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Should Bloggers Learn about Change Management?

The debate continues over full feeds or excerpt feeds. Robert Scoble is de-listing Chris Pirillo and Chris Pirillo tells him (in an indirect way – along with everyone else who has de-listed him) to kiss his ASCII.

I run 20 blogs which between then have thousands of RSS subscribers – all who’ve signed up to feeds that are unashamedly excerpts (they always have been). In two years I’ve had just a handful of complaints about my excerpt feeds. Today I started to wonder why this is – when others seem to be under attack.

Part of it is probably that Chris has a lot more subscribers than I do – the more there are the more individuals that there are kicking up a stink.

Another reason that I suspect is coming into play here for Chris and others making the switch from full feeds to excerpts is that they’re changing things mid stream. In my experience this is always a problem and is something that needs some change management.

Don’t hearing me as critiquing them for changing their feeds – I understand their reasoning and support them in it – however there are consequences of doing so and this is a lesson worth learning for the rest of us.

I mentioned this the other day on my should new blogs have ads post where I argued that one of the downsides of adding ads later is that you run the risk of disillusioning your loyal readers by changing the rules mid stream.

Of course – every blogger has to change the rules at one time or another – it’s part of the nature of bloggers to tweak, change, experiment – but I guess it’s worth keeping in mind that every choice we make not only has the potential to impact us and how we operate our blog – but those readers we are in relationship with.

Perhaps we need to learn more about change management and helping to bring our readers along for the ride? Perhaps its about creating a climate of change for our readers which helps them to not only accept but expect the changes of direction we take. Or perhaps we just need to learn to be a little more stable and make less spontaneous changes that will unsettle readers?

I’m brainstorming here – what do you think?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Hello Darren,

    You want to know that I think of it? If the entire post is on the feed, then, add the ads you want to it, I don’t really care.

    I talked about the importance of feed’s content in february

    and soon after I wrote about the addition of adds in feeds.

    This is my opinion to the question :)

    BTW, good brainstorming :)

    Salutations,

    Fred

  2. B.Greenway says:

    I find the whole notion of telling Chris Pirillo or anyone else, what they should or shouldn’t do with their content to be strange. This notion that the blogosphere exists in some parallel universe is trite and antiquated.

    If you don’t want partial feeds, don’t read partial feeds, seems simple enough.

  3. colbert says:

    what’s the big issue ? i normally prefer summaries or partial feeds. I only have 24 hours a day and 5 hours max to surf daily. time is a precious commodity for us all

  4. ante_up says:

    I like the emphasis on change management. Some bloggers do better than other keeping readers abreast of changes. Whether it’s ‘vacation time’ from your daily posts or a change in hosting- let your readers know.

  5. Darryl says:

    @ante_up.
    Really? I’ve always kinda taken the attitude that i’m not a fan of “hey i’m not posting cause i’m going on vacation” updates. On the other hand it is “blogging” and I suppose that means you blog whatever the heck you want right? Plus then you get more of those 150 word A-list optimised SEO friendly posts. Perhaps I should rethink.

  6. Allan Burns says:

    Doesn’t RSS mean Rich Site Summary. RSS is not ment to be a fat bloated file. RSS feeds can be fetched sevaral times an hour, imagine the bandwidth use if the allthe feeds contained full posts. Why don’t you enclose rich media in the feeds as well while your at it.

    I’m not aiming this at Robert in particular, at the end of the day both publisher and reader have a choice. That’s whats so great about RSS.

  7. Shai says:

    I’m still undecided on this issue. At this time, I’m happy to read and to publish both full and partial feeds.

    Anyway, ‘just thought I’d mention that it looks like you’ve already been approved for Google AdSense for RSS, as I’m seeing them everywhere in your Problogger feed… ‘kinda strange, especially with them appearing in nearly every post – and the posts are ‘chopped,’ so the ads seem to overpower things a bit.

    Maybe you’d consider publishing longer summaries now that you’ve got this? ‘Just a thought.

  8. Andy says:

    I think those ads could be coming from elsewhere? They don’t appear in my feed of ProBlogger, at least.

  9. jim says:

    Honestly though, are people so unreasonable that the difference between full and reasonably truncated posts should cause this much of a stink?

  10. Ryan Latham says:

    Allan – it means Really Simple Syndication. But I agree I get hits all day long for feeds. Most people leave to go to work and let their reader run, still refreshing ever 15, 10, 5, 1 minutes (whatever they have it set to). I can destroy more bandwidth a month on RSS feeds than anything else. According to AwStats, on one of my sites the feed has been viewed 70,000 more times this month than the sites index.

