Housekeeping: RSS

Monday, 12 September 2011

RSS logo

A quick housekeeping post, it’s not cycling related and feel free to ignore if you’re not a reader via RSS.

Many readers follow the blog via RSS feed. If you’re not familiar, it delivers the story to you rather than having to visit the website. I’ve now changed the settings so that the RSS feed only displays the introductory part of the text and you can click on the link below to read the full story if you’re interested.

The change is for two reasons. First, things look better on the actual blog. Those subscribing to the feed don’t get the same formatting. Second, at the suggestion of a couple of readers I’m interested in knowing how many subscribers read the blog and it’s helpful for advertising if you come to the website.

But as much as this is a personal fiefdom, half the fun is getting ideas from keen readers. So if this change to the RSS settings is awkward for you or you’re happy with it, let me know in the comments or email.

Seth September 12, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Love the blog, but sorry to see that you’re not giving full feeds to RSS readers. I’ll still browse the summary posts, but I’m much less likely to read each one. I understand, however, that there are competing concerns here.

Keep up the good work, regardless.

Seth

Rusty September 12, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I am with Seth on this one . . . Love the blog and understand the reason for the change but I am not likely to click through.

I’ll scan the stories but .. . .

Rusty

Gandalf September 12, 2011 at 10:44 pm

I’ll have to (as I already did elsewhere) say that it makes me less likely to click through, but on the other hand I don’t ever click on any ads on any cycling blog/site..

And of course, your work is great and is greatly appreciated!

evan September 12, 2011 at 10:53 pm

whether things look better/are more functional on the blog or in a user’s RSS reader depends on individual preferences and use case. For example, you don’t have a mobile version of your site so visiting your it from a phone is a subpar user experience as I have to zoom in and scroll around constantly. It also loads a lot of surplus content (header image, twitter stream, etc.) over a slow data connection that is not relevant to the article at hand. A mobile RSS reader is much nicer, more usable, faster and cheaper (for those without unlimited data plans).

Regarding advertising, you can still put ads in an RSS feed. One way to do so is Google Ads in Feeds: https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=99647

Chap O September 12, 2011 at 10:55 pm

To be honest, I use Chrome as my browser and Google Reader for my RSS feeds. There is an extension for Chrome that allows me to read the RSS feed in full in Google Reader even when the feed would be truncated in other RSS readers.

John Chinkes September 12, 2011 at 10:56 pm

I was suprised to see that you published the whole thing in your feed. I am just getting into RSS as a way to manage my time. As long as you give me enough to decide if the whole article is worth my time, that’s all I need. Keep on keepin’ on, Man.

JEMC

Javi Polo September 12, 2011 at 10:56 pm

I also prefer reading the whole article in the RSS Reader… I think that you could get more visibility for your advertisers by including ads in the RSSs (I know there was a WordPress plugin for that, although I couldn’t find it in a quick search I did right now).

I would very much prefer to see the ads in the RSS rather than not having the full text in the feeds, that feature would be a big miss for me.

Chap O September 12, 2011 at 10:58 pm

In case anyone cares, here’s the extension for Chrome: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/khbjahpecnkenngkidhioicnfpakihgo

paul September 12, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Totally agree with Seth, Rusty, et al. I prefer to read on my RSS reader.

Andrew September 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm

I love the site but I abhor truncated feeds and this change will limit my enjoyment of your work. Perhaps you can create a secondary full feed for us loyal readers who’d like to continue to view it? Either way, thanks for the great content on the site.

Edd Sowden September 12, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I have to say I am disappointed. I read most my feeds on my iPhone or iPad while commuting and as such often don’t have internet access while I do. This will certainly reduce the amount of news I read from here.

ben September 12, 2011 at 11:10 pm

As a web analyst – I’ve got some professional opinions on this – and from a personal perspective – this is a huge pet peeve.

As an ardent devourer of cycling blogs, I use Google Reader a lot – and I find that I will less often “click through” to read a full article – *especially* if I am reading on a mobile phone, which causes a browser to pop up, taking me away from my reader, etc.

