I rarely write about blogging itself – I take it for granted – but Felix Salmon, one of the real proponents of the medium, has a new post on RSS feeds and why they matter. First you should read his original post,* which argues that information providers (such as blogs) should provide full RSS feeds (including the full content of the article), like we do here, rather than truncated feeds (showing just the first few lines), which most but not all ad-supported web sites do. His argument is that the success of a blog depends on getting other bloggers and journalists to link to it, and those bloggers and journalists are far more likely to read your blog if you publish a full RSS feed. I believe his argument, but as he says in the new post, it would be nice to see some empirical research to know if we are wrong.
Like Felix, I read blogs through my RSS reader – Google Reader – and I basically never click through to read the full post if all I get is a truncated feed. So if a blog doesn’t publish a full feed, I am only likely to read a post if it is recommended or excerpted in a blog that does, such as Calculated Risk, Economist’s View, Marginal Revolution, etc. (I do scan a few online newspapers the old-fashioned way – on their web sites.)
Of course, I’m just one blogger, and if the really big guys like Paul Krugman and Andrew Sullivan are happy with truncated feeds, then Felix and I could be wrong. If anyone knows of any empirical research out there, please let us know.
* Yes, that post is by Felix, not by Ryan Avent, who replaced him at Portfolio earlier this year. In an impressive display of technical incompetence, Portfolio has not figured out how to show that some posts have one author and other posts have another offer. I know that they are going through hard times, but this can’t be that difficult.
By James Kwak