Is Having an RSS Feed Just Giving Content Away for Free?

Post pobrano z: Is Having an RSS Feed Just Giving Content Away for Free?

I mean, kinda.

I was just asked this question the other day so I’m answering here because blogging is cool.

The point of an RSS feed is for people to read your content elsewhere (hence the last part of the acronym, Syndication, as in, broadcasting elsewhere). Probably an RSS reader. But RSS is XML, so in a sense, it’s a limited API to your content as well, which people can use to do other programmatic things (e.g. show a list of recent posts on some other site).

If you hate the idea of people seeing your work outside of your website, then don’t have an RSS feed. It doesn’t prevent your site from being scraped (nothing really does), but it isn’t inviting people to your content the way RSS does.

But…

Don’t you want people to read your stuff? Having an RSS feed is saying, „I’m happy to meet you where you are. If you like reading stuff over there, then great, read it over there. I just like it when you read my stuff.”

It’s hard enough to get people to care about your work anyway. Being extra protective over it isn’t going to help that.

Who’s comic book are you more likely to buy? The webcomic you read and laugh at every day because they make it so easy and free to read? Or the comic that you can’t see because you have to pay for to get a peek and have to roll the dice on whether you’re going to like it or not?

What consultant are you more likely to hire? The one that shares a ton of knowledge about their skills and has firmly established themselves as a publicly verifiable expert? Or a consultant with a homepage that’s just a pricing sheet and phone number?

What blog are you more likely to trust a recommendation from? One that you subscribe to on purpose because you like their content and writers? Or some site you randomly landed on?

What web do you want to exist? One with fun interoperable possibilities? Or walled gardens?

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