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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Two-Part RSS Question

    part i: how much information?

    In March of this year, Garrett Murray of Maniacal Rage posted a piece on the subject of RSS. One of his RSS pet peeves is that some blogs do not provide the full entry in their feed, just a teaser or synopsis. Many news sites are guilty of this as well.

    So, what do you think? Should blog and news feeds contain the entire entry or article, or just a teaser or synopsis? Please justify your answer.

    part ii: styling

    Most RSS feeds are entirely unstyled, and they look quite ugly. SitePoint, on the other hand, has crafted beautiful feeds, I assume via the use of XSL and CSS.

    So, what do you think? Should RSS feeds be completely unstyled, or should they "inherit" the site's appearance? Please justify your answer.

    I look forward to hearing your answers!

  2. #2
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    1. I consider RSS to be my teaser product. It gets people to my site. If they're interested in the story they'll visit; if not, I didn't waste the visitor's bandwidth. Seems like a fair compromise to me.

    2. Styling RSS seems like a good idea, especially if some unsuspecting visitor clicks on your XML feed link by mistake. If you are going to style the feed with XSL, I suggest you add a paragraph somewhere stating that the page is meant for use by RSS readers (and maybe explain what they are and where to get them if you really want to be long-winded), and a link to go to the text/html version of your news.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Addict psyon's Avatar
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    1.) I think a teaser is just fine. Like it was said already, it helps direct people to your site. I used to do a joke of the day, both in email, and on some sites via a javascript feed, and It used to only include a partial joke, you had to visit the page to see the rest.

    2.) I style HTML/XML if I am hand editing it so its easier for me to read. If its generated, Ill cram stuff together.

  4. #4
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    Yep, I've always felt that full posts in feeds are kind of annoying. I suppose that RSS readers should either be called that or headline readers, not news readers.

    Likewise, I've always felt styled feeds a good idea.

    So, you can tell that all my RSS feeds will be "teasered" and styled.


  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    I'm definitely a "full post" kind of guy, though I (will be) offer(ing) my users the choice (sorry guys, I've been lazy, it'll happen soon, promise!).

    Personally, when I'm reading RSS feeds I dont' want any unnecessary design elements. If I wanted that, I'd go to the website. A logo as part of the RSS header isn't bad. A picture isn't bad. HTML formatting is good. Beyond that, I unsubscribe.
    SVP Marketing, SoCast SRM
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  6. #6
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    A lot of people probably use readers with RSS feeds, so they'd likely want the full post.

  7. #7
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    Hmm... offering a choice is not a bad idea. People like choice!

  8. #8
    What a twist! Kings's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeremy W.
    I'm definitely a "full post" kind of guy, though I (will be) offer(ing) my users the choice (sorry guys, I've been lazy, it'll happen soon, promise!).

    Personally, when I'm reading RSS feeds I dont' want any unnecessary design elements. If I wanted that, I'd go to the website. A logo as part of the RSS header isn't bad. A picture isn't bad. HTML formatting is good. Beyond that, I unsubscribe.
    I don't think we're talking about styling the content in the RSS feed, but the RSS feed itself when viewed in a regular browser, using XSL or something similar, like SitePoint does, or Mark Pilgrim's feed or my own feed.

    I'm all for styling RSS feeds. I think it looks much better. I hate the raw XML that gets thrown at you when trying to view a feed.

    I prefer full posts as well, but from a publishers view-of-point I can see why you would only include a short description. If you include full posts, people might not visit your site anymore, and that would mean a decline in advertising revenue. The solution to that is RSS advertising.
    Dennis Pallett - NoCertainty - My Personal Weblog
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  9. #9
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    RSS advertising? Ugh.

  10. #10
    ☆★☆★ silver trophy vgarcia's Avatar
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    I forgot to mention that I'm most fond of Opera's approach to when a user clicks on a link to an RSS feed: open the RSS reader.

  11. #11
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    That's a nice feature... I wish NewsGator did that to Internet Explorer, and especially to Firefox.

  12. #12
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    My opinions about the two questions:

    1) My news feed is meant to be a teaser. The people using it are just trying to determine whether or not to visit my site. If I had a blog or something personal like that, then I can see including the full text, but I'm not interested in just "giving away" content, I'm looking to make it easier for people to know whether or not to visit my site - but the point is for them to visit.

    2) As I don't link directly to my feed, I like to a page with a list of feeds, I don't see much of a point to style it. When they get to the "rss" page, they'll have a message there about how to use the feeds, etc. As I don't want people using the feed if it's not "proper" use, I don't want to encourage visits by having the feed look "pretty". However - I admit I'm not completely on one side of the fence here, I have considered giving it just a bit of style for those clicking around.


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