Full text or summary feeds?

Under WordPress 1.5, the option to choose between full text or summary feeds is under Options > Reading. How should you choose? If you have a personal blog, go with the full text. Why? Because not everyone likes to have to go to the site and read the whole thing. I’m not alone. If Gary feels that way, how many other people feel the same? The comfort of their news aggregator is good enough. How about a business blog? A summary format might be best. I’d hate to see your RSS feed hijacked.

Full text feeds display the whole post within news aggregators, while summary feeds only display part of it. In order for the reader to read the whole post, they need to visit the website. If an excerpt isn’t included, it’ll show the first few lines followed by an ellipse. If you don’t write an excerpt, make sure those first lines grab the reader’s attention.

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Bryan Villarin

Bryan is a Community Guardian at Automattic. He's also a photographer, card magician, and cat whisperer. (Thanks to my friend and colleague Steve Blythe for the sweet photo!)

14 thoughts on “Full text or summary feeds?”

  1. I don’t make any money off of visits to my site, so I prefer to use full text in my RSS. In Jon’s case, that site is his only source of income. I feel that he has a right to restrict his feed to summary-only, which will encourage site visits and keep him from starving.

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  2. “but having a fulltext feed attracts copyright violations… Several unauthorized sites were publishing our full content, which is unacceptable.”

    Utter rubbish. What’s stopping the same people from visiting the site and copying the text from there? How does that build revenue? It doesn’t. Google ads need people to click on them, not just people to visit the site. All he’s done is make it more difficult for his readers by flipping back to a summary feed. You can also embed advertising in feeds so I still don’t see the sense

    I think it’s a petulant move that only hurts real readers. Good example? Look at Engadget. They don’t provide summary feeds and they are getting more and more exposure.

    And if it’s his only source of income he needs to do a little more than Adsense and pyramid style “Free Mac mini” sites.

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  3. GPshewan, the point was that people were using RSS aggregators to display MobileTracker’s content (yes, the all of the posts in their entirety) on their sites.

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  4. And?

    Why is that a good reason to switch to summary? So a few sites are aggregating the full feed…it’s called reblogging or a link blog. The biggest profile person to do that is Robert Scoble, So should everybody listed there switch to summary to throw a spanner in the works? You can’t protect your content like that, otherwise you may as well implement registration. It only takes a few lines of script to scrape a site anyway.

    My whole point is to focus on what’s important – the visitors – and summary feeds do not do a great job. And that’s the whole point of my orginal post – if you’re going to insist on doing it – make them want to come and read the full text.

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  5. gpshewan – the reason he’s switched to summary is because using RSS other sites can steal the full content of every post you make without lifting a finger – they can do it all automatically. Just consider for a moment the implications of this. Its so easy to lift an RSS feed and run it on your own blog – so easy in fact that its easy to do this to 100 or so sites….or 1000 or so sites….or more.

    RSS hijackers are using Jon’s feeds to make money without doing virtually any work at all where as jon is writing each post long hand.

    Yes they could come to his site and copy and paste his posts – but that would be a lot longer process and whilst it still breaks copyright at least it would be some work for them which should limit the amount of copy they can steal.

    I would love to offer my feeds fully – but I’m sick of blood sucking thieves stealing my posts and putting up their own versions which not only make them money without any credit to who wrote it but who create duplicate versions of my content which risks me losing page ranking in Google who frowns upon duplicated versions of content.

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  6. And how are they making money by scraping feeds? Have they got a bigger readership? Better advertising? How does providing summary feeds drive people to your site? Personally I think if you stop fretting about pagerank and concentrate on making life easy, entertaining and useful for your readers, then pagerank will take care of itself. Summary feeds don’t do that.

    One of the most exciting technology ‘blogs’ this year is Engadget. Why aren’t they locking down their feeds to summary? Chasing and suing the ass of anybody and everybody that reproduces their work? Maybe it’s because they are spending that energy on building a good resource and community.

    If you’re that worried about copyright and people reproducing works, then unplug from the internet and go to print publishing. Because that’s the only way you’ll get what you want.

    Pagerank, Copyright, hard-work…bleh…it’s about your readers and what you have to say to them first and foremost. Don’t make that difficult.

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  7. gpshewan – You clearly don’t have a clue

    Why don’t you go tell Yahoo, The New York Times, and any other of many many huge companies that they should go to paper print only to avoid copyright infringement?

    What?
    No?
    Why?
    Because that would be ridiculuos?
    Bingo!

    Oh and the fact they would sue the hell out of you I bet helps too.

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  8. Anthony, if you have anything useful to contribute go ahead. This is a discussion about Feeds and not making it difficult to build a readership. Yahoos core business is the search engine (btw they don’t have a newsroom) and I’m pretty sure the NYT started off in print (still are if I’m not mistaken 😉 )

    The discussion has nothing to do with huge companies.

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  9. Yahoo’s core business is NOT their search engine. And Yahoo does have RSS feeds for their news.

    As far as the NY Times I assure you they would start with both a website, and print media if they had started their newspaper in… 1994… And not 1851…

    The NY Times has a entire page of RSS feeds: http://www.nytimes.com/services/xml/rss/index.html

    But if you would like to act like continue your childish antics I could always point you in the direction of C|Net amoung other places.

    Your logic is… Pitiful at the very best…

    I highly doubt if I really cared and started to copy your blog entires with out giving credit and calling it my own you would be pissed. If not… Well if not you are about the most easy going person I have ever met, but of course this isn’t the case.

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  10. Childish? Pitiful? Yahoo’s core business not a search engine, CNet? Anthony I don’t know you from the next person and I don’t want to. You’re not adding anything to this apart from getting insulting, which there’s no need for.

    What has this discussion got to do with NYT having a page of feeds? Nothing. I repeat it’s_not_about_big_companies. You’ve missed the point, now stop acting like a troll (p.s. you’ve never met me)

    Nice discussion Bryan, but it’s over as far as I’m concerned now. Not worth it when people like this appear.

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  11. Closing this early. So much to sift through, and I definitely don’t want things to get out of hand. Wait, they already are. *sigh*

    Sorry all of you had to go through this.

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  12. Sorry to briefly resurrect this old discussion, but I ran across this post via Google yesterday and in my referrer stats today, so I felt that it was in dire need of the following update:

    If you use WordPress, present a full-content feed to your readers, but desire to provide some ownership and/or copyright information with your feed, then try Angsuman’s Feed Copyrighter plugin.

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