Feed me

It’s wonderful to see my friends at the Guardian taking the ballsy move to produce full-text RSS feeds. I know this is somewhat nerve-making in media: Why shiould we put all our content out there on a feed without getting people to come to our pages and see all our ads? A few answers. First, many people won’t click through. Take ’em when you got ’em. Second, think distributed; that’s my first WWGD? rule for news organizations. You have to go to where the people are. RSS is home delivery 2.0. Third, the feeds will have ads and though there’ll be fewer of them, the potential for more audience reading more stories is great. It’s a bold experiment and I hope they do well with it. (Disclosure: I write and work for the Guardian.)

  • This is indeed great – its refreshing to see news organizations like the Guardian embrace the new distributed/networked/link economy.

    Of course, there are knock on impacts of putting full text in feeds. News sites (like ours) that used to display a headline or snippet and then link/drive traffic to the Guardian site need to be careful. If we do nothing, we’ll suddenly be hosting full text articles that are under Guardian’s copyright and will stop sending them traffic. At NewsCred, we’ve had to change some code so we automatically display only the first few sentences and then link, but I can see a lot of other sites getting into some (unintended) trouble.

    I don’t want to open the Pandora’s box on copyright, but rather wanted to commend the Guardian for their strong move. Well done!

  • Shafqat: if the full articles that came up included ads that the Guardian would receive revenue from, I doubt it would be much of a problem for them. It seems to me that it’s more of a problem from the perspective of somewhere like your site, which is trying to point to a lot of different places at once–full articles take up a lot of space! :)

  • I think the Guardian are being very smart with the internal links they are placing in full feeds.

    They are linking back to category pages and section indexes within both the articles and at the foot of pieces – wise move.

  • Unfortunately, the Guardian seems to be using the legacy RSS format instead of using the more modern Atom feeds. If they were, in fact, using Atom feeds, they would be able to include a section along with the main story body. Then, organizations like NewsCred would be able to pull what they need from the instead of having to figure out how to snippetize the full story content. This would give the Guardian more control over how their content is displayed on other sites.

    Typical… — newspapers insisting on using old, obsolete technology… even when they are trying to do something “new”…

    bob wyman

  • Steve


    Recently, I have had a few real shocks at the extent to which a whole heck of a lot of people who should know about RSS don’t have a clue. Then recently I read some dismally low stats on RSS use.

    What’s your take?

    and then I think I remember you saying you were doing an RSS workshop. Its scary to think you know anyone, aside from the members of your church choir, who might not know RSS.

    What are these people doing? Going to every site separately?

  • FC

    “What made you decide to deploy a wiki as the backbone for the Constitution Day site?

    We had a static Constitution Day site in 2005. For 2006, we wanted a more public, democratic process that did more than present information. We wanted more of a forum and a community that allowed people to find and contribute content.”

    An excellent idea for a newspaper website. Let the readers contribute content instead of just comments. Looks like layoffs ahead for many newspaper companies. Costs are up and revs down.

  • I couldn’t help notice the picture of your paper machine….liked your information concerning the newspapers…now do one about the dis-interest in the big 3 evening news shows….

  • Bob – The intent of this rollout is to provide a better consumer experience first and foremost. The number of people who understand RSS is small enough as it is, and we didn’t want to add to the confusion. Though we may in fact move to Atom soon.

    Let me add, though, that Atom would be much more appealing if the feed readers utilized all the features of the standard…such as giving users the ability to control whether they want to see summaries or full text. Even better would be if the Atom spec actually had some kind of machine-readable understanding of the rights of a particular item rather than just a text field. It seems the developments around Atom and feed readers have lost momentum over the last few years.

    Shafqat – We are working out how to offer more content with terms of use that are helpful to people like you. It’s important for the Guardian to be useful in whatever context people are in wherever that may be.

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