Why do you tease me so?

I love to hear everything you have to say. I do everything I can to be sure that I never miss a word you say, to find out what you think as soon as you want to tell me something.

I know you are beautiful. Remember, that was how you first caught my eye: you said something that caught my attention, I turned to look, and couldn’t look away. I still think you are lovely. Every time you say something about a new look, I examine every detail. Whenever I say something to you, I look right at you, drinking in every detail while I speak. I don’t really mind too much if you don’t want me to have your pictures: just tell me when you have new ones, and I’ll come over and look at them at your place. I understand, I don’t mind at all.

But lately, it’s started to chafe a bit, the way that you have to have everything your way. You just give me the tiniest hint about what you’re thinking, and expect me to figure it out from that, and you say that if we’re going to talk, it’ll be at your place on your schedule, or not at all. I do what I can to accomodate you, but I’ve got a life and a schedule of my own, too.

So why the hell do you only give me a twenty word excerpt instead of the full post with the HTML in your RSS feed?


Comment by Richard #
2003-04-13 23:00:13

Megadittos. And so ends my first and last Rush Limbaugh reference. I don’t mind so much organizations like the New York Times and the Christian Science Monitor, who at least go to the trouble of writing (more likely *utilizing*) a brief summary of the article, rather than most RSS-feeds-with-excerpts-only, which are the ”so I’ve been thinking about [x] lately, and…”.

Without naming names, there are some sites that I’d rather read in my aggregator, and others that I don’t mind seeing that they’ve been updated with a post (it’s better than having to visit the site in question every hour or so, clamouring for an update, when the aggregator clamours for you). Sometimes the tease is better than nothing, is what I’m saying. (But yeah, you’re right, definitely not as good as full post with HTML.)

Comment by Kevin Burton #
2003-04-14 04:18:08

Another reason to use NewsMonster:

> Everyone hates RSS feeds without descriptions. I
> know I do. It makes catching up on news that
> much harder. You want to quickly scan new news
> with your aggregator and when there is no
> description you have to take the time to start a
> new browser which in some cases is just a pain.


NewsMonster supports description, quote, and full content export for RSS articles that don’t include them.

We can even build this from websites that don’t even have an RSS feed.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-04-14 10:27:30

I haven’t quite decided how I feel about scraping a feed when someone either doesn’t provide one, or doesn’t provide enough of one (in part because there’s no easy one-size-fits-all answer that works for both Zeldman and CNN), but in the context of this post how would I describe the scraping threat?

Better get them panties off, ’cause I’m comin’ in, and if they ain’t out of the way you’ll never find them again.

Hmmm. Maybe I have decided against scraping.

Comment by Anonymous #
2003-04-14 07:41:26
Comment by Shannon #
2003-04-14 10:08:14

For crying out loud, Phil – you’re breaking my heart. Tell me how to do it, and I’ll do it.

Not that I think you’re talking to me or anything, just that I want you to be happy.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-04-14 10:22:25

By far the easiest way is just to follow Mark’s instructions for making your old MT templates output valid RSS, since along with producing valid RSS they also produce a full feed (sneaky devil that he is). Then for extra bonus points (and to keep from cutting down on the number of comments you get when people aren’t forced to go to your page), add a comments element in the RSS 2.0 feed. And thanks, sweetie: there’s never any danger that I’ll decide not to read your posts, but it does sometimes seem a little silly to load the whole HTML page just to see the second sentence.

Comment by Shannon #
2003-04-14 17:03:22

Well, I’m halfway there. I can’t really figure out the comments thing, but I’ll get there.

Comment by Kashei #
2003-04-14 12:34:40

So I was doing a vanity search for my name and came up with a site that recommended other sites based on the content of my site. Yours was one of the sites. I like Tom Petty but that’s about it on your playlist and otherwise can’t figure out what we have in common. Can you?

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-04-14 21:25:42

Does seem an odd recommendation – I’d say six degrees of separation is barely going to cover it. In theory, people you link to link to me, but I’m not seeing it at all. Ah well, that’s why Mark put a ”not interested” link in newdoor.

Comment by Christine #
2003-04-14 15:14:43

There was much rejoicing at my house this morning when I received the e-mail from Jason Levine, informing me that he is now offering up a feed with a full post. Ahhhh… much love for the people that are not a tease!

Comment by Bill Kearney #
2003-04-15 08:01:12

Are you suggesting that a separate feed be created to supply full content to those that want it? Or are you suggesting that this be the ONLY feed provided?

