Partial feeds are the work of the devil

As you can see, I sit on the fence on this one!

I love RSS feeds – they rock.  Whether it’s for aggregation, or for mobile or disconnected access, RSS feeds are a great way to get the latest info.  This might be blog posts, podcasts, forum entries, bookmarks, comments, tweets or whatever.  Then when you add in synchronisation between computer and mobile device (e.g. the NetNewsWire/FeedDemon/NewsGatorGo combo) you really do have access to all the info you need wherever you are.

So to those who provide RSS feeds on your blogs or your applications, I salute you.  Thank you for letting me consume your comment in the way that I want it.  This to me is one of the core features of Web2.0 – publish once, then let the user consume it in the way that works best for us. Awesome.

So….  Why on earth would you then want to hamstring this by only letting us have a portion of the content?  It is crazy, dumb, and ridiculous.  If you need to monetise your site by getting hits direct to the site then find a way to add extra value for visitors, don’t cut down what you supply in your feed.  If you write an application that serves feeds (ahem, Lotus Domino Blog, ahem) then make full feeds the default, not partial feeds.

And the reason for the post??   If you happen to run a set of 20 or so forums covering your collaboration products, and you want to offer the users RSS feeds of “All forum posts RSS” and “All main topics RSS” (need any clues?), then what on earth is the point of only giving a partial feed of those said entries!?!?  

Please please someone in developerWorks, sort this out!

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!