Don't use excerpts in your RSS feed
I’ve become a big-time RSS junkie in the last few months. Google Reader is my preferred format, but I am looking into some of the desktop-based readers. I’ve picked up on a subtle trend from these months of scouring roughly 50 feeds. The vast majority of feeds simply include the entirety of a given article, eliminating the need to visit the site at all. However a few only include small excerpts, usually the first few lines of the article, and you have to click through to the site to read the entire article. Perhaps it’s not surprising, but in all the cases I’ve seen, these sites use significant amounts real estate for advertising. Some even do those stupid shoved-in-the-middle-of-the-article ads. I subscribe to feeds for one reason: to centralize and simplify my information digestion. Centralize is bolded for a reason; If I can get to everything from one location, I can read it faster and move onto other things. Feeds that force me to click-through disrupt this process. Worse, they annoy me, making me less likely to stick around and even glance at the precious ads. Click-through feeds also say a lot about the content itself. Obviously the site management is focused on advertising. For web advertising to really work, you need eyeballs, and lots of them. How do you get more eyeballs? By writing more content, and lots of it. The more content you have, the more stuff you get indexed, the better your chances of getting more eyeballs. It’s a simple formula, and it’s also emotionally void. How useful (or insightful, or interesting, etc.) can the content truly be when the primary focus is on writing articles simply to make more words? Content for content’s sake will never hold a candle to information eagerly shared through genuine interest. If you are currently using or considering the click-through feed format, I offer this alternative. Take the time to produce meaningful content, and offer it without strings attached. Then, when you have something to offer me, present it in and with your content. I promise you that you’ll have my attention. To put it more bluntly: if the crap you’re peddling isn’t relevant enough to actually be a part of your content, I don’t want to see it. Besides, I use AdBlock Plus everywhere I go. And now, hopefully you do too.
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