RSS Aggregator: In Use

I was talking to a guy at work the other day about how RSS Aggregators are a great idea, yet often suck. The clients aren’t the problem; the publishing is! Of the blogs on my Links page that do support RSS – and not all of them do – half of them only put the first 80 characters of their entry in the RSS document, as a synopsis. Hey blog authors? That sucks!

First the blogs that don’t offer RSS: What the hell is your problem? If I offer an RSS feed – two actually for equal compatibility – why can’t you? It took almost no effort to set up and I usually forget that I even have it. It was a one time set up of a MT template and it gets recreated whenever I post something to the site. Very, very simple. Shame on you for not having one! Why not make our lives more enriched by offering the blog on paper, tacked to a bulletin board somewhere in your town square? Jeesh!

Next are the RSS teasers: You guys shouldn’t bother having an RSS page offered if this is how you are going to treat us. Scrap it and try again! The whole point of the RSS feed is to provide a combined view for readers; I like it because it can save me in bandwidth because it’s a concise view of my blog. The RSS pages that you guys put out however are almost entirely worthless. They make me go to your website to read what you have to say, so what was the point of the RSS feed, really? An incentive to view your ads on the main site? That’s so low! If not that then what? I mean you aren’t saving any bandwidth – I had to hit the site twice just to see what you had to say.

Simply put, look at the RSS feed from my site: the RSS feed shows you what’s on my home page. The home page shows the last 15 blog entries each with a proper synopsis that will tell you whether or not you’re interested in reading the rest of the posting; the RSS feed does the exact same thing. I’m not alone in this either:, jwz, Kasia, and Neopoleon all offer great RSS feeds – hell, even we hates software and NeoWin have extensive RSS feeds – why doesn’t everyone?

Anyway, I’m again toying with an RSS Aggregator: SharpReader. It works, it’s simple, and it’s free. And I’m also only partially using it for reading – the nice thing about SharpReader is that it can check all of your RSS subscriptions for new posts and every 15 minutes at that. Now instead of spending the day, constantly running through my lists of links, to see if something new has been posted, I let SharpReader do it for me. When something comes in, I just go to the website in question. Yes, I would love it if I could just go to SharpReader and read the blogs there, but that’s not an option yet…

One mile north, one mile east, one mile south: lots of motion, but you’re right back where you started.

5 thoughts on “RSS Aggregator: In Use”

  1. true, 80 characters is very little, but as an rss publisher, the whole point of making an effort to publish rss feeds for your site is to drive people to the website itself, so that they can then read the whole story.

    as far as i understand it, the title and description tags are supposed to be a tantalizing appetizer, not the main course.

  2. Yes, but that’s complete and total bunk. It’s OK to draw people to your website because you find the story interesting, but why would you have to? If people read this site using nothing but RSS, more power to them – I don’t have ads, I don’t get bonus points for formatting… let RSS do the work for me. But I DO offer a summary of my own stories, right? Hell, that’s the whole reason why only the first paragraph of my own postings are on the home page – if you like the story, then you drill down into it to read the rest and read the comments. This is the whole notion of the “more” link that follows each blurb.

    However, 80 characters is hardly enough to do this. Even one sentence isn’t enough to do this. You need more text to make that decision and if you’re that interested in driving people to the web site, why both with RSS at all? RSS is supposed to allow people to read multiple news feeds in one window – not be a “driving force to the website”. The website should be a driving force to a website – people would go there even if you didn’t have an RSS feed! The RSS feed is supposed to let people keep up with your blog without GOING to the website in the first place.

    Sorry if this is a bit passionate, but I have a VERY firm stance on this since it’s taking some great code from a lot of people (the RSS reader applications) and making them useless.

  3. If nothing else, offer a choice of summary and full feeds. I prefer to read the full article in SharpReader rather than visiting the website. If I wanted to visit the website, I would do that anyway and not bother subscribing to the RSS feed.

    I also hate the feeds that aren’t actually feeds, they’re just a copy of the website itself which loads into your aggregator. WTF?

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