Do You Prefer Full Text or Posts Excerpts on a Blog Homepage?
December 7, 2007 4:40 PM   Subscribe

Do You Prefer Full Text or Posts Excerpts on a Blog Homepage?

I am a social science Ph.D. starting a blog on my research topic. The posts will range from 200 to 1000 words.

As savvy blog readers, do you prefer a blog's homepage to have post excerpts (the first 50 words) or the full text.

Note: I am not talking about the full or partial text RSS feed but the homepage of the blog.
posted by chrisalbon to Computers & Internet (27 answers total)
You know what's really snazzy? Something like on Michael Geist's page, partway down, with the "read more" button. It means that a new page need not be loaded for each post, but you still get the benefit of choosing whether you read it or not.

I'd think about expanding your limit. If your post is < 300 words (to give a random #), full-text it. If it's larger, excerpt?
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:44 PM on December 7, 2007

Full text all the way, except for posts with large amounts of stuff that a significant proportion of people won't be interested in, e.g. you're posting a load of photos or a chunk of data or code, in which case hide that behind the [more inside].
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:50 PM on December 7, 2007

I prefer full text, to be honest. With excerpts, I'm unlikely to click the "More..." link unless the author catches my attention right away. If the full post is visible I'm more likely to continue reading regardless of the quality of the opening.

I regularly post 500 to 1000 word posts on my blog in full text form, and they neither 1) take up a lot of space, or 2) drive people away. In fact, the longer posts often receive the greatest number of comments. Of course, if you use a particularly large font size, a long post may appear scarier than it really is.
posted by jal0021 at 4:51 PM on December 7, 2007

I prefer full text. If some of it is hidden, I'd rather it be with a click that just opens up something that's already loaded than one that sends me to a single post page.
posted by happyturtle at 4:53 PM on December 7, 2007

Full text. Always. I will not read blogs that have excerpts only on homepages or in RSS feeds. I've given up reading a number of blogs I otherwise liked because this annoys me so much.
posted by decathecting at 4:57 PM on December 7, 2007

Full text, please.
posted by bluishorange at 5:08 PM on December 7, 2007

Full text. Without a doubt. If it's four thousand words with thirty pictures then, obviously, it would be ridiculous to have it all on the front page. Most posts, however, are best left uncut.
posted by Autarky at 5:13 PM on December 7, 2007

Full text everything, but limit the number of posts shown on the page (only the most recent six or something). JM2C.
posted by hjo3 at 5:15 PM on December 7, 2007

Full Text, as Long as it is Not All Capitalized.
posted by number9dream at 5:17 PM on December 7, 2007 [2 favorites]

Definitely full text.
posted by 913 at 5:41 PM on December 7, 2007

Full text, but I really don't care, as the front page of a blog's only job is to convince me of its quality so that I subscribe to its feed. I then rarely have to see the front page ever again. If the feed is not full text, however, I unsubscribe.
posted by wackybrit at 5:50 PM on December 7, 2007

I work with a company that hosts a couple million blogs, and the truth is, the right answer depends a lot on your audience. We've done a good bit of testing about whether people know enough to click, and it can change dramatically with different audiences. For academic writing, readers are probably pretty familiar with the web and can handle scrolling past full text of posts. (As it turns out, 200 words isn't that long -- 1000 words might be.)

As as counter-example to the consensus around full-text posts here, you'll see that a lot of pro blogs (think Gawker-style sites) often have excerpts on their homepage. But the tension there is that their imperative is to have more page views and more ads displayed, not reader convenience.

Also, depending on what tool you're using and how difficult it is to implement, you might want to implement what's being called a "mullet" design, where you show less of post as you go further back in time, which gives you the benefit of full text on recent posts, excerpts on older items, and headlines-only on your oldest items. A better description can be found on Jonathan Boutelle's blog, where he coined the term and shares a Movable Type implementation.
posted by anildash at 5:54 PM on December 7, 2007

The [More Inside] button is just another way to generate more ads. If you are not worried about that, full page it is.
posted by B(oYo)BIES at 6:34 PM on December 7, 2007

I generally don't read blogs on thier webpages - I read them with an RSS reader. If only part of the content is RSS I won't read the blog. I'm looking at you !!!
posted by bigmusic at 6:42 PM on December 7, 2007

Full text always, always, always. If I add a feed to my reader and the blogger always makes me click the MORE button to go to their website and read the entire article, I will delete their feed. I can't explain why, but it just seems somewhat dishonest and manipulative.
posted by willmize at 6:42 PM on December 7, 2007

Full text.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:34 PM on December 7, 2007

Full text. Excerpts are the work of the devil.
posted by oxford blue at 8:21 PM on December 7, 2007

I think LiveJournal's lj-cut is the best way to deal with this. You can do full text most of the time, but if you have your entire freaking dissertation in one post, you can cut parts of it that are esoteric and then (this is the key thing for me) RESUME the post on the front page. I don't know if other blog editors have an lj-cut type option, but it's a really smart way to deal with the read more dilemma. I hate clicking to read more on a blog with long, interesting posts. It's obnoxious. But if occasionally the author wants to post fifty large photos in one post, it's nice to cut it so I don't have to wait while all of them load.
posted by crinklebat at 8:22 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Full text, at least for the most current. I don't mind excerpts for less-recent older posts.
posted by rokusan at 8:27 PM on December 7, 2007

I do full text unless there's something I want people to have the option not to look at, like, if say, my post involves spoilers for a recent TV show or movie, and that's generally the blog mode I prefer.

DO have the full entry text in your RSS feed though; I hate having to click through from my reader.
posted by SoftRain at 8:47 PM on December 7, 2007

Another vote for full text. I hardly ever click on the <> buttons.
posted by gemmy at 9:11 PM on December 7, 2007

Full Text Please.
posted by mumkin at 9:22 PM on December 7, 2007

Full text unless the text is massive and breaks your layout badly.

Damn Interesting is an example of a tolerable More Inside style, but only because (a) it generally is damn interesting (b) the excerpts are quite big (c) the "read the rest of this article" link takes you to the full text, not to a version with the excerpt missing, but positions you right at the end of the excerpted part.
posted by flabdablet at 4:14 AM on December 8, 2007

Fewer clicks; Full text.
posted by Alt F4 at 7:47 AM on December 8, 2007

I disagree with y'all. I think a short summary paragraph with a more link is the way to go, so that your front page is easier to skim. If you have very long posts you run into a tl;dr problem.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 1:27 PM on December 8, 2007

Actually, on reflection.. full text but not ALWAYS. If the posts are of a uniform length, great, but if you have, say, one article that has a summary paragraph but then a whole ton of diagrams, benchmarks, illustrations, or a bunch of indepth stuff regular readers might not all want to read, then put that in the more inside.
posted by wackybrit at 6:11 PM on December 8, 2007

Especially given your subject matter / likely audience, full text. I assume most of your audience will be used to "critical skimming" and making quick decisions about whether long texts contain the info they want.
posted by allterrainbrain at 10:56 PM on December 11, 2007

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