Recently I switched my RSS feed from full to partial feed. I did this for a number of reasons, but the primary one is that I’m currently experiencing a rash of content scraping from my site, and one of the most effective ways to eliminate that is to stop publishing full feeds.
Wait. Let me back up a minute. We just discussed what an RSS feed is in this post, but basically the RSS feed is the “magazine” version of your blog that people can “subscribe” to, and the feed reader is your online mailbox. But making your blog simple to subscribe to, and then publishing your content fully in that subscription, means that other websites can set up programs that “scrape” in other words, STEAL your content and put it on your site as if it were their own. Sometimes you can do some various tricks (WordPress offers some great plugins that help) to make sure the content at least links back to your site (which is how I found my scrapers), but it’s a very annoying problem. So I switched to partial feed, and naturally, a few people complained about it.
I don’t blame them. I prefer full feed myself; it makes reading posts in a reader much easier. I can fly through posts that way, without having to do a lot of clicking over to the actual website. But… I have to confess that I have been incredibly impressed with how many people DO click over to my blog now that I have a partial feed published. My stats are through the roof, of course (I do not currently have any advertising that depends on website views, so this increase in readership on site has been personally gratifying rather than financially rewarding).
I was chatting with a friend about this, and she said something that resonated with me. She said (and I’m paraphrasing), “I work hard on my site. I work hard to make it look nice, to write the posts, to keep the topics interesting. Is it so awful, then, to just ask for the simple act of clicking on my actual site?”
I have to admit, that does give me pause. I read blogs that I love, bloggers whose lives I am deeply invested in, and is it a disservice to not give them the click? Of course commenting requires clicking over, and we all know why it’s important to leave comments, but not every post inspires a comment but I can always give the gift of a simple click.
I’m not sure what I’ll do in the long run; I’ve been thinking of my partial feed status as temporary, and the truth is I’m not that comfortable forcing readers to click through in order to read. But I’m going to think about the posts that mean the most to me and make a point to read them on the bloggers site, rather than in my feed reader. I’ve got clicks to spare*.
*Tomorrow I’m going to post about the Google Reader “next” button, which helps you read on the actual blogs. Stay tuned.