Blog Note: The Deal with the Feed

A few people have e-mailed me wondering why only abbreviated versions of SP posts are now showing up in their feed readers (and requesting that I change it back to full posts). Just so y’all know, I would love to change it back, but I changed it in the first place because Sweet Machine ran across yet another asswipe stealing entire posts without permission or attribution. My resident computer genius pointed out that they were probably yanking the posts via RSS, so not showing full posts could curtail the problem. Since there are approximately a squillion spam blogs out there picking up anything with dieting or weight loss-related keywords, and thus this is probably happening a lot more than we know about, I figured it was a good idea.

Sorry, everybody. I personally way prefer the full posts, too, but I hope you’ll agree that if it means there are fewer fake blogs out there reposting our content to sell diet pills, clicking through is worth it.

46 thoughts on “Blog Note: The Deal with the Feed

  1. I don’t know when you changed the tagline–I’ve been on vaca!–but can I say I love you all just a little more with an homage to The Dude.

    <3

  2. on a somewhat related issue: does Firefox typically have issues with wordpress? I can’t get to SP in Firefox 3 on windows. on my mac, it’s just fine. Any help would be apprecated.

  3. Rebelleink, I’m having the same problem on my PC (but not on my Mac), which is why sometimes you see my icon and sometimes my monster. I have been emailing back and forth with WP support, but so far no solution. Please email them and let them know you’re having the same problem, though — I get the impression that they just think I’m cranky! ;-)

  4. ok, the LOVELY* people at the WP forums sayz it due to not-vaild html? I am an HTML newbie, so what do I know. cnn.com isn’t vaild either. From my expereince, almost zero of the WP blogs I read work in FF3. Grrrr.

    * snark.

  5. my only note is that not getting a full post in the feed means i can’t read you at work. rss reading is acceptable at work, but obvious websites, not so much.

    i agree that they are probably taking your content from the feed, however, so i appreciate that. it just may limit some people’s involvement with the site.

  6. To be honest, I have not been clicking through nearly as often now, and I rarely click through on blogs that don’t load the whole post. I think this move will hurt your readership at some point, but you have to do what you have to do.

  7. Ah ha! I was going to email to complain about the truncated feeds, too, but then I forgot. So thanks for the explanation.

  8. Kate,

    I fully understand why you’re doing this. I’ve got a slight less popular blog (ok, a far less popular blog) and if people were ripping me off, I’d want to rip pieces of them off.

    But I do have to say that this change seriously breaks the flow when reading in a feedreader and makes it impossible to download articles for offline browsing. The overall impact for me is going to be that I will read fewer SP articles since there will have to be something truly compelling in an article for me to break my flow and click through.

    I think the shortened blurb format works for blogs like JFS because it’s generally a once a day blog with very long articles, so the investment in clicking a link and going to another tab is small compared to the amount of content on one page, but for blogs with multiple shorter postings, multiple open tabs is actually disruptive when trying to scan through the 200 or so articles I try to read a day.

    I realize I’m probably an outside case. And whatever format you decide to keep SP feeds in, I appreciate what you’re doing and think the world is a better place because of it.

  9. I’m with Mike R. This is your site, and it’s certainly your call – but I would REALLY prefer that the full text was available in my reader.

    I click through to read them comments when I have time, but not always. With this format, I’ll click through more often than not, but not always, and it’s kind of a pain for me.

    So, if you’re taking an opinion poll before you make a final decision, I’m on the “full text please!” team :)

  10. At least of you ever decide to add ads it’ll make sure you’re getting hits. You know, if you ever need $$ to support the blog, or start a charity to support fat kids or something :)

  11. Another I-read-from-work vote for full text, but I frequently click through to read the comments anyway. I’m more upset about no longer seeing the number of comments in the reader!

  12. I will read fewer SP articles since there will have to be something truly compelling in an article for me to break my flow and click through.

    A ringing endorsement!

  13. Hey, just for the record…..I almost always click through without reading the whole thing on the feed, just on pure principle. Hell, sometimes I actually visit the website itself without checking the feed….’cause it’s, like, a site worth visiting and stuff.

