Question for Blog Readers and Authors

This post is more than 2 years old.

When I was designing the RSS feed for my site, I followed one of the recommendations for the item body field and limited the data to 250 characters. A good friend pointed out that this wasn't really necessary and it kinda limited the power of blog aggregators. My initial reaction was to say that the RSS feed should really draw traffic back to the original site - but since traffic isn't really a concern, maybe I should simply do as he suggested, and return the full item.


If I do modify the feed, I will probably make it an argument - ie, generateRSS() or generateRSS(mode=full).

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About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a senior developer evangelist for Adobe. He focuses on document services, JavaScript, and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support. You can even buy me a coffee!

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Archived Comments

Comment 1 by Bryan F. Hogan posted on 5/22/2003 at 4:56 PM

I like the idea of allowing the option to choose whether to limit the data returned. I personally think that it should be limited because, like you, they should be attracted back to your site.

But then, I''m not sure how well that would work on a phone.

Comment 2 by Jim Biancolo posted on 5/22/2003 at 5:01 PM

Hi Raymond,

I like getting the full post. Since I''ve already read everything on your site it''s not like I click through your RSS "teaser" and then surf around - I just click through so I can read the rest of that one post. I''ve heard two reasonable arguments for doing teasers instead of full posts:

[1] Your site relies on traffic (i.e. advertising) for revenue, so you need folks clicking through and surfing around.

[2] Your text is wedded to your presentation rather than standing alone, so you want your users to see your writing within the context of your site design.

For [1] (and I know this is not you), I say put your ads in the RSS feed. If your content is worth reading, I''d still rather suck down the ads than click through. And if it''s not, well...

For [2], I can understand this concern (again, not necessarily that you share it), but I''m all about the text, so I''d rather read what you have to say rather than admire how prettily it''s presented. Not that I don''t appreciate a well-designed site when I''m surfing, but when I''m aggregating I just want the text. I''ll click through if the presentation is important (like with Simon Willison''s excellent <a href="">CSS ain''t Rocket Science</a> series.

Take care,


Comment 3 by seancorfield posted on 5/22/2003 at 7:02 PM

Make it a parameter and allow folks to say how big the excerpt should be:




mode, exceprt both optional, mode defaults to "partial", excerpt defaults to 250.

Personally I prefer to be able to read the entire entry in my RSS reader - since I''m usually reading RSS/news on BART (i.e., offline).

Comment 4 by Matt Knight posted on 5/22/2003 at 7:40 PM

I think you should allow the full output....Why Not?

Unless your goal is to have everyone come to your server (all that money you make from Ads and all....:-)

Comment 5 by Raymond Camden posted on 5/22/2003 at 8:58 PM

I think it''s pretty obvious how people feel. I plan on adding this along with some additions that Rob Brooks-Bilson had added. (Basically, the ability to pass params to generateRSS like you to getEntries - this will allow for getting a filter RSS feed.)