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vF | RSS feeds: with content or without?

a forum topic (comment feed)

Published: Mon, 06 Jun 2005 13:06:00 EDT

Last Build Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2005 13:06:00 EDT


glenn mcdonald | 6 June 05

Mon, 06 Jun 2005 13:06:00 EDT

I've now hooked up a filter so that each topic has an individual feed in addition to the composite feed for the overall forum. At the moment there's no visible feed UI on the topic pages, but if your browser provides feed handling, it'll know the difference. The feed for this topic, for example, is rss.cgi?topic=12.  

Both feed levels support all three modes (mode=headlines, mode=comments, mode=topics), but at the moment with no mode specified the forum feed will default to mode=headlines, and topic feeds will default to mode=comments.  

The comments feed definitely doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would. And it involves cleverer programming. So I may change the forum feed to default to that, too.

Matt Leibowitz | 6 June 05

Mon, 06 Jun 2005 01:41:00 EDT

Making a late night snap decision, I think I like the individual comments feed the best. It allows for a quick view of what topic has been started or added to. Since I use NetNewsWire, a quick right arrow gives me the whole topic if I want to look back at previous comments.

glenn mcdonald | 6 June 05

Mon, 06 Jun 2005 00:08:00 EDT

OK, the feed is now available in three versions:  

- topic summaries only: rss.cgi
- individual comments: rss.cgi?mode=comments
- whole topics: rss.cgi?mode=topics  

The first is the original feed, the second is new, the third replaces "showcontent=yes". I'm going to follow all three of them myself for a couple days and see what I think. Any and all feedback welcome!

glenn mcdonald | 3 June 05

Fri, 03 Jun 2005 22:32:00 EDT

When I get a chance I'll try generating one that just shows the last 15 comments from any thread. I have a strong suspicion that I'll hate that, but I might be wrong.

Matt Leibowitz | 3 June 05

Fri, 03 Jun 2005 17:21:00 EDT

I definitely prefer the feed with content. As much as I enjoy the easy-on-the-eyes gray and orange design, I prefer the instant gratification of the scintillating content.

Aaron Mandel | 3 June 05

Fri, 03 Jun 2005 17:12:00 EDT

The full-thread-text feed was slightly more convenient than a contentless feed, though it was kind of overwhelming. I still think putting just the new post in the feed is ideal, and feel a little foolish that I don't quite understand the argument against it.

glenn mcdonald | 3 June 05

Fri, 03 Jun 2005 14:50:00 EDT

What, no feedback? After I spent at least 45 minutes making that feed for you?

glenn mcdonald | 25 May 05

Wed, 25 May 2005 15:37:00 EDT

Oh, and no, I don't keep track of your name or email address.

glenn mcdonald | 25 May 05

Wed, 25 May 2005 14:27:00 EDT

Well, if it was a good embedded browser it wouldn't require an extra click.  

Anyway, when any of you get a chance, try this alternate feed and see what you think of that approach

David Coletta | 25 May 05

Wed, 25 May 2005 09:32:00 EDT

My newsreader has a good embedded browser too, but I'd still rather not have to click the extra click to get to the content.

(By the way, do you have my name and email address lying around somewhere, fetchable via my cookie? If so, could you automatically fill those in on the "New Comment" form?)

Aaron Mandel | 25 May 05

Wed, 25 May 2005 13:47:00 EDT

With content, please. If the topic title is in the feed article (and why wouldn't it be?) I think individual comments will be pretty readable-- this isn't a threaded system, so to some extent, the comment text and topic title already have to be about as much context as a reader needs. The only people who'd want an RSS feed in the first place are ones who are following the discussion (or part of it) carefully, I would think.  

Actually, a headline-only feed that showed *new* topics might be useful to more-casual readers. But a headline feed that updates whenever new messages are posted has the power to annoy both people interested in a topic (who keep having to click an extra time) and people not interested (who, if they didn't care about the first post on Bollywood, probably don't care about the 20th).  

This is all from a reader's perspective, but I feel similarly as an author, except that with short stories, I give the RSS feed an article with a blurb and link to the story's static page, not the story's whole text.

glenn mcdonald | 24 May 05

Tue, 24 May 2005 23:46:00 EDT

Another way, I guess, would be for the forum's main feed to contain only the summaries, and have a per-topic feed that contains each comment as an item (with content). Except I'm doubtful that people would really subscribe to RSS feeds for individual topics. I almost never do on other sites, myself.  

I played a little today with putting content into the main feed. A stream of individual comments is the obvious granularity technically, but out of topic context I think that would be fairly incomprehensible to read, and even worse on a real (i.e., higher-traffic) site. So I tried just appending the full text of the topic to the current per-topic RSS items. Stick a "?showcontent=yes" on the end of your existing feed URL if you want to see what that looks like.  

I'm still not convinced that's the right thing to do, though. Creating a whole parallel distribution channel feels wrong to me. But maybe the fact that my newsreader has a good embedded browser is biasing my feelings. As a reader I never see the content of feeds, since Shrook just loads the link.

David Coletta | 24 May 05

Tue, 24 May 2005 09:07:00 EDT

With content, please. I promise to come to the site on a regular basis anyway.

Scott Parkerson | 24 May 05

Tue, 24 May 2005 10:16:00 EDT

Well, if possible, I'd set up an RSS view with full text and one without, and let people vote with their aggregators.  

Alternatively, you could provide an Atom feed, which can provide both in the same feed. The Atom Synidication Format can contain the full text in the Content field of an Article, and a Summary field for a shorter take. Atom aggregators (cf. Bloglines) usually allow the user to decide what they'd like to see (titles only, summary, full text).  

I personally like full text, myself.

glenn mcdonald | 23 May 05

Mon, 23 May 2005 21:46:00 EDT

Do you have an opinion? Always the same one, or does it depend? On what? Do you think about it differently as a reader and as an author? Do you have no idea what I'm talking about?