I’ve had this discussion with another “famous cycling blog” and they pointed to the exact things you have mentioned above – formatting, advertising and tracking – and they decided to stick with the “chopped” RSS feed… and now I rarely dig in deeper.

Competitive Cyclist’s What’s New column on their merger with BackCountry had this choice passage about customer convenience:

“Look at America’s most beloved companies: Apple, Patagonia, Oakley, and Nike just to name a few. For them nothing is more important than customer convenience. … To deprive consumers of convenience and you deprive your brand of the lifeblood of revenue.”

RE: Advertising
You can (and should!) place your advertising into your RSS feed. #3 on this list from SmashingMagazine offers one solution:
http://coding.smashingmagazine.com/2008/12/02/10-useful-rss-hacks-for-wordpress/

RE: “Knowing how many subscribers read the blog”
You are already using Google Analytics on this site – and you are already using Feedburner for your RSS feed – so what data are you missing on readers?

I considered sending this in an email, but The Inner Ring has shown itself, time and time again, of being more than capable of having an in-depth, public discussion on just about any subject matter… from doping to stroopwafels ;)

Paul Jakma September 12, 2011 at 11:16 pm

Ugh, unhappy. The reason I use RSS is that it makes it easy to follow & catch-up on all the various blogs I’m interested in. Blogs which go and cripple their RSS feeds are blogs I’m far less likely to read as well.

As for stats & ads: Some of the big aggregators offer ways to get at the stats, and other RSS hits correspond directly to readers as much as hits to HTML does. As for ads, you can put them in RSS content! Indeed, as many web browsers have ad-blockers installed, but dedicated RSS readers often do not (mine doesn’t), RSS delivered ads may even be more effective.

Anyway, thanks for your blog.

evan September 12, 2011 at 11:24 pm

p.s. thank you for providing this forum for feedback

Tom September 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I would much prefer the full feed. It doesn’t stop me clicking through sometimes and I also read some stories via your twitter feed.
Also according to Google Reader there are 220 subscribers. Even with subscribers via other RSS agregators I’m guessing it’s a very small amount of your actual readership so not really affecting your stats much.

le rouleur lent September 12, 2011 at 11:33 pm

please please please pretty please the full text on rss. thanks!

James September 12, 2011 at 11:39 pm

I can’t add anything to the other comments, merely echo their sentiment. Please keep the full text in the feed. It makes life so much easier if you are reading on an iphone or ipad with no internet connection. If I have to click through then something has to be really interesting to make me do so.

grolby September 12, 2011 at 11:48 pm

Well, I had noticed and I am little bit disappointed. I do click through, of course – it’s totally worth it. And it’s a relatively minor inconvenience. That said, I’m not crazy about the whole page-view model. You may not have the readership, or you may not want to deal with whatever aggravations are involved in getting such a method rolling (and I know NOTHING about what kind of effort is involved), but have you considered an RSS-feed sponsorship? This may be something that only works on tech sites, since RSS is probably a very small part of your readership and a much larger part of theirs. It does not effect me much in any event; I usually read INRG with the Reeder app on my iPad, and the built-in Readability function means I don’t need to tap through to the actual web page. There are no doubt others doing much the same thing with similar apps.

huphtur September 13, 2011 at 12:00 am

Hopefully this article on why full text feed actually increase page views should pursueda inrng.com to revert back to full feeds…

huphtur September 13, 2011 at 12:01 am

Wow “pursueda” how’s that for a typo?

chris September 13, 2011 at 12:21 am

i’m with the rest of the commenters, and would really appreciate the return of the full-text rss. I’m way less likely to read something if I have to click out of reader to do it.

Jesse September 13, 2011 at 12:26 am

Agree with many of the posts above. I always read the Inner Ring on my mobile phone, and the RSS feed is much more convenient, and the formatting is much better. I would be more than happy to have ads in the RSS feed if that helps keep the Inner Ring on the air.

ave September 13, 2011 at 12:41 am

This is stupid, those who say will not click through… You’re simply not interested if you really do not click through.

