Keep Truncated RSS Feeds Out of Your Reader

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Q: I recently started using Google Reader so that I could scan through posts from dozens of websites all in one place, but many of the feeds only give me a short excerpt. How can I avoid truncated feeds?

RSS-Post.jpgA: Our sister site, The Atlantic Wire, rolled out a complete overhaul of the site's look and mission late Tuesday night. "As with any major overhaul, we will be adjusting in the coming days," editor Gabriel Snyder wrote in his introduction to the new design. "And we would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions in the comments." Readers responded. One of the first things they pointed out was that the full-text RSS feed had been removed, replaced with headlines and short blurbs. "You've killed the full-text RSS feed? Please say this is a mistake," user Ramley Blaster wrote.

Within hours the full-text RSS feed had been restored and readers noted their appreiation of the service. "I do love this rss feed and felt quite disgruntled this a.m. when it wasn't working," user kejia wrote. "By comparison, I unsubscribed from huffpo feeds when it was sold, and haven't missed them one bit."

There are plenty of websites out there less willing to bend to reader preferences than The Atlantic Wire. By only giving readers an RSS feed that displays little more than brief excerpts, the thinking goes, they will click through to the full site where advertisements can be sold against pageviews. But it's frustrating for those of us who want a one-stop place to digest news, opinion and analysis -- and quirky Web marginalia. My Google Reader account is made up of hundreds of blog and website feeds -- from TMZ to Techdirt, from Clusterflock to CNET -- but I've added very few that refuse to give me the full text of posts.

If you're similary aggrevated by truncated RSS feeds, the free Full Text RSS Feed Builder tool provides a way around them. Visit the site and copy/paste the URL of a truncated feed into the only field available and Full Text spits out a modified URL that you can then add to your RSS reader. The service is free, doesn't toss advertisements on top of the content and worked flawlessly in a test run. Full Text will even turn aggregation sites, like Jon Gruber's Daring Fireball, into a feed that includes the full text of articles linked to in posts.

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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