Full Feed Or Partial Feed That Is The Question

Problogger.net LogoAn interesting debate is taking place on Problogger.net That debate centers around the question of whether or not your RSS feeds should be partial or full. Gina from Lifehacker argues for Partial feeds while Rick from Feedburner argues for Full feeds.

The argument I hear most often when it comes to partial feeds is that, the partial content serves as a teaser and is used to get the user to click on the article link to visit the actual page where ads are waiting to be clicked. Most content authors think that by providing a Full RSS Feed is the same as giving away their content for free which then, can not be monetized because users will never visit their site.

After reading the argument presented for both sides, I am going to have to side with Rick Klau from Feedburner.com He presents a number of points that are really worth considering. Some of the points Rick mentions include:

If you just include a sentence or two of a post in a feed, you’re asking the reader to click through to read the rest of the post – when the actual substance of the post is not at all obvious from those first few sentences.

It should be noted that in feeds who’ve compared full and partial feeds, we’ve seen no hard evidence suggesting that partial feeds alone increase the clickthrough rate.

full posts also contain far richer information within the posts – hyperlinks – that can be exploited by services like TechMeme, Technorati, and other RSS-aware services. Partial posts rob readers (and automated services) of that context, as the hyperlinks themselves aren’t included in the partial posts.

While it’s easy to see which side of the fence I’m on in regards to this issue, it has to be noted that partial feeds make sense for specific situations. For example, some publishers do not have the proper licensing rights to publish the full text of an article.

Most feed readers now a days give users the ability to choose how they want to view their subscriptions. The options are typically Full Text, Partial Text, or headlines only. I’ve always told other users of Feedburner to set their Feed to display the full post which would cater to everyone. Let the user decide if they want to see only a partial post or not.

To read the debate and decide for yourself, be sure to read Full Or Partial RSS FEEDS – The Great Debate