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Wednesday, 24 September 2008

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I use Google Reader, and strongly prefer a full feed. For the record, I currently have 461 subscriptions in Google Reader. I'm not going to click through to read everything--that's just not practical.

I used to read every word you wrote. Since you switched to partial feeds, I'm clicking through to read maybe a third to a half (and that's quite high for me--you're among my favorite blogs).

That said, I will click through to leave a comment (as I did here), or to read comments.

BTW, my Amazon bookmark is your affiliate link, so you're getting a few cents from me whether I ever visit the web page or not.

A trade off may be doing the full posts through the feeds, but dropping some ads into the feed posts as well. Sites like FeedBurner can do this for you automatically if you're using Google Adsense.

Mike:
I'm a full post reader and except for one financial site (Calculated Risk) I stopped subscribing to partial feeds because it interrupts my workflow.

Or my procrastination.

Anyway, I bought two books via the feed and website a few weeks ago based on a full feed review of a night time photo book. It probably doesn't bring you the 2c per day you're looking for, but as long as you continue to review and advocate good books, I will continue to be a buyer.

In the meantime, I apreciate the time you take to explain your preferences and puzzle through the options. It's the least I can do to keep reading.

Thank you.

Where do I tick if I have no real preference? :-)

Full feeds, definitely. I skim-read a hundred or so feeds daily, and because of that am much less likely to read something if I have to click through to it. As a web publisher myself, I understand your dilemma.

I'm not a typepad user, but perhaps there's a way to automatically add adverts into your feed without going via FeedBurner?

I read several blogs through Google reader. Most all have full feeds and I can honestly say that I prefer that over partial feeds.

From my point of view, the TOP partial feed is more aggravating only because I read greater than 99% of the posts (unlike other blogs).

But....

When TOP changed to partial feeds, I assumed that this was to increase page hits so that ad revenue would increase. We all need to make money. There's nothing evil / wrong / unethical about it.

Honestly, two clicks more? Give me a break. Isn't the essence of TOP a different, more thoughtful view of photography? It would seem that "making" me click through my reader to TOP only seems to fit with the overall personality of the blog.

Heaven forbid if we would actually have to pay for access!

Yesh!

Full feeds please!

The obvious solution is to charge $10/year for a link to the full feed, and make the partial one free.

One option worth exploring is having a weekly feed sponsor like John Gruber does (http://daringfireball.net/). The downside to this is that you have to make one post per week pointing out your sponsor, but in Gruber's case these posts are clearly demarcated from normal content.

I use the google-reader item on my google homepage. I like to read a bit more than just the first sentence to know wether or not to read the whole thing. I always come by the original article on this site to read the comments as well. Maybe there should be an option 'leave pics out', people would know if the article is interesting for them, and if they do find it interesting, they 'd definitely show up here on the site, since it's about photography...

Thomas D.,
Thank you for the reminder! I meant to add a "no preference" option but forgot. It's been added now.

Mike J.

Could you do two feeds, perhaps - one partial, like now, and one full that you later add advertising to when you can? That'd make everybody happy.

Meanwhile I really, really prefer your partial feed and I was overjoyed when you changed it. Would be a real letdown to have you change it back... There just is no good solution for you here, is there? ^_^

Mike,

I fully understand your concerns and why you do what you do - and it still is inconvenient as hell. I am one of those who read via a feed, and I do click through, but not all of the time. If I think about it, I can't really tell when I do click through and when I don't, but I'll let you know when I find out.

Hmm ... it must be something about wanting to see the post in the original layout. I suppose I prefer to read longer posts on the original site. I also prefer to see images on dark background, thus in many cases, when I know that the original site has a black or gray background, I click through. It does not apply here, but it can be a reason. In general I would say that a well layouted site draws me in.

Polls are another issue. I like polls, and at least the widgets that Brian Auer over at Epic Edits uses, are not displayed in Google Reader. Thus, to participate in a poll I have to click through. Can't tell about what you use, but I suppose it won't be displayed either.

Another reason is, when there are lots of comments, but the comments are not displayed in the feed (which they never are). On TOP there is such a big readership, and you so frequently pose questions, that interesting discussions are almost guaranteed. And, of course, I have to click through when I want to comment myself. The same is true on sites like Paul Butzi's Photomusings, generally on all sites that draw comments and discussions. Burning your feed with Feedburner is good for that, because there you have the option to display the number of comments.

