Feed, Interrupted: Another RSS Issue

It has recently come to our attention that roughly 90% of the people who read this blog via RSS feed had their subscriptions interrupted when we moved our blog to NYTimes.com about 10 days ago. (If you don’t read this blog via feed, you probably have no idea what I am talking about, and nothing in this post will matter to you.) There are four things to say about this:

1. The problem is now fixed.

2. Sorry.

3. Welcome back.

4. The feed currently being sent out by the Times is not the full feed; instead you will be receiving an excerpt of each post, requiring you to click through to the Times site to read the whole blog.

There are a few more things to say about No. 4:

1. If things are now working properly, your reader has just been stuffed full of about 10 days’ worth of blogging that ran the gamut from terrorism to the science of insulting women to Presidential power.

2. If you are anything like the 10% of our feed readers whose subscriptions did get properly redirected last week, you will probably be unhappy about losing the full feed.

3. The partial feed that the Times been offering since the move was apparently pretty terrible — too short and not very informative — but has apparently just been made somewhat less terrible, though how much less I don’t yet know.

4. By Monday, we hope to have final word on the Times‘s position on whether to restore a full feed, and I’ll write a more thorough update then. In the meantime, feel free to express yourself in the comments section below, but know that it will be hard to come up with a new way of saying “This feed sucks,” which has been the gist of approximately 80% of the e-mails we’ve gotten in the past week.

5. Thanks for reading, and have a good weekend.


Absolutely ridiculous that it isn't a full feed. E.g. this posting says:

It has recently come to our attention that roughly 90% of the people who read this blog via RSS feed had their subscriptions interrupted when we moved our blog to NYTimes.com about 10 days ago. (If you don't read this blog via feed, you probably have no idea what I am talking about, and nothing [...]

That's it? It should be a full feed, like before. Terrible move Freakonomics, absolutely terrible. (Not to mention, it was to the New York Times, ugh!)


After reading your post here about RSS feeds, I want to note that I like cats.


I too think partial feeds are outrageous. Why even bother at all!
Please, please, please restore the full feed. This is a problem that almost all corporate news agencies have. Please catch up with technology and have an adaptable business plan.
I would not object to ads in the feed at all, if that is the issue.

Julie Gomoll

Please, please restore the full feeds. Yes, the original "teasers" (I use the term loosely) were pathetic. Excerpts are better, but still unacceptable. I'm reading far fewer of your posts. Ditto for other NYT blogs. Great content, but too hard to incorporate into an already overloaded blog schedule.

Why is the whole access to content issue such a difficult one for the NYT to learn? I would hope they'd lead the way in transforming the model, rather than lagging the way they are.


Thanks! I missed ya, glad you fixed it and PLEASE bring back full feeds. I use feed reader so I don't have to click through, so a partial feed defeats the purpose.


In the end I doubt we'll get a full feed, and it won't be because of freakanomics, just regular economics. I assume you're being paid for this gig. If your readers don't click through to the NYT, the NYT won't make any money. The only other solution -- putting ads in the middle of the full feed -- doesn't seem like it has market traction yet, so I doubt that option will be amenable to the bean counters at the NYT.

I'm not really sure why everyone is so bewildered, though. That basic economics plays itself out on the web would seem to make perfect sense, no? It'll be a little more work for an editor to tease the good stuff into a paragraph so you can decide if it's worth clicking-through, but after that, you'll be doing your part to ensure the micro-payment economy keeps the NYT afloat. There's no free lunch, not sure why this should be any different?

Now if they are writing this for free, however, because it sells books, then this is a pure vanity play and I'd suggest the NYT full-feed it imediately. I assume that's not the case, though.


Dave Winer

If you want me to help you guys figure out what to do, I'm willing. I brought the NY Times into the world of RSS in 2002, and managed the feeds for the first couple of years.

First question I have is why did you guys move this site inside the Times system? What were you hoping to gain from it? Is it all about ad revenue? Perhaps you could sell something else through this site, something else that would generate as much or more revenue?

It seems like the Freakonomics site is the perfect place to experiment, given the topic. I'm a big fan of the book, and the way of thinking about things. This is certainly one of those cases, like the day care center pricing example in the book, where the "obvious" answer is probably not the most profitable one. :-)


I agree with the requests for a full feed. While some blogs lend themselves well to excerpts or even just headlines, this one does not. Why? Because you guys have extremely dense posts (I mean this as a positive) that are, I think, hard to summarize in a manner that gives me enough information for me to determine that I want to read through the whole post. I used to skim each full length post in Google Reader and if I found it of interest, I'd read the whole thing in depth. I can't do that with an excerpt, and thus far the excerpts don't really grab me. I used to read about 1 of 3 of the posts in full, but with the click through, I think I've read 3 (including this one) since you went to the NYT.


I don't even read feeds that aren't full feeds - so if this doesn't change pretty soon I'll have to say adios and good riddance to Freakonomics. That would be a sad day.


I've been reading this blog for ages, and I enjoy most of the posts, but dealing with the partial feed is just more effort than I can deal with when I'm paging through 100+ posts in my reader in the mornings. I need to be able to tell at a glance if I want to read it, and the 2 sentence partial feed is just not going to do it.


If you know what Techmeme is, it will surprise you to know that it was on the front page for most of the week that you removed the full feed, and the NY Times took a massive amount of abuse. Needless to say, you probably got more coverage from pissing people off by removing the full feed, than you did about being bought by the NY Times..


Read this:


Alas, I too am a big fan of full feeds, even the ones with ads in.

I've been correctly getting the partial feed the whole time, although of everything posted since the move, I've only felt compelled enough to click on one article. As a rule of thumb, I read every last article on the full feed.

Here's hoping we get the full feed back.


In all honesty, I didn't realize there was a difference between the old and new feeds (I'm new to this whole RSS business - I only have three feeds in my reader, Freakonomics being one of the three.) In retrospect, however, after reading this post I now notice that when the full ten days worth of feeds suddenly popped up earlier today, there wasn't nearly enough information in any of the excerpts to pique my interest and actually read any of them (with the exception of this one detailing the RSS issue.) In fact, now that I think about it, I only read entire posts when they come to my reader whole and uncut. I suspect I'm not alone in this habit...

So in short: FULL FEEDS, OR ELSE!!!


Not having a full feed is simply ridiculous. If I wanted to come to the website to read the post, I would not bother to have a feed reader.


My feed (through the Sage Firefox extension) has worked fine the whole time. I haven't minded the partial feed as I usually click through anyway, but I did like the full feed better.


just put ads un the full feed. what is so hard about that? it's not ideal, but that's what other sites with cold feet about full feeds do.

it's ridiculous that there has to be this much reader outcry just to get the Times do provde its bits via one protocol instead of another.

i, like many others, don't subscribe to partial feeds. it's not worth the effort.


If you use Google Reader and Firefox, you can see the whole article using #1 from this site:


Basically it displays the original blog entry right in Google Reader so you don't have to click through.


There must be some sort of usage statistics available. I'd be very surprised if you're not losing a lot of readers.

I lost the feed, but until I re-received it today never bothered to try to find out what happened. Even though this is one of three (of 139) feeds I have tagged "daily" -- to check every day. The partial feed got me to click and see what was up, but I'm going back now and removing the daily tag now. I'll keep the feed just to occasionally check if full feeds are back...


I'll reiterate others. Lack of a full feed makes it difficult to determine if I want to read an article at first glance. I'm skipping a much higher percentage than I have in the past. Sometimes I wonder what I'm missing, but I don't have the time to click through just to determine if my time is better spent on a Freakonomics article or an article from one of my many other feeds worthy of attention.