Fail: The Freakonomics Blog RSS Feed

By Deane Barker on April 17, 2008

I just unsubscribed from the Freakonomics blog feed, and that bums me out. I loved the book, but the simple fact is that the feed sucked.

Two problems:

  1. Bad: They only put abbreviated parts of the feed in each post. So you couldn’t read the whole thing in your feedreader, and kept having to click-through to the New York Times to read all the posts.

  2. Worse: All they did for the excepts was take the first X words from the full post. This sucks on its face, but it’s worsened by the writing style of the authors. They tend to start off with something irrelevant, then work around to their point. This means that all that was in the feed was something completely random that got cut off and gave me no indication if I wanted to click-through to read the rest of it.

    If you’re going to abbreviate your feed and make people click through, write explicit excerpts that are designed to give your reader the information they need to decide whether or not to click-through.

I’m sad because the blog didn’t live up to the book, largely for nothing but usability reasons. Too bad.

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  1. I wholeheartedly agree. I enjoyed the book and was a subscriber to the blog when they offered a the full feed before the NYT days. It’s still on my RSS reader, but I’ve essentially stopped reading it because of the reasons you’ve stated above.

  2. I subscribed and enjoyed the blog when they offered a full feed, but I unsubscribed shortly after they went to the abbreviated feed.

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