You Are Probably Gonna Be Mad at Me, But….

We are thinking seriously of truncating our RSS feed (as in not serving full articles, but excerpts). That also means e-mail subscribers would no longer get full articles either, but only what appeared on the RSS feed.

This seems to be the most effective strategy for dealing with evil people who rip off our site. Virtually without exception, they just slurp down what is on the RSS feed.

By going to a truncated feed, they still have our copy, but anyone who reads the purloined copy will need to visit the site to get the full story.

Now I know that includes readers who liked the convenience of getting full articles via RSS or e-mail. But consider: you are also missing our comments section, which is a huge part of what this site is about. So while you might not like the transition, you will probably come to thank us in the end.

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112 comments

  1. Sneeje

    You should seriously consider reading Techdirt or speaking with Mike Masnic–he and Floor 64 have done extensive writing on this topic and looked through extensive research. And the bottom line is:
    a) you don’t compete with pirates–the consumer knows the relative value of what they offer versus what you do
    b) success comes through offering a differentiated service and innovating over time. Taking value away from your fans and core audience is not innovation–it is a weak attempt at market capture
    c) pirates will innovate around any steps you take
    d) a pirated dollar is not a lost dollar–the grand majority of those who scrape or pirate were never part of your potential market to begin with (this has been proven out via research)
    e) Pirating does not directly harm your market, but it may directly benefit your market by making the content more widely available (even if not attributed to you).
    f) Locking down your content shrinks your market–there will be many examples of folks that ignore what you have to offer because you’ve made it harder to get and less widely available.

    If you’re beginning with the statement, “this will make you mad, but…” You’ve abandoned serving your customers in favor of angrily reacting those you think have wronged you. That is not rational nor wise business behavior.

    Don’t let pride drive your decisions–their unethical behavior requires no response.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You seem to forget that this site is not a charity and we need ad revenues to survive. Those scraper sites are taking eyeballs from us. They come up in Google searches, occasionally higher than we do, and thus take eyeballs from us.

      Moreover, to be blunt, people who read us on RSS or via email are not visiting the site, hence not supporting it via generating ad impressions.

      Are you prepared to pony up for the revenues we are losing? This is not a matter of anger, this is a matter of survival. The reason I got so beastly sick (I’ve too ill to leave the apartment except for doctor visits and unavoidable foraging, for a full 10 days, an unheard of period of time for me and then in cabs even for distances I’d normally handle on foot) and am still not running on full gear is frankly I’m badly run down. I need to rethink the business of the business of the site because I can’t keep going like this and keep burning myself out. I’ve already cut out everything I can (my personal life, media appearances, virtually all conferences, all business-related socializing) and I’m still working at a level which is not sustainable physically. So you ALSO seem to forget that if I break down again, there will be no blog at all.

      If you are going to invoke tech experts, Michael Schrage (expert on innovation, writes at MIT Technology Review among other places), says that most business need to fire 15% of their customers. The ones that don’t understand that reading us on RSS and not visiting the site/not participating in comments are accessing the site without supporting us may be that 15%.

      While I know some RSS only readers support us in our fundraiser, I hope they understand the tradeoffs for us here. I wish I didn’t have to concern myself with this issue but I don’t have that luxury.

      1. susan the other

        First things first. Get healthy. Would advise you like a girlfriend here, but I would sound like a comedy skit. If it is thyroid related, check for Hashimotos. It is very erratic and unpredictable. And hire someone to help. Whatever works business-wise is fine with me. I’ll still live here.

      2. Foppe

        To fearlessly point out the bleating obvious: we’ll survive having to click a few links to get to the article. Get well, please. Wish I could help out monetarily, but I’m still “between” jobs, in that the next one is currently MIA, so living on a rather tight budget myself.

      3. Alex S

        I just made my first tip to the site. If you value what you read here as much as I do, I hope you’ll consider making a tip as well.

      4. Jonah

        I read your RSS feed because I use a feed reader that downloads and organizes all my feeds. I don’t visit the site, but I do subscribe. You should consider offering an authenticated full RSS feed for subscribers. This would allow those of us to feel that paying with our dollars is preferable to paying with our attention (ads) to continue to support the site.

        Thanks for your hard work.

      5. My Info

        So this is where a serious caffeine overdose 38 years ago leads. Remember the dharma lesson – your first responsibility is health and happiness. Then the revolution. In the mean time, for God’s sake, curtail the RSS feed.

      6. Sneeje

        Those scraper sites are NOT taking eyeballs from you. The people that go to those sites versus yours are NOT in your market. And if you read my post, you’d understand I get that you need to make money–I’m not suggesting you act like a charity, just act rationally based on fact. The facts are, that for a business based on information, that access and exposure is far more valuable than ad-walls. I guarantee that after you take this step, page-views will not go up (not more than normal growth) and will likely go down.

        Also, in the end, I don’t really care one way or the other–I can tell by your tone you’ve made your decision even though I think in the end it is hurting you. Your philosophy and decision-making here is based on making it harder for all of your customers (not a slice like 15% that you’ve mentioned) to access your information and treating all of them like they are at fault. I understand that sometimes it’s better to chose not to serve a particular market or set of customers, but if you really undersand what Mr. Schrage is saying, you’d realize it doesn’t apply here.

