Last month Feedly had the bright idea of forcing all their users to have a Google+ account in order to use Feedly, and today Feedly has found a way to piss off bloggers everywhere.
I have just discovered that Feedly has rolled out an unannounced update that changes how users share links.
Instead of sharing a link which leads to a publisher's website, Feedly users are now sharing links that lead to the same content, only now it is hosted on Feedly's website.
This change happened sometime around midnight Friday night. Any link shared from Feedly before midnight links to the original source, but any link shared after about 10am links to Feedly.
Update: As of midnight Saturday, Feedly has suspended the hijacking of links. All links (including the one below) now lead where they should.
For example, the following link leads to a copy of one of my blog posts which Feedly is hosting and distributing:
It looks like this:
Just to be clear, I don't know of any other service that pulls this kind of stunt. This is very much not okay with me and I would bet that I am not the only one.
This bothers me both as a publisher and as a reader. And just to add insult to injury the "open site" button at the top of the screen won't actually take you to my blog. It takes you deeper into Feedly.
I'm not sure how many of my readers remember but a similar problem occurred last year when the save-for-later service Readability was criticized for having users share links that led to the Readability website and not the source publisher's website (AppAdvice).
Readability was roundly criticized and quickly changed how their sharing option worked, but before that happened ReadWrite spelled out exactly why one is always supposed to share a link to the source:
I'm not moaning about page views here. That's not my point. I'm a blogger, but I don't care about blogging nearly as much as I care about reading and sharing.
The problem with this is that it breaks sharing. It forces mobile users to use Readability instead of their link-saving app of choice, which might be Instapaper, a service that does treat publishers with more distance and respect. It might be Pinboard or another bookmarking service. A shared link should always, always, always be the original URL, so that users can do with it as they please.
Instead, Readability skipped ads for publishers and showed ads for itself instead. Even on the desktop, though it loads the original page below, it puts the linked story in a Readability.com frame, so the URL still isn't right.
And that's not the only reason why one should be allowed to share a link to the original source.
I have contacted Feedly and confirmed that this is a new feature they are testing (and not a bug). Instead, they think it will boost engagement:
This is a tool we are building to help publishers increase the engaged readership in feedly. This also helps mobile users consume content a lot faster. This is still experimental but I will be happy to completely opt you out.
I really have to wonder about Feedly; it's almost as if they don't realize that publishers want to engage with readers directly and not have Feedly engage with readers at our expense.It's kinda the reason I have a website rather than posting everything on (for example) Facebook. Furthermore, what if said reader wants to engage via email, Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments section?
Feedly can't help in those areas, and in fact by changing the way their links work Feedly has actually hurt my ability to engage with readers.
Why they would think this was a good idea escapes me, but I have high hopes that Feedly will drop this publisher hostile policy.