Do Excerpt Feeds and Poor Sound Quality Podcasts Have Something in Common?

There’s long been a debate over whether to distribute your RSS feed as an excerpt feed or a full-text feed.
I started out with an excerpt feed because I enjoyed writing a customized “excerpt” as a teaser. I didn’t use the standard automatic “first 20 or 50 words” excerpt that people commonly use today. I switched to a full-text feed because I preferred full-text feeds from other blogs and sites. And because I sometimes spent more time on writing the excerpt than the full post.
There are good reasons that you might choose to distribute a full-text or an excerpt feed. Excerpt feeds require that a reader click-through and visit your blog. Full-text feeds let your readers read the full post without going to your blog.
Over the years, people who use newsreaders to consume RSS feeds often reach a point where they feel that they have subscribed to WAY TOO MANY feeds. They then decide to prune their list of feeds. Historically, one of the easiest ways to cut the feeds you subscribe to is to delete those that offer only excerpts of posts.
The reason should be apparent. You save yourself the time and effort of clicking through to see the rest of the post. If you read feeds offline with a stand-alone reader, as I often do, then you will prefer full-text feeds because you can read everything in the post.
How does this relate to podcasts?
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. At the birth of podcasts, I had reservations about them. No, not about their utility and value – I could see that from the first podcast I listened to (an interview with William Gibson).
My concern was managing them. In iTunes, your collection of podcasts can taunt you by noting that you have 33 days of podcasts to listen to. Since you listen in real-time, you can build up a daunting pile of unlistened-to podcasts.
Once again, you face the problem of pruning your collection – this time of downloaded podcasts.
As I’ve mentioned before, I normally use the “shuffle” feature on my iPod when I listen. I’ll start to listen to something and quickly decide whether it interests me at the time, and then either listen or move on.
Once I listen to a podcast, I generally delete it in iTunes. If I’m not interested in it, I usually delete it too.
When I feel I have too much on my iPod (it’s pretty full), I’ll start to delete podcasts. The length of time I’ve had them is one factor, but that’s not the best way to eliminate podcasts. I might not have listened to an old podcast because of its length or other reasons.
What I do find is that if I take a quick listen, and maybe fast forward to a few random spots in the recording, I can gauge the topic, the style and definitely the sound quality.
In part because of the high bar NPR sets with the sound quality of its podcasts, especially in comparison to some of the poorly-recorded, unedited podcasts you can find, I’ve started to use poor sound quality as a quick way to determine whether to delete or keep podcasts around for later listening.
In a funny way, poor sound quality in podcasts has become the analogy of an excerpt feed in a newsreader.
Has anyone else has noticed a similar phenomenon or used a similar approach?
[Originally posted on DennisKennedy.Blog (]
Like what you are reading? Check out the other blogs where I post – Between Lawyers (feed) and the LexThink Blog (feed).
Technorati tags: podcasts sound quality


  1. says

    I don’t necessarily use poor sound quality quite the same way you do, but I certainly find that poor audio quality makes it very, very hard to listen to a program even with good content. Some the programming from law schools, such as panel discussions with excellent speakers, is largely spoiled for me by terrible production quality. When the program starts abruptly with no introduction, so I don’t know who is speaking–or worse, 30 minutes of mutual congratulations and praise of the the wonderful dean and the wonderful school for hosting this wonderful event–it’s very offputting. Even worse is poor mic placement, when the sounds of the audience opening pop cans and blowing their noses is more prominent than the speaker’s voice. Particularly for law schools and centers that do a lot of podcasts, a little time invested in editing and production would be well spent.

  2. says

    I fully agree with your comments regarding podcasts, specifically:
    1) Poor audio makes a poor podcast
    2) Podcast selection is subjective – most people will not listen to a podcast on a great topic if they find the audio production to be unprofessional (e.g. strange music or noises used for segues)
    3) We recommend full RSS feeds instead of teasers or excerpts for people who read offline
    Our experience is practical. We monitor over 300 podcasts and blogs on behalf of our clients. We also assist our clients with implementing podcasts and blogs.
    Thank you,
    Alan Brooks
    Managing Partner
    Pure Communications