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August 25, 2004

How much info should an RSS feed contain?

The RSS aggregator has come to play a significant role in the way I gather information, and over the past year I've started to notice some preferences, annoyances.

I think the primary observation is there is a fine balance between too little, just right, and too much information in a feed.

An entry in the RSS aggregator like this is just not enough to know if I want to read more:

THE BUCK STOPS DOWN THERE. According to the Washington Post and New York Times, two expected reports on the Abu...

And then there are full-post RSS feeds from the verbose writer that include the comments in the same feed. Not only is it a commitment to read certain posts, the RSS entries continually show up as changed because another comment has been added.

My first choice to to have a full-post feed, without comments included. That means I can read the post in it's entirety in the aggregator. However, I understand that there are bandwidth considerations to delivering full feeds, especially if only some of the articles are read.

If a full-post feed isn't available I prefer to have a summary that includes enough to get the gist of the entire article. I guess some of that boils down to good writing, titles etc. The Microcontent guidelines gives good advice on writing headlines, page titles, and subject lines.

Posted by mike at August 25, 2004 6:53 AM