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RSS Feeds – The Full vs. Partial Conundrum

As I peruse through the 338 blogs in my feedreader every day, I find myself wondering why some blog authors chose to provide full feeds, some partial feeds and even a few provide titles only.

(If you know not of what I speak, the first video in this post is a short and simple explanation of RSS feeds. A full feed is exactly that — the full text of the post is provided in the feed. A partial feed provides a “teaser” — a few sentences, and a title only feed provides just the title.)

Darren Rowse of the brilliant ProBlogger wrote a post about this back in September. He followed that up with a poll showing 75% of the bloggers that answered provide full feeds.

Personally, I don’t care for partial feeds, and I loathe title only feeds. I use a feed reader so I don’t have to visit individual blogs. That’s the whole point in subscribing to feeds. A feed reader allows me to manage reading almost every post of every blog I subscribe to. Being forced to click through to the blog is not only annoying, it’s time consuming. And let’s face it folks, time is money.

If one were to read through Darren’s comments, you’ll see a couple of general thoughts about full vs. partial feeds.

Those that support partial feeds have two basic premises:

1) Partial feeds result in more hard clicks and direct traffic to the blog. If you are attempting to monetize a blog with Adsense, affiliate links, etc. then I suppose it makes sense to try to increase your direct page views — in the hope that someone will click on a paying link and add a nickel to your “paycheck”.

2) Some seem to think that if you provide partial or title feeds, that the splogging snots out there won’t steal your content. To that I say, “Fooey”. My blog gets scraped all the time, and often the splogger only captures the beginning and end of the posts — and the end includes the copyright notice that says:

If you are reading this outside your feedreader or on any blog other than The Phoenix Real Estate Guy, the site you are looking at is guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact so we can take legal action immediately.

If that doesn’t dissuade the pestiferous little thieves, then only providing a partial post or title certainly won’t either. Trust me, these lowlifes will scrape anything.

Those that support full feeds argue with me that the main purpose in a feed reader is the efficiency it provides, particularly if you read a lot of blogs. I don’t monetize my site (with ads and such) and while I would love for people to stop by and leave a comment or look at the pretty header and the crap in the sidebars, what I really want is for people to read what I write. Giving them an easy way to do that just seems to make sense.

I can only speak for myself, but I know that I read virtually every full post in my reader. A partial feed gives me three or four sentences to decide if I have the time to click through to read the rest. Often I don’t. And a title only feed hardly ever gets read.

There is no right and wrong, no hard and fast rules in this blogiverse. What I find annoying and difficult to understand, others may not.

So I am curious oh Bloodhound Blog reader, what your thoughts might be. Where do you stand? Do you offer full, partial or title only feeds, and why did you choose what you chose?

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