        1. reprobate

          If you are getting the site on RSS, you are not getting any ads and you are contributing nothing to the site. You are actually in a lower category than Schrage’s 15% that are too much trouble for what they pay. You are a non-customer and have no vote.

          You need to get over yourself. If you don’t contribute to the site (and I’m a lurker who only rarely comments but reads comments pretty faithfully) you look like a pure leech. You don’t view ads, I don’t recall you ever having made a comment, but you think you have the right to tell Yves to run her business when she doesn’t get a dime from you.

          I support her decision to get rid of people like you if that happens to be a byproduct of changes she thinks will help the site.

          1. Sneeje

            Sigh. Look, I realize that different ways of thinking are threatening to some folks and that it is easier to dismiss via ad-hominem than it is to address my points.

            FWIW, I access the site both ways regularly. It depends on the topic whether I just want a skim or to engage.

            In this information economy, there are many ways to monetize your content, but building barriers isn’t one of them. Content is a platform for other ways to make money selling ACTUAL scarcities, not ideas and digital information (which are either non-scarce or artificially scarce).

            Stop attacking me and open your mind.

      7. Dr Duh

        get well soon.

        If your symptoms persist or worsen revisit the subject with your physician.

    2. just_kate

      i want this site to keep on keepin’ on so whatever Yves needs to do is fine with me. also too, as a long time reader it sounds really weird to be referred to as a customer and consumer in your comment. do you read this site much?

    3. H. Alexander Ivey

      Yves says not to feed the trolls, but this one was cast in psuedo business terms and I couldn’t resist. So here is my rebuttal:

      a) you don’t compete with pirates–the consumer knows the relative value of what they offer versus what you do

      This sentence makes no sense. Pirates steal things, Yves is producing a service for a profit, there is no comparison. And what relative value are you talking about, the value of the reader not having to directly click to the NC site?

      b) success comes through offering a differentiated service and innovating over time. Taking value away from your fans and core audience is not innovation–it is a weak attempt at market capture

      No, success comes from producing a service for a profit. And the talk about taking value away is BS, value can be removed but the profit is not necessarily altered.

      c) pirates will innovate around any steps you take

      Yes, the thieves are always moving, so what? Let them take your work?

      d) a pirated dollar is not a lost dollar–the grand majority of those who scrape or pirate were never part of your potential market to begin with (this has been proven out via research)

      Yes, let them steal. It doesn’t matter to you. NOT! What a silly argument – no morality, much less making economic sense!

      e) Pirating does not directly harm your market, but it may directly benefit your market by making the content more widely available (even if not attributed to you).

      What do you mean by “your market”. It sounds like you mean the people who use Yves’ service, but now they use it without paying Yves for it.

      f) Locking down your content shrinks your market–there will be many examples of folks that ignore what you have to offer because you’ve made it harder to get and less widely available.

      Again, you are ignoring the basic business model: provide a service or good for a profit. So your bullet misses the point about making a profit. And making things harder to get and less widely available in itself does not correlate to market share, which is what I think you are meaning by “market”

      If you’re beginning with the statement, “this will make you mad, but…” You’ve abandoned serving your customers in favor of angrily reacting those you think have wronged you. That is not rational nor wise business behavior.

      In this day and age of impersonal service, when someone directly talks to their customers it is too easily (and deliberately) misread.

      Don’t let pride drive your decisions–their unethical behavior requires no response.

      Oh, Oh! Let the thieves steal whatever they want. Don’t need police. Don’t need the courts or jail. The consumer will know the difference. Ha! Just more BS laissez-faire nonsense.

      1. RalphR

        Why should Yves give out her content for free on RSS (as in no ads, no subscription)? Ed Harrison quit doing that a long time ago. Many sites very successful sites that don’t need ad revenues, like FT Alphaville, Kruggie, and VoxEU, either give headlines only or a few lines. Jesse below, who does not seek to monetize his site either, thinks full syndication is nuts.

        Yves has MONETARY reasons not to give her product away. And the scrapers do take eyeballs from her (do a Google search and see. You are being disingenuous in claiming she doesn’t lose when people do searches and go to a scraper site to read her content). Plus other top sites in her space have reached the conclusion the opposite of yours.

        This reads like special pleading. If you aren’t willing to take the effort to click to her site, you probably aren’t that interested in her content.

      2. Sneeje

        You’ve hit the nail on the head why “pirating” is such a useless term for discourse. “Stealing” refers to depriving an individual of a scarce resource. It is a mutually exclusive possession. Either the owner has it, or the thief has it.

        In this case, we are not talking about stealing, we are talking about use of content without authorization. So do not forget that when someone scrapes Yves RSS feed, Yves still has the RSS feed and the information. The unauthorized use is in addition to Yves’ use. And based on my little bit of googleing, no one will be confused by the two. Yves site and information provides something unique that cannot be duplicated by some random scraper site. I defy you to find anyone that prefers scraper sites over original sources. Use of original sources has scarce value that cannot be duplicated: trust, social engagement, etc. If you analyze the traffic on those scraper sites, you will find that the audience is transient and fleeting.

        I would ask that anyone that feels strongly that “pirates” are harming Yves or content owners, try to articulate that harm. I stipulate that you can’t. Because any individuals that choose to use scraper sites over Yves’ site are not part of the market Yves could reach anyway. And the individuals that MAY be reached, but only use RSS are likely to become monetized over time if the content is compelling to them.

