Partial text RSS feeds


hey everyone,

Renai here. Just a very quick message that I have been forced into changing Delimiter’s RSS feeds into partial text feeds, as opposed to the full text RSS feeds which you are used to. This will also likely have the consequence that our daily email newsletter will become a summary newsletter rather than one with full feeds.

The reason we’ve had to do this that there are a number of rogue sites out there which are simply ripping off our entire RSS feed and re-publishing it online, with ads attached. I’ve tried asking them nicely to stop, but they don’t seem very keen on doing that, so we’re having to play a bit of hardball. Shifting to partial feeds should make it much harder for those sites to merely re-publish everything we publish, but proper web crawlers such as search engines will still be able to crawl all of our content; thus having the effect that they realise that we’re the original source of the material.

I apologise for this; I have long been in favour of full text RSS feeds, but with so many sites ripping off our stuff, there is not much that I can do. Just the nature of the modern Internet, I guess :(

Kind regards,

Renai LeMay
Editor + Publisher, Delimiter


  1. No problem Renai. I use ‘Google Reader Plus’ on the desktop (chrome extension) and ‘Mr Reader’ or ‘Reeder’ apps on iOS. All of which have the ability to extract the full HTML story from a truncated feed, using Readability, Instapaper or Pocket API’s.

    Sorry to hear scumbags are ripping off your work automatically. That’s pathetic. Hope this move cuts down on that.

    • Heh nice; I expect quite a few Delimiter readers will be doing similar, Simon :) Yeah, as much as we like to think its an orderly place on occasion, the Internet is still the Wild West, essentially ;)

      • Don’t worry Renai, Conroy is well aware its the Wild West. He is the self appointed Sheriff now and has grand visions of taming it, bringing peace and justice for all!!

      • I love delimiter, but I’m going to unsubscribe :(

        I use google reader on both computer and android and regularly share articles with friends. The new partial text feed makes it too painful to read your website. :(

        Please reconsider.

        • Try readability Zach, via Google Reader+ extension for Chrome. It allows loading of the whole article.

          Besides, we want you to contribute, and to contribute you HAVE to come to the site :D

  2. Thanks for the explanation; I’ve always thought sites who offer partial text feeds only do this for the clicks (well, i suppose that probably is the main reason they do this), never occurred to me that this could be an issue.

    • Yeah that is why most sites do it. But I’ve found that if you offer full text feeds, that makes people come back to the actual site more often, especially if you have a vibrant discussion scene like Delimiter does.

      If you do a search for any of our popular articles in Google (search for the titles), you’ll likely see what I mean about sites ripping us off.

  3. Such a shame you’ve had to resort to this Renai. Full RSS feeds are much better, but I completely understand why you’ve had to resort to this.

    Cheers for the headsup

  4. I personally prefer the partial-text RSS feed. It makes it easier to get a holistic view of the most recent Delimiter posts, and entices me to read full articles that have headlines that pique my interest.

    Either way, I’m not bothered by the change in the slightest :)

  5. I’ll really miss the full text RSS. Sure I used to click on most articles anyway (and I have Adblock disabled on Delimiter) but still, having the full text in Google Reader was a huge bonus.

    Thanks at least for providing the explanation. It’s sad but I agree that you obviously had to do something about it.

  6. Well, sorry, but you’ve lost a subscriber.

    Only RSS client I can run at work is Outlook, and without a full feed I don’t really have the time or inclination to click through and wait for a website to load every time you post an article.

    Perhaps just throw the web address in between paragraphs or something so that when these crawlers repost there is a link back?


  7. For me this means I unsubscribe unfortunately, I make heavy use of tools like reader for ipad and iphone and having to click out of my client is a pain, not to mention not doable in areas of poor reception or where heavy contention’s a problem (stupid train). Partial feeds are from my experience just annoying in this context. Is full rss for account holders an option or something similar? infoq and few others do neat things like generate a custom url

    Will this actually stop them, surely if they can harvest rss it’s pretty trivial to follow and harvest the content off the page. I say this as a engineer who’s written something like this before. I mean if they’re that desperate, won’t even copy and pasting be an option?

    I say name and shame, funnyjunk?

