A Question for Bloggers (and Readers)

This is for those of you who blog, and those of you who read blogs in a reader.

I’m a strong believer in publishing a full feed via syndication — I use Feedburner (by Google) to do this.  A lot of you whom I follow, including some of my favorite bloggers (Scot McKnight, Brian McLaren, Tripp Fuller) only publish partial feeds.  This is done because the conventional wisdom is that if you publish the full feed, there is no incentive for the reader to click through to the site, and if they don’t click through, they don’t see the ads, which is how (most) bloggers make money.

But Andrew Sullivan syndicates his full feed.  So does Lifehacker and Pomomusings.

My stats show that the #1 referrer to my blog is….the RSS feed.

And my Feedburner stats show that over 20% of the “reads” on my RSS feed convert to click throughs to the site.

My question to bloggers: Does any of you who syndicate only a partial feed have stats that beat 20%?

My questions to readers: Does it irk you as much as it does me when someone syndicates only part of their feed?

  • http://www.MomsWithAPassion.com Charlotte

    I like the partial feed. I like to be enticed to read more and I like to see what else they have on their blog.

    I do it myself all the time, yes for the click. I think it’s a testament to writing interesting articles. It forces me to be more creative about my writing.

    Interesting question by the way.

  • http://twofriarsandafool.com Nick Larson

    I really am bothered by the partial feed. As a reader, it bugs me. I am also aware of the fact that bloggers make $ from ads and that requires me to visit the site. Most of the time, when I really like an article I click through to make sure they get their *reward.* I also always click through to comment. So if the blogger creates a post that spurs me to respond then that would also get me to help with their ads.

    just my 2 cents.

  • http://hughlh.com Hugh Hollowell

    I follow hundreds of feeds, but less than a handful that are partial. I much prefer full feeds.

    And the partial feeds I do follow, I only rarely click through on. Which means I read much less of their stuff.

    As a blogger, anything that makes it easier/more likely for people to read and share my stuff is, in my view, a good thing.

  • Eric

    I hate the partial feed. I tend to scan feeds in in my reader looking for anything that happens to be of interest to me. With a full feed, there is more of a chance that something will catch my eye and cause me to read the whole post. Generally I read this in my reader but if I like the post, chances are I will click through to see what’s going on in the comments. If you don’t have comments, like Andrew Sullivan’s blog, I never click through.

    With partial feeds, you have to get my attention with the title of the post and the first few lines, otherwise I’m moving on.

  • Harald Solheim

    I use the Google Reader client Reeder on both my Mac and iPhone. After Reeder started supporting using Readability for grabbing the full post content it doesn’t really matter to me whether the blog syndicates the full or partial feed. I always prefer reading the post in the RSS client, only clicking through when I think there will be some nice discussion that I might want to interact with.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/slacktivist/ Fred Clark

    My former Typepad site had a full feed, but many readers still clicked through to the site to leave or read comments (much as I just did here — meaning my eyeballs just viewed both your feedburner ad and the ads here on the blog proper).

    As a reader, I’ll second what Hugh says above. Full feeds keep me up to speed with writers I want to follow. Partial feeds seem more like advertisements for their posts.

  • http://beingministry.com Paul

    Hate the partial feed. It keeps my from reading full content on many blogs just because I’m lazy and don’t want to follow the full link. Sorry Jesus Creed.

  • http://late-emerger.blogspot.com Andrew Martin

    You have ads on here? Oh. I’m a web-browsing parasite and use a browser plug-in that filters out all the ads. Someone told me the other day that Facebook has ads. Who knew?

    By getting a full feed from you, I undoubtedly read more of your posts than I do of, say, McLaren’s. I click through to read the comments, or, very occasionally, to write one.

  • Korey

    I just setup a blog for my wife’s education consulting business and from talking to other RSS reader users, the full feed was the way to go. For those who use RSS readers our feeling was they would prefer a full feed. They can always click through to the website if they so desire.

    Our feeling was that this makes us feel better and treats our readers/customers better. And personally we decided we liked businesses that weren’t always trying to make a buck off us in every way possible and maybe trusted us just a smidgen. This improved our impression of the business and perhaps we ended up giving them more business this way. I don’t know if this pays off in the end, but again, it feels better.

  • Kenton

    All I end up seeing is the title, so the partial feed does not irk.

  • http://homebrewedchristianity.com tripp

    i changed and will let you know in a couple weeks what the difference is stat wise.

    Brian and Scot doing it is nice though. They have too many posts in a day for me to scroll through the all in my feed!

  • Laura K

    I much prefer full feed. A partial feed I acceptable, however, if what is provided gives a good sense of the content. For example, I wouldn’t mind the partial syndication of the serial book reviews/discussions on Jesus Creed as much if they provided the second or third paragraph instead of the first X words that are the same for each post in the series.

