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Why can't we ...

Walling your content away is a sure way to persuade me to ignore it

Aug 26, 2016

My online friend Jason roped me into doing a two white dudes chatting podcast (with a difference) and I'm really enjoying it. 1 The show is called Why Can't We ... ? and, as I say, I'm enjoying doing it immensely.

Now, you may consider that first paragraph marketing. The funny thing is, it also plays directly into our third episode: Podcast Directories. Why can't we get better recommendations of new (to us) podcasts to listen to?

I'm not going to repeat here the various angles we discussed in the show. Instead, I'm finally going to write this post that's been stewing for a couple of weeks, which is more about sharing audio than discovering it. By extension, though, if audio is easy to share, I can discover what you like, and see whether I like it too, which is the basis of good recommendations.

I subscribe to a couple of newsletters that recommend things. Sometimes they even venture beyond the well-known and highly popular. When that happens, I like to visit the show they're talking about and try to sample an episode.

My tool of choice for this is Huffduffer, an absolutely brilliant online tool. If you come across audio you want to listen to -- without being sure you want to subscribe to a whole podcast series -- you huffduff it and it appears in your own personal RSS feed, to which you can subscribe in the podcast catcher of your choice. Better yet, you can subscribe to other people's feeds, and they can subscribe to yours. (Here's mine, in case you're so inclined.)

So far so good. But increasingly of late I've noticed audio files that cannot be huffduffed. Huffduffer is just unable to see and share the audio file, usually because it is hidden inside some fancy player. When that happens, I get unreasonably angry.

Just this past week, a few leads that I thought might be worth following showed up in my inbox newsletters.

Not one of them exposes its audio file in a way that huffduffer can see it.

Of course there are alternatives. Most modern podcast catchers give you the option to download individual episodes without having to subscribe. But to do that, I have to go to that app, search for the show, find the episode and download it. As far as I can discover, no podcatcher has a simple bookmarklet that will download a single episode from a webpage in an OSX browser.

In any case, huffduffer is such an elegant solution, I don't see why podcasters would want knowingly to prevent it finding a file. Downloads come from the original host, so it won't affect stats. What else could there be?

Allowing me to huffduff an episode is the easiest way to get me to try your podcast and, by extension, to subscribe to it and to recommend it.

What's the downside?


  1. The difference is, we talk about things that neither of us knows much about, but where we both have lots of questions and a few answers.  

Eat This Podcast

Using food as a vehicle to explore the byways of taste, economics and trade, culture, science, history, archaeology, geography and just about anything else.

Nominated for a James Beard Award in 2015 -- and again in 2016 -- and going from strength to strength.

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