  14. Just FYI, if you use google reader and firefox you can install an add-on called better greader (just google it) which allows you to view the whole content of collapsed posts inside your reader. You can even comment from within google reader (I am right now). It’s pretty cool.

  15. Shit, I don’t even bother reading the posts directly through the reader. As soon as I know there’s a new post, I click to go directly to the post itself (here and all the others on the Fatosphere). So it don’t make one difference to me either way.

    But I can understand where some people might have issues at work.

  16. possibly annoyingly difficult suggestion, especially as I know nothing about blogs/RSS feeds/etc. except that I subscribe to stuff on my LJ and read the fatosphere feed, but is there any way the truncated posts could at least also include the icons? I’m a very visual person and when I’m scanning my friends page or the fatosphere feed for stuff I want to read little bits of just text tend to make me glaze over and assume it’s something I’m not interested in. (kinda the same way I find it difficult to keep track of people on LJ who don’t use icons.)
    If at least the icon could show up it would trigger the bell in my head that says “ding! ding! This is a SP post! You want to read it!”

    Like I said, I’m fully aware that it may not be possible, but I just thought I’d put the suggestion out there.

    Also? people stealing= teh suck.

  17. Monkey, I’ve noticed on some sites (like The Rotund), the icons do show up. (I remember noticing because I was surprised to see my face there!) I’m guessing it has more to do with the widget or reader than it does with the feed — but that is a total guess.

  18. Can you edit the RSS feed template to include a copyright notice that in each post footer says something like “If you’re reading this content on a site that isn’t kateharding.net, the content is copyrighted and the owner of the site is using it without permission”?

    Or something like that. I’ve seen some sites do that and if a spam blog is pulling in posts with the RSS feed, a copyright footer might curtail that., especially if it points out that the content is being used without permission.

    You can also smack their host with a DMCA take down notice. That’s if you want to be super proactive and sign your name all legally under penalty of perjury etc etc. It’s worth it, though if it gets a spam blog shut down.

  19. I echo everyone who has mentioned about how the truncated feeds will decrease readership at work – and in all honesty, there’s no way I’m going to be able to carry on reading the posts by clicking through. Though hopefully I can try installing that add-on that Olive mentioned – it may even lead me to commenting more, huzzah! If that doesn’t work, I definitely won’t be able to participate with the site as much. *sob*

  20. Since you said you were taking note- I have been reading a lot less since the feed change as well. I don’t use google reader and don’t know of a plug in for my reader (gregarius) with the same functionality.

  21. Also, speaking of Friday tech-gone-wonky, anyone know what’s up with The Rotund’s site?

    I’m getting “Service Unavailable” error message and have all day.

    I use Firefox, and I rant into a problem getting on one other site (I run about 200 a day, and I highly suspect fraud with this other) but I just thought I’d ask if anyone else was having trubbs.

  22. Thank you Olive for pointing out that great extension which gives me a sense of relief because I won’t have to stop being so active in my reading of Shapely Prose.

    I definitely prefer the feed to produce entire articles, but at least there is a workable option.

  23. I’ll keep reading SP just because it’s awesome like that. But it is frustrating to run across the truncated posts on a blog where I do like to read all of the posts. :\

    If they’re just swiping things via RSS, maybe you could just add a simple copyright line in every post? Beginning or end. “Copyright 2008 [author], kateharding.net, licensed under yada yada.” Just a suggestion. If it’s actual people manually swiping posts, obviously that won’t do much, but if it’s bot work, that might be a nice way to compromise.

  24. You can also smack their host with a DMCA take down notice. That’s if you want to be super proactive and sign your name all legally under penalty of perjury etc etc. It’s worth it, though if it gets a spam blog shut down.

    Yeah, we looked into that. Site’s hosted in Germany, so a) it was hard to find the right people to bitch to, and b) American laws don’t necessarily help. We did, however, get our content taken down just with a strongly worded e-mail to the right people. (Alongside about 12 strongly worded e-mails to the wrong people, ’cause we were pretty much just throwing shit at a wall to see what stuck.) The other reason for changing the feed is just that I’m sure there are other spam blogs pulling the same thing.

