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January 30, 2006

Hiatus and RSS

Apologies for the long dearth of posts. Some of you might have been thinking that I'd taken to one of the sleep strategies previously advocated and ended up spending my days in perpetual slumber.

Actually, now I think about it, that doesn't sound too bad...

Given that time is finite, I've had trouble cramming in the time constraints imposed by blogging. For not only must I write something, but I must find something to write about. Analysis of many high-traffic blogs indicates that they source loads of stuff off other blogs, adding comment and discussion along the way. Reading 20 blogs gets a little tedious at times. I really wonder how some people read thousands!

I read all my blogs in a feed reader (http://www.bloglines.com/), taking advantage of the RSS feeds they produce. So now we get onto the problem...

Some blogs I read (including, annoyingly, some really good ones) don't publish their blog posts to the feed. Some post only a summary (first 300 characters or something), and this requires me to open the website of the blog and then go to the post.

This has two main problems:
  1. I hate opening extra webpages. Most blogs open directly in the feed reader, all in one window. Not only that, but I can sort them into whatever order I choose. If I have to load the blog website, not only do I have to faff around in IE loading the thing, but then I usually have to put up with the posts being in the wrong order!
  2. Blog posts aren't written like newspaper articles. Journalists know that people will often read only the first paragraph in order to determine whether the article interests them. Therefore they make the first paragraph a "hook," to try and draw in the reader. Blog posts aren't like that (a good thing too), and thus the summary I get to read is often just the beginning of the story. These summary paragraphs rarely grab my attention enough. For example, look at the start of this post. It's completely unrelated to the rest! Does this mean I'm a bad journalist? Probably. Does it make the post more rounded and easy to read? I think so.

Bloggers themselves have objections to the idea of sending the whole post as a feed.

  1. They'd like me to come to their website. To which I say: "Well, what else is there on your website." Excluding the list of links, there's very little else of value. Why should I have to load your website just to see your colour scheme?
  2. I can only comment on a post if I go to the website. This may be true (it may not, I haven't checked) but surely I'm only going to comment if I like the article. If you let me read the whole article, I'll make that decision.

My viewpoint is supported by famous bloggers such as Robert Scoble who have complained about this.

So when will it all get sorted out? I don't know. But I'll keep emailing the blogs I read until I do.

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