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!

5 Thoughts

  1. Hey, I didn’t know instapaper; that’s nice, maybe I’ll give it a try.

    I don’t like snippets either. I don’t subscribe to sites that do not publish full article via RSS and I totally understand your reasons: I have the same!

    If you write this about the beloved blog, I guess that there is no way to have the full articles back in the RSS feed? That’s an odd behavior from the author(s) of this blog; I’m curious to understand their reasons as you probably have explained to them how logical it is to publish full articles in RSS feed. I mean, I follow your blog with your RSS feed and, still, I click on the link when I want to comment or react to your posts!

    Strange…

    • Anonymous says:

      I asked her and she said that people had requested snippets – presumably those people who only read *some* articles… it seems odd to annoy your devoted readers in order to make your less devoted readers happy! But meanwhile the chrome extension is working really well and I’m happy with that :-)

      You’re very good at commenting – I appreciate it! Myself I’m a terrible lurker on the internet!

      • It’s a strange reaction, I agree, since most of the RSS readers have a list mode… It doesn’t sound logical…

        I’m glad you appreciate the comments; I like what you write and that worths a feed-back: please go on publishing, I like to read your posts. I also thank you for your answers to the comments: it’s nice to read your reactions and to have answers to questions. It makes the posts come to life and become discussions, which can be small or more developed, but that definitely add a value.

        Moreover, what you write is useful for me; I learn from your experience (you’re studying the influence networks people develop on Twitter; you, at least, experience influence on your blog 😉 (I couldn’t tell for the Twitter part: I follow tweets only irregularly currently)). Thanks again, and please go on publishing, I’ll follow ;-).

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