Why do geeks hate partial feed RSS but love Twitter?

In 2007 the hot debate was partial vs full RSS feeds – giving all your content in the post vs enticing a click back to your website with just a teaser via RSS. When some publishers reverted to partial feed in order to drive traffic and actually monetize their audience, they were often flamed with “UNSUBSCRIBE!” comments.

Fast-forward to 2009 and Twitter is loved by these same outraged readers despite the fact it functions often as a partial feed RSS. It’s the return of the click! People don’t mind now actually visiting a website. I think of my own experience with TechCrunch – pre-Twitter i’d consume 99% of their content in my reader. Now i’m more likely to click on a Tweet and go to their website if there’s something of immediate interest, and their feed has become non-timely catch up consumption.
Why do geeks hate partial feed RSS but love Twitter? Because in their mind Twitter’s truncation of content delivery isn’t a violation of the internet – it’s a technical limitation based on the service’s SMS origins. No pointy head suit is making the decision to limit their feed in order to monetize you on their site.
So of course the totally illogical reality is that when consuming content on your iPhone, Publisher XYZ’s partial feed in your Reader app makes you mad, but Publisher XYZ tweeting the headline and link to their new post makes you happy. Same experience, different context, different user reactions.

7 thoughts on “Why do geeks hate partial feed RSS but love Twitter?

  1. “Why do geeks hate partial feed RSS but love Twitter?”

    I don't think it's illogical. Let's say I'm following some tech bloggers on Twitter. If they twit about “something of immediate interest”, I'll click to read said page/article because I trust their judgment. Most often, they won't link to their own posts. They'll make sure to let me know about Jon Lech Johansen's take on the Palm Pre iTunes sync feature, for instance. In this way, Twitter is like a recommendation system for news.

  2. I don't like and don't subscribe to Twitter users that are publishing their own stuff. So I guess I am consistent with the RSS attitude there.

  3. Get someone trying to get their RSS followers to switch to following them on Twitter instead & you'd probably get similar complaints.

    You won't get the complaints about Twitter usage because you're not changing anything – twitter has always worked like that & is being used how people expect whereas in the case of full RSS feeds, people have been used to reading whole articles and are suddenly being denied such.

    Not exactly fair responses (encouraging others) but a sudden unexpected change to the content is bound to upset people ;-/

  4. I've asked the same question about Friendfeed as well, why some people who hate partial text RSS feeds fell so in love with Friendfeed as a replacement? Other than the ability to comment without even bothering to go and read the post. 🙂

  5. Never really thought about it that way. Twitter is a 2-way communication tool. An RSS feed is just that – a feed. It won't talk back to you.

    I still think it is annoying to read partial feeds, but I can understand where the bloggers are coming from. Content creation costs time and effort, and there are too many feedthieves out there.

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