OK. What would I do? I guess, if I were you, I would switch back to full feeds. If that is not an option, well, maybe you can make the excerpts longer, at least so long that I can read up to a point where I can easily decide if the rest is worth my time. Many sites seem to make that by having only a long introduction on the actual blog (adn therefore in the feed) and the rest available via a link. That's a model that I find quite acceptable and that has never annoyed me, but probably it'd be more work on your side.

Like many others I subscribe to a lot of feeds in my Google reader. It is simply not practical to visit each site individually. That's the Internet for you. In fact, IMO blogs readers make blogs possible.

I prefer full posts in my reader, and I click to the actual posts on the sites about 50% of the time. Clipped posts in readers are far less able to draw me in to the topic. In those cases I'm more likely to simply skip the post. Too many other posts to skim and read.

This whole New Economy thing is a mystery to me, and I earned my living writing software for 25 years from mainframe days to embedded firmware devices. When I first heard about open-system software, I thought those people were nuts. Why would anyone spend hours writing and debugging code if not for money? Made no sense to me then, doesn't now. My father was a machinist. He made stuff in our basement that our family could use, and occasionally helped out friends and neighbours, but if you asked him to spend his weekends making things and then leave them out in a bin by the side of the road for people to grab for free, he'd vote to lock you away in a loony bin.

Now we have self-publishing, and for some reason a lot of people expect to get access to all that content for free. How did this happen? Nobody expected to get newspapers for free. Nobody expects to get access to high-speed networks for free, but suddenly, because the delivery mechanism is on their desk, then they expect to read your work for free. Meanwhile, a small group of mega-corporations are making fortunes on the pennies-per-transaction that are generated by people who are doing the actual work of producing content that few people consider worth spending their money on.

As to what you wrote. The idea that somehow people out there will be turned off your site because they have to execute an extra click or two seems laughable to me. And I don't buy the argument that because they are power users that access to them is somehow, magically, good for you. That seems awfully similar to the argument that photographers should donate their work to high profile organizations just for the "credit", since that is worth so much more than money.

I find the idea that someone's time is SO valuable that they cannot afford to waste the time it takes to click on a link just a little bit too much for me to swallow. I'd be prepared to buy that argument from a surgeon in an emergency ward or from a fighter pilot in battle, but I doubt they'd be linking to your site when they're at work.

I'm in the full feeds camp as it "feels" better in the reader, except that I would not turn off from reading the online photographer if it stays with partial. The content is too interesting and enticing for me to electronically give Mike the finger. Instead I'll have a quick skim of the whole post and then click through to the page itself.

Using Google Reader. I prefer a full feed, and I click through to read the comments on particularly interesting articles.

Does Feedburner give you any control over the length of the excerpts? One of my favorite things about your blog, Mike, is the literary tone; giving us the first paragraph doesn't always lend an inverted-pyramid awareness of the article's aim--and it seems like currently Feedburner doesn't always make it through the first SENTENCE. A second 'graf would be a reasonable compromise.

P.S. Have you used Google Reader much? It's really transcendent. Might give you some brainstorms (and affiliate links work fine)...

Thank you for being so frank and open about this issue Mike,personally I've no preference other than I value your site and try to help by buying your book recommendations when I can,do hope you work out something appealing to the majority which also fits your requirements.
Michael

I might not mind the ads if they were presented with any taste. Since you give the full court press with them, I target them with my ad blocker. Sites that show some restraint with their advertising model don't get that treatment from me (for example, never block ads from sites like Kottke or Daring Fireball).

Hi Mike,

I use Google Reader and read about 150 blogs through it. To me, whether you have to click through or not is a non-issue. Lots of magazine feeds, like the New Yorker, require click-throughs to read the article contents, and they provide a much smaller abstract than you do. I've always tried to use your affiliate links to buy stuff, although I'll admit, I don't buy as much online as I used to since I moved to Asia. The shipping charges sometimes cost more than the item itself.

I can only speak for myself, however. I wonder about people who make vague threats about not reading you anymore on a partial feed. If you're not making any money off of them anyway....

Not that I'm suggesting your loyal reader community should be viewed as wallets with internet connections, mind.

Speaking of affiliates, have you tried with Freestyle Photo? Do they even have an affiliate program?

