It really frustrates me when I subscribe to a new RSS feed, only to find that the feed contains an excerpt of each post instead of the full content. This post talks about why I think that’s a problem.
If you didn’t know already, I think everyone should have an RSS feed on their site. But it really frustrates me when I subscribe to a new feed, only to find that the owner has the post excerpt syndicated, and not a full post RSS feed.
Now, having the excerpt is better than nothing, but having a full post feed is so much better for a number of reasons.
Readers can choose how their RSS feed looks
I’ve designed this site in way that looks good to me. I think the fonts look really cool and are simple to read. The whole design is very content focussed. The theme of the site will also change automatically if you have a dark theme on your system.
However, just because I think this site looks good and is easy to read, others may not. That’s where using an RSS feed reader can come in really handy.
You see, RSS feeds only pull the raw content of the post – no theming is added. So you can have any theme you like on your feed reader, and you can customise the look of your feeds to be just how you like them. This also means that all of the feeds you subscribe to look exactly the same.
The example above shows the same post in my RSS feed vs Jan-Lukas’ blog. I personally dislike the Ubuntu font that Jan-Lukas uses, as I find it difficult to read. I also find the white text and a dark blue background to be a little too contrasted, so it strains my eyes when reading. Sorry Jan-Lukas! 🙂
Luckily for me though, Jan-Lukas syndicates his full posts, so I can read them in a format that is pleasing to me within my RSS feed reader.
You may have readers that have special needs, but want to read your content. Maybe they need a high contrast ratio, much larger font, or a screen reader plugin.
By using a feed reader, they can setup a more accessible environment once, then subscribe to feeds and have the same experience across all sites that they read.
The Argument Against
The argument against having full post RSS feeds usually boils down to either wanting to get more hits on the site (usually for advertising), or because the site owner wants readers to have a specific experience.
But Kev, I really want people to visit my site. I’ve put a lot of hard work into my site design, and I want people to see it!
If you’re writing a blog, surely the content of the posts is far more important than the site’s design? Who cares how people are reading your content, as long as they’re reading it?
Personally, I’d rather people were enjoying my content formatted in a way that’s pleasing to them. The words are the same, as is the message. It’s just the design that’s different.
Recommended Feed Readers
I use FreshRSS as my feed reader and the Reeder app on iOS. FreshRSS is self-hosted, so you will need a server to use it. If you don’t have a server, here is a list of some of the RSS feed readers I’ve used in the past that you can easily sign up for and use:
If you’re using the post excerpt in your feeds, please reconsider this as there are many people who use feed readers, not just because it’s handy to have all their content in one place, but there may be other reasons too.
As a responsible blog owner, don’t you want to make the barrier to entry for reading your content as low as possible? I know I do.
If you want to subscribe to the RSS feeds available on this site, you can find links here.