Full text in RSS, please

Many website owners offer RSS feeds that don't contain the full content of text in each feed item. Instead of including the sourced content in its entirety, each feed item will include just the headline, a short snippet, or mini summarized version of it.

A comparison of two RSS feed items that show articles, one with only a one-word summary of what the article is about and the other with the full content of the article

This may not be a problem for users who want to quickly want to scroll through headlines of the articles in their RSS reader. But for users who want to dive deeper into the content of their feed items, having only a short snippet of them can be pretty annoying.

Why using short snippets or summaries isn't ideal

When an item in an RSS feed has just a short summary of content, of course users can click its link to read the rest of the content on its website. But some users would rather stay within their RSS reader app instead of navigating to the website for a few different reasons.

RSS Readers can help, but they're not a perfect solution

Some RSS readers offer a button to activate the full text for a feed item. When clicked, the RSS reader will automatically go out to the web source of a feed item, grab the full content, and show it to the user without the user ever leaving the RSS reader.

But RSS Readers don't do this automatically for every feed item, so the full-text option would have to be activated for each feed item individually. And when doing so, it's subjected to the same issues as if the user had clicked through to the website manually. The feature can still be slow to load the full content from the website, and still requires an internet connection that prevents offline reading.

Offering an RSS feed without the full content can be costly

When a website owner offers RSS feeds, the feed must live on a web server, to which RSS readers must constantly make requests. RSS readers will make multiple requests to the server (sometimes every minute or even by the second) to always have the latest content in the feed. This process already consumes a notable amount of resources on the website's server.

But when RSS feeds don't serve the full content in the item, RSS readers have to resort to using even more of the server's resources to obtain the full content in some other way. They'll have to make additional requests, retry requests if they fail, or use other automated methods that can overwhelm the server. This makes both the feed and website slow and, in many cases, will increase server costs.

Generate full-text RSS feeds by default

Forcing RSS users to navigate to a website to retrieve the full content for a feed eats up valuable time, uses unnecessary resources, increases server costs, and diminishes their experience overall.

For this reason, we try to always include the full text of items in Open RSS feeds by default whenever possible. We hope that website owners follow this approach, and give users the best possible experience when viewing RSS feeds in their readers.

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