Disguised links in excerpted RSS feeds

August 27th, 2004
Web Design

I hate excerpted RSS feeds. I inadvertently (through mostly my own doing) will subscribe to the excerpted feed rather than the encoded version and I will curse myself through the process of reading the news of these blogs.

Imagine reading through Shakespeare without any punctuation. RSS, in my opinion, is already a pretty bland way to gather information and takes away from the experience of reading a blog. However (boy I like that word!) reading through, and making sense of articles that are devoid of any sort of indication of the content, is very confusing. Case in point. I was reading Jeremy’s feed this morning. Zawodny had written about RSS searches and Joseph Scott‘s recent views on the lack of good RSS search engines (which I had already read and commented on previously). However, without any links or any blockquotes being highlighted, this is what I read as the article on Jeremy’s blog:

The current state of “feed search” is messy at best. Joseph Scott does a good job of presenting his impressions on the major feed search engines (where “feed” means RSS/Atom) Say I wanted to track what people are saying about PostgreSQL. This can’t really be done with the traditional search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc) because they base their results on popularity (in one form or another). This doesn’t help me because I’m interested in what people are saying right now,…

Huh? Was I not paying attention? Did I goof off at goofing off??

Now, for the non-lazy, this is trivial. It does not bother me as much as I like to whine about it. However, a subscription to the full, encoded feed, would have prevented the confusion and aggravation, however nominal it is in my case. So here is my suggestion.

If the default feed for your blog is excerpted (by choice or otherwise), please think about modifying it to make it the full RSS feed and make the excerpt an option. The experience of reading your blog becomes that much more pleasurable and pleasure == return visitors == ensuring your blog’s popularity. If you are worried that people will click through lesser if they get all the information from feed readers, I would respond that that is an unfounded fear. People visit blogs personally even if they get their daily news fix from a feed reader. I know that I do just that and the traffic to this blog also attests to that fact. (Of course, none of this applies to or is directed towards, Jeremy)




  1. Matt (64 comments.) says:

    The default in the next version of WP is full feeds.

  2. Joen (3 comments.) says:

    I am fairly new to the whole RSS feed thingy, and as mentioned I only just switched to full-text. I kinda thought that “excerpts” was the way to go, not only to readers, but to not hammering the server with RSS requests…

  3. Mark says:

    Once nothing is changed, the headers sent prevents “good” feed readers from downloading everything over and over again.

  4. Mark (34 comments.) says:

    The default looks like it is the excerpted posts. FoF might be wrong though, I will have to look through your markup.

  5. Jeremy Zawodny (1 comments.) says:

    My default has been the RSS 2.0 full-content feed for a while. Have you been reading long enough that you’ve been subscribed to the old feed, maybe? Or did I mess something up?

  6. Podz (12 comments.) says:

    Thanks !

  7. Mark says:

    Well, you could turn off the excerpting feature from inside the admin, but yes, in order to offer both feeds, the wp-rss2.php will need to be changed. I will post a small tutorial soon.

  8. Joen (3 comments.) says:

    I just enabled full text today. The main benefit to me, was that links wasn’t stripped out.

  9. Podz (12 comments.) says:

    But how is that done in wp ?
    Do we need 2 wp-rss2.php files ?

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