Make My RSS Feed Full, Goddamnit!
Or please, Mr. Denton, will you undo the damage you've done to Gawker Media?
Seeing as Felix Salmon started this week's argument, let me conclude by returning to him. In his 2007 piece, he quoted the anecdotal views of Mike Masnick and Robert Scoble, both of whom insist that full-text feeds, being more comprehensible to the reader than the chromed and tail-finned average Web page, increase the chances of a piece being read and forwarded to another reader. As Salmon points out, he's willing to skim through oceans of material in an RSS feed that he'd never attempt to read on a Web site. RSS feeds can be consumed offline, too, Salmon points out, which also increases their influence.
As long as I'm channeling Salmon, let me steal his conclusion, too. Publishers "should stop thinking of websites just as websites, and start embracing all of the rest of the Internet—not only HTML but also XML and anything else that will bring their content to their readers," he wrote.
Every time a Web site makes itself harder to read and traverse, it jettisons potential fans. So what's it going to be, Nick? Are you going to invite me back to read your sites properly, or is it over between us?
There are also all of those cool Greasemonkey scripts for popular sites that shave off all the ads and navigation so you can hear yourself read. But that's for a future column. (This Merlin Mann blog post made me laugh. Check it out.) Got RSS ideas and complaints to share? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. For Purity of Essence links, see my Twitter feed. (E-mail may be quoted by name in Slate's readers' forums; in a future article; or elsewhere unless the writer stipulates otherwise. Permanent disclosure: Slate is owned by the Washington Post Co.)
Track my errors: Yet another novel use for RSS feeds, one that show no sign of catching on! This hand-built RSS feed will ring every time Slate runs a "Press Box" correction. For e-mail notification of errors in this specific column, type the letters RSS in the subject head of an e-mail message, and send it to email@example.com.