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partial feeds : full feeds :: all rights reserved : creative commons

Mike Linksvayer, August 15th, 2007

Debate over whether it makes sense to syndicate complete posts or only excerpts pops up regularly, most recently in reaction to the popular Freakonomics blog moving to the New York TImes, which brought with it a move to partial feeds. The idea of partial feeds is to make readers go to the syndicating site to read the full content, where the reader might click on an advertisement. Techdirt explains why this is short sighted:

However, in our experience, full text feeds actually does lead to more page views, though understanding why is a little more involved. Full text feeds makes the reading process much easier. It means it’s that much more likely that someone reads the full piece and actually understands what’s being said — which makes it much, much, much more likely that they’ll then forward it on to someone else, or blog about it themselves, or post it to Digg or Reddit or Slashdot or Fark or any other such thing — and that generates more traffic and interest and page views from new readers, who we hope subscribe to the RSS feed and become regular readers as well. The whole idea is that by making it easier and easier for anyone to read and fully grasp our content, the more likely they are to spread it via word of mouth, and that tends to lead to much greater adoption than by limiting what we give to our readers and begging them to come to our site if they want to read more than a sentence or two. So, while many people claim that partial feeds are needed to increase page views where ads are hosted, our experience has shown that full text feeds actually do a great deal to increase actual page views on the site by encouraging more usage. It’s the same thing that we’ve talked about in other areas of the content industry. Taking value away from users to try to force a specific action is almost always going to be less desirable than providing people what they want.

(emphasis added)

The analogy with DRM vs. no DRM is obvious, but what about default copyright and Creative Commons? With copyright the default is to take value away from users, with the hope that some will pay for limited uses. Using a Creative Commons license gives value back to users (how much depends on the CC license used), largely by not forcing people to seek permission to do things they want to do with media, e.g., share and remix.

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