers my full content. :)

  • [...] sites bieden een gedeelte van hun content aan via RSS, bijvoorbeeld aankeilers in nieuwsartikelen. De discussie over hele of gedeeltelijke content in RSS is vol in de [...]

  • [...] monetizing options (which one is more profitable may ultimately be debatable). Apart from that, Dan brings up an important issue, that of RSS content-scraping which may prevent some people from [...]

  • [...] complete article [...]

  • [...] complete article [...]

  • [...] complete article [...]

  • [...] complete article [...]

  • [...] complete article   - Leave yours [...]

  • [...] feeds because they don’t want their feeds scraped. There are solutions to that as well and here’s a good summary of those. You’ll see the copyright notice on the bottom of each of my posts and I can tell you that [...]

  • [...] Unless you only want students, faculty, and staff to read your excerpts, you might want to start sharing more.ย  Plus, there are still plenty of ways to protect your material. [...]

  • [โ€ฆ] Full Vs. Partial RSS Feeds (tags: rss abuse blog webdesign links copyright) [โ€ฆ]

  • I definitely “vote” for full feeds. I like to read the whole thing.

    Dave

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