Monday, October 11, 2010
Blogging Advice: RSS Feeds
It’s not often that I give blogging advice – I’m not that sort of guy and this blog is not that sort of blog. But as a reader I am noticing something that really annoys me – more and more blogs are chopping off their RSS feeds. The blogs/websites give a teaser in the RSS feed and require you to click on the link to read the rest of the article. This is a bad idea that hurts those blogs/websites and is a disservice to the readers.
I assume that the reason blogs do this is to bring people directly to their site. Whether they just vainly want the stats or if there is an actual economic reason (like increasing hit counts to increase advertising rates), it is still a bad idea. In the SFF world, you want people to read articles. You aren’t looking for a profit (and if you are, look somewhere else). Publisher sites and blogs want to inform readers, bring more readers, etc – they want people to buy the books. So, you want people to read the content, not (necessarily) visit the website.
The extra step of clicking on a link really does keep people from reading the content – it certainly keeps me away. Very few teasers are enough for me to bother to read an article, but if I have the full article in front of me, I’m much more likely to at least skim it, if not read it in detail. Another key point is that many of us are reading our RSS feeds while working. And many readers work for large corporations or government entities that put up a lot of web filters. From experience, many SFF websites and blogs are blocked by these security filters. My understanding is that the Federal Government blocks pretty much all blogs. Some examples – Suvudu, SF Signal, YouTube, big name authors like Neil Gaiman – you guys are blocked by my corporation’s web security. But the content comes through RSS feed. If you want me to read, I need the full article (thank you Neil Gaiman and SF Signal for the full feed).
So, check your feed – is it a full feed? Tor, Suvudu, and many blogs – your feeds are not full feeds and I don’t read your articles as a result. I am not alone.
Also, don’t put ads in your RSS feeds. Flash is bad, ads are almost always Flash, it slows down the RSS feeds to a crawl and is extremely annoying. If you have ads in your RSS feed, you will almost certainly be dropped and I will no longer read your content.