Giving Away Your Product (RSS Feeds Kill Page Views And Thus, Comics)

MaximumbleRecently, Chris Hallbeck (The Book of Biff, Maximumble) stopped including the entire comic in his RSS feed for fear that it was giving away too much too easily. There was a day when this annoyed me and having to click through to view the actual website that housed a comic was enough to drive me to drop it from my list.

However, I’ve now softened on that notion. It could be because I have met Chris in real life on one occasion and now want to help him succeed in his endeavors in any way I can. It may be that the pervading sense of entitlement on the Internet is making me sick and I want desperately not to be a part of it.

Whatever the reason, I no longer care about that extra click and have even started going out of my way (and what a long way it is) to visit each website in my RSS feed to make sure their pages are getting the proper hit from my readership. This is likely a drop in the bucket for most of the comics I read on a regular basis, but it is certainly a behavior that I hope all readers consider. Eventually (hopefully), a comic can reach a level of superstardom so rare and so sky-high that page views are no longer a concern, and in this case, reading via feeds doesn’t register on my radar. But when I know the creator is struggling just to get each update online, when it’s apparent that this is a labor of love and nothing more, it’s my duty as a consumer of their content to at least give them the Web equivalent of paying a fraction of a cent for viewing their work.

So how do you feel about reading comic via a feed? Do you do what you can to make sure the creator gets the respect they deserve for each comic produced? Or do you read through your feed without visiting any actual websites, denying those content providers their proper due?

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6 thoughts on “Giving Away Your Product (RSS Feeds Kill Page Views And Thus, Comics)

  1. It does annoy me when people complain about having to go that extra click. I’ve even seen people complain that SMBC’s hidden comic isn’t in his RSS. The whole point of hidden comics is to get you to go to the website! Also, if you never visit the site, you’ll never see what merch is on offer.

  2. I agree with both sides of this issue. The extra click does annoy me, but it wont cause me to drop a comic entirely. I keep two bookmark folders for my comics: “Feeds” and “Tabs”. If an artist doesn’t include their full comic in the RSS, I put them in (or move them to, in the case of Chris’ comics) the “Tabs” folder.

    For some reason the extra click feels like more ‘work’ then the ‘open in tabs’ feature in my bookmarks folder.

  3. Most of the time, I click to the site anyway, simply because it feels sort of like a cheat to read it in Google Reader. A lot of work went into these guys’ site designs, and it seems like a cop-out to ignore that for the sake of (perceived) added simplicity. Plus, it just plain looks nicer seeing it on a dedicated page, as opposed to seeing it on the right-hand side of a really boring RSS Reader.

    But beyond that, I know how much these guys need the pageviews. So even if I click it and skim it over, it’s still a view, and that lends itself to the advertising that most of these require to keep their sites going. It takes a maximum of ten extra seconds out of my day to do this, and nobody can say they don’t have that ten extra seconds (unless they’ve got a bomb strapped to their chest that’ll go off in fifteen, of course).

  4. Cartoonists can be proactive on this point too. For better or for worse, a large chunk of their audience will be reading via rss. But you can beat the system a little by including ads in your RSS feed (see Dinosaur Comics) Or by making the comic smaller, but still legible. (Bear and Tiger does this) I agree that visiting the site is better for the cartoonist, but it is nice to have a sort of “funny pages” to just read through. I’ll buy a t-shirt.

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