Jase September 13, 2011 at 12:58 am

Personally I have a mild dislike for RSS feeds that don’t contain the full article. I was a bit miffed when I noticed the switch for this site’s RSS feed however overall it isn’t a big issue. The content of the blog is so good that I don’t mind having to click through to read the articles, it is worth the trip.

That said – I use two RSS readers primarily. Google Reader (in Chrome) on a desktop and Reeder on iOS. Both these RSS readers have the ability to pull down the full article from an RSS feed if there is only a summary in the original feed.

For those interested:

Google Reader extension (Chrome only): https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/khbjahpecnkenngkidhioicnfpakihgo

Reeder integrates with Readability: http://www.readability.com/

As previously mentioned, the “design” of the content is subjective and personally I find it hard to beat the design of content delivered through Reeder (Google Reader is another matter). I’m quite certain there are ways to get reader statistics from feed subscribers as well.

Summary (all articles have summaries on this site right?):

The change in functionality is a little bit annoying but it wouldn’t/won’t stop me reading the content. However, it is even less of an issue due to the functionality of my RSS readers which allow full access to the article anyhow.

andy September 13, 2011 at 1:05 am

Have to agree that the lack of a full RSS feed will be inconvenient especially as I also use a phone to access the feed. However, it seems from what you said that you will review this and may revert back.
I don’t agree with Ave as we all have reasons for not clicking through and anyone who goes to the trouble of following the blog is interested in what you post.

gregg September 13, 2011 at 1:21 am

I don’t mind clicking through to the website, however I have an employer who seems to believe that your website is scurrilous enough to warrant being blocked by the corporate filter. Up until recently this didn’t bother me as I could read the articles in full via RSS, unfortunately now I have to try and remember to check your website when I get home after reading your teasers throughout the day. I would have no objections to advertising banners being added to the RSS feed.

Tomass September 13, 2011 at 1:25 am

Another vote to bring back the full feed. If it helps, just put an add in your feed.

Partial feeds suck. Your content doesn’t.

Luis Oliveira September 13, 2011 at 2:16 am

You shouldn’t be surprised by the reaction, as most people commenting are RSS consumers anyways. But the comments are right on target. Truncated feed are really, really annoying and your site is too good for that crap. There are better, more mature ways of doing this, as mentioned, and I would add RSS sponsoring (a la Daring Fireball.)

It is a slippery slop. By the time you notice it, you are splitting 500 words’ articles across 6 pages to maximize page views and using titles like “Lose 10 pounds fast with this awesome bike workout.” And that would be sad.

Chris September 13, 2011 at 2:18 am

Love the blog, appreciate the effort, understand the choices you face.

I’ll click through most times if I’m reading on my desktop machine.

I very rarely click through when reading on mobile devices (ipad, bb).

I do most of my reading on mobile devices.

cheers and thanks
Chris

TotheBillyoh September 13, 2011 at 2:26 am

I am just very grateful that you create, for my enjoyment, this excellent blog. I am conflicted about paying for web content in general; like millions of others I have become totally attenuated to ‘free’. Yet as the author you need to make a living, and the advertising model best supports my free usage. That said I don’t use RSS and note with interest the suggestions of those who do. Whatever you decide it appears that you have a strong audience who greatly values what you write.

Balint September 13, 2011 at 2:30 am

Hate the lack of full RSS but love the content, so will come and click, whatever happens. Keep up the good work.

Damo September 13, 2011 at 3:04 am

Adding my comment – Very regular reader (I don’t miss an article) first time commenter – I miss the full RSS feed :/

Timo September 13, 2011 at 3:31 am

I also vote for a full text RSS feed. There is really no excuse for not having a full text RSS feed. As previously mentioned, ads and tracking both work in RSS. Really, all you’re doing is annoying me.

neek see September 13, 2011 at 3:32 am

while i like the full RSS feed i almost always end up clinking through as what i also really enjoy is the comments i find here.

what the RSS consumers probably arent aware of is the depth of knowledge/discourse that frequently occurs in the comments here.

be it corrections/further information or interesting side notes, if you only read the RSS you will miss these (or i do).

but i do see how if you are accessing it via mobile device or to avoid work filters then i can see why some are up in arms.