If it's going to be a partial feed - and I fully accept the reasons for configuring it this way - then there needs to be a sufficiently large extract for me to judge a) what the post is about and b) whether I'm going to be interested enough to read the whole thing. I'm not convinced the current sample is sufficient. For example, the feed extract for "Real Innovation from Leica" doesn't actually tell me what kind of system they've released, so either I'm going to sigh, click through to find out, and sigh some more when I realise it makes zip-all difference to my life; or I'm not going to bother reading it at all. (OK, I guess in the former case you still get the page views and you may not care about my irritation, unless I give up reading the site altogether perhaps.) If the feed will cause me to view every article in full anyway, what's the point of having it?

Funny ... I'm using Thunderbird as RSS feed reader, and the old posts show text + photos without the blog layout, comments and ads ("full RSS feed"?), whereas the new posts show the complete blog webpage with ads, comments, etc in the Thunderbird window.

I recall that when I set up Thunderbird long time ago, I told it to show the complete linked webpage instead of the partial feed whenever the RSS feed offers only a partial view, and it does so perfectly.

However, I do not know whether every possible RSS reader offers the option to render complete HTML websites whenever the feed only contains partial posts ...

I'd say full feeds. While I prefer to read posts in the web site context, many feeds are edited and re-posted (typically to include a "featured comment"). In this case I'd rather jump to the end of the feed to see the edit than load the entire web page (with all the comments) and scroll up and down, trying to locate the edit. But as others have already said, T.O.P. is quite addictive, so it will take more than the "partial feeds" option to keep me off.

Take an evidence-based approach to this conundrum, Mike. Don't be swayed by emotional blackmail. You wrote "since I went to a partial feed, the hits on the website are up, but so is the number of people subscribing to the feed". Seems to point only one way, to me.

We must resist this "Web 2" attitude that content is essentially free and throw-away: "There's plenty more where that came from." Go on, call their bluff -- it's their loss. (Hey, this Curmudgeon thing is catching...)

Don't worry about it. Just run with partial and I'm sure someone will rip all your content and create a separate feed later.

Hello Mike!

I've been a long time reader of your blog, and I'm a little ashamed to admit that this is the first time that I've actually left a comment to any of your posts. I love your writing and together with all the (often) insightful comments the material has to this day not given me any reason to share my thoughts.

However, although I absolutely understand your theoretical (?) benefits of choosing the "partial" posting process, I must admit that I strongly prefer reading "full" blog posts.

My number one reason is my bad memory. I subscribe to ~30 photography oriented blogs and I love all the useful, inspiring and informative material that continuously enters my “unread posts”-box. Remembering every little detail is unfortunately not possible, especially not for periods that extend past the end of the day. My solution to finding the little pearls that are hidden within all the blogs is to use the Google Reader search function (so obviously I use Google Reader to manage my subscriptions). It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s efficient and I use it on a worryingly regular basis. If you decide to permanently stick with the “partial” posts your site will be effectively ruled out of my searches. Bad for me, but perhaps not that big a deal for you.

My second reason for preferring the full posts contradicts the ethics of efficient work – I always read all my blogs in my office. Bad? Yes, but it’s been a way of easing myself into the tasks of the day for the past several years. Reading the posts in my Google Reader allows me to be at least rather discrete, as opposed to loading the attractive yellowness of T.O.P webpage. In addition, there has been at least one advertisement on T.O.P that displayed a significant amount of nude flesh – not very compatible with a crowded office environment.

Of course you could argue against both these reasons with “just write down what you like in a separate file or on a piece of paper and you know where you have your so called pearls” and “read your blogs at home”. The former would definitely be possible, but also a whole lot more work. The beauty of digital information is the quick and easy access. Writing everything down in a file or on paper means time consuming manual scanning or using the non-intelligent office/windows search. And how do I know today everything that I might want to know tomorrow? As for the second argument; I am a man of habbits. I like them, they work for me and the case of reading blogs in the early morning hour it increases my efficiency for the rest of the day. Not to mention that I already work overtime that is definitely not proportional to the time it takes to enjoy the blogs. And at home I have a much less nice computer screen.

Needless to say, if I have to choose between receiving partial posts in my reader and getting no T.O.P enjoyment at all due to the forces of economy, then I will definitely choose the former. With no complaints what so ever.

Thanks again for a great site and beautiful work.

/Emil

one of the reasons that I use firefox is the ease of navigating through the tabbed browsing. I use google reader primarily to let me know which site is updated and then ctrl-click to get the site opened in a new tab, thus I don't lose my place in the reader when jumping to the actual website. (I'm amazed at the number of websites that prevent this style of browsing.)

