What does a post under the fold signal?

Lee, a loyal MR reader (by RSS, it seems), writes:

I am also protesting these partial posts! They are mildly inconvenient!

Sadly, when part of an MR post is below the fold, only the top part is fed into RSS.  The vast majority of our posts are full posts, I use partial posts for two reasons. 

First, sometimes I wish to keep a more important or more typical post close to the top of the page.  This signals to new readers what we are about; I don’t want Eric Maskin visiting MR for the first time and thinking it is a blog mostly about romantic piano music.  Keeping an older post toward the top of the page also keeps the comments flowing.

Second, putting a post under the fold signals that the post will not interest most of you.  In equilibrium, only those of you who really care about the post title should incur the cost of either clicking on the bottom part or leaving RSS and visiting the site, and then clicking, to read it.  You are supposed to be put off from reading it (except for the few dedicated Nyiregyhazi fans who read MR, are there any?; it does not suffice to share his addictions).  But perhaps I am naive here, and telling people "this is quirky stuff that won’t interest most of you" in fact generates interest.   

But not today: Ideally, I would have put most of this post…er…under the fold. 


Can you fix the RSS feeds to make it obvious that there is more below the fold? Lots of blogging software does this by default.

when I clicked through to read the Nyiregyhazi post, which I greatly enjoyed, my first thought was "I wonder if they are trying out some sort of selective click-through scheme for ad revenue". when freakonomics went to forced clickthroughs for 100% of their content I of course unsubscribed, but clearly they can get away with it, although selecting some percentage of posts that are clickthrough only makes far more sense to me than all or nothing.

Yes, I think you jump too quickly to the "sadly" part. You can and should serve the whole entry via RSS.

I can understand Tyler Cowen's viewpoint. However, I think that this should not be done abruptly, and the readers should receive a clear notice about when this is done.

Personally, I'm like Felix Salmon (two comments above mine), I would prefer to have everything in the RSS feed.

I don't RSS yet still do not like the fold. It's hardly an issue, but I think it hurts the flow of a post. If something you write isn't intriguing me, I just stop reading it. Of course with MR, that is hardly the case. Also, if something is just mildly interesting to me, I'll perhaps continue reading it if I see it ends in a couple paragraphs. With the fold, I can't judge how much I'm going to have to go through before a conclusion unless I click and wait.

Mild inconveniences, but inconvenient none the less, and since we're talking about it, I figured I'd chime in.

There's a handy plugin that will give full posts in the feeds: http://cavemonkey50.com/code/full-feed/

I'd argue that "below the fold" should be reserved for riddles or other sorts of teasers. Personally, I like the quixotic posts, and it costs me more to click through to them from my news reader than if it were just there. Skipping an article halfway through when I'm not interested is cheaper. (Not that bringing up Mozilla via Vienna is expensive; these things are relative.) And even if I find that I don't care about a post, the cost of 30 seconds of reading is marginal, plus, knowing things that I might not have a great interest in is still useful.

Oh, and:

6. If a post does not interest me, I'll know after two paragraphs max.

It's true: I really do not care about Nyiregyhazi. I would have only skimmed the post if you'd provided me with the full content in the first place. I read it carefully and all of the comments only because you dared me not to.

I figured your more obscure posts were meant as Nietzschean devices, to cull a readership:

"It is not by any means necessarily an objection to a book [or blog] when anyone finds it impossible to understand: perhaps that was part of the author's intention — he did not want to be understood by just 'anybody.' All the nobler spirits and tastes select their audience when they wish to communicate; and choosing that, one at the same time erects barriers against 'the others.' All the more subtle laws of any style have their origin at this point: they at the same time keep away, create a distance, forbid 'entrance,' understanding, as said above — while they open the ears of those whose ears are related to ours" (Gay Science, sec 381)

I Like putting the more offbeat posts below the fold when viewing MR in a web browser. I like the signaling mechanism that is going on. Is there a way to keep that format for people viewing the blog through a web browser and publish the whole thing via RSS? That would be my preference.

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