When I first threw the switch and opened the ongoing space to contributors, my Atom feed included comment counts. Thus, every time someone commented, subscribers saw the article again in their feed-readers. This was unpopular (check out the discussion here and here) so I removed them. But now I’m unhappy with that decision.
The trouble is, I know that very few people subscribe to my comments feed, and I also know that for quite a few of the fragments here, if you cared enough about the subject to read the original, you really really want to go back and read the comments too, because individually or in sum, they outweigh my contribution.
It’s also troubling that I advertise my Atom feed as “full-content” but it’s really not, because it omits the—essential, in my opinion—contributions from others.
Last time the discussion came up, people felt that I ought to perform an editorial function; update the article when I thought there were particularly insightful comments that were especially noteworthy. Nope, doesn’t scale. First of all, the writing I do here consumes pretty well all the available cycles and second, I’d end up doing it for almost every piece.
So, as a compromise between what I want and what my audience wants, I think I’m going to start flagging the comments in the feed; but only once every other day, and I’ll skip the first day. Since the commenting, even when it’s voluminous, is usually over with quick, on average you’ll only see each article twice in your feed-reader.
So, what should I put in the feed? I see three options:
Just the number of comments.
The full text of all the comments; then the feed would really be “full-content”.
Update the comment form to accept an optional “summary” field, and include that in the feed.
Simpler is better, so I tend to lean to #2. What do you think?
[Update:] I think that the first comment below points at the right answer, so I just added another comment outlining what I think I’ll do.