Partial Feeds, Glass Houses, And Things That Are Broken
from the what-does-one-have-to-do-with-the-other dept
Ok, while I generally like to avoid the random silly navel gazing debates within the blogworld, a few things all combined tonight in an amusing way -- and it seemed worth a post (if you disagree, and some of you will, sorry!). First of all, there's a long (painfully pointless) debate going on among a small group of people about whether or not bloggers should include the "full text" of their posts in the feed, or if it should just be a partial post that pushes people to load the actual page to read the whole thing. There are some people who claim they won't read a "partial feed," which seems a bit excessive. From our standpoint, obviously, we publish full content feeds, because we know people like them, and we'd rather our readers be happy than annoyed. Either way, tonight, it appears that SixApart's TypePad system was down for an extended period of time, just as I was going through my random set of assorted blogs I read... almost all of which publish partial feeds. I'd read a sentence and a half here or there, and then click to open, only to get a "page not found" in response. So, I was thinking that, indeed, partial feeds are a nuisance and a loss for those bloggers -- because I'm unlikely to go back and check out those stories later. The rationale for partial feeds doesn't make much sense, honestly. One reason often given is to force more people to see ads -- but, let's face it, the people reading your stuff via RSS are probably the least likely to click on your ads. The other reason is to avoid spam blogs repurposing your content -- but in our experience that's a pretty silly reason. Spam blogs that scrape and repurpose your content (and there are a ton that do that with ours) seem to disappear pretty quickly and don't actually detract from our site at all.
However, the thing that really set this post off was that I came across ZDNet's Steve Gillmor whining about Yahoo's Jeremy Zawodny's partial feeds. Normally this is exactly the type of post I wouldn't even read, but something seemed odd -- and it took me a few seconds to realize that two things didn't make sense. (1) I came across Steve's post in the ZDNet blogs RSS feed which (whoooooops!) is a partial text feed -- so, yes, his attempt to make fun of partial feeds is, indeed, cut off itself by his own partial feed. (2) I read Jeremy Zawodny's feed as well, and it's full text. So, here we have someone who has a partial feed complaining about the partial feed of someone who actually appears to only offer full feeds (the two on his site both appear to be full feeds). As for the "things that are broken" in the title, it's not just TypePad, but I tried to post a comment on Steve's ZDNet blog and was given a big fat error message instead. Looks like we still have a few kinks to work out with this whole blogging thing.