EBSCOhost‘s modestly improved RSS features (edited 04/30/07)

[EDIT] Please disregard the criticisms of EBSCO’s policies in the latter part of this post. They were not explained or understood well. See this post for clarification.[/EDIT]
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I was in the process of writing detailed instructions on how to use the new RSS features in EBSCOhost when I saw Paul Pival’s kick-butt screencast.

Paul has posted a larger, higher-quality version here.

EBSCO’s announcement: EBSCOhost RSS Feed and Search/Journal Alert Upgrades

Okay, this is an improved interface for feeds, mostly because the feeds are easier to find. However, Ken Varnum and Paul both point out the regrettable policy EBSCO has put in place by which feeds will be deleted if they are inactive for two months or if they are not accessed within a week of creation. With apologies to the very nice people I know at EBSCO, this is an extremely unwise policy.

The POINT of search-based feeds is that the user doesn’t have to come back and CHECK every two weeks for new hits. Forcing the user to come back to the site sort of defeats the purpose of the feeds.

Dear EBSCOfolk

Feeds make it more likely that people are going to actually USE your service and increase usage stats. Feeds cost you very little in resources. They buy goodwill and convenience for the user at extremely low cost.

A number of resources I can access through EBSCO are also available (at my local academic library) through other vendors. If you’re going to make it so dang inconvenient, I (as a user) will create search feeds for those resources through your competitors’ services and access the full text through your competitors’ services.

Please consider instead just requiring the user to confirm his/her wish to continue the feed annually. If you like, you can even send an item down the feed every week to say “no new hits.”

While this policy is in place, RSS feeds in EBSCOhost‘s RSS “enhancements” are, I’m sorry, next to useless for my purposes.

PubMed already has feeds, OVID is going to roll them out this year. EBSCO Medline fulltext is going to look ridiculous if this doesn’t change. Feeds are a current awareness tool, just like the emailed alerts. PLEASE stop crippling their usefulness.

4 thoughts on “EBSCOhost‘s modestly improved RSS features (edited 04/30/07)

  1. I am playing with RSS feeds from Datastarweb at the moment.

    Interestingly the system sends me an email on any day when new items are added to my RSS feed! Trying to decide if this a good thing or just irritating. I am leaning towards it being irritating.

    The email says (amongst a lot of other things)

    “Your *NEW* opened RSS channel: PAEDS TEST contains 28 new documents, which will be available for 30 days. There are a total of 28 documents found in this channel.”

    So – I had better check back within 30 days if I don’t want to miss out!

    A shame as it means a Mysyndicaat type calendar format would only cover a month. Ho hum.

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