I’m a huge fan of the Freakonomics guys, and a subscriber to their RSS feed, but I didn’t realize until I saw a MediaPost item on Techmeme that they had been “acquired” by the New York Times. I also didn’t realize until I read through the item that they have switched to partial RSS feeds, which I absolutely loathe.
That loathing appears to be shared by dozens of commenters and formerly faithful readers who left their thoughts on Stephen Dubner’s post about the move to the Times. Many have said they will be unsubscribing from the blog, which will hopefully make the NYT smarten up.
I realize that — as Tish Grier points out on the MediaPost item — the Times is looking to make their content pay, especially if they decide to lose the Times Select pay wall (as has been rumoured), and getting readers to click through to the website is probably one way of doing that. But I still think it sucks.
Some of the reasons are enumerated in this comment on the Freakonomics post. The bottom line is this: if I wanted to click through to the website, then I would just go to the damn website in the first place. Partial feeds defeat almost the entire purpose of reading RSS feeds in the first place. Bad idea, guys.
Mike Masnick at Techdirt has a post on the topic, in which he describes how full-text feeds can actually lead to more page views. And the Freakonomics guys have posted an update on the RSS issue that is somewhat less than reassuring.