        My point is simply to let the offering sell itself and use RSS as a way to gain more exposure.

  2. Sadness

    ….Ahem, often I read just the bottom line in a story ;-) so sorry, …. so if you would include the last rites in your truncated RSS feed, that would be sweet, ta….best wishes all….

  3. Timo

    At least half the blogs I read, if not more, only publish an abbreviated feed. Being an occasional blogger myself I know about the rip off problem so I don’t have any issue with only seeing an abbreviated feed.

  4. Alice Cousins

    Yves, I held my breathe and was deeply worried. And sighed relief.

    I don’t use the RSS feed so no worries for me; I must have you in full dose. You are my opium and I am unmercifully addicted. –Just never go away.

  5. Bruno

    Please don’t, I read NC on my phone using an rss app. Following links is painful on the phone network, I already go outside to read the daily links (not such a bad thing, but a pain when it is raining). The work network is monitored, so not really an option. I know rss is unfashionable these days, but it’s the only thing that works for me.

    1. JeffC

      I read NC on my phone via RSS as well. Clicking through to see comments is already horrible, because the full site’s formatting (the mobile site won’t show comments) forces me to read four-point (sometimes smaller) type. Since this began with the new site, I hardly ever read comments, which is a real loss. If you are going to force a click-through to read an article, please, please put comments on the mobile site so we only have to see one site to get the full experience! (Loading in 3G can be deathly slow.)

      And I’d much rather continue donating now and then than have ads forced on me. You cannot imagine the vehemence with which I detest ads.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      It’s not cost, except you click through to visits the site, which has ads. So the “cost” is that the site proper is visually noisier. That helps us and hopefully is not too onerous to you.

      You also get to read the comments, and if you aren’t reading comments regularly, you are really missing out.

  6. Tahoe58

    I think that going to the truncated format is the right choice (for you and your business). And that’s really all that matters. If your business is not functioning in a positive and desirable manner, then the opportunity is diminished for all of us. Best wishes going forward.

  7. ttrssReader

    I like staying in the RSS reader. I can scan and read articles quickly. Having to jump out to a browser slows the process considerably. Please leave enough in the feed to help decide whether to read in full or not. I don’t care about comments that much. I will follow in RSS feed if I find that site has interesting commentors.

    1. Drew Freyman

      An RSS reader like Feely allows one to stay within the RSS client while visiting linked pages. One can also save those linked pages.

  8. Kurt Sperry

    I can’t even imagine reading the site minus the comment strings. With all due respect to the authors of the various highlighted work published, the comment strings are frequently more entertaining and informative than the article the comments are replying to. Also parenthetically I’d like to encourage lurkers to add their voices to the comment threads. I know the level of erudition of the discourse here can sometimes be intimidating–I find it so and I’m not easily so intimidated–but I’ll bet there are people out there with interesting and insightful observations that for whatever reason don’t share them.

    1. Vatch

      Kurt, I agree with your advice to lurkers: participate by commenting! I lurked for about 5 years before I finally started commenting a few months ago. It’s easy, and I sometimes learn something when people respond to my comments.

  9. Jesse

    I have always offered only truncated feeds.

    I charge nothing for what I do, but visiting the site itself is part of the total experience. The partial feed gives people a feeling what an article will be about, and if they wish to read more they can click over to it.

    I enjoy spending a little time each day looking over your site itself, and reading the articles, the links, and the comments are often a very nice addition.

    Considering there is not even a paywall to NC, it seems pretty unreasonable to demand that the articles be individually delivered for free. Efforts like this cost real money. I have just a modest little site, but it is like a full time job, and I don’t have to pay for a server or software since I can use most things from Google and do my own customization.

    I could not imagine not having even fifteen minutes to go over your site once a day, in the morning or the evening. It has become like a faithful friend.

    ‘Jesse’

  10. Abe, NYC

    I read most articles during my commute on the subway, through an RSS reader. Obviously New York is not advanced enough to have cell signal on the subway, so I cannot access the site at those times (there is also the issue of smartphone optimization). When I have access to a desktop, I use the site.

    I think my RSS reader should be able to download full items – it might be less convenient and it might show the full HTML site on the smartphone screen, but should work. If not, I’ll have to miss more posts because I’ll lose commute reading.

  11. dennis mcf

    Yves , please take care of yourself ; do whatever is necessary to protect both yourself and the site . NC has hugely enriched my understanding and is , by far , my most trusted source of analysis .

  12. papicek

    I’m not mad, and I absolutely live by a massive RSS newsreader. It’s big enough I include neither excerpts nor full texts. The intent is to be able to scan thousands of titles as quickly as possible. As of this moment, 5712 separate articles, and it takes me under an hour if I don’t take time to stop and comment somewhere or tweet.

    As long as you refrain from dropping or replacing the standard XML tags used in most RSS feeds (‘item’, ‘title’, ‘link’ and ‘pubDate’), I’m good.

  13. thomas

    yves-

    it would take me approximately 5 minutes to change the code that scrapes your RSS feed and instead have it follow the link and scrape the website page.

    i understand your frustration, but killing RSS is not the solution.

      1. Matthew

        yves –

        Your response makes no sense.Thomas is not offering a solution.

        He is telling you, correctly, that nothing will prevent pirates from scraping the entirety of your content.

        Limiting your rss feed will accomplish nothing.