    Not that the index isn’t getting hit often, roughly 80,000 times this month…but 150,000 hits a month to an RSS feed. At an average weight of 5.5KB, that is almost a gig alone. Consider shilling out a full entry feed; my posts are typically pretty long so this could make the feed around 30KB. Guess who just went from almost a gig to 4 and a half. On one site it wouldn’t be so bad; but spread it across several. I may come close to pushing my limits.

    Plus you know. I don’t have ads and my feeds; and those 70,000 a month could have helped me out on page impressions. So if you want the whole feed come to my site and get me a page impression, it doesn’t take that much time and effort to click a link.

    I do it all the time. I don’t care if it is just a partial post, if it strikes me as interesting I am not going to read it just because it isn’t in my news reader :/

  11. What I find hard to stomach is arguments that use phrases like “feeds that treat me badly”. I don’t care how big a name the blogger is, that’s drivel. There’s a revolting stink of entitlement to the whole full-feed/partial-feed debate. If you don’t like partial-feeds don’t subscribe to them but don’t try and make a moral case out of it.

    While I think Darren is right that if you have an active community you want to try and manage changes, I think it’s a mistake to fall into the belief that you have to pacify or satisfy everyone with an opinion in the blogosphere.

  12. Bill Peschel says:

    I’m probably way behind the curve on how RSS is used and how different people use it, so here’s my experience. Make of it what you will.

    I use Bloglines and prefer full feeds. Skipping over posts I don’t want to read is a matter of a few clicks; no big deal. Sometimes, (as I will in a moment), I’ll load up several pages of Bloglines from my various subjects and take them upstairs and read them off-line. So summaries wont get me to your site; I’ll just ignore them.

    In the case of ProBlogger, most of your posts deal with links to other sites, so I can tell at a glance with your truncated posts whether I want to click through.

    I don’t have a sense of entitlement about how you use your feeds. If you feed me truncated posts and I stop reading, I delink. I have 104 blogs at Bloglines, and plenty of interesting stuff to read, so one less is no big deal.

    The only worthwhile thought I can leave you with (from a reader’s perspective) is that if you want me to click through, better make sure that the post’s title and first 50 words is the best you can make it, cause you’ll win or lose my click right there.

  13. Darren Rowse says:

    Shai and Andy – yep I’m experimenting with the adsense ads, but only in my feedburner RSS feed at the moment. So if you’re subscribed to that one you’ll see them. I’m tweaking it so they dont appear as often and am trying to work out how to lengthen feeds without going full feed shai.

  14. Vix says:

    My problem with RSS feeds with summaries is that more often than not they tend to be the first x words of the posts which isn’t very helpful.

    If the summary was indeed a description of the what the post was about I wouldn’t mind so much.

  15. Tim Yang says:

    You know what else I do whenever I unsubscribe from a RSS feed?

    Absolutely nothing.

    Scoble is trying to make a point, but he’s going the wrong way about it.

  16. I’m with Scoble on this, and have posted to that effect.

    I don’t care what any blogger does with their feed, and I will, in fact, (though seldomly) subscribe to a truncated feed.

    But here’s what happens. When you serve me a truncated feed, you make me play guessing games: “is this post worth clicking on? Or am I getting a teaser lead?” Since my time is valuable, I almost never click through.

    If you give me the full feed, though, I can read the first 3-4 paras, make a pretty good estimate of whether I want to read the whole thing and — and this is critical — decide if I should comment or post in response. In other words, converse with you. You also get a sterling opportunity, through good writing and close thinking, to remind me of why I subscribed to your blog in the first place.

    (For those who claim that full posts waste their time, I can only suggest that if the first para bores you, click to the next post. None of us reads our newspaper from cover-to-cover; why should an RSS feed be different?)

    Since I — not you — decide what blogs I read, you’re really not in a position to dictacte much to me. If your posts are consistently superior, then you can get away with a lot. But you’ve got a lot of competition out there — don’t make it too onerous or irritating to read your blog.

    Remember that MSM uses advertising to make delivering content to your door cheap enough so that you will subscribe. It’s a tradeoff for the subscriber — I have to accept ads in your paper or program because I’d rather not pay the full cost of getting your content. But blog content is free (for me), and your attempts to make me visit the blog so that I can click on AdSense ads or buy your report are largely futile and ultimately not in your interest.

    My 2c.

  17. Darren Rowse says:

    Good points Allan – truncated posts do make you play the guessing game a bit – however I’d be very wary to make a statement like Robert’s – that I’m de-listing EVERY excerpt feed.

    I mean yes there is a guessing game in part – but surely you know from experience which of the blogs in your aggregator don’t do the ‘teaser’ thing and are worth reading and which do?

    I like to think that I don’t ‘tease’ people – I just write the best quality posts that I possibly can. Not to get people to leave their news aggregator so that they see my ads – but because I believe in giving my readers quality.

    I take your point though – full feeds would be ideal – they are more convenient and don’t break up the reading process – but are not some people worth a little effort to read?

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