I would think that if you enjoy the content, the means would be irrelevant.

Mike,

Just to be clear on my vote, I'd much prefer to have full read in the feed. At the same time, I'll make this work however it works best for you.

Though I've voted for a Republican only once in my life, I find it really ironic how most everyone in this country will identify with the capitalist approach to political economy, but yet so many also get incredibly testy when someone does things to make money.

Do what you need to do to pull in a bit of a better life for you and your son. I'll come along.

Joe

I voted for "full feed" as that's what I prefer, because I do, in fact, read much of what I consume entirely from the Google Reader page. That said, I'm quite sympathetic to your advertising argument, and as I would rather you keep doing what you're doing I'm fine with the minor but real inconvenience.

But as another option, some sites do embed advertising into their feed posts, providing (potentially) the best of both worlds.

Hi Mike, and thank you for letting us have our say.

I use Google Reader but fortunately I have an extension that allows me to expand the partial post to the full webpage.

Full feed would of course be better for me and more convenient, but this is your blog and your living so I respect your decision. You having to get a day-job would be a loss to me.

I use Netnewswire to read about 200+ feeds and definitely prefer full feeds over partial, though with some feeds (like PennyArcade.com, a webcomic) it's understandable to have to view the content on their page.

On the subject of ads, perhaps you could consider doing what John Gruber of DaringFireball.net does in his feed, which is announce sponsors via short posts. Of course, he only has one sponsor per week, but it works really well for him.

Mike, I've voted 'don't care' though I have a slight preference to full feeds; in most cases I click through to the website even with full feeds. Then again: i don't have hundreds of feeds like some people have - I wouldn't have the time to read them anyway so I decided long ago to only keep the really interesting ones ;). With partial feeds, the feed need to be long enough so I know what the article is about.

Anyway - have you ever thought about the fact that people using RSS readers, who according to you are most likely to be "power users", probably also use ad-blockers in their browsers? So you have your page count, but they still don't see the ads...

Full feeds, definitely.

I wrote my own feed reader, and can flag interesting articles in it to save for future reference. If the feed has only partial content, I won't be able to search past saved articles as effectively because the search will only have the first few paragaraphs to work with.

Partial content would also interfere with my feed reader's ability to automatically filter out articles about stuff I am not interested in, like anything with a mention of Pentax in it. This would reduce the feed's effective signal to noise ratio to the point that I may have to cull it as I do periodically with underperforming feeds, in an attempt to limit information overload.

As for the notion of s subscription-based feed, it's not a completely absurd model, Peter Aczel did it for the Audio Critic. Then again, I subscribe to over 400 feeds, and if I spent $10 on each, it would add up.

Unh-hunh, Paypal, right. The place that signed a consent decree with 26 state attorney generals, the last I heard. That arbitrarily and randomly cuts people off from their funds. Micropay is a great idea, but it's probably going to wait until after banking reform.

Some feed readers, such as Bloglines, allow users decide whether to see the whole feed, a summary or just the headlines - by individual feed. This makes the full or partial debate a bit immaterial as the recipient can override your preference for full feeds anyway. It also means the best thing to do is go for a full feed and let people decide for themselves. It's like pleasing all of the people all of the time...

I use Sage-Too in Firefox
http://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/7263
and it's REALLY nice:

It gives me a panel on the left with my feeds,
has not only a refresh button, but a Discover Feeds button ( never used it: got too many feeds as it is :), and a nifty Show Only Updated Feeds button...

Which means I can choose which feed I want to read, and see only that in the main pane of my browser-window.

( it's also got an Auto-Refresh feature, I've disabled, settable to any number of minutes -- but since refresh is based on my attention, why waste resources doing it according to a clock? )

I've got 'em organized into group-folders.
* Daily
* Wednesday
* Weekend
* -then-some-others-

This way I can keep my life ( by not even *seeing* the feeds that need be checked only once/week -- just "open" or "close" the appropriate folder ), and keep up with the stuff I *have* to keep up with.
( photo *tech* I see only weekly, photo *quality* I see daily )

I *prefer* full feeds, by far, *but*...

... believe they increase the bandwidth costs significantly ( for some it matters ). Why download the same 50 articles, several times a day, every day?

The "Why Not Both?" post, above, gets it right.

It isn't an "Either || Or" situation, it's a Both Of The Three situation.

Make a partial feed, with the last (infinity-1) items, *&* make a full-with-adverts feed, that only has the most recent 4-8 items.

