short or long summaries?

I’m in a bit of a quandary, and I would therefore like to enlist your opinion, dear reader. As things currently stand, this blog generates Atom and RSS feeds that include the whole text of each post. And each of the indexes (the category indexes, the monthly indexes and the main index.html page) also contains the full text of each post. The question is: is that the best situation for all concerned? Would it be better for some or all of those presentation layers to include only a summary, a precis, an excerpt or a taster?

There are strong arguments on both sides. For example, Dale Emery wants accurate visitor stats, and therefore publishes only a 1-line taster. This forces every reader of his blog to visit the post’s actual page in order to read it – and that has alienated some of his readers. In the end the pressure was too great, and he is now also publishing a feed containing full posts.

Similarly, Elise is concerned about the copyright of her pages being violated by blog-scrapers. So her feeds and indexes include only a summary of each post too. But in her case the summary is a whole paragraph, so that the reader has enough information to allow him/her to decide whether or not to click through and read the rest.

I’m conscious that my posts seem to be getting longer, and I feel that perhaps their sheer length clogs up an aggregator and may actually deter some readers. I also feel that huge long posts have no place in the category indexes, which should instead be simply lists of the posts they contain.

So I’m coming around to Elise’s point of view, and I’m contemplating replacing my feeds and indexes with a 1-paragraph summary of each post in future. (The full text will be available via click-through.) But the important thing isn’t what I think, but what you think. Please leave a comment if you have an opinion either way, before I do something hasty.

(Be aware that, due to heavy pornospam, I have to manually approve each comment that arrives. So they won’t appear instantly…)

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2 thoughts on “short or long summaries?

  1. I prefer full feeds too. If you have a long essay, esp. with diagrams or photos, I don’t mind an excerpt and a link, but all of your posts so far fit best in my aggregator.

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