I’m not the first one to chime in on this topic, mostly because I’ve gone both ways and I can make pretty valid arguments from either side. But I’ve finally settled it in my mind which is “best”.
Full RSS feeds are better than summary feeds.
I can answer that only from the perspective of a skimmer and scanner.
When I browse through my RSS feeds, I’m first looking for titles that draw my interest. If your title doesn’t make me want to read I scroll right past it. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a bad title, not every title is going to make everybody want to read. There are just a lot of things that I don’t care about and many feeds I read don’t always have posts that strike my particular fancy.
Once I see a title that makes me think I might want to read on, well, then I start skimming through the post. I might read a few of the first sentences and then start skipping down to link text, headings, boldings, and use those to create a judgment of whether I should take time to actually read the full post.
Summaries don’t have eye appeal
What? Your summary feed doesn’t have headings, boldings, bullets or anything else that catches my eye? Well, you better hope that your first few sentences really grab me. And I mean I really have to be convinced to click through. It’s a mental thing really. I don’t mind clicking if I know I want to read something, but not if I just think I might want to read it. The summary may be partially convincing, but not totally. I’m then forced to move away from my primary screen to another screen because I think I might be interested. You’re making me think to hard.
Countless times, after reading a summary, I’ve been on the edge. I think I’m interested, but not entirely sure. Do I click or do I keep scanning available blog posts. Sometimes I opt for the former, wishing I opted for the latter. Now, more times than not, now, I opt for the latter. If the summary isn’t entirely convincing I won’t click.
It’s a shame really because there are probably some decent insights in there somewhere. But you hid them all behind a not-so-telling summary. Or heck, maybe your summary was dead on and your information just isn’t my cup of tea… if you had a full feed I still might have gleaned a little something of value from your insight.
Are you missing anythign by providing a full feed? Sure, you got the click, right? Your traffic numbers go up and maybe you can sell your ad space for a few cents more this month from last… but there is not always value in it for me, which means there is often no real value in it for you.
Do you want to be read or do you want to be visited? Do you want people to hear what you have to say or do you just want your page numbers to go up? Do your yourself a favor, provide a full feed. You’ll be less likely to lose subscribers and you’ll definitely gain more readers.