For the past week, I set this blog to use summary feeds instead of full text feeds as an experiment to see what effect this would have on bandwidth consumption. I expected bandwidth usage to drop with summary feeds, figuring that many people who download the feeds may not even read them and wouldn’t bother to click to come to the site unless the summary interested them. Some people argued that the opposite would occur, since now everyone would be downloading summary feeds and then clicking to load up the full site (graphics and all), which would consume more bandwidth than just the full text feed by itself.
My expectation was correct though. Bandwidth usage dropped by about 30% during this time while overall traffic remained stable — actually traffic went up a bit in terms of total visitors, but that was primarily due to some new incoming links on other sites, not from feed subscribers.
I know some people thought I was doing this experiment to see what effect it would have on Adsense revenue. That would have been another interesting reason to experiment with summary feeds, but that wasn’t why I did it. This blog’s Adsense revenue fluctuates a lot from day to day (within a range of 50% to 150% of the daily average), so if I wanted to test the effect of summary feeds on Adsense, I would have needed a longer and more thorough test to draw any meaningful conclusions. FWIW, I saw no noticeable change in Adsense revenue during the past week.
I’m sorry for the temporary inconvenience for those who dislike summary feeds. Personally I don’t mind them — about half the blogs I subscribe to use summary feeds, including some of my favorites. It only takes a mouse click to bring up the sites in a new window, but I have a speedy PC and a very fast internet connection. I know summary feeds can be impractical for people who read feeds under different conditions.
I’ve restored full text feeds and plan to continue using them for now. It was helpful for me to get an idea of the bandwidth trade-off between full text and summary feeds. At least for this site, it appears that full text feeds consume significantly more bandwidth.