  • http://charlieschurchofchrist.wordpress.com Charlie’s Church of Christ

    partial feeds are annoying – I don’t use it as a way to sample.

  • http://aneverydaytheology.blogspot.com/ Bo Sanders

    I prefer the partial feed. It comes to my phone (Droid) and I can skim it to see what’s up. Then I make a note (sometimes a mental note) and check it when I am by my laptop.

    When I am at my laptap – Partial feed works well on my Google Reader too. I see the first paragraph either way. 2 points for partial feed. -Bo

  • http://wheatley.id.au Ben

    I read mostly on google reader without clicking thru most of the time, as far as ads go your google adds show up in the reader so its moot. At the end of the day I follow so many blogs I skim most posts anyway and just go back to the stared ones so so long as you syndicate something sufficient to get me interested then what ever.

  • http://spirit-cry.com/ Cameron

    Definitely full feed. Unless the partial feed has something incredibly enticing, I’m not going bother clicking through.

    However, I will click through if I think the comments are going to be interesting. Or, if the writer is doing an informal piece of research and is trying to get people’s opinions about full versus partial feeds. Then I’ll click through.

  • Joe Carson

    I use feeddemon as my feed aggregator and only get the post’s title and first 2 lines. I “click through” on about 10% of summaries I receive and prefer to get only the summary.

  • http://apolarity.tumblr.com Adrenalin Tim

    I strongly dislike partial feeds, too, and I’m much more likely to be much more selective in what I read if I actually have to click through. Only a small handful of authors are worth it consistently.

    (The feed I follow for Lifehacker is partial…)

  • Kien

    Hi, Tony. First, thank you for your blog. I like reading your posts.

    I follow many blogs, and read all of them through Google Reader. If you syndicate a partial feed, please draft your posts bearing in mind that a significant percentage of your audience will not read your full post. The syndicated portion should be “standalone”.

    If the syndicated portion of your post isn’t standalone, I am more likely to stop following your blog altogether than to click through.

  • Darren

    As a reader, it irks me TREMENDOUSLY when people publish partial feeds! Brian, God bless him, does this. No offense to him, he’s a good, good friend and I’m his biggest fan – but I HATE his partial feeds. (Though, admittedly it makes more sense for him since he doesn’t have comments which would get people to go to his thread. The only time I click on someone’s page is if I actually want to make a comment, or am interested in seeing how others have responded.)

    So, all that being said, Tony, if you were to only publish partial feeds, I think I would probably click the link only slightly more to get to your site and read the whole thing. But considering how time consuming that is, I think mostly I’d just be annoyed by it, and simply skip reading the full post.

  • traci smith

    i hate hate HATE partial feeds. i rarely click on them, and often unsubscribe to the blog. i click on your posts often enough to read the commends…

  • toddh

    I subscribe to both kinds of feeds, but like the full feeds better. Will always click through anyway to look at the discussion when it’s a good post.

  • Kevin Womack

    I depend so fully upon my blog reader (NetNewsWire) that I don’t even subscribe anymore to partial feeds. I just don’t want to take the time to follow each link. There’s enough great writing out there in full syndication that I don’t need to read the partial ones.

  • http://www.MatthewMcNutt.com Matthew McNutt

    Personally, I hate partial feeds. I tend to not follow those feeds, and the handful I do it’s only because they’re friends of mine, but I can’t think of the last time I clicked through to read the rest of one. I much prefer to have the full post in the reader and then draw the click through by getting me to comment. I personally click through full posts more often because of my desire to comment.

    Having said all that, if make the switch, I’ll still follow you but I’ll probably harbor some minor amount of bitterness and resentment for you.

  • http://jacobscafe.blogspot.com Josh Morgan

    I also really dislike partial feeds, which is why I fully syndicate my blog. I’m actually less likely to read the whole post if I have to click through, especially if I’m reading them on my phone. It’s also harder to know how long the post is to determine if I have time to read it now or not. Further, if I want to share it in Google Reader, I want to be able to read the whole thing first. Switching between screens to do so makes me less likely to share. Sometimes, I’ve loaded the post, then my browser crashes or Reader reloads, so I lose the post as an unread one in my list, making it more difficult to go back and share it…

  • Kien

    Tony – thank you for your blog. While I prefer full feeds, a partial feed is fine if the syndicated portion is self-contained.

  • Jodi

    On Brian McLaren’s website, you can choose whether or not you would like to read the partial or full feed. The difference is whether or not you click through using “RSS” — the full feed (http://www.brianmclaren.net/index.xml) or “Atom” — the partial feed (http://brianmclaren.net/atom.xml). The choice is really up to the reader which one to subscribe to! The website itself has a link to the full feed as well.


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