Web sites that use Partial RSS feeds are LAME.

If you’re using RSS feeds to stay up to date with the latest in news and information, you know that there are two or three different types of RSS feed content:  Partial RSS feeds & Full RSS feeds.

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN FULL/PARTIAL/TITLE-ONLY FEEDS
There are some obvious differences between the different types of feeds out there.

  • FULL FEEDS
    Full feeds include 100% of the content of the original news post.  Everything is downloadable directly from the XML file containing the RSS content.  Text content, graphics, even podcasts. 
    For example:   Destructoid has a full RSS feed. 
  • PARTIAL FEEDS
    Partial feeds are RSS feeds that contain the title and only a paragraph or so of the content posted.  These have feed entries that rarely include graphics and almost always cut the post of mid-sentence after only a few lines of text.  They of course always have links to the content on the web to get you to softtouch their advertising.
    For example:  Anandtech news has a partial RSS feed. 
  • TITLE ONLY FEEDS
    There’s a 3rd type of feed that I hesitate to even discuss, and that’s the "Title only feed".  These are the sites that only publish the titles of their articles but distribute none of the content.  They might post a secondary description of the content to compliment the title but that’s it.  Frankly, I deleted all of these feeds a long time ago so I don’t really know of too many of them myself.
    For example:  1up.com has a title only feed.

WHO CARES?  HOW ABOUT US SMARTPHONE USERS?
Who cares?  How about anyone that operates over cellular-based networks or slow Internet connections?  How about anyone using a smartphone – Microsoft or otherwise – to read content?  Incidentally, the issue is actually quite well discussed by a couple sites on the Internet:

If you believe that the future of computing is wireless – providing access to information anytime-anywhere – and you believe that the most informed individuals are the most influential individuals in your target demographic, you simply have to agree that individuals that tap into RSS feeds through smartphones over cellular networks are exceptionally important.  These are the folks that consume the most content and the folks that process & share & communicate the most knowledge.  These are the most influential, and reputable readers you have.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST FULL FEEDS
The opponents of full feeds have a bevy of reasons why they fear full feeds. 

  • CONTENT THEFT THROUGH RSS
    They say that there’s too much of a chance of someone "stealing their content" and republishing it on their sites through their RSS feed. 

    Personally, I think these paranoid folks need to learn to deal with it sooner or later and they can do so by simply ensuring their content is well ‘marked’ or ‘stamped’ with their names.  Make sure that the content refers back to previous articles on the site.  Use the site name profusely.  And if someone does start repurposing your content, don’t be afraid to take it out on them by chewing them out in every article you publish:  "People reading this content on SITEX should know that it’s being stolen by the site’s unethical & immoral administrators.  I ask that you please respect my hard work and choose not to read my content on their site."  

    Take the TV industry:  They’ve been frightened by timeshifting & the TiVo effect for a long time.  People simply don’t have to watch their advertising any more – they can skip it with a few clicks of a remote.  So what did they do?  They started putting the advertising in the TV shows themselves.  Some shows like American Idol & 24 take this to a ridiculous extreme however.  Who can forget when Chloe discovered that CTU was underattack by hackers but "THE CISCO FIREWALL IS PROTECTING CTU!"  Every watcher groaned at how cheesy and lame Cisco & the producers of 24 were for laying it so thick

    And frankly, I don’t think their going to be losing a lot of direct readers if their own feed is of good quality. 

  • LOSS OF ADVERTISING REVENUE
    Opponents claim that they’ll lose viewers of their existing web site and thus they’ll lose both soft touches as well as hard touches.

    This is myopic.  The other side of the coin is that if they don’t publish a full feed, they’re losing readers COMPLETELY.  Neither I, nor anyone in my position, is interested in visiting your site when there are perfectly good alternatives for information available that do in fact publish full RSS feeds.  And let’s not kid ourselves Mr. Partial Feed publisher:  You’re not that special.  In 24 hours, the same content you published will be reported on by some other web site, probably more completely than you being that they’ve had 24 hours more to compile the story.

    Take Infoworld for example: http://www.infoworld.com/rss/news.xml.  There are other sites that publish the same content as they do earlier in the day, however they publish both their complete text content and a big old graphical advertisement that you just can’t avoid in the middle of their articles.  Then at the end of the post, they have context-sensitive, targeted text ads that show up.

    Well god bless Infoworld.  I don’t mind viewing their ads if I get all the content.  I really don’t.  Sure they’re not going to get a count of my actual soft touch viewing, unlike actually visiting the web site, but that’s the price they pay for guaranteeing that every single day, I’m going to download their site’s content and along with it, their advertising.

    (The day however, they start putting FLASH ADS in an RSS feed is the day y’all get deleted.  No one minds a 30k animated GIF file, but having to download a 250k Flash ad is nuts when 250k is how much actual data TOTAL is downloaded daily by my smartphone’s RSS reader.)

There are other arguments, but these are the primary ones.  The bottom line is that my OPML file – the summary of all the RSS feeds I subscribe to – is a list of about 50 feeds however it now consists of mostly full RSS feeds only.  I’ve made some exceptions for sites that SPECIFICALLY PUBLISH THEIR SITE IN POCKET PC FRIENDLY FORMAT so if I do want to read the whole article, it at least shows up in 240×320 resolution format with few graphics making it easy to read and quick to download.  But otherwise, I deleted a good 25 feeds recently… all of the partial RSS feeds.  

I just don’t have time for you partial feeders.

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