        Free advice from someone who has spent 15 years as a web developer.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          With all due respect, site scrapers almost without exception scrape RSS feeds.

          I have several fellow bloggers who have gone to truncated feeds periodically and back to full feeds (and then stayed with truncated feeds). They found all the scrapers reproduced the truncated feeds, they didn’t scrape (or switch to scraping) the native site.

          You are assuming these guys are more tech-savvy and less lazy than they are.

      2. thomas

        bands give their music away, and now make money on live performances and merch.

        you should stop trying to monetize your online content, because that is largely futile.

        focus on public speaking and/or consulting, and use your online content as a driver to that income stream.

        the penelope trunk model.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Try starting a blog and tell me how well that works. Your suggestion is really uninformed.

          No one with any money will pay for me to speak, because most people, particularly people with money, don’t want to hear what is really going on. And this is based on seven years of experience, and for a while, making very regular media appearances. I’ve concluded they don’t pay off.

          You seem to forget that I am a consultant and I know very well what it takes to sell consulting work. Honesty is not a positive attribute in that space.

  14. casino implosion

    “RSS”? What’s that?

    I just click on the site several times a day and read it the old way, as we used to in the good old days when Bush was president and cranial implants were science fiction.

  15. Occupier

    I’m not sure what this will look like going forward, but I think Newsblur truncates your original material already. I usually see a couple of paragraphs of a post, but have to click through to read it in full along with the comments. Being able to see the titles of your daily links will be what I miss the most, since I think it’s a reflection of what you think is important or entertaining, and is the main reason I visit your site as often as I do.

    FWIW, I have your site open as a tab in Chrome, but only on my home computer (you are blocked at work). Still, ~90% of my web browsing at least starts with my RSS feed, and I don’t visit sites without adequate evidence that it will be worth my time.

    This is a bummer for me, since I suspect this means NC will fade from my daily routine, but I understand where you’re coming from. I truly hope this move helps you in the long run, and that you offer some type of subscription service to bring back some of the lost functionality via email or some other means.

    Best wishes.

  16. JohnB

    For a site with articles as frequent as NC, truncated feeds would impact on readers time; maybe have a public truncated feed, and a subscription-based RSS for the full feed? (I’d pay a small regular amount, just to keep that – makes up for no ads)

    If that subscription feed gets scraped as well, might be able to identify who is doing it by payment records, by putting subtle text changes into different subscribers feeds ;)

    In any case, take care and take the time you need for yourself :) I know fundraisers have emphasized expanding the site, but if it’s impacting you personally, I think readers would be supportive of slowing the pace down again, to take the personal time you need (and those who aren’t, can be the 15% ;)).

    1. JPT

      Very much ditto. I occasionally have trouble keeping up w/ reading NC, I can only imagine the stress involved in producing all that content. Would also survive on fewer posts, if need be. PLEASE take care of yourself!

  17. Pedro Côrte-Real

    A truncated feed with a link ends up being too much work. I’ve always ended up unsubscribing from blogs that went that way. On the other hand, scraping the content from the HTML itself is easy enough to do, so anyone who wants to copy your content will still do it. So you should only move to a truncated feed if you think you’ll move enough people to reading the full site for the added advertising to pay off. The copying will still go on either way.

    If it was my site, I’d look into adding advertising to the RSS feed instead of truncating it. Just my 2 cents.

  18. allcoppedout

    Despair of the business model. Have nothing sensible to say other than echo Susan’s compassion. It has been in my mind that NC is more of a learning site than a standard undergraduate or taught postgrad. It should be possible to tap into vast monies wasted there, but I don’t get past pie in the sky.

  19. shinola

    I don’t do RSS, so it makes no difference to me.
    However, anyone who reads this blog without the comments is really missing out. With a few exceptions, this site has some of the most intelligent & least acrimonious commentators to be found anywhere on the interwebs.

  20. superduperdave

    I’ll put up with less RSS if you’ll agree to stop the “Yes, Virginia…” and “No, Virginia…” headlines. Deal?

    :)

    1. J Sterling

      And “quelle surprise”! :-)

      Of course I like the full RSS, but if it’s got to be done, it’s got to be done.

      If only it were possible to stop certain other forces from appropriating the product of other people’s labor for themselves and collecting rent for it.

  21. billy

    No, I will not thank you for providing me less of a service. I will not click through articles more. I can find the comments section fine. You are not my mother, and punishing me for the (wrongfully identified as hurtful) acts of others will not earn you more money from me. What a dumb proposal from an “economist.”. You need more money. Your product is information. Your solution is to offer a lesser, more segregated product.

    If you think Schrage’s theories apply to journalists or information, let me be the first to unsusubscribe.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Please unsubscribe now. You are exactly the sort of reader I don’t want. You want something for nothing. You are precisely the type that Schrage suggests firing, because the effort is better spent find better customers than serving unreasonable, unappreciative ones. I don’t need readers like you, who think they have the right to abuse me.

      Oh, and I’m not and have never pretended to be an economist either.

      1. readerOfTeaLeaves

        Whoa, I wish that I could take bets around here about whether ‘billy’ is a bank troll, a hedge fund troll, or a — wait: I remember now, “Don’t feed the trolls” ;-)

        Still, sometimes this level of obnoxious can make me chuckle.
        Here’s someone who really, really *hates* the impact Yves is making. Pity ;-)

    2. skippy

      “What a dumb proposal from an “economist.” – billy = Epic grok fail.

      skippy… Hint… Yves is not a sociopolitical theorist [economist], especially the pigeon holed sort breather.

