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Full Feeds vs. Summaries

One of the discussions making the rounds (again) is "feeds: full vs. summary?" It's a good discussion, and one I've had with myself a few times. The answer I always come to: summaries. The reasons:

  • Summaries encourage conversation because you can't comment from NNW.
  • Summaries encourage people to visit the site.

The site contains information not found in the feeds. It's a "fuller experience." It's got my AIM link, my email address, links to various RSS feeds (like the comments feed) and so on. Its design is important to me, but not nearly so important that I feel the need to push it on everyone. Really low on the list of reasons to have summary feeds is "less bandwidth."

I do agree with the first comment on the link above when he says this:

…I can no longer bear to read any weblogs who provide feeds that simply cut off the opening sentence of a post at an arbitrary point…

This blog currently uses as its summary everything you see on the main page. I can't see that changing anytime soon, and I'm annoyed that MT's default is so short (100 words or something, right?). I too despise blogs that cut sentences in their feeds.

10 Responses to "Full Feeds vs. Summaries"

  1. One additional thing: about 85% of my entries are "full" because I deem them to fit within the first box in MovableType ("Entry Body"). Only the fairly extensive entries ("Extended Entry") are "read more" types in my feeds.

    I have a comments feed, but I don't have an "articles+comments" feed because I think that'd get updated entirely too often.

  2. Full Posts vs Summaries in RSS Feeds

    There's an interesting post on NSLog today discussing the merits of full posts versus summaries in RSS feeds. A couple...

  3. A few days ago I created a MovableType template that includes full text (even when you use 'extended entry'), instead of just the default summary. Plus, unlike the MT default, my template doesn't use namespaces to provide functionality contained in the core spec.

    My MT RSS 2.0 Template

  4. A agree about having only summaries in the RSS feed. another thing I don't like is when a site will only post the headlines.'s rss feed is like that.

  5. MT's default for automatically generated excerpts is a measly 20 words. I personally do full posts just because many of my readers demanded it and I got lazy as far as filling in the excerpt field to make it more interesting.

  6. Erik: I do the same. Most entries are written entirely in the entry body; the occasional entry also has stuff in the extended body. Mostly entries with lots of images or stuff that's not important or interesting enough to display in its entirety on the front page.

    My feeds display the complete entries (body + extended), but I've been thinking about removing the extended part and doing it the way you do in your feed.

    What I don't like, however, is the default MT style of displaying the first 15 words and then cutting off. That's not enough to get me interested, and mostly not even enough to let me know what the entry is really about.

    I try to write a short sentence or two in the entry summary, for those three people whose readers don't support displaying the full entries.

  7. Your feeds are probably how excerpts should be done, Erik. The excerpt you give (which is defined by you, instead of being defined by the CMS) is long enough to get the reader hooked, and encourages them to read more through the link.

    I'm sure this is what most blogging tools' creators intended by giving us a, 'Extended Body' field (and indeed, an excerpt field)... but it's one that doesn't see much use.

  8. I don't mind summaries if they're well done. The whole just-chop-it-off-after-x-characters idea just pisses me off though. It defeats the purpose of the feed.

    My personal take is that one should either have author-defined summaries (so that they'll presumably actually be useful), or post the entire text.

  9. MacNN TShirts

    MacNN might have the ugliest tshirts I have ever seen. At least MacZealots has some classy tshirts and fleeces. Too bad we don't sell them and keep them for ourselves and the ladies. ;)...

  10. Full Feeds vs. Summaries

    Erik posted about why he chooses to use summaries in his RSS feeds rather than the full feed. Personally, I have made the decision to allow my full posts in my RSS feeds. Why? I don't really care if people...