So, as you may or may not have heard, there’s a bit of controversy about publishing full vs. partial feeds. A few very prominent A-listers have
whined commented on how they don’t like the inconvenience of going to the actual blog, and one of their commenters likened it to having network television ram down distasteful programming they don’t like.
Well, I’m not sure where you sit on it, but I sit on the “partial feeds” side of the fence.
1. Page views pays the bills:
While I recognize that some folks like being able to read all of their feeds in their feed aggregator, that’s an indulgence, that, unfortunately most publisher’s can’t afford to … well, for a lack of a better word, indulge. Its possible to insert contextual ads into your feeds, but they don’t pay the bills; for many websites, its the ads on the actual web sites themselves that do. By feeling that you only read the full published feeds, you don’t hit those websites, and you deprive the publishers of trying to pay their bills. Almost like getting the proverbial cow for free, don’t you think?
2. Its not all about the content:
Believe it or not, not everyone uses the k2 or kubrick theme unaltered … some publishers spend time and energy (and sometimes money) developing, tweaking and evolving their blog’s theme. Fully published feeds allow users to bypass all of that carefully tended works of design and art — and for what? I’ll contend that there’s something to be said for wanting to be able to critically read posts on their merits alone — but I’ll also contend that publishers want their readers to get the full “blog experience” (or “brand” if you’d like to use a marketing buzzword) … and that includes all of the colors, fonts, structure, design and layout of their blog. All noticably absent from a naked post.
3. Pirates plagiarize by pulling feeds:
Okay — something practical now. There’s a fabulous article over at businessblogwire that handles it better than I … but to summarize, plariagism, much like Shit, just happens sometimes. And the way it happens often does through your RSS feed. Sure, its a tool like everything else; but people have written scripts to scrape blogs and repost their content on other blogs to create filler for them. Think of it as spam + blogs == splogs, where these blogs only exist to gather traffic and funnel them towards affiliate programs and adsense earnings. Employing full feeds allows these scrapers to get at your full posts and plagiarize at will.
At the end of the day publishing partial feeds allows the publisher to exert some level of control — and that’s what its all about. Sure, I know how important it is to allow your community to take control, release APIs of your web2.0 apps and let your fans go buck wild. Yes, I know people want their media when they want it, in the way they want it.
But let’s also play fair.
Most bloggers are either doing it for the love of the game, or if they are trying to eke out a living (or an extra income) they are probably not publishing giants either.
Publishing full feeds is like giving away the cow — why would anyone pay for the milk when you can get it for free? Similarly, why bother hitting up the blog if you can get all of the posts in a single place every day without opening up your browser?
By publishing full feeds publishers are depriving themselves of income, of being able to deliver the full “brand” experience that many of them have worked hard to create, and put themselves at risk of scraping scripts to plagiarize their work.
Selfish? I don’t think so. I’m protecting myself, my blog and the energy that goes into making this blog work. Furthermore, by supporting partial feeds, we’re all supporting the little blogger …
… and y’know what? We all started out little once.