  22. down2long

    Wow. Am I a Luddite. I always go the site to read Naked Captitalism. And on the phone I don’t use the mobile app so I can read the comments too. (I hate NYT mobile because you can’t read the comments.)

    I try to support the site. I produced two TV shows – one was very popular in bars. (An early ’90s gay dating show called “Tricks.” It was pre-internet, but was heavily pirated, especially at gay video bars. This was before alchohol companies were comfortable advertising on gay media, so that was not a revenue stream. (In fact, Rolling Rock paid a gay bar NYC NOT to out their logo on their gay parade float. I knew the owners, so I have no doubt the truth of this. Rolling Rock was their #1 beer in the bar, but it was a redneck blue collar beer elsewhere (at the time at least.) . I would’ve been ecstatic with that deal!!!)

    So, after 10 episodes aired in six cable markets, no mas. You can’t produce product for other people to profit from for free. Admittedly, as usual, I was too early to the party.

    Anyhow, Yves. I completely get where you are coming from. You must do what you can to support your site, and yourself. I remember never having been more worn out emotionally and physically after producing/hosting those 10 episodes – doing PR, doing marketing, getting sponsors, doing radio appearances. It spanned three years (we recycled the episodes.) It all sounds so glamorous, but I was exhausted.

    Do what is necessary to make this work for you Yves. You are so important to all of us.

    Reply ↓

    Copyright © 2006 – 2014
    Aurora Advisors Incorporated All Rights Reserved

    Arthur P. Steinmetz
    President’s Letter to Shareholders

    Jerry Webman
    Why Investors Shouldn’t Panic Over Emerging Markets

    Wow. Am I a Luddite. I always go the site to read Naked Captitalism. And on the phone I don’t use the mobile app so I can read the comments too. (I hate NYT mobile because you can’t read the comments.)

    I try to support the site. I produced two TV shows – one was very popular in bars. (An early ’90s gay dating show called “Tricks.” It was pre-internet, but was heavily pirated, especially at gay video bars. This was before alchohol companies were comfortable advertising on gay media, so that was not a revenue stream. (In fact, Rolling Rock paid a gay bar NYC NOT to out their logo on their gay parade float. I knew the owners, so I have no doubt the truth of this. Rolling Rock was their #1 beer in the bar, but it was a redneck blue collar beer elsewhere (at the time at least.) . I would’ve been ecstatic with that deal!!!)

    So, after 10 episodes aired in six cable markets, no mas. You can’t produce product for other people to profit from for free. Admittedly, as usual, I was too early to the party.

    Anyhow, Yves. I completely get where you are coming from. You must do what you can to support your site, and yourself. I remember never having been more worn out emotionally and physically after producing/hosting those 10 episodes – doing PR, doing marketing, getting sponsors, doing radio appearances. It spanned three years (we recycled the episodes.) It all sounds so glamorous, but I was exhausted.

    Do what is necessary to make this work for you Yves. You are so important to all of us.

  23. GeorgeNYC

    I did not know that the RSS feed did not generate revenue for the site. By all means truncate the feed so that you can get paid for your excellent work.

  24. flora

    Yves, If the RSS content piracy has gone past your comfort zone drop the full RSS feed. For some reason the children’s story of The Little Red Hen comes to mind.

  25. Clark

    I scan over 200 sites each day by using the RSS feeds and ReadKit on OS X. A truncated feed is fine. If the headline and into sound interesting, I’ll click over.

  26. Michael C

    I can live with the change, but please:
    (1) Make sure the excerpt clearly tells what the article is about. Be informative; be not (so much) cutesy clever.
    (2) Always include a “read more” link (even tho not really needed), or something similar, just to remind us. Can’t tell you how many times I get pissed off at FDL for feeding half the article but truncating the other half, without any indicator. Their writers don’t know how to use their templates. Lucky me, I’ve learned to peek.
    (3) Don’t allow your site to be polluted by ads that pretend to be articles from other sites. This crap usually goes under the umbrella “From Around the Web”. TPM does this and it really demeans their site. It’s a fair sign that Josh gas gone off the deep end about making money.

  27. Javagold

    never used RSS …..but even if I did, I would not see the problem or ever be mad !!

  28. John Doe

    Please do everything you need to do to not only get your health in good order again but also to put it on a more sustainable trajectory. It is already some years ago that I stopped trying to understand how in the world you manage to put so much effort and energy in this site and still not have burned out. I’d rather have less RSS content, less posts, less many other aspects of this site if that would strengthen your health and would make your feel better overall.

  29. Elizabeth

    I’m a long time lurker, first time commenter. NC is part of my life-long learning experience, and I couldn’t live without it. Your site is simply the best, and the comments are priceless. I don’t do RSS, so it’s no problem. Yves, please take care of your health and get better. We need you.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      So you think people who write and pay for hosting services and WordPress support and moderate comments should all do that out of charity, just for your entertainment? Do you also expect free theater and cable content?

  30. Dana

    Might be less of an issue for some people if the mobile site weren’t so awful, and/or if there were a simple way to get to the full site from a mobile device.

  31. Michael

    It’s your site, you can do what you want. I make my (much less grand) site’s full feed available on RSS and that’s how I read. My RSS reader organizes what I’ve read and what I haven’t, and it saves me a lot of time waiting for downloads.

