I experimented last week with showing a short summary instead of full posts in my RSS feeds, but I’ve decided to bail on that approach and have restored the full view. Here’s how come:

RSS feeds are incredibly handy for readers but an irksome dilemma for publishers — from a blogger’s point of view, the RSS crowd is empty traffic: they never click on ads, they rarely participate in discussions; many seem like free-riders who can’t be bothered to visit the site you so studiously designed for their benefit. I figured: I’ll show them and force them to click on the links to my posts and enjoy watching my hit count get the boost it so justly deserved.

Guess what happened: Nada.

How come? Pretty basic, actually: The only way cutting your feed short works is if your readers have nothing else in their feed list. Once people get hooked on RSS reading, they develop huge lists of RSS feeds. If you truncate your feed, they just move on to somebody else’s.

Bottom line: A short feed annoys your readers and does not boost your hit count. Most blog feeds are created automatically so there’s little work for the blogger to keep them updated. And finally, a small knot of a blog’s most loyal readers are also total Web geeks who rely RSS to surf as many sites as possible. These are not the folks you want to piss off.

The days of the publisher dictating how his readers view his content are long gone and besides, it’s hard enough to attract an audience online; if you make it harder on your readers to enjoy your content, you’re just making it harder for yourself.