New Full-Text RSS Feed

A new full-text RSS feed is now available. The original, excerpts-only feed is still available, and will remain as the default feed for autodiscovery. But those of you who’ve been asking for a full-text feed now have that option.

(In case you didn’t already know, there’s also a feed for the Map Questions section, as well as a feed for my task list. All feeds are now in RSS 2.0 format, by the way, and can be accessed from the new RSS page.)

In the future, I hope to be able to offer more feeds, including some multi-category feeds (imagine a feed for tech, another for old maps, art and history) that will have to wait until I reorganize all the categories. RSS-related features make sense because, according to the results of the readership survey (which, three months later, I’m embarrassed to admit I haven’t finished processing), RSS is awfully popular with my readers. Keep reading for the data.

Based on the responses to the survey, a whopping 65 per cent of The Map Room’s readers use the RSS feed.

  • Of those, about one-half use My Yahoo!, one-quarter use desktop software, and 19 per cent use Bloglines; other online services make up the rest. (As of right now, according to my server logs, 329 of you subscribe via Bloglines, 25 via NewsGator, and two via Feedster; 84 of you are reading the feed via LiveJournal).
  • One-quarter indicated that they’d prefer a full-text RSS feed to the existing excerpts-only feed (19 per cent said they’d read either; 17 per cent said they’d prefer the excerpts; 29 per cent didn’t answer the question).
  • Fewer than 7 per cent said that ads in RSS feeds were fine; 38 per cent said that ads were okay in limited amounts; and 14 per cent were opposed to them. (No opinion: 11 per cent; one-third didn’t answer the question.)

In other words, a significant plurality indicated an interest in a full-text RSS feed, but the response to advertising in that feed was ambiguous at best.

I was concerned that a full-text feed would reduce site traffic and thus ad revenue, and wanted to float the idea of RSS advertising as an alternative. Testing the waters. While outright opposition was in the minority, several people wrote strongly against the idea, so I suspect that that minority opinion is very strongly felt.

I contemplated simply maintaining the status quo, but in the end, influenced by those responses and by Matt’s argument that ads targeted at your most loyal readers are a bad idea, I decided to offer the full-text feed, without ads, and see what happens. Advertising may come to the full-text feed one day, but for right now I don’t think it’s appropriate. (In case you’re wondering, the excerpts-only feed will never have ads — we’re only talking about the full-text feed.)

Anyway, the new feed is here. Let me know if there are any technical difficulties.