I completely dislike full content feeds. For several reasons. Mostly because jamming everything into a feed introduces quite a number of possible XML and HTML errors. The nightmare scenario of someone cutting and pasting an entire XML-ized powerpoint presentation (or some other such nonsense) into an item. Or a paste from a word processing document laden with HORRENDOUS amounts of style, font, table and other formatting garbage.

All so someone too lazy to read a web page or use an aggregator with brains can avoid reading the website? Sorry, but this just doesn’t make sense.

If you want full content feeds then fine, ask they be made in addition to the regular lightweight feeds. But consider the consequences of what a poorly behaved aggregator program will do to bandwidth consumption when the likes of 400k feeds start getting downloaded.

Perhaps a more reasonable request would be for more sites that make feeds put effort into provided good excerpts. Programs like movabletype provide a specific section just for an excerpt. Unfortunately programs like Radio and sites like Blogger don’t provide this useful feature.

I’m all for convenience but full content feeds aren’t something I see as being a good idea, at least not without a LOT of improvements to existing RSS programs.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-04-15 09:41:06

That’s a nice load of FUD, but how about this as counter-FUD:

It’s easier and safer to escape HTML in a CDATA section in content:encoded than to entity encode in description, most implementations of RSS autodiscovery are broken and don’t notice multiple feeds, and there are elements in RSS 2.0 that are usefully implemented by aggregators, but no implemented RSS 1.0 features which can’t be used in RSS 2.0, so you should only publish one feed, and that feed should be RSS 2.0 with content:encoded, and either hand-crafted excerpts in description, or with no description at all.

Damn, this FUDding’s kinda fun!

Comment by michael #
2003-04-15 10:38:12

To tangentially spin-off a bit, why tease me with trackback excerpts in the comments section? Why not show the full post? I usually skip over the excerpts. There’s usually not enough there to whet the appetite.

Comment by Phil Ringnalda #
2003-04-15 20:16:08

I agree, there’s not enough. But, I’m not sure what to do about it. My not-too-strong feeling is that part of the trackback contract is that in exchange for having you update my older posts (because Ghu knows I’m too lazy to), I’ll send some traffic your way to read your post, and maybe you’ll get a comment, or someone will read another post while they are there. So, tempting though it is, spawning a script that goes out and grabs the full item from your RSS feed and sticks it in my comments probably isn’t quite kosher. I’ve thought about ”borrowing” Sam Ruby’s Python script that gets excerpts from referrers, but it would need to be careful to distinguish between hand-crafted excerpts that shouldn’t be replaced and ransom-note ten word excerpts, and adding anything more to the trackback acceptance process worries me, since you have to be damn sure you finish before they get tired of waiting, or you’ll get pinged again. So, I could completely rewrite the whole process, forking off a process to answer before I’m done processing, adding in a duplicate check for good measure (he said, forgetting just how lame his Perl skillz really are), or rather than doing it automatically, I could just go look at the post when I get the ping notification, copy out the meat, and edit the trackback to be a better teaser. At which point I might just as well have updated my own damn post.

I’m stuck – tell me what to do.

Comment by Dustin #
2003-04-20 17:22:47

OK, I’m pretty much an outsider in the whole RSS feed game, but it seems like the feeds ”default” to protect intellectual property. That is, CNN and the other big companies definitely want you to see their come-on and visit their site, where they make money showing you ads. For smaller websites like personal blogs and such, driving revenue may not be so much of a consideration, but they might have even more of a reason to want to drive traffic than the big players, with their huge PR budgets, do. While some people may feel that the information they provide is a public service and so not care so much about driving traffic, others might feel that it is their site that is the service, and the RSS feed is a ”sample”.

That said, it seems like both parties could be satisfied by adding a ”full text” field to the feed and allowing it to be filled as an option. THe summary would still be the default field, but newsreaders could show the ”full text” field when it was filled.

Of course, I’ve just casually suggested making what is probably a massive standards change (and in all the tools that use those standards). Given the decidedly non-casual nature of standards committees and the standards definition process, I should be ashamed of myself. But, strangely, I feel ok about it…

Trackback by Big Damn Heroes (Tech) #
2003-04-14 03:31:17

More Stunted RSS

I may {Stunted RSS|disagree with the sentiment}, but I give Phil props for turning the argument in favor of full-feed RSS in a funny direction.

2003-04-14 05:29:18

I wanna know too

Phil Ringnalda asks Why do you tease me so?: I love to hear everything you have to say. I do…

Trackback by PN DevLog #
2003-04-14 13:44:46

On RSS feeds with partial content…

Couldn’t have said it better: a sweet bit of writing by phil ringnalda: ”why_do_you_tease_me_so @ philringnalda.com”:http://philringnalda.com/blog/2003/04/why_do_you_tease_me_so.php

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