The New Christians

The New Christians

Open Thread: How Much of the Blog to Syndicate?

If you are reading this in an RSS reader, please click on the post.

rss.gifSee what I had to do there? Because if you, like me, read all of your blogs in an RSS reader, then you only see the headline and the first two lines of text on this blog. And, if you’re like me, you very rarely click on the headline to read the entire post.

Here at Bnet, only Scot McKnight has his entire feed syndicated. The rest of us get only the first two lines. The reason, as you might guess, is that Bnet wants you to come to my actual blog so that your eyeballs see the advertisements on the site (but, again, if you’re like me, you’ve got an adblocker installed in Firefox and just see black spaces where the ads are supposed to be.


I’ve advocated a middle ground to Bnet — that they’d syndicate everything before the jump…

…then I’d have the opportunity to write some compelling copy that might hook you enough to click thru and read the rest of the posts.  Many of the best blogs to which I subscribe do this, and I often find myself clicking thru if they offer me 2-3 compelling paragraphs, as opposed to 2-3 lines. And, as a blogger, I find it difficult to say enough in 2-3 lines to get you interested.

Further, my images never show up in the feed. It’s become clear in the blogosphere that images result in more clicks.

The other option, of course, is to sell ads that show up in the bottom of the feed, which other blogs do. This doesn’t bother me at all.

So, I ask you, does the 2-3 line tease dissuade you from coming to the actual blog? What would get you to click thru? And, conversly, what — like ads in the feed — would piss you off?

Comments read comments(29)
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posted May 6, 2009 at 12:25 pm

I hate the adds, and would much prefer syndication of the entire post. I can view it on my iPhone then with an RSS app, and have it cached, instead of having to read it via the browser.

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Jim Marks

posted May 6, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I would advocate ads and complete (or fairly complete) content in the feed.
a) I read RSS through Google Reader in Firefox and ad blocker still works :-)
b) It is hard enough to write a good blog post without having to worry about front loading the first couple paragraphs as “enticement”.

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Jake Bouma

posted May 6, 2009 at 1:18 pm

I’m way less likely to click through… unless you have a great title for your post. Anything would be better, even the middle ground.

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posted May 6, 2009 at 1:20 pm

I read RSS through Google Reader w/Firefox and AdBlocker Plus, too (love it) and would much prefer the “after the jump” syndication to the 2-3 line version you have currently.
I only have one other subscription that does the 2-3 line thing (not a news site, more personal journal that I can read infrequently, in chunks); they just don’t make sense to subscribe to. In my periodic feed clean up, it’s been the #1 thing that’s made me consider unsubscribing.
Especially in Google Reader, it’s nice to be able star, add notes to (e.g., “to read”), save and search old entries (can’t search in 2 to 3 lines!) which makes it much easier to recommend/link back to/or Twitter individual blog posts (to expose it to people who are potential new readers). It would also make the Bnet brand seem more tech savvy than they do currently.

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Mike Croghan

posted May 6, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Yes, this is definitely a deterrent. In fact, yours is one of the few blogs (as in, one of maybe two or three) that syndicates like this that I actually keep in my reader. (I have about 137 feeds in my reader at the moment.) Yes, this means that I have a very high opinion of the quality of your content – and also the comments on you blog. But I would definitely read your content much more frequently if you syndicated the whole post, or syndicated “above the jump” – and people who don’t dig your content like I do are probably just bumping you from their reader – like I do with almost all feeds that syndicate just the first few sentences.
I would have no problem whatsoever with ads in the feed.

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Chirs S.

posted May 6, 2009 at 1:47 pm

I think this is only the 3rd time in as many months that I’ve clicked through to the site. It would be much more likely for me to click through if the entire post came through RSS, that way I would read it, click through, and engage in the comment section.
I don’t want to spend my time clicking through only to find out that it’s not a post I want to comment on.
Add an ad of two at the bottom of the post in the feed, I’m cool with that.

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Jonathan Stegall

posted May 6, 2009 at 2:10 pm

I would love to see a full feed, and ads in such a feed wouldn’t bother me at all.

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posted May 6, 2009 at 2:21 pm

If I were still a dispensationalist, Tony’s advocacy for “middle ground” would certainly have been one of the signs of the apocalypse.

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Ted Seeber

posted May 6, 2009 at 2:57 pm

The whole bloody business model of the web is against the original purpose of the Internet and the Web- to share information FREELY. Trying to make money on the web just leads to crap like this.

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Julie Clawson

posted May 6, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Can’t see the ads? Then you’re missing the great one for colon cleansing at the top of your site right now…
Anyway, I am one of those internet dinosaurs who doesn’t use a feed reader. I tried and just found it too annoying. I click on the actual blog. Maybe it’s a preference for reading something in the setting the author posted it to, maybe it’s my preference for joining in the conversation with the community there, maybe I’m just weird. So there are some of us (or maybe just me) who do click through.

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Dave Huth

posted May 6, 2009 at 5:04 pm

I prefer to read the entire post (with images please!) in my RSS reader.
I do often click through to the site, but not always. Typically, like others here, I don’t even subscribe to feeds that try the “enticement to click through” method. Your blog is an exception.
I daily read Scot’s blog, and really appreciate the full post. I often click through to the site anyway to read the comments. I prefer this method.
I would tolerate ads in my reader, but would block them the first chance I get. Just sayin’!