Preferably Atom & rss, both ( rss is a broken/crippled "standard", the sooner it dies, the better for everyone )

Cheers,

Full Feed.

Instead of trying to force us to click through, try enticement. For starters, I actually prefer reading the feed because it is easier to read. Make the "articles" cleaner and nicer to read. Make them thing well illustrated. Give me a reason to click through. Currently I generally only do it for the comments.

Actually, I don't mind partials to much if it is a lot of an article (say several paragraphs). But I still want a layout that is readable.

"I would think that if you enjoy the content, the means would be irrelevant."

Sure. Just like if you enjoy photography, the ergonomics of your camera are irrelevant. Who cares if you have to click through a few menus to change the ISO? It's only a few seconds.

My feed reader is a tool I use constantly, and it's important to me. Making that tool work worse pisses me off. It might seem minor, but it grates just like any ergonomic imperfection.

I also take exception to the people who suggest that people like me "have a problem with" Mike making money, or with paying for content. I was a 37th Frame subscriber. I have no moral objection to paying for content. I do have a problem with seeing my tools regress in usability.

I'll add that at least you aren't on the end of the spectrum that The Luminous Landscape occupies. I rarely visit their site since it's nearly impossible to sort out the new content from the garishly presented ads.

Why is it that sites devoted to photography look so ugly? One would think that people who are visual artists would have a better sense of style and design.

Finally, if I ever bought a book that you recommended, I would use the Amazon affiliate program. I don't want to be too much of a stick in the mud.

Mike,

I have been following your blog since it's inception. I use Google Reader and follow over 100 blogs and news sites through it. I definitely prefer full feeds. You are one of my favorite blogs and I do in fact click through to your site when I want to read or leave comments. I would be less inclined to read as many full posts if I were forced to click through to read them. It may only be an extra minute to click through, but multiply that by 20, 50, or 100 posts from various blogs in one day and that time ads up very quickly. I use a feed reader as a convenience and to dramatically speed up the process of sorting trough hundreds of posts a day and identifying those I wish to read. Partial feeds are counter productive to my work flow.

Hi Mike,

I registered my preference, but FYI I'll read your blog anyway, using the most convenient method available, and adapt my TOP habit accordingly.

I somewhat sympathize with your dilemma, but since it is TOP's great success and large and passionate following that makes these decisions difficult, I'm not too broken up about it.

You may or may not be interested in hearing two aspects of this issue that I didn't see mentioned above, so (Full disclosure: I'm a longtime freeloading MJ fan, though I buy through TOP's Amazon and B&H links whenever possible.):

I may be alone in this, but bandwidth is an issue for me. I often check into TOP and other sites via a slow cell phone WAP connection, a practice that RSS makes practical. I like to read full articles then and come back to some of them to see the photos and read comments when I have better access. It helps me pass the time on a train or bus in a pleasant way, plus I get to keep up.

Partial feeds make this more difficult (on WAP, "just another click" can become several clicks and a couple of minutes' waiting). I think I could find a way to block ads in full feeds, which may or may not defeat the purpose for you. I would think the "power users" should be able to work that out, though I'm sure most of them would prefer a more ethical alternative. But it's a numbers game, so for all I know that path may strike just the right balance, winks and all.

On the other hand, it is probable that progress will put a better mobile solution in my hands in the near future, better enough to moot the issue for me. (Assuming I don't lose the opportunity to browse blogs on the hoof by then.)

The other point I want to make is that the community you've attracted and nurtured is one of TOP's great assets. I think the way that you respect your readers, create intimacy with them, and blur the line between readers, commenters and contributors, is a significant factor in the success of TOP and in the quality of its community. From a selfish reader/fan perspective, I have a small concern if some of that community will find it less convenient to participate as much or as often as they do now.

Of course that may be so much natural anxiety in the face of change and I could be way off base here. I'm sure the thought has crossed your mind too. In the end, I think you doing exactly the right thing: Exercising your prerogatives as sole proprietor/blogger and try things out to see what works best for you and for your community.

Cheers, and continued success,
robert e

I would prefer a full feed.

I read a fair number of blogs and that saves time, especially if I am reading through my iphone. I find I miss more content on sites that require me to click through, since I have to make a quick decision to plow on through based on the snippet of text, or move on to other blogs/content. Often I'll move on, unless the teaser is interesting or relevant to what I have been thinking about lately. For blogs with a track record (like TOP), I'm more likely to click through to read partials.