    • You do realise that Reeder for iPad and iPhone has a feature to extract the whole article (including pics and embedded vids if present) using the Readability API? All you do is pinch the article (like you would when you pinch to zoom) or press the Readability icon, and it pulls in the entire article in seconds. From memory you don’t even need a Readability account, as its not adding it to Readability’s “Read it Later service”. Its simply using Readability’s mobile API to parse the full article. I use Reeder and Pocket to cover all my RSS/ Read it Later/Offline Reading.

      You can also do the above using the Google Reader Plus extension for Chrome on the desktop. Just click the readability icon in Google Reader and you get the complete article.

      It amazes me more people don’t know about these services and plugins, as I’d find reading via RSS a real pain without it. The only time I ever have to click through to a site is if I want to comment or interact.

      • Err, Readability doesn’t work offline, neither does my preferred option of instapaper. Go back and read what I wrote. Remember; *read*, /think/, type. RSS/Atom with full content is eminently cacheable, searchable etc. Partial feeds require an additional service which a content thief is going to be able to use just as well to get what they want. I have about 750 feeds which I can scan through and pick out what matters in a 45 min train ride or 1 hour flight, playing with gestures and latency for an external service hit for every article I’m interested in would make this painful.

        I wouldn’t get too attached to readability, with their current financial woes (I think their half life before their VC pulls the plug isn’t very long) and business model built on ‘monetising’ other peoples content it’s a only a matter of time.

        But you reinforce my actual point, it’s so mind numbingly easy to bypass (I recommend that it’s going to be no barrier to people ripping off content but inconvenience real users. Why do something annoying to users when this is extremely unlikely to have any effect on the problem. It just comes across as caring more about piracy than users and I already get enough of that.

    • The legal takedown notices work with about 50 percent of the culprits. The rest ignore them. A hard issue is how to work out who to send the notices to, when these sites generally do not include contact details.

      • The above idea of a separate RSS feed for registered users – thoughts on that one? Partial RSS feeds are nothing but a waste of time.

    • Exactly! Or there’s an excellent new kid on the block called Mr Reader which integrates Readability/Pocket/Instapaper APIs and you can use any one of their mobile views to instantly view the full feed in the same way it works it works in Reeder. It also has a ton of extra features and themes.

      The new Reeder app for iPhone has just had a facelift as well and it looks awesome.

      Lots of options to get around this, so stop the whinging people! :)

  8. Meanwhile, theres a legal firm in the US called Righthaven, that has taken this sort of issue to extremes, and sued the bejesus out of anyone posting even the smallest portion of an article for its client.

    Thank the gods you havent lost your head and gone down that path, they have basically been run out of business as a result. Copyright trolls of the worst kind.

    Like a lot of other things, this situation just shows the two edged sword an open internet provides, and that if you want the benefits you need to be aware there are some negatives as well.

    Consider it a compliment Renai – at least they think you’re opinions are worth reposting on a much wider scale :)

  9. Daniel Rutter had an interesting approach when people were linking to his images without permission – he just replaced the images with something obscene and changed the link in the original story. If the offending sites are still linking the images off of your site you can have some fun :)

  10. Perhaps a stupid question, but what’s stopping the scumbags following the links in the RSS feed and scraping the article content from the page (or forgetting about RSS and scraping the Delimiter site directly)? Is the idea to raise the difficulty level enough that they move on to easier targets?

    If it works, I’m all for it although I’ll miss being able to read Delimiter articles in Google Reader when I’m offline. Either way I’d like to commend Renai for providing such a great service for free.

    • “Perhaps a stupid question, but what’s stopping the scumbags following the links in the RSS feed and scraping the article content from the page”

      They’d have to develop a custom script for that.

  11. Mike Masnick of TechDirt wrote extensively about the benefits of full feed RSS vs partial feeds and why content scrapers don’t bother him. As a tech economist he knows what he’s on about.

    But, by extensively I mean he’s verbose and really needs an editor.

  12. Mike would undoubtedly argue the difference between scraping and fair use. He perhaps should have referenced Delimiter as well as providing a link to the original content in your example.

    Then again, I don’t run a business so I can’t be critical of RLM’s decision.

  13. A pain, but the same happened to me. I managed to totally freak the offender out with an excellent online stalking effort and asked them to cease & desist through about a dozen channels which worked.

    Will still read.

Comments are closed.