    Having said that, a copyright footer is a brilliant idea. I’m just not sure how to do that, short of adding a footer to every post that shows up here, too. Will look into it.

  25. RE: the footer. You don’t have to add it to every post here, you just add it to your reader settings.

    SP is one of the few blogs I actually don’t have in my RSS feed and just visit everyday. But those blogs in my RSS feed that have truncated posts get read a lot less frequently than the ones who put out whole posts.

  26. For what it’s worth, I would definitely much prefer full posts (or at least much bigger excerpts) in the feed. The teenyness of the snippets also mean that the searchable offline archive in my feedreader becomes useless – if I remember several keywords to search for a post a few months down the track, odds are they won’t be in those first two lines.

  27. or at least much bigger excerpts

    Yeah, unfortunately, that’s one of the limitations of WordPress. (Being hosted by them, not using the software.) I have two choices: “Full post” and “post summary.”

    RE: the footer. You don’t have to add it to every post here, you just add it to your reader settings.

    Yeah, I just don’t know how to do that. :)

  28. To be honest, I have not been clicking through nearly as often now, and I rarely click through on blogs that don’t load the whole post. I think this move will hurt your readership at some point, but you have to do what you have to do.
    Ditto!

  29. Update: I just talked to Al (who deals with spam for a living), and he points out that a footer would help label the crime, but wouldn’t actually stop it.

    I just found more of our stuff on the same blog, which is a pure spam site, and bitched again to the people who got the first post I complained about taken down. We’ll see what happens.

  30. Thanks Olive! I am SO downloading that right now (luckily I am 100% a google/firefox girl).

    Kate et all, if this works (and I assume it will), I won’t mind the truncated posts at all.

    and good luck reducing the stealing shit. It just blows my mind that people do that.

  31. Hell, sometimes I actually visit the website itself without checking the feed….’cause it’s, like, a site worth visiting and stuff.

    Heh, seconded.

  32. SM,

    There is a ton of compelling content on SP. But in a reader I’m much more likely to skim a topic that I’m not 100 percent interested in, whereas if I have to click through, I skim the intro only.

    One other nice thing about full feeds, the rss readers on mobile phones are often better than the web browsers. But I’m probably the only one who actually reads a quarter of your postings on my phone because I’m a hopeless nerd. I’m doing it right now! Of course I’m using my phones mobile browser to type this comment.

  33. Getting the full feed is wonderful, and it’s incredibly irritating to have to click through all the time. I understand your position, and can’t imagine trying to do damage control on this. However, it does mean that I will probably read fewer posts – not because I don’t love you, but because I’m only going to click through on things that sound interesting (rather than reading it all because it’s in line on the screen.) I hope other options open up. Thanks for letting us know about the situation.

  34. The teenyness of the snippets also mean that the searchable offline archive in my feedreader becomes useless

    Now this is a good reason! Beats the hell out of “sorry, I only read your content if it’s right in front of me; it’s not interesting enough to lift and drop my finger for.”

    Kate, when I get back from PA I will figure out how to change our feed settings to add a footer. I haven’t done anything with the feed yet but maybe I can figure it out. Everyone else should do what Olive said.

  35. Wow, Olive is now my hero, too. I wonder what kind of impact this plugin will have on Google Reader’s search feature though … if it still only recognizes the excerpts, I’ll have the same problem as lauredhel. Especially since I can never remember on which blog I’ve read something, so being able to search all of them at once can come in handy.

  36. Hate to be another naysayer, but I only recently started faithfully reading SP (as in like a week or so before the RSS change) and really *only* have time to read anything at work…where of course they *completely* block the site. So my only way to see the posts is through my reader…not so useful now :(
    I already installed the Better Reader Plug-in mentioned above and it doesn’t seem to be doing anything for me…or else, since they block the site, the reader *can’t* bring in the rest of the article…
    I shall take another look tomorrow, but I am sad to say I may not continue to read if it doesn’t work :(

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