Ad-blockers are easy to set up and use, so I'm not sure that that preserves your ad views for the more web-savvy readers, partial feed or not. I like the idea of buying gear/books via referral links, and would likely avail myself of that from time to time.

I use Google Reader, too, but there are a couple of photo blogs/pages that I just go read every day. At the *actual page.* Imagine that. TOP is one.

No, seriously, as much as I like any RSS feed, some things are better read in the original. It's not hard to have a folder of links, choose "Open All in Tabs" and read through them fairly quickly. No big deal.

I'm a feed user, and I say stick to your position, Mike. It may be annoying to some, but there's no reason you should work for free. Many many blogs (the vast majority methinks) are done just for fun, but this is your bread and butter, as I understand it.

Here's another vote for looking into the daringfireball.net model. Gruber started with a paid full feed model and switched to the sponsorship model. He has one small (related) ad on his site, which actually makes that ad spot more desireable and therefore more valuable and the weekly sponsorship as noted in other comments here. He quit his day job and now blogs full time.

I really like the full feed, and I'm willing to pay the $0.02/day to get it. How about a tip-jar link to paypal / amazon?

I use google reader on my windows-mobile phone and the extra clicks are a noticeable hassle.

I prefer full posts primarily because I do most of my blog reading on my handheld when I have spare moments... the idea being that when I'm at my computer I'll actually get something done. And loading all the ads over the EDGE network adds significantly to the wait time (it's not just an extra click in this case). However, I fully understand the reasoning for partial posts and you should stick with whatever works for you. In my case, it may just mean I visit TOP when I'm at my computer instead....

I read a few hundred feeds (insane, I know) but apparently don't take the same position on this site as most other avid users of feed readers, despite my general preference for full feeds.

In my feed reader, a press of the spacebar takes me to the next unread article. Pressing the return key opens that article in a background browser that doesn't become active till I switch to it. It doesn't interrupt workflow at all - in other words, retrieving each new article from its excerpt requires just one single press of a key and does not interrupt workflow.

Here's the important bit: each browser window tab contains the article together with the comments that, unlike those appearing on so many sites I read, are actually worth reading. You have a great community of writers _and_ comment writers. Is there a feed for comments that people have been following? If not, perhaps a significant proportion of those complaining with such unexpected energy just don't read and respond to comments - they click through only when they want to write one. In which case, I'm wondering whether the initial loss of these readers would be more than made up for by an improved response to articles. The gain might more than offset the loss.

Though I'm a happy Daring Fireball subscriber and reader, Mr. Gruber's position is not to publish comments so full feeds made more sense for that site than they do for this one. (That is, back when subscribing was the only way to get full DF feeds.)

TOP feels like more of a community and a very knowledgeable and generous one - anything you do that encourages people to visit and read both the article and the responses to it isn't wrong or mean or ruthless, particularly if it generates more income and makes this place more likely to survive.

I'd be delighted to subscribe, to see ads in the feeds and to see weekly sponsorship messages but am just fine with excerpts. Like others, my Amazon UK bookmark is your affiliate link. Whatever you choose to do about feeds, I hope it's something that helps this site commercially and helps its growth and survival - it's too just too good a place to risk losing.

I say make the full feed a pay feed and the partial feed free to attract readers. I only use feeds to let me know a site has new content and then I'll go to the actual site to see it.

If I go to a restaurant with a great chef and I order the roast chicken but what I really want is the prime rib, they won't substitute the prime rib for free. The site is presented to you in a certain form just like food at a restaurant. But wait, what if the dishware looks hideous and the old guy in the corner with the violin sounds atrocious? Do I not eat great food because of it? No, I pay the extra cost for delivery or takeout. So if you want to not visit the "restaurant" pony up the cash for takeout. Simple as that.

Hi Mike,

I like full feeds. I just tried to kick you a few bucks through the tip jar, but got an error which said that the transaction *might* have gone through. Frustrating, because I don't think it worked but I don't want to chance it working twice.

I do use the affiliate link.

I will keep reading your blog as long as you have some kind of feed. I usually click through anyway, it's just that when I'm on my iPhone, I prefer not to.

Good luck figuring this out.

hi Mike,

Full feeds myself, as I read all my feeds on the go, on an iPhone, so it's definitely less convenient for me to click through. Having said that, I know this site is good enough for me to do so, so I will whatever you decide. Where I think you might come a cropper is new readers; I often sign up to new feeds to see if the writing is of a sufficient quality for them to join my (select) number of feeds. If I add a new one, and find it consists of partial feeds, it disappears pretty quickly- it just doesn't get read. So your short term benefit from your loyal base is likely to be high, but I don't know what it will do for your long term expansion/churn.