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Darren King

posted May 6, 2009 at 5:43 pm

Maybe it would be helpful to ask how many people read via a RSS reader versus from the site itself.
Vote #1: I actually read from the site itself. I have a Google homepage with links to my favorite blogs and sites. I click through to the sites I like each day to see what’s new. I actually find this cuts down on the time and effort spent constantly clicking to see “more”.

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Scott M

posted May 6, 2009 at 6:04 pm

As a rule, I don’t follow blogs that don’t publish full posts in the RSS feeds. Yours is the exception since I follow you on twitter and some of your tweets catch my interest. So I sorta follow your blog through twitter.

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posted May 6, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Tony…I totally agree with you. If you have to shorten what shows up in a feed at least let it be a paragraph, otherwise I’m forced to decide to read or not based on the title. I don’t even read the 2 or 3 lines.
Generally I think just put the whole thing in a reader and ask a question that forces somebody to come and comment or read the comments, but if you have to shorten the feed…make it longer.

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Blake Huggins

posted May 6, 2009 at 9:30 pm

I’m a fan of the full feed since I read all my blogs through a feed reader. Titles and the first paragraph are usually what pulls me into click through. Images are a close third. I too would be an advocate of the middle ground.
Also, I like to follow comments via an RSS feed if possible. Sites that don’t offer them annoy me (yours is one of the only ones). Any chance Bnet might incorporate that in the future?

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posted May 7, 2009 at 4:08 am

In a few years, we will look back at this and yawn.
For right now, the technology is, once again, behind our needs.
Some sites are just better set up to be visited directly in a browser. This is one of them.
When I’m on the train and reading with my netbook or on the small screen they give you on aeroplanes, I love google’s reader – the feeds are much faster to navigate and google keeps track in their mother ship.
So please, just work harder on your thesis sentences and remember, this, too, shall pass.
Ads are what save us from subscriptions so we can read higher quality sites. With many add-ons to Firefox, you can keep the useful popups and ditch the ads.

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posted May 7, 2009 at 4:20 am

Hi Tony,
fwiw, I’d prefer the whole piece being syndicated too. I don’t see ads due to Adblock Plus, and even if I did I wouldn’t click them anyway.

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posted May 7, 2009 at 4:36 am

I mostly read your site on the go in Google Reader in Opera Mini with the pics turned off, so my first choice will always be to have the entire feed available.
Failing that, I like your idea of having 2-3 paragraphs of text to entice readers to click through. That way I will get a good sense if a post has “real” content, or if it is just a admin/housekeeping post.
Off topic, your blog was the main reason I started using a feed reader, just so I wouldn’t miss anything you had to say. Keep up the good work. God bless.

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posted May 7, 2009 at 9:47 am

PS A small ad at the bottom of a feed wouldn’t bother me. Challies’ feed has one, for example.

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posted May 7, 2009 at 11:59 am

As long as we are talking about stuff like this I would like to suggest that you set links in your posts to open in a separate window. As I read through your posts I like to click on the links to see what you are referring to but I don’t necessarily want to leave your site.

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Johnny Brooks

posted May 7, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Why not just move to a service that would allow you to syndicate what you wanted?
If that is not possible for some reason then certainly the 2 to 3 paragraphs would be better than the couple of lines.

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Matt Cleaver

posted May 7, 2009 at 2:28 pm

I can deal with ads in a full feed. If that’s what it takes for a full feed, I would be all for it. Full feeds are by far the best way to go. I don’t know how many times I’ve skimmed over a two-line opener, thought it wasn’t worth reading, then later saw someone (with a full RSS feed) link to it, so I read it, in which case I was disappointed I almost missed it.
At the least, you need an opening paragraph or two. This two line bit isn’t working for me.

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posted May 7, 2009 at 2:29 pm

I read most everything in a reader, and frequently delete the sites that make me click through to get the article. Unless the content is great.
As for pictures, I don’t know if your feed is different, but I have numerous feeds that have pictures in them.
And obviously I’m comenting here, so I am still reading yours, even with just a teaser.

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posted May 9, 2009 at 7:36 am

I have a large number of feeds in my reader, so I will very rarely click through. It just takes too long. If I do click through it’s for the comments or something else that wouldn’t ordinarily show in my reader. Whatever it is, it has to be worth the time.
On the comments—I find the B’net method of showing only the last few comments very annoying. I hate having to click back and forth between the comments and the post to follow what people are saying.
I guess it boils down to this: Tony’s posts are great and the conversation is stimulating, but B’net makes it all very inconvenient.

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Shawn Coons

posted May 9, 2009 at 10:05 am

You may have addressed this elsewhere in your blog, but why go through Bnet? Why not just host your own and do whatever you want?

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Andrew Murray

posted May 11, 2009 at 6:56 pm

I follow blogs primarily through the RSS app on my iPhone (and primarily when I am just killing time, i.e. riding the bus, waiting in long lines, etc.).
There are a few blogs, such as this one, that are much harder to follow because I cannot read the full posts in RSS on my iPhone, so I have to check the 2-3 lines it does show, see what looks interesting, and try to remember to read the post next time I am on the computer. (Beliefnet loads very slowly in the iPhone’s browser, even over 3G.) Kind of annoying.
But will Beliefnet be willing to change their ways?

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