Full RSS Feed Versus Partial

Within the realm of blogging, there are some arguments that seem to go on forever. Whether or not one should use partial or full RSS feeds happens to be one of those arguments. Those in favor of partial feeds usually argue that this prevents duplicate content from showing up on blogs who scrape their content. Based on previous experience and from monitoring the debate across multiple blogs, I’d say that this has become a moot point. For starters, you can’t catch everyone who is ripping off your content. Secondly, you will not get penalized for having duplicate content because it was published on your site first. Google is smart enough to determine where the content was published first.

Full RSS feeds enables the subscriber the luxury of reading what your site has to offer from the comfort of their feed reader. There is no need to click through in order to see the full post. I’ve talked with many blog owners and RSS Feed readers and most of them agree that full RSS feeds are the way to go. Partial feeds are annoying and actually turn many people away from subscribing.

In my own travels across the web, I only subscribe to the RSS feed of a blog if it provides the full feed. I don’t have time to click through to the actual article. I’ll only do that if I want to publish a comment or two. I’ve learned a long time ago that people scraping your content is just another part of blogging. As far as I’m concerned, you can never win the war on content scraping, you can only win individual battles. But what is the point if the battles are never ending? So, my advice is to offer a full content RSS feed to your readers. Anything less is just not worth it.

If that wasn’t convincing enough, perhaps this comic created by Noise To Signal will help.

Post inspired by Cartoon: Partial Text RSS Feeds

10 thoughts on “Full RSS Feed Versus Partial

  1. I think it depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

    I run a website called Chloregy.org it’s about corporate responsibility and green issues, plus some related topics. Right now we aggregate news from various news wires. We treat blogs in the same fashion as CSRwire or PRNewswire, in that we require the full story, otherwise it would just become annoying for our users to be surfing back and forth. I always ask permission before I include someone’s RSS feed into our site, and 95% of the time people are happy to get more viewers.

    But most instances the person writing is not a full time blogger. They may have their own business, write books, or maybe are a leader, or becoming one, in this subject matter at a firm or university. The blog articles allow them to gain exposure for either the services or products they offer, and also become known as a knowledgeable person in a specific subject. Thus for them it makes sense to get a larger audience because name recognition has value to them, and leads them to sell more books, get name recognition, bring business to their organization or whatever.

    For some wire services we use an advertising revenue split model so that the publication and the writer get paid, but in this case, these are professional writers, in that it is there job to produce X amount of articles per week.

    Our current RSS feeds that go out of the site however are partial, and based on what I have read here, I think we’ll need to adjust them to include the full articles.

  2. I am so sick of this in my reader, I have decided to remove any blogs that only send excerpts, I will comment on their blog telling them why I will be removing my subscription and offer to re-subscribe if they change the feed to a full feed.

    The biggest reason for me is that I have so many I follow, I often use my Palm Centro to go through them if I am waiting for an appointment (I like to be early) or waiting in line somewhere (bank, post office, traffic jams, etc…) and I can’t click through as not all sites are optimized for mobile viewing.

    Another reason is simply time, it is the reason we use a reader (I use Google) in the first place, to save time! I don’t have the time to click through to every feed I get, unless I want to comment, like on this instance!

    Thanks for another great post, and I will be staying subscribed here!


  3. I personally have a full rss feed as I myself prefer reading full articles via email as it makes them available on the move.

    @ Tom I think there is a plugin for wordpress that allows you create custom rss feeds, have a quick search at the wordpress site.

  4. Hi Jeff, nice post.

    I agree with your idea that you should offer the full feed for people to subscribe to in their newsreaders. But the power and beauty of RSS extends far beyond offering it to readers who want to subscribe. I currently have my feed appearing on several other websites. Some of these are my own sites, but some are popular commercial sites. It is a good way for readers to learn about me and my writing.

    I would prefer to offer partial feeds for these sites, so readers who start reading on these other sites are encouraged to click through to read the complete article on my own blog. At the same time I want to offer the full feed to those who want to subscribe in a newsreasder. While most subscribers prefer to get the full feed, there are those who want to receive a partial feed, especially if they are subscribing with a mobile phone, have a slow dial-up connection or pay by the kb.

    So there is no easy, one-size-fits-all answer to this question. I would like to give my users the option of subscribing to either a full or partial feed. At the same time I would like the ability to create feeds with partial content or headline-only content to be syndicated on other sites and blogs.

    This shouldn’t be very difficult — RSS output is basically just XML. But I haven’t found a single solution that allows you to generate multiple RSS feeds of full, partial and headline content from a single source. I haven’t looked very hard, and I am sure you could create multiple feeds if you wanted to code something. But why isn’t there a simple push-button solution that would allow you to generate multiple feeds from a single blog?

    Thanks — Tom.

    Tom Bonner is the author of the Sony Alpha DSLR-A300/A350 Digital Field Guide from Wiley press. He blogs regularly at http://alphatracks.com.

  5. I publish the full version in my feeds. And much prefer to receive full version feeds too. Unless a blog frequently publishes items of real interest the chances are I will not subscribe if it isn’t a full feed. Interestingly, if an article really grabs my attention I’ll often click through even when it is full feed, as it can be helpful to see it as originally intended.

  6. I also display the full RSS feed of my blog entries.
    However, as I knew, it didn’t matter who copied from whom and Google penalized both parties in case of duplicate content.

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