Feeds, reading and commenting on blogs

Readers of your blog don’t always visit your blog to read your latest entry. Some receive your entry by email, sure, but those aren’t the individuals I’m talking about. Instead of visiting your blog to see its cool design or hear the music you’re feeling at the moment, they login to a feed aggregator and get access to their favourite blogs that way.

What is a feed aggregator?
It’s a website that brings the text, images and pictures of various blogs to one place (there are more detailed and technical definitions out there, of course), but it leaves the design of the blog behind. I personally use Google Reader as my feed aggregator. If you have a google account for email for example, all you have to do is select Reader once you’ve logged in (the option should be at the top) and you’re set. I like that I can add blogs, group them into different categories and I can easily see the blogs that have been updated. If I want to leave a comment on a blog, it’s a quick click and I’m on the blogger’s actual website.

Not every blog can be read using a feed reader: the owner of the blog in many cases has to create a feed of their blog so that feed aggregators can find them. I think some blogging platforms automatically create feeds but some blogs require the user to create the feed.

Why would anyone read blogs through a feed aggregator?
It’s a central location for all your favourite blogs, which is nice. Rather than typing url after url into your browser to access your favourite blogs, you can go to one address, enter all the urls once, and have access to nearly all the blogs you read. The advantage is you can check to see if all the blogs you read have been updated by visiting one site rather than checking on your favourite blog day after day. It’s efficient.

Why read blogs through an aggregator rather than visiting the actual blog? Well first off, your well-designed website might catch the attention of people who I may not want to know that I’m reading blogs (I think you know what I mean). The feed aggregator site is very neutral and innocuous looking, which is a perk in certain situations.

And now we get to the reason I wrote this entry. If you decide to have a feed for your blog, please, please ensure that those reading your blog get the full entry and not just a snippet. I personally find it annoying when I see that a blog has been updated and I click on the link within Google Reader, only to get just a few lines of the entry. Depending on where I am, I will either go to the blogger’s website to read the rest of the entry or remove the blog from my feed aggregator. If I remove a blog from Google Reader, it doesn’t mean I won’t read your blog ever again, but I’ll have to count on being triggered to find your blog again through someone else’s blog or because you pop into my mind (and given how many blogs there are to keep track of, the latter isn’t always a guarantee).

There are a few reasons some people don’t provide their full entries in the form of a feed:

  1. They feel the blog entry is too long
    The entry will be the same length in words whether I read it on the feed aggregator site or on your blog site so this rationale does not work for me.
  2. They want you to visit their site because they want you to leave a comment
    If I read an entry on a blog and I’m not compelled to leave a comment, I don’t. If I read a blog entry using a feed aggregator and I’m stirred to comment, I will. There may be statistics out there that show if someone reads your entry on your website they’re more likely to comment, but I value quality over quantity in terms of comments so I’m just as satisfied if I feel my words have been heard. I don’t want someone to be leaving a comment because they find themselves on my site and they feel bad leaving without commenting.
  3. They want you to visit their site because their blog is monetized
    Some blogs like this one have ads on them, and the blog owner is paid a certain rate based on how often a certain site or page is loaded onto someone’s browser. In some cases you only earn money if a visitor to your blog clicks on an ad. My goal with ads is to consistently earn enough to pay my monthly site hosting fees and I certainly wouldn’t mind earning more than that. In my view there is nothing wrong with monetizing your blog, but the content should always be the most important aspect of blogging. I would rather feel heard than have people visit my site and click on a few ads.

If you’re currently sharing only a sliver of your blog entries with those accessing your blog using a feed aggregator or reader, I urge you to reconsider. If there’s another reason you’re not sharing your entire feed, do let us know in the comments.

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12 thoughts on “Feeds, reading and commenting on blogs

  1. Feeds are not the the same as websites, they are more like emails kind of. Its kind of like an inbox for those things you want to keep up to date with.
    I like sites or blogs that share the whole post in feeds. But if it's a blog that post 2 or 3times a day, I like to see just the headlines.

    • Hi Ola,

      I see a feed aggregator as a website that helps you keep track of your feeds, just like at its root, gmail or hotmail is a website that helps you keep track of your emails. That may just be semantics though.

      You raise a good point about blogs that update multiple times in a day. I would still like access to the full feed, but perhaps the best idea would be for the reader to be able to choose what s/he wants.

      Now that I have your blog address I will add your blog to Nigerian Blog Awards as Lavide.com…check it out!

      Thanks for commenting!

  2. I think mine is actually guilty, but not for the reasons you gave. I think feedburner (which I use) actually asks you to tick that to make your feeds easier to burn or something, and it's not as if I use ads.

    I rarely use my Google reader, cos I browse from home, but I can understand your point of a generic look for the aggregator site when one is at the office or elsewhere. Let me check that fine print again…

    • Your blog actually isn't guilty, Myne (I just checked). I use feedburner to burn my feeds too and I know it definitely allows you to burn the full feed.

    • It's funny though because I read your blog through a feed reader, lady! So you do have a feed for your blog, you just didn't know it! Blogger must allow you to create feeds automatically.

  3. Thanks for bringing this to notice…will check mine because personally I don't like reading posts that are halfway…

  4. GNG this is a great post and I agree wholeheartedly with your points raised. I read all the blogs I follow via Google Reader on my blackberry. I find it incredibly frustrating when I have to hop from Reader to the site. There are a few blogs I've stopped reading because of this as I don't have time to physically blog hop.

    Like you said, if the content is good and people are compelled to comment they will. You have always think of the end user. Am I making life easy for them?

  5. i read this via my google reader and i had to come over to leave a comment. i recently activated only excerpts on my feed for a very good reason. google reader never forgets. i recently put up a pot that caused a love one some harassment. i deleted the post from my blog, but google reader didnt delete it. a friend of mine also published her blog as a book after deleting the entire entry from her site. unfortunately google reader remembers everything so why would anyone buy the book? i wish i could read the whole post from google, but some people out there just dont know how to respect themselves.

  6. i read this via my google reader and i had to come over to leave a comment. i recently activated only excerpts on my feed for a very good reason. google reader never forgets. i recently put up a pot that caused a love one some harassment. i deleted the post from my blog, but google reader didnt delete it. a friend of mine also published her blog as a book after deleting the entire entry from her site. unfortunately google reader remembers everything so why would anyone buy the book? i wish i could read the whole post from google, but some people out there just dont know how to respect themselves.

  7. I hate abbreviated posts too. especially on the blog itself. For someone like me whose phone isnt too techie that just plain sucks. On your recommendation, I will check out feed aggregator. I am tired of blog hopping….

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