When The Apple Blog first launched 3 years ago we did not offer full-text RSS feeds. That decision wasn’t really based so much on wanting people to visit the site more, but rather we just didn’t realize people wanted full-text so badly. Within the first year the reader-feedback was strong enough that we began offering the full-text feed to everyone.
Three years ago we also weren’t trying to pay the bills with TAB. In the past 2 years TAB has become a key part to the business I run and that means it has to pay for itself (including expensive server costs and some staff).
The options for making TAB support itself is to either A) make people pay a subscription fee to access the content (lame) or B) display advertising. “B” is the obvious answer here.
I fully support RSS and there’s no way I could keep up with the “industry” without it. About a year ago we started displaying simple text or small banner ads in the feeds. They stay at the bottom of the articles and are usually only displayed every 4-5 articles, so their existence is fairly unobtrusive and they certainly don’t interrupt reading content.
I’m fully aware that some people think all content on the web should be a free-for-all. You’re certainly entitled to that opinion but know that I’m entitled to run my business and make it profitable.
The majority of RSS readers display these advertisements as they should and the way we intend. We intend for ads to be displayed at the end of articles in the feeds because we have a business to run and need to support the production of content.
Unfortunately not all RSS readers work this way and some intentionally filter them out. In many cases the end user doesn’t really have a useable way to chose if they’d like to support the content or not.
So for the time being, if your RSS feed reader intentionally filters out advertisements, we will only be delivering partial feeds to you.
I’m quite positive there are those of you who disagree with me here. So, to keep the feedback a bit more organized, please make your comments or ask questions in this thread or send an email to josh at theappleblog dot com.
UPDATE: I wanted to clarify somethings from some comments people have made regarding this in the thread.
The issue here is NOT specifically blocking ads. No, I’m not going to start blocking Firefox. Those sort of comments are just silly.
The issue here is that users aren’t given choice to do what they feel is right or wrong.
With ad-blocking plugins in Firefox, people get to make their own decision to “take” a site’s content and screw over a the site’s owner. But in the case of NewsFire, users have no choice. They are forced to “take” from The Apple Blog and not support it…and that’s something I don’t support.
UPDATE #2: I’ve updated the post to reflect some changes. I wasn’t personally trying to attack NewsFire…it was just the only RSS reader I knew that intentionally filtered out ads. So, I apologize to David if he felt I was throwing a direct punch at him. That wasn’t my intention.
But I do want to make it clear that I do not believe that all content on the web (or in RSS feeds) is free. It takes a lot of people a lot of time and money to keep a high traffic site running with new content coming out. Choosing to block ads is a slap in the face to the time/money/effort that a staff of people put in to things. I just can’t support things where the user doesn’t really have a easy way to chose what is, in their mind, the “right” thing to do.
If you’re feed reader or web browser offers you the option to block or not block ads…I have no intention of limiting content. What honest or dishonest route you decide to take is your own business. But I can’t sit back and let software block ads across the board for all users whether they chose to or not.
So that’s where things stand right now. Sorry for any confusion here. Like I said, feel free to comment in the community or send me an email if you’ve got some thoughts on this or want to chat more about it.