Why blog feeds should include the whole post (and not just an excerpt)

I’m trying to catch up on a four-month blog reading backlog (I was incredibly busy at work at the back end of 2008/early 2009 and switched roles in February… only now am I making the time to catch up on the things that have gone by in the intervening period). One thing I noticed (apart from that Google Reader has marked a bunch of posts as read… even though I haven’t read them) is that, in order to stand any chance of catching up, I need to be able to skip through posts and read them in my reader.

Some of the blogs (like the Office Offline comic) have recently switched from publishing the whole post in the feed to just publishing an excerpt. Even worse, if I go to the web page, there is no way to easily navigate forwards and backwards between posts… just a single post on each page. Ultimately that means it’s too slow for me to read it… so I won’t. (OK, I could start at the home page and read 10 posts at a time, next, next, etc.).

Other examples include prominant writers like Paul Thurrott and Mary-Jo Foley, whose editors may want me to visit their websites to click on ads and jump to other posts, but the whole point of an RSS subscription is that it should be easy for me, with the content delivered to my reader, in full (even if it means that ads need to be run in the feed… which, coincidentally, is something I’m trialing here).

If you can’t make life easy for your readers, ultimately you’re limiting your audience. Still, at least it means I have a few less posts to read each morning…

3 thoughts on “Why blog feeds should include the whole post (and not just an excerpt)


  1. Yes! Full posts please, nothing is more frustrating than having to switch out of my feed reader into a browser.

    I’m told.. (so don’t take it as the case for all ‘softie blogs) that some of the MS blogs do it to get double the hit on their posts – both RSS and browser, so it ends up looking better in their stats. If you know the right people to ask you may be able to get them to change back to full posts.


  2. google reader marks everything older than 30 days as read. I too had similar experience.
    Also I think that in this ever-increasing flow of information the users will be forced to leave out blogs that slows them down – I know I did.


  3. @Aaron – the double-hit theory sounds about right! I don’t think I can convince anyone to put it right though!

    @Peter – thanks for telling me about Google Reader’s 30 day quirk! It’s annoying, but at least I now know what’s going on!

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