    Mad? No. Sad, probably. My experience has been when sites go to truncated RSS feed I tend to stop reading them.

  32. Connie Palmer Smalley

    Please do whatever you can to preserve your health. As someone who suffers from several chronic health problems, I know what it is to feel unwell.

    I adore your website, and learn so much from it including the comments. Please don’t leave us!
    I better give you a donation to help out financially.

  33. JPT

    Most sites I read regularly have done similar things in the past couple of years. I generally consider it the best move in a bad situation, and absolutely won’t view it as an affront. Probably not a perfect solution, but you are in good company, if it eases your mind at all.

  34. ChrisPacific

    I think it’s a smart idea – I actually thought you had done it already (I don’t use RSS). Technically speaking, RSS is designed for more or less the exact purpose that the pirates are using it for (the second S stands for ‘Syndication’) so if you try to prevent it then you’re fighting the technology to some extent. Much better to only syndicate the content that you wouldn’t mind seeing published elsewhere (i.e. the summaries) and link back to the real content.

    The subway use case (or more generally, offline viewing) could be addressed in a number of ways that aren’t RSS. One simple approach would be to have a ‘digest’ version of the site that loads all the front page content behind the scenes but renders only part of it at a time, to give the appearance of browsing a full site without requiring Internet. There would obviously be limits (no searching, comments, archives etc.) but it might meet the basic requirement. It might make you more vulnerable to site scraping, but it wouldn’t be plug-and-play the way that RSS is (true site scrapers are fragile, high maintenance, and break easily with format changes).

  35. Mark H

    Yves, I’ve been reading this site and occasionally commenting for years. I sometimes read it through an RSS feed in an ePub reader, but more often I read it online because you have the unmissable Antidote du Jour, which I can’t see in an RSS feed. Get well and figure out how to monetize this site, (not monotonize it, like too many other finance blogs), even if you have to go to a subscription or two-tier, free/pay model. I’d pay to read it; have contributed to your fund drives before and will again–all because I get the risible bits here that I don’t get in the entertainment sections of the big news sites.

  36. AnnieB

    I read this site every day and support you, Yves, in whatever you need to do to keep it going financially. I do wonder why you don’t have an Amazon affiliate link. I know it’s possible to make a lot of $$$ through that. I would use it.

  37. Elizabeth

    i’m 100% in favor of you taking good care of you, whatever that means for us. I just hope you can continue this site anyway you can. I get an email, but leave it in my email box to remind me to catch up when I can. I prefer to go directly to the NP site so I don’t miss the comments.

    I have learned so much on this site. I can’t say thanks enough.

  38. Bob Haugen

    I am an RSS reader (Feedly now, Google Reader until they killed it). I often click thru to great articles so I can bookmark them and share them with others. The comments are not as good as they used to be.

    But I will not stop reading if you do whatever you need to do to stay alive, and will posthaste send a contribution. And I will still click thru to interesting articles.

    I expect that will be true of many RSS followers, but what do I know?

  39. Christia

    If this change diminishes thievery go for it. The postings are incredible and the comments expand and elucidate the issue discussed. Both are invaluable.

  40. Oregoncharles

    I don’t get RSS, so it’s no skin off my neck. I would say whatever you need to do to stay healthy and keep the site going.
    There’s a suggestion above to offer full RSS to subscribers. In general, subscribers should be worth more than eyeballs for ads – and I say this even though I’m not one. Yet. I guess I should correct that.
    Thanks, Yves.

  41. PNW_WarriorWoman

    I don’t get NC via RSS and do as little reading as possible on my mobile phone so I’m a little unfamiliar with the issue. In my personal little world real status is not being wedded to a cell phone. I pretend I have people for that. I guess I just like to read at my desktop. I pay for The New York Times and The Financial Times. I’d subscribe to NC. Lemme tell ya, I really do appreciate all the value I get from visiting the site, leaning and reading the comments. You gotta do what you gotta do. Onward.

  42. JohnB

    Ya, didn’t say it in my previous post, but NC is definitely my primary ‘indispensable’ site, that pretty much takes precedence over everything else I read – and which a very large amount of my subsequent feeds/reading-material is directly/indirectly sourced from; so is greatly appreciated, and is a valuable resource.

    I’d be a lot more clueless about the world without it :) (and a lot less interested in and aimless/unguided, as to what needs to be done to correct many of the most important problems facing us all)

  43. John Yard

    Do whatever works for you. I do not use RSS, but you can’t let users skim content. keep up the good work. An almost irreplaceable site.

  44. Ulysses

    I make a point of visiting here daily since it is a wonderful site! Please take time to get well and don’t let any stresses mar your enjoyment of life.

  45. JD

    I visit the website (and comment sections) daily, so the RSS change makes no difference to me. But as with all piracy-related matters, it is worth being hard-nosed if your goal is to maximize revenue. It is not always the case that pirates reduce revenue, and in some cases they increase it (by increasing traffic). Nor is it necessarily the case that anti-piracy measures will boost revenue, since by their nature they always also hit desired customers. I don’t know how you answer this empirically for the site, but at the very least, look carefully at revenue before and after the switch, with careful controls for seasonality and secular trends.

