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Thursday 15 April 2004


I've changed how I read weblogs. Completely. And it has finally shown me what RSS is supposed to be about.

Previously I would run down my Blogroll (currently over <-- there) one at a time visiting the sites to check for updates.

Now I make a single visit to Bloglines, a free, web based RSS Aggregator. It shows me which site have been updated and pulls the RSS feed for them so I can read it. Simple. It's vastly reduced the time it takes to keep up to date. So much so that I've had to start reading more weblogs to fill my time.

For those of you whose sites I visit regularly, you've probably noticed a drop in the number of referals from this site. It's not because I've stopped reading, I'm just not getting there from here.

Using an aggregator has shown the marked difference in quality of different RSS feeds as follows:

1) Full feeds (such as the Atom feed for this site). These feeds include active hyper-links and images from the original posts. You shouldn't need to visit the originating site in order to enjoy the post in full. Some even include links to comments and trackback pages. As a publisher, the main drawback to this is that readers do not visit your site.

2) Text only feeds. As with the full feed but no links and no images. For posts referring to other sites this often means that you have to visit the originating site in order to follow the links and get the full benefit of the post.

3) Partial text only feeds (such as either of the RSS feeds for this site). These feeds provide only the title of the post and the short extract of the body, just a teaser if you like. To read the full post you have to visit the site. As a (new) reader of RSS feeds I find these a little annoying. It tends to negate the usefulness of the RSS aggregator.

4) Title only feeds. Completely and utterly useless. I mean, why bother? It's just a waste of server processing power.

April 15, 2004 12:54 PM | Weblogging

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