Tom September 13, 2011 at 4:02 am

You provide a GREAT blog – for FREE

I would prefer to read in RSS but i have no problem clicking through. I love this blog and hope you can make as much money as possible with it. If you can generate more revenue that way, go for it. You deserve it.

A lot of these comments above bother me – ‘I want this, I want that, I want it all for me, I want it all for free’ – nevermind the talent that is spending time putting the thoughts to paper.

Really? Clicking on a link is such a hassle???
Keep the blogs coming, its FANTASTIC!

Jeff Lavi September 13, 2011 at 4:43 am

Great blog. I use google reader and have appreciated having the full posts.

Keep on keeping.

naisan September 13, 2011 at 6:13 am

INRNG – another software / internet insider, echoing what’s been commented above by several other pros:
1) you should allow full stories in RSS – it will help you keep loyalty and readers
2) you should advertise in your text, and that should be part of the RSS
3) there are multiple alternate tracking methods for RSS that would allow you to quanitify your readership as well as the number of impressions your ads get

Since I read your blog basically for free, I’ll offer you this in return: should you need any expert advice on web analytics and best practices like this, I’ll be happy to advise you for free.

The Inner Ring September 13, 2011 at 8:27 am

Thanks, message received guys.

Brian September 13, 2011 at 8:45 am

Like many of the previous people who’ve posted I prefer the full feed rather than the summary. I read my RSS feeds on an iPad whilst commuting and therefore without wifi or 3G in the part of the world I live so I can’t ‘click through’ to the full experience. If I did I’d tend to use Readability which would still not give me the full site experience.

My vote would be a return to full feeds.

RMS September 13, 2011 at 8:54 am

Like everyone, I understand your reasons, but vastly prefer to read the entire post in RSS. I know from experience that when posts on a site I follow regularly get truncated in RSS I read a lot fewer of them. As far as stats go, I don’t know about other RSS feed readers, but on googlereader you can see how many subscribers there are to your blog. I just checked and there are 817.

RMS September 13, 2011 at 8:59 am

Another comment: a good way to lure us RSS readers into actually visiting the site is to include more hyperlinks to previous posts of yours in your text. Because I only started reading your blog a few months ago, most of the posts are new to me, so I will often click on them, which brings me to your site and ups the number of views you get.

John September 13, 2011 at 9:40 am

Sorryy but under the current format I’m out. Very disappointed as Inner Ring would be my favorite read. Unffortunately the web site version is virtually impossible to read on a phone.

The Inner Ring September 13, 2011 at 9:48 am

I’ll look into a mobile version for phones.

Naisan? Any suggestions would be very welcome.

Wade Wallace September 13, 2011 at 10:13 am

I use a plugin called “WP-Touch” that works quite well at making wordpress sites mobile friendly: http://www.bravenewcode.com/store/plugins/wptouch-pro/?utm_source=wptouch&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=top-1926

It takes only a few minutes to set up. Good luck!

The Inner Ring September 13, 2011 at 10:54 am

Thanks Wade, it seems to work.

For everyone else, I hope you can view the blog a bit better via a mobile device now.

Rob September 13, 2011 at 8:34 pm

At risk of piling on… I much prefer the fulltext in the RSS feed. As another commenter noted, why not place your advertising within the RSS, if it’s revenue you’re looking for.

Other than that, please keep up the great work!

Boz September 14, 2011 at 7:25 am

I read your blog through RSS only, through a Reader. I have hunderds of subscriptions. I fully read all of your posts, because they are of high quality.

Clicking through to the site to read the full post is a hassle, and takes a lot of time (10-20 seconds). In that time, I could read half a blog post. I will often choose to ignore the post, instead of waiting.

This change will cause me to read fewer of your posts. This is the same for any blog with an RSS summary, instead of the full article in he RSS feed.

Please put the full article in the RSS feed.

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