    That said, independent of the direct piracy issue, the full-content RSS is itself a similar problem in miniature. Even your loyal, non-scraping readers who use full-content RSS are functionally similar to pirates, revenue-wise, inasmuch as they aren’t consuming ads. (Don’t hate me, RSS users! I’m not speaking normatively, just about the economics of the matter.) So even apart from the piracy thing, switching to partial-content RSS could boost revenue just among your real readers. On the other hand, like anti-piracy tactics, it will also cost you some of your readers. And while I understand the 15% argument you make, a lost reader is lost revenue. So again, if you are being hard-nosed about it, think carefully about the costs and benefits.

    All that said, in the real, messy world, it is unlikely you will see any revenue changes one way or the other from such a relatively minor format change. At the very least, as others have said, working more ads into the RSS feed might help. And I for one would not object to more frequent fundraisers if that might help too.

  46. John Hemington

    It seems to me that this is much ado about nothing. The idea which has persisted that we the people should feel entitled to high-level, intelligent commentary and analysis for nothing because it originates over the Internet is little more than an old-time “loss-leader” designed to decimate more traditional media formats. Once this is accomplished — and we are now coming close — everything of value on the Web will have a significant cost associated with it.

    So you need to do whatever you need to do to survive and prosper in this brave new world environment. This is one of a relatively few very good sites for reasonable, accurate and informative information on what this world is becoming. It is far outnumbered by sites spouting pure junk and misinformation — not to mention out-and-out lies. It would be a tragic loss for the rest of us if you become discouraged or unable to continue. So taking care of yourself physically and financially is paramount.

    It has always struck me as rather odd just how lazy many have become in terms of their willingness to make any real effort to access solid factual information. I suppose that goes part of the way in explaining just how out of touch with reality most Americans are today. Unfortunately, this new-found unwillingness to exert any effort is only likely to increase over time. And, in that regard, it is a great time to be old!

    I hope you recover quickly and do not suffer needlessly over the hurt feelings of those unwilling to continue reading your posts because it might require just a bit more effort. As you say, you probably don’t need them anyway and they are not likely to benefit from it in any case.

    Take care and thank you for years of good reporting. ECONNED is still one of the very best books ever written about the GFC.

  47. Bartelby

    Go ahead. RSS is crap. Push sucks. It always has done.

    And uh, also there is this pattern in the world where highly competent people make themselves the bottleneck and burn themselves out and nobody gains the skills or confidence to step up and relieve them. Happens to the best of us. There are shitloads of people here who could spell you. Let them. I say this as a lazy guy who thinks, hey, better you than me, this shit is depressing, but really, knocking over a regime is easy & fun once the groundwork has been laid. Everybody wants to take a turn with the sledgehammer on the junker caddy. So if you want a break, let people help.

  48. Optimader

    Yves,
    Preserve your biz model organ meat –the content. The delivery tchotckie has to be a lower priority
    Hope you’re feeling better, important to get quality crib time when on the mend.

  49. Optimader

    Fwiw, much reading on the phone, just a convenient form factor for me, and no RSS feeds, my email boxes are enough of a disaster

  50. hgjavxksa

    I follow NC by RSS and I support the decision to truncate. As long as there’s still RSS!

  51. Jim Hickey

    Well then!

    I’m a comment virgin here, so be gentle with me. This entire thread has been such a dandy learning experience. As many others have noted as well, of course, the entire concept and beautiful execution of this work has been and remains amazing.

    That said, for my part, I’m looking for more than information. I’m looking for follow-up and action that follows Benjamin Barber’s “Strong Democracy” advice, i.e., we have to participate more and worry about politicians less.

    That doesn’t solve Yves problem, of course. But it does suggest a contextualization of that problem that might allow for a discussion both of how we ‘monetize our work,’ what our business models are, and–in my view much more importantly–of how and what we are going to do to broaden, deepen, and then ‘harvest’ that work, so to speak.

    I realize that such a view may not resonate much with folks. But ‘comments’ are important, so here I am, in all my glory. Solidarity Forever, &

    Ciao for now,
    Jimbo

    1. Clive

      Too right Jim. We’ll keep the red flag flying here. That, plus pictures of cute cats to boot !

      But seriously, that point you made about participation is important. Regardless of the lost revenue through page impressions (and the odd ad click-through), if people don’t actually visit the site, they don’t even get to wilfully ignore the Comments section — let alone actually read it. If they don’t read the comments, they won’t ever pluck up the courage (?!) to post one or two now and again. And if you’re just sitting there in hopeful passivity that everyone else will get their brains / arses in gear and start doing at least some kind of proactive engagement with the issues we discuss here, well, it’s not exactly helping is it ?

      Here end’eth the lecture.

      1. Jim Hickey

        Thanks Clive!

        My wife would shoot me if I didn’t send her at least a few ‘antidote du jours’ per week. Being in touch with anima is of underrated import, I’d say.

        In relation to the other issues, I’d encourage anyone who notices to contemplate these matters of follow-up and participation. We can’t out-neoliberal the neoliberals, or at least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. We’ve got to move from nodding at information to acting on it, in other words, wrestling with the hard jobs of configuring ourselves in a politically potent fashion.

        Solidarity Forever, &

        Ciao for now,
        Jimbo

  52. OMF

    I don’t use RSS feeds myself, so it really doesn’t bother me, but I don’t see that reducing RSS feeds to a headline and link only is going to affect many people.