Just my tuppence...

I have 168 feeds in google reader. I browser them there, or in NetNewsWire on my Mac, or in a variety of other ways - on my blackberry when I have a spare moment, that sort of thing.

If a site has partial feeds, I can't read it the majority of the times I browser through reader.

I use RSS [Really Simple Syndication (RSS 2.0)] to aggregate content (the Syndication is a giveaway there). I don't tend to bother reading sites so often that only have partial feeds, mainly because I can't quite often.

The flip side of that is I typically click through to the site when I am on a bigger machine, if I find an article interesting, want to see the associated images (which is often with photographically related content) or want to comment.

So I'd be tempted to suggest keep full feeds, but don't include images in the feeds.

people's preference only matters indirectly to how much money the site is making for you. determine which method is making you more money per feed and reader and go with it.

I'm getting this for free. it costs me nothing. how can I complain?

Hi.

I'm a google reader user an I actually prefer full-text feeds, but I think it's fair if you just publish partial feeds for two reasons:

First, as you said (and I thought even before fully reading this post), nobody wants to work for free.

Second, this is not necessarily a democracy, it's your business. That's ok to let anyone read your texts without generating any money for you, but I don't think it's fair to give a possible income away to please someone who read your blog for free and don't want to open a browser tab. *I*'d be selfish if I ask you to do so.

PS: English isn't my first language. This explains any grammatical error I commit.

Micropayments, where you pay some small amount like a cent or two for an article, are a terrible idea. It's often been proposed, but research into it has shown that it doesn't work - people get hugely put off by it.

The problem is that when you set a cost of, say one cent for an article, the cost for the reader is not just one cent. The money is cheap enough to be immaterial, but the user will have to decide each and every time whether they should risk reading the article or not, worry if they're accumulating more charges than they think they are, and generally feel nickel-and-dimed. The cost of the worry associated with even the lowest pay is enough to put off many, even most users. An article may be well worth 2 cents, but it won't be worth the worry about whether to pay the 2 cents or not for that particular article.

This is the major reason all you can eat-plans for cellphones and similar are popular even when most users would actually save money by going to a metered plan. The ease of mind is more than worth the extra cost for many users.

Once you mentioned the 2¢ thing and I realised that at that price I would be getting TOP 365 days a year for less than the price of a monthly photography magazine (or at least the equivalent ££ here in the UK!) I was off to throw some money in the tip jar...

(Incidentally, I don't even use the feeds, just a live bookmark, but what the hey...)

Daring Fireball (my favourite Mac blog) went through this issue a while ago. What works there is a subscription based Full RSS Feed, where users pay (I think $15 per year) for a full rss feed. The standard feed is only the first few lines of posts. John Gruber of DF also has weekly sponsors from software developers that he writes a post about every week.

Just a few ideas. I too prefer full feeds, and would be willing to pay for it.

I voted "I don't care" because I don't, I use igoogle and just click on the link when a new post pops up.

But, I would make that partial feed a full paragraph, right now it cuts off in the middle of a sentence (in my mouseover), that looks weird.

Please return to full feeds. I still click through to the site on around 1 out of 5 posts, when I think the comments will be insightful or to comment myself. I would also gladly contribute towards a tip jar, and you could even make this a condition of getting the full feed.

Thanks for explaining full versus partial feeds. I voted "don't care". I'm relatively new to photography and love reading your blog - learn new stuff all the time - so much better than what I was reading before: gearheads arguing endlessly about camera specs oblivious to photography's aesthetic dimension. Particularly love the recommended books which are great education. I'm sending you a years' worth @ 2 cents a day. Fantastic bargain for an ongoing photography course.

Your current snippets are too short for me to decide if I want to read the particular article. Which on the one hand increases the chances that I'll click through, I guess, but also increases the chances that I'll be annoyed.

For TOP I'll generally click through even if I read the whole article in the feed, to see the comments, since they're often valuable.

Anyway -- if you do decide to stick to partial feed, could the part be bigger? Enough so I can tell if I want to read that article, anyway?

The really nice thing about full feeds is that it allows me to read your site at work. Nobody blinks if they see a Google logo on your screen. They assume you're researching something you're coding. But to have a blog up on the screen, particularly a colorful one? No can do.

