An announcement for RSS readers

Written by Adrian Holovaty on November 5, 2002

To those of you who read this site via its RSS syndication feed, two things:

  1. I've cut the number of blog entries in the feed from 10 to 5, in the name of saving bandwidth. My thinking here is: If you'd like to read older entries, you know where to find them.
  2. Right now, each entry's description consists of the entry's entire contents, in pure XHTML code. I'm considering changing this to be plain text of the first few sentences of the entry, or possibly a short synopsis. I hope this won't disrupt people's reading habits; please let me know if you're opposed to this change.


Posted by Bob Sawyer on November 5, 2002, at 7:42 p.m.:

I would think that a synopsis of the story would suffice. The way I look at it, the reason you syndicate your news is to draw readers to your site. If you give them everything in the feed, there's no reason for them to click in. Plus, as you point out, there's a bandwidth savings in there somewhere. :-)

Posted by Shayne on November 5, 2002, at 10:45 p.m.:

We've been pondering the same thing: Cutting down from 10 to 5, for bandwidth savings. But we're going to let it ride for a little while longer. For what it's worth, we write a special summary for each post...

Posted by John Abbe on November 6, 2002, at 1:49 a.m.:

How about two feeds; let the user decide? Different people use RSS very differently.

Posted by Jay Small on November 6, 2002, at 3:25 a.m.:

The changes you describe sound most efficient to me. I have it on "my list" (reg. U.S. pat. off.) to add a page of RSS headlines to my own site, and naturally, this will be one of the sites I include prominently. In my "spare time" (also reg. U.S. pat. off.).

Posted by John Abbe on November 6, 2002, at 6:28 p.m.:

Hadn't noticed your nifty RSS customization! Adding customization for full/partial description (or # of entries) should be relatively painless. In your "spare time" of course :-).

The content-filtering ("...rss/site+review") i'm advocating with RSS reader software developers (i think there's already a tool out there to do it with Radio Userland). I expect filtering, applied to very large quantities of feeds, will become a staple of our reading futures.

Posted by elaine on November 6, 2002, at 6:32 p.m.:

I'd love to see a synopsis - full entries are just too overwhelming in AmphetaDesk.

Posted by Barry Parr on November 6, 2002, at 7:55 p.m.:

Synopsis is fine, if not superior. I'd rather read the item in its context in any event. I use RSS as an alert service.

Posted by Mark Pilgrim on November 16, 2002, at 5 a.m.:

I would recommend keeping description plain text. (I write an explicit synopsis for my posts, but you could easily autogenerate it.) If you want to keep the full XHTML goodness, put it in a content:encoded element. See example on my site:

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