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The Campaign for Unabridged RSS Feeds

September 16, 2009

I’ve been subscribing to quite a few more RSS feeds recently (using Google Reader, natch), and there seems to be something of a worrying trend. Many of the feeds only supply an excerpt, forcing me to click-through to the full article – and it’s driving me crazy!

Here’s an example of what I mean, taken from the freakonomics feed:

Abridged RSS Feed

Why do I only get one sentence when the full article is a whole page’s worth?

There’s already an advert at the bottom of the RSS entry, so it’s not a if they need to drive me to their site to boost their net-based income.

The sad fact is that providing excerpts, instead of full articles, completely destroys the Google-Reading experience. Instead of being able to scroll through articles easily, via the consistent user interface, marking them off as read, I’m forever clicking off to websites (of various formats, styles and colour-schemes) to read full articles, then coming back just to click through to the next article on the next website. Argh! This is s’posed to be Google Reader, not Google Clicker!

I hate this coupling of content and control. What the people behind these websites are saying to me (whether they mean to or not) is that their website is the best way to consume their content, and that they’re willing to cripple other methods of content-consumption just to prove their point. Bah! The “I know best” mentality is exactly what doesn’t work on the web. Free your content, let other people consume your data, and you’ll end up with something unimaginably better than what you can provide by yourself.

So, what can I do about it?

Well, for a start, I’m going to email this article to all of the providers of abridged RSS feeds that I currently subscribe to. With any luck, they’ll read the article, subscribe to their own RSS feeds in Google Reader, and then find out for themselves just how annoying it is.

Will anything come of it? Subscribe to the comments below and find out! 😉

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 17, 2009 8:34 am

    More after the jump…

  2. September 17, 2009 4:44 pm

    Success! Agile In A Flash switched over from excerpts to full articles this morning!

  3. September 28, 2009 9:51 pm

    Glad to oblige. Tim fixed the problem at agileInAFlash. I was using Thunderbird and never noticed the problem.

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