  53. phil

    I read via RSS. I pay $25 annually during the fundraiser, partly for that privilege and partly to (I hope) underwrite other free-riders. I fancy that might make my opinion interesting to you, so here you go. :)

    I could cope with password-protected feeds. (Perhaps as a donator perk down the line?) Truncated RSS feeds wouldn’t present much value to me, though. I’d likely unsubscribe in RSS and visit the site periodically when a big financial news story hit or I have time to kill. I will continue donating regardless, as I think you provide a useful service that I would like to see continue. So from an RSS standpoint, I’m worth more to you dead than alive. :)

    The only way to find out if truncated RSS feeds would improve your bottom line is to try them. I doubt it’s a decision with irreversible consequences. I’d be sad that we can’t have nice things, or, to use your term, that you would be a participant (under duress) in the “crappification of everything,” but that’s life in the twenty-first century. We do what we must.

    If you do make the change, please let us know what the effect is, if it’s measurable. I’m genuinely interested in knowing if it improves site revenue. Personally, I think a freemium subscription model would be more remunerative and allow you to depend less on the tender mercies of the advertising-industrial complex, but it’s easy to coach from over here on the sidelines.

    Some additional feedback you may find useful: I’m glad you use the comments to your advantage, but the ROI on reading them is generally too low for me. I occasionally click through if the article seems to present a good opportunity for insight from the peanut gallery, or if (as in this case) I think I have value to add.

    When I do visit the site, I have ad blocking turned on. That’s no knock on you, but even if the ads were tasteful, delivered quickly, and didn’t mess with rendering when they were delayed, ad networks are a significant malware vector. You probably ride herd on that pretty hard, but it only takes one mistake on your partners’ part to initiate an infection. And I’m definitely not clicking through any of them, so everyone’s better off not wasting electricity on me.

    (BTW, I just turned off the ad-blocking to see what the experience would be and…I still don’t know, because thirty seconds later, the page hadn’t loaded.)

    There. I’m a few days late and this is likely to be a message in a bottle, but I hope that has some value to you as you make your decision.

    1. flora

      ” ad networks are a significant malware vector. ” A couple of things to reduce likelihood of a browser/ad script running against your pc and infecting it: 1. application “Sandboxie” – it sandboxes whatever application you run inside it, including browsers, and prevents malware “escaping” into the operating system proper. Free or fee – depending on protection level – from the Sandboxie site. and/or 2. run your browser as an unprivileged user, not as a user with admin privileges. In Windows a standard user generally cannot install software so a browser script run against a standard user’s profile won’t install. There are probably other security methods like you have done with turning off ads. I only mention these 2 additional Windows possibilities for whatever use they may be to you.

  54. Lori

    I love the Internet, but I don’t love it nearly as much as I did in the early 1990’s when I first discovered it by way of Usenet.

    Currently, I love the blogosphere and hate so-called social networking, mainly because the former is a marketplace of ideas and the latter is a cesspool of talking points.

    I hate “below the fold” presentation of blog content, in the blog front page, and even more in the blog RSS feed. Prior to 2010 my only access to the Internet was through the public library. My method of access was to arrive at the library once every 1-2 weeks with a flash drive (prior to that, a stack of floppies) containing an HTML file I called “webtodo.html” that was basically a list of links curated, culled and copied from my haul of reading material from the previous pilgrimage. Basically, I’d upload webtodo to my Geocities account (this was back when Geocities still existed), point the primitive “spider” called wget at it with a recursion depth of 2 (hoovering every link on the list, and at most -one- level beyond, and only a small subset of that, as I do have respect for the commons!). I’d come home with enough intelligent reading material to keep me entertained for weeks, which was no small blessing since of course I was also stuck with over-the-air TV.

    Even today, my Internet access is via tethered pre-paid cell phone, so I’m on a fairly severe bandwidth diet, so opportunities to read content offline definitely enhance my level of netizen participation. I now do this primarily through RSS, although I still make occasional use of webtodo files.

    I bring this up because you seem to think that someone reading offline (or in a feed reader) is less likely to comment than someone reading in a browser. Maybe, on average, that is true, but in my library days, the interval between downloading a blog post and having an opportunity to comment on it was one library visit for full-article blogs and two library visits for “below the fold” blogs, if you get my drift. Even in the former case, the conversation was usually largely over by the time I arrived on the scene. I was at best a “me too” commenter.

    I’m not mad at you for monetizing, but I am adding the Naked Capitalism case to my list of examples in support of my pet theory that all business models eventually “lose their innocence.”

    1. Jerome Armstrong

      I am right with you. I want it all on the front page. Even the 2500 word posts lol.

  55. Jerome Armstrong

    It’s Google’s fault. Everything that is wrong with the business model of independent blogs is Google’s fault. In this case, there was once a burgeoning RSS reader Feedburner, that was pulling in good CPM for RSS feeds, $2-4. Google bought them for $100M and lowered the value given to bloggers to pennies, because, of course, they are Google. They eventually migrated it to AdSense, but last year or so, even shut that down.

  56. Liz

    do you know about Full Text Rss? I use that for all my truncated feeds. I would think that scrapers could use something like that as well. but maybe you already thought of that. either way I would be r eally sad to lose real rss. when Credit Writedowns did that, I stopped reading as much. now all the good stuff is behind the paywall which is too costly for me. I would support a subscription full RSS for a fee…

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