One Feed, Two Feed

Eric Newman of Blogburst left a comment on one of my most recent posts that got me thinking about about other ways in which Feedburner can help one protect their copyright.

Simply put, Feedburner, which already offers FeedFlare, a service that adds footer information to a feed, and Uncommon Uses, a service which tracks non-traditional uses of your feed, might have an other trick up its sleeve, this one unintentional.

Because, with Feedburner, what started out as one feed can quickly become two or more, adding a new level of flexibility to your RSS and changing the way one syndicates their content.

Truncating 101

Truncating a feed, or posting a summary feed, means posting only the first few sentences or paragraphs of an entry to the RSS feed. If a reader is interested in continuing, he or she must click the link and visit the full article on the Web.

Many bloggers use truncated feeds to protect their material from being stolen since the shortened entries are almost useless to sploggers and others that might try to scrape their feed. Though this might only be a temporary solution to the problem, it does seem to be very effective at the moment.

However, others are very skeptical about switching to truncated feeds. They fear adversely impacting the reader’s experience and many subscribe to services like Blogburst, which require their members to maintain a full RSS feed to stay in good standing.

This has lead many bloggers to keep using full RSS feeds, even when they’re more than ready to switch to summary feeds. Even as their content is beeing leeched off by sploggers, they feel that there is nothing they can do.

Feedburner to the Rescue

This is where Feedburner can help. As a go between, Feedburner creates a new feed based upon the one automatically generated by your blogging software. You can then use Feedburner to manipulate your feed by adding Feedflare or even truncating the posts. Best of all though, there’s no rule that says you can’t create multiple Feedburner feeds off of one original feed and, since each Feedburner account can host multipe feeds, it’s easy to do.

This means that you can have multiple "copies" of a single feed, each with different options. You can even create one feed that has full content without Feedflare or any other kind of identifying information for sites that you want to have access to your content while keeping your main RSS feed truncated and marked so sploggers and readers get only the shortened posts.

While this won’t do much to calm bloggers that worry about the usefulness of their feed to their readers, bloggers that feel trapped into using full feeds might rejoice at this news. After all, this eliminated the either/or problem from dealing with truncated feeds and offers a valuable third option when few exist.

How To Do It

Setting up multiple feeds with Feedburner is very easy.

  1. If you haven’t already create an account with Feedburner
  2. Copy and paste the address of the feed created by your blogging software into the box that says "Burn a Feed"
  3. Under the "Optimize" tab, select "Summary Burner" and turn it on
  4. Customize as desired
  5. Use Feedburner’s instructions for making this feed the default one for your site
  6. Go back to your account home page
  7. Paste the same feed address into the "Burn a Feed" box
  8. Do NOT activate the "Summary Burner" on this feed
  9. Customize as desired
  10. Share this feed with anyone that requires a full RSS feed of your site, otherwise, keep it hidden
  11. Follow the use of this feed closely to ensure that no sploggers are taking advantage of your work

Conclusions

In the end, this isn’t a solution for everyone. Not everyone is going to be satisfied or even helped by this workaround as it does nothing to help the concerns that come from readers only having access to truncated feeds, Others, however, might find it very useful.

It also opens up other possibilities, including offering your trucated feed to the public while reserving your full feed for either registered users or paying customers. Certainly other bloggers will find creative ways to tap this power.

However, the exact extent of this power is what remains to be determined. No matter what though, any mileage that can be obtained out of this, most likely, unintended Feedburner feature, is more than expected.

technorati tags: Plagiarism, Copyright Infringement, RSS, Copyright, Splogging, Splogs, Feedburner, Blogburst, Content Theft, Copyright Law

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