Negative Examples

I’m not sure why, but at some point I subscribed to the RSS feed for “this weblog”: Tonight, I unsubscribed. The only reason I didn’t unsub sooner is that I’d gotten in the habit of avoiding looking at the feed.

Tonight though, I took another look, and it was horrible. Each item in the feed is mostly crap. There is a very short excerpt of the post, followed by an invitation to comment, a search box, a list of related articles AND an advertisement! Actually, make that two advertisements, one for a sponsor and one soliciting other advertisers.

I don’t know if it’s working for him or not, but its not working for me.

# If you are going to advertise in your feed, at least give me the full freaking text.
# If I’ve subscribed to your feed, you should assume I’m a regular reader, and that it benefits absolutely no one for me to see the same advertisements multiple times a day for weeks on end.
# The related items is a neat idea, but its silly to put in anything other than a full text feed. For one thing, it wastes screen space, for another thing, if I’m actually interested enough to click on a related article, I’m probably going to be clicking through to the website anyway to see the full article.
# Drop the search box, if I really care about what you have to say on a subject that occurs to me while reading your content-lite RSS feed, I’ll probably click through to your freaking site.

Of course, visiting the site isn’t much better than reading the feed. There is a big Google AdSense block across the top, followed by an extremely deep masthead/logo with an inexplicable photo of a shirt collar a tie that looks like it was lifted from a Land’s End Men’s catalog. The right hand column has a wide Google AdSense block followed by more ads of various sorts. The main column is contains the blog posts, each accompanied by one or more “Sponsor links” and links to related articles.

“Quick Online Tips”: is another feed I subscribed to at some point that was rubbing me the wrong way recently. The feed only has teasers, but it is happily ad-free. Click through though, and what I see isn’t inspiring. On my laptop, all I see of any consequence is the title of the post. Other than that, I see the blogger navbar, the title bar for the site. Nothing too bad, yet, but scan a little further and you realize that the content is crowded out by the advertising. There is a Google linkbar above the post title, below that, a big google AdSense block. On the right there are a couple of little graphical ads. I have to scroll to see the post content, along with more ads on the side, followed by another big AdSense block. It doesn’t take many visits for me to tune out the advertising, and after a few more visits, I’ve tuned out the whole site, feed and all.

I mention these not just to bitch, but to remind myself to be careful. I’ve been experiementing with AdSense on this blog. I started with an vertical AdSense strip on the right-hand side of my archive pages and recently added a horizontal strip between the bottom of the post and the comments on the same pages, and I’ve been thinking about trying something in my feeds on a trial basis (most likely not). I don’t honestly think I’ll ever go as overboard as some of these people, but I really don’t want to come anywhere close.

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