I’ve written several times over the past 20 years that RSS feeds are important yet can be a hinderance as much as a help.

RSS Gathers News and Audio to Me

I use them extensively in my news reader (currently News Explorer) to go out to websites that offer a RSS feed and pull the news to me. I don’t have the time to visit every site and see if there is something new to read.

RSS dropped in popularity with the demise of Google Reader, yet it remains fundamental to the operation of the web. Almost every single podcast is delivered by a RSS feed.

Full Text over Excerpts

If a site offers only excerpts rather than a full text feed, it is less useful to me.

It’s breakfast time and you’ve just sat down with a bowl of cereal, a hot coffee and the newspaper. Upon opening the paper you see a list of headlines and short paragraphs. Two stories grab your eye but to read them in full you have to go back to the news agency and pick up the full copy.

Unless the publishing platform being used prevents a full text feed, the only reason I can think someone would use excepts is to drive traffic to a site to increase hits to increase advertising revenue. In this way, RSS feeds that are except only are similar to online newspapers with a paywall.

If a site can’t provide full text1 then it is on the author to provide hand-written excepts rather than relying on the automatically generated text from the first paragraph.

My Parting Wish

Maybe I’m naive and believe good writing, shared in full, will bring people to my site to read more. If I’m wrong, then that’s ok with me as I write to prompt thinking in others first and foremost.


  1. I held off on going live with Quartz 4 until full HTML text in the RSS feed was added as a feature.