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LeftClick's pet peeve: "read more"

by Dave Riley

Each morning I fire up the Google Reader and partake of what my web universe has to offer.

If you are non plussed -- a "Google Reader" is one of several options with which to read RSS feeds subscribed to. It's the best way to do web business as content comes to you as you desire it rather than you having to go to it or download it all and sift through the lot in detail.

Get into it: go find yourself a feed reader to suit your lifestyle.

But there are still a few sites -- like the new Venezuela Analysis platform --
which while it has moved up to finally offering a feed to its excellent content will only offer you an article snippet. Like so:
Americans Need to Look Beyond the Media on Venezuela
If we read the newspapers and watch TV in the United States, we are told that President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is a "dictator," "authoritarian," "a threat to democracy" in his own country and the region, and "anti-U.S." But leaders who try to empower poor people are generally vilified in the media and hated by those in power.

read more
I think web designers who set up this approach -- which relies on giving subscribers a mere sampler taste of the textual wares -- don't understand whats' likely to not happen at the other end. And that is the subscriber is very much less likely to read more!*

Unless you own a web page full of advertising and sundry similar money making capitalistic style goodies what's the point of dragging people there when they have a full contents menu in front of them? And this contents menu will likely be more functional than the one on offer (and usually buried somewhere) at the distant web page.

It only makes web reading and surfing cumbersome and such facilitations counter productive.

Trust me, I know: I'm a feed junkie.I know what I read and I know what I don't and if I suspect that the
Venezuela Analysis article is going to be longish -- I won't click on read more because it will disrupt my web reading cadence as I have to go to the web site then back to my reader to catch the rest of that day's aggregation.

Of course feed designer's know this and have come up with quite a few tricks to thwart such convenience driven surfing. Advertising can now be added to feeds so you get that too when you get the article.In fact, with services like FeedBurner -
you can add any number of attributes to a feed such as the ever popular "Make a donation."

So if you own a feed -- for a blog, podcast, news service or whatever -- be bold and courageous and click on "full content" rather than trying to limit the number of characters we denigrated & denied subscribers are offered. Always keep your subscribers happy.

*The one useful exception to this rule of thumb are news formats like the ABC's online news service.There you get the article header plus the first sentence and the first sentence will summarize the content of the whole article. Example:
Whalers threaten to take activists to Japan
A spokesman for the Japanese whaling fleet says it will have no choice but to take two detained activists back to Japan if a dispute over their release is not resolved.
The BBC does the same.
Both services, I know, limit their articles to set lengths -- with the ABC runs shorter pieces as a standard than the BBC.
  • Get with it: RSS for NonProfits(-- a dated TechSoup article but it's somewhere to start)
  • Later on I'll address those sites that don't offer feeds like PET PEEVE #2: Closed Yahoo email discussion groups (open ones offer feeds though) and explore ways feeds can be harnessed to promote your cause and outlook.

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