RSS Summaries

A reader chastises me.

The other day, while writing about the Reading Options in WordPress, I decided to experiment with this blog. I togged the settings so only summaries of my entries would be sent to people accessing with RSS readers.

Understand that I don’t use an RSS reader. I surf the old fashioned way, with a Web browser. I don’t surf that often and I don’t follow any one particular blog or site. So it’s never been an issue for me.

But for the book, I had to understand what this WordPress feature did. So I toggled it to the Summaries setting, downloaded a feed reader, and looked at the result. What I saw was a list of 10 or so posts in a window. I’d click a post title and the beginning of the post would appear in a window pane beneath the list. There was a link at the end indicating that there was more; clicking the link brought me to my Web site.

This seemed a logical way to release content via RSS. After all, didn’t I want visitors to come to the site where they could read not just the articles but the comments? And see all the pictures that came with the piece?

Dori of Wise Women didn’t think so. She commented on my “Stand Up for Your Principles” piece to stand up for her principles: that RSS feeds for blogs should include the entire content.

Whew! No problem. This morning, I remembered what I did to create the summaries (I did have to remember something I learned about 2 whole days ago!) and toggled the option back to its original settings. I just checked it with my feed reader and it’s working fine.

But this makes me curious. I’d like to know more from the folks who use an RSS feed reader to follow this blog. Here are a few questions; I’d appreciate it if you’d take the time to answer a few of them in the Comments for this post.

  • How often do you check the site? Regularly? (If so, I’m flattered to be on your list!)
  • Why do you prefer a news reader to a Web browser?
  • Does your news reader display formatted text and graphics?
  • Which reader do you use? On what computer platform?
  • Would you like to share any advice for people considering using a reader or for bloggers like me who aren’t fully aware of the benefits?

Although I’m a technical person and write about computer technology for a living, I made a decision long ago to concentrate on only those technologies that I use or write about. There’s just too much out there to learn it all — and still have a life that doesn’t revolve around a computer! As a result, my knowledge of computer technology is spotty, with expertise on certain topics balanced by sheer ignorance of others. (Ignorance is bliss, they say.)

Perhaps its time to give the RSS feed reader topic a bit more attention. What do you think?

PostScript: I just used my RSS reader to check out the other blogs that were included in it. It appears that none of them include the full text of the article. What’s going on here? Perhaps that’s why I discarded the idea of using a reader when I first tried it about two years ago? Because you had to go to the Web site anyway to read the article? It seems that, in many instances, the reader adds an extra step to following blogs. If you’re commenting on this piece, please comment on that, too.

What do you think?