Will “limited sending rights” help to reduce information overload?by Chris Amann
This post deals with one of SpecifcFeeds.com’s features: Limited sending rights.
What is it?
Up to now, if you subscribe to something, be it an email newsletter, RSS, or Twitter-feed, you never know how many messages you will get going forward. Once you’ve subscribed the publisher can send you as many messages as he wants. That is, until you’ve had enough and unsubscribe.
At first this seems to be an advantage for publishers. However, on second thought it’s not really because most subscribers are aware of potentially getting too many messages and therefore more reluctant to subscribe. And that’s not good for publishers either as they don’t get as many subscribers as they could have.
On SpecificFeeds.com, when publishers set up a new feed, they have the option to limit themselves in how many messages they can send through it in the future. The limit can be either in total (e.g., “one message in total”) or for a given time frame (e.g., “2 messages per week”). Once the limit is reached, publishers cannot send any additional messages – the system does not allow it.
Why (the heck) should publishers limit their own sending rights?
The idea is that by limiting themselves publishers send a clear signal to subscribers to only send them the required information. This, in return, rewards them with more subscribers which is their ultimate goal.
For example, imagine you want to get notified when tickets for an event are officially up for sale. This only requires one message. Would you rather subscribe to a) an email newsletter, b) an RSS-Feed, or c) a feed which is limited to one message in total promising to inform you when tickets are up for sale (i.e. the feed gets “deleted” after this one message has been sent out)?
In order for the limitation feature to work a neutral platform is required which manages the sending rights. It ensures that publishers do not get hold of subscribers’ contact details so publishers cannot bother subscribers after the purpose of the feed, e.g., announcement of available tickets, is fulfilled.
When is this feature useful?
Obviously this feature only makes sense when it’s clear how many messages need to get sent in the future. For example, this is the case for:
- Various reminders, e.g.,:
- Regular updates on specific topics (e.g., funniest videos on youtube for the last 3 or 4 days (limited to 2 messages per week))
- Notification in clearly defined one-off cases (e.g. official results of US presidential election)
Parallel to Twitter
When coming up with this feature we realized a parallel to Twitter. Twitter also limits publisher’s sending rights by setting a limit at 140 characters per message. In other words: where Twitter limits message size, SpecificFeeds limits message frequency. The impact is the same: subscribers know there’s a limit to what they will receive and therefore subscribe more easily – which is beneficial for publishers as well.
The overall target: “Taking the fear out of subscribing”
The limitation-feature aims to reduce the fear out of subscription in a similar way other features on SpecificFeeds.com do (to be discussed in future posts). However, what do you think? Does the limitation-feature add any value (to subscribers and publishers)? Any input welcome.