Don’t Snippet Me, Damnit

~Easy to see why it's a "Dead End"~

Credit: flickr / ~Sage~

One of my favorite blogs just moved to snippets in the RSS feed. I hate snippets in my RSS, except for techmeme because I mostly tend to use the headlines to stay on top of industry news in a manageable way.

If you’re trying to monetize your website, it makes sense – it drives more traffic, right? Which means more ad clicks? I’m unconvinced, because I think RSS users are more savvy, and more savvy web-users are less likely to click on ads. Anyway, if someone’s using snippets I almost invariably unsubscribe from their feed. But I really like this blog and it’s useful.

I follow a good number of blogs, over 60 articles a day get processed through my RSS. This means that each subscription is a calculation of interest/new information vs. time. A snippet could take 3-5 times as long to read as via my RSS reader, even longer if I’m on my iPhone (in general, I just don’t read things I have to click-through on my iPhone, it’s too slow). I also need to make a judgement as to whether it’s worth the click-through. This calculation of information vs time is why I almost never read articles with light text on a dark background (less readable = longer to read), and recently unsubscribed from a blog which had interesting content, but was written verbosely and was hard to read.

This is the age of information overload. When you make your content less accessible – through poor design, bad writing, or through snippets you put a time tax on people reading your content. Personally, I rarely find this tax worth it.

Luckily, I’m a programmer, and instapaper has an API. This could be the answer I’ve been looking for.

But – I’m not that much of a hacker. And whilst solving what is (to me) a usability problem using code is appealing, invariably this kind of thing ranks lower than say, writing my thesis or coding something for that.

Anyway, after some more searching I finally found a solution I’m happy with – a Chrome extension called Google Reader Full Feed, via Lifehacker. Hitting ‘z’ expands the article. Truncated feeds are still unusable on my iPhone, but now on my computer they’re not a problem.

And, by the way, I finally got around to switching to Chrome recently. It’s so fast and awesome – I’m in love!



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