So it's full feed or I just can't read. I'm waiting this one out, but if the final decision is to stick with partial feeds, then I'll just unsubscribe.

"Anyway -- if you do decide to stick to partial feed, could the part be bigger? Enough so I can tell if I want to read that article, anyway?"

DD-B (and everyone else who asked this),
As far as I can figure out, TypePad only gives me two options--full or partial feed. I don't control how much it publishes. It's all automatic (again, as far as I've been able to figure).

That's part of the problem with some of the other comments in this thread too--the suggestions are great, but I don't know how to implement them. Some of the example blogs people are pointing to are built by web developers and programmers who can run ninety rings around me--they're using tools I don't even understand. So my options are limited--no fault of any of yours, just my own.

Mike J.

Mike,

Speaking as someone from a similar position, ( I'm short, bearded, and moderately unattractive ), self-employed, I have come to the conclusion, that the customer is mostly wrong, and an asshole to boot. My business improves when I ignore the customer, and focus on the business at hand.

I gave up using macro programs, when I finally realized that it took 10 hours of work to save 2 hours over the course of 5 years. If they can't click through, that's their problem; nose and face metaphor.

Mike, you have one of the best sites on the interwebs; and seeing authors of other sites pop up on your site just confirms it. News, aesthetics, philosophy, ads; it's all good, and as soon as this rough week is gone, 12 cents in the exchequer, I'll be adding a small sum to yours.

Bron

Either you are the Daring Online Photographer or Gruber is The Online Mac Columnist, given the apparent number of readers you have in common. I'm surprised but pleased.

I learned this by reading the comments on the web page. (Cheap shot, I know. :-) )

I use Google Readers "Next" bookmarklet to go through feeds. It allows me to read blogs on their actual site instead of reading through some separate reader program.

Here is a quote: “The "Next" bookmarklet allows you to use Google Reader through just one link -- clicking on it takes your browser to the next unread item in your reading list (marking it as read in the process).”. Here’s some more: http://fronttowardenemy.wordpress.com/2006/09/29/the-google-reader-next-button/

I voted for Partial feeds.

I used to provide full feeds on one of my blogs, but switched to partial feeds for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it increases the likelihood of both visits and commenting.

Secondly, formatting - full feeds in RSS can often get mangled just enough to make them a pain, whereas partial feeds are easier to control. This is something happening on the reader side, so you have no control over it whatsoever.

Thirdly, cost. I run no ads, but I do pay for hosting of the server I run the blog on. I also pay per Mb of traffic over a certain amount. I found that with so many feed readers pulling down huge RSS feeds with full articles, it cost a lot of bandwidth.
Many RSS feed readers get set by the impatient to pull down the feed every hour or so. Partial feeds saved me money, and that was a simple solution.

As a reader, I prefer full feeds.
But as a writer, I'm happier with partial feeds, so I fully understand if you go with those.

Um, Mike?
Why don't you just have both available?

Leave the 'full' one available, and have a new RSS feed for ppl who want 'partial'?

They do that over at the Consumerist. Full has ads, partial has no ads.

I definitely prefer full feed over partial. That said, when TOP switched over it didn't really bother me and I clicked through to many articles. It totally makes sense that you should profit from your work. If i could pay 2c a day without having to buy a thousand+ dollar tv for the service I probably would :-)

However, if all of the feeds I subscribed to went to partial then it would take significantly longer to get my daily fix of information. I would cut down on the number of streams I follow (I've cut out other streams that went to partial posts).

I love tech and the web as much as the next geek, but for some reason I like to visit my favorite sites the old fashioned way. I actually go to the site every time instead of reading the feed to see if something looks interesting.

Those who read feeds will almost always prefer the whole thing. When I switched my site from full to partial, I got a bunch of complaints and switched it back.

As you know, we're entering a period where serious tools are becoming commonplace. The number of photography enthusiasts will only continue to grow. It's true that using partial posts in the feed will bring some folks here that would otherwise never visit. However I think you'll gain more, from a monetary standpoint, by giving the people what they want and continuing to build your readership. You have an opportunity to have an extremely large readership, and that will far outweigh the benefits of trying to make sure that everyone is treating you fairly.

It's just one of the growing pains of being an old media guy in a new media game. Maybe you could sack Photoborg and instead use that time and energy to add paid "premium content" of some sort to TOP.

All the best,
Amin

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