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How to Deal With Those Pesky Excerpt-Only RSS Feeds

Ask any news junkie and they’ll tell you that they’re frustrated by blogs that only post article excerpts in their RSS feeds.

Many sites, including SlashGear, Android Police, Gizmodo, TeleRead, and even my friendly competition at The eBook Reader, only publish a stub of their blog posts in their RSS feeds. Some sites are hoping to get readers to visit and read the full article on the website, thus boosting site traffic, while others use this as a way of discouraging scrapers from pirating the content.

Blog feeds that only show a post excerpt are now a problem of the past. Solving this problem is going to cost you some money, but I think it is money well spent.

I’ve never liked being forced to visit a website just to read an article, and I am sure that I am not the only one. So today I would like to share my solution for how you, as a reader, can get around the restrictions put in place by blogs.

I’m sure that everyone knows that you can save content to a read later service like Readability or Instapaper, but did you know that with the right code you can also pull content from Readability?

For example, my preferred news reader service offers a keyboard shortcut that uses Readability to pull an article’s text from the original website.

All I need to do is press G, and BazQux retrieves the text and shows the full article in place of the excerpt.

I don’t have to open a new tab, wait for the webpage to load, and then be hassled by adverts. Pretty cool, huh?

This is a feature Feedly doesn’t have (so far as I can tell), so you might want to switch services. But if you don’t want to leave your preferred news reader then I can offer an alternate solution.

You can also find this feature in many of the paid news reader apps on the market. For example, four of the 5 mobile apps I reviewed last month supported a similar feature:

Update: I’m told that NewsBlur, InoReader, and Feedbin also have this feature. Thanks, Keishon and Brian!

You could even already be using an app that has this feature, but you didn’t know about it. TBH I didn’t know Bazqux had this feature until I happened to press the wrong key. I would check your current app before springing for a new app or switching to a different service, just in case.

I’ve been aware of this trick for a few weeks now, and it’s not perfect. While most of the time I get the article, some times I get garbled text, a random fragment of the webpage, or nothing.

But even when it is less than successful this trick is a significant improvement over the alternative, wouldn’t you agree?

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Keishon September 9, 2013 um 4:10 pm

Highly annoying. Feedbin offers Readability feature and so does Newsblur with Text (premium only). Both cost money but like you said well worth it.

Nate Hoffelder September 9, 2013 um 4:16 pm

At this point I would rank this feature as being worth more than search or app support, it is that useful.

Thanks for telling me about the other services!

Chris Davies September 9, 2013 um 4:34 pm

I share the frustration of excerpt RSS. Unfortunately, we were forced to change a few months back from full to excerpt feeds because scrapers were basically taking our RSS and republishing it. It was just too easy for them to copy content that way.

Nate Hoffelder September 9, 2013 um 4:36 pm

Thanks for the counterpoint; I should add this to my post.

Austin September 10, 2013 um 4:31 am

Just use then it’s independent of the reader software.

Nate Hoffelder September 10, 2013 um 2:44 pm

Sites like that don’t always work with all feed, but then again neither does my solution. Thanks for the tip!

Becki September 10, 2013 um 12:48 pm

Thanks for the tip about Bazqux. I didn’t have any feeds that did that, until today! Glad I remembered your post, and am now happily reading the feed without having to visit the site.

Nate Hoffelder September 11, 2013 um 12:52 pm

It’s good to know that this helped.

Brian September 12, 2013 um 4:43 pm

Thanks for the tip! InoReader supports this on the web version with a hotkey, AND in the Android app. I credit this site for my switch to InoReader from Feedly. Coming from Google Reader it feels very familiar but with a bunch of power user settings.

Nate Hoffelder July 25, 2014 um 6:06 pm

I didn’t know about InoReader, Thanks!

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