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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Kevin Mesiab, Dec 16th, 2005 @ 3:32am

    partial vs full

    The real reason for partial feeds versus full feeds was a matter of bandwidth. Feeds began as a method of syndication in a one-to-many relationship.
    The purpose of truncating feeds is a matter of preserving bandwidth. This is because feeds are intended to be consumed in a much different manner than a typical webpage. Many aggregators and clients request and re-request a feed (which is itself an aggregate of many articles) with some degree frequency.
    Giving a client a summary of the article and the choice of reading the full text (and exercising the bandwidth of the provider) allows for a slightly more economical distribution of load.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Andrew Strasser, Dec 16th, 2005 @ 5:21am

    Blog sites

    Of all the news and blog sites I go to this is actually one of my favorite ones. Partials blogs could be annoying if that were the case that the main server would go down. I would hope it'd be a much more stable enviornment than that, but then again you never know what who's thrown together in their garage. This story is just plain ludicrous really, funny though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    data64, Dec 16th, 2005 @ 5:31am

    Mobile devices

    One of the things I use RSS feeds is so that they can be converted into something that is actually viewable from a mobile device like the Blackberry. Not every blog provides a mobile friendly interface like Techdirt. Plus AvantGo is adding support for RSS feeds (finally).
    It is simple enought to write an RSS to html convertor, plus there are a lot of free ones available. I especially love the feed from Gizmodo that includes images as well as full article text.
    I really hate the one from CBC ( which only seems to have the headline and a link to the actual article, which is unusable from a mobile device.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Chris, Dec 16th, 2005 @ 6:22am

    Naval gazing?

    Why are all of these bloggers staring at seafaring vessels?

    Oooohhh...I get it.

    I think you meant NAVEL-gazing. :)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Mike (profile), Dec 16th, 2005 @ 9:00am

    Re: Naval gazing?

    Dammit. :) I actually realized this as I woke up this morning, and I said "Oh man, I hope I didn't actually write "naval" but I'm pretty sure I did..." So I just rushed over to my computer to change it and hoped that no one noticed, but you did.

    Sorry! Thanks for pointing it out. It's fixed now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Mikester, Dec 16th, 2005 @ 9:20am


    This doesn't apply to feeds for mobile devices, but one thing I really like about the RSS Popper plug-in for Outlook is that it has the option to download the HTML page the RSS item links to, rather than just the text in the feed (or lack there of).
    Like data64 mentioned, CBC and a few other feeds only include the title and nothing more which I find extrememly annoying. This plug-in gets around that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    John Dowdell, Dec 16th, 2005 @ 2:51pm

    No Subject Given

    Partial feeds may be helpful if forced on many blog writers... they'd have to quickly get to the point.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Britt Brannan, Mar 21st, 2011 @ 1:05am

    Shower Doors

    With the advancement and the change in living styles of people, there has been a dramatic change in people’s preferences. With the increased choices, the demands have also increased. Building a home is one of an asset which you probably will build once in a lifetime, as the choices has changed people want to go for things that are in fashion whether they are regarding clothes, cars, furniture, home, shower doors etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    viooz, Jul 3rd, 2015 @ 10:41am

    Agree with Britt Brannan. Modern world is amazing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Viooz, Jan 21st, 2016 @ 8:54am

    The purpose of truncating feeds is a matter of preserving bandwidth.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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