Do unread items sunset after 14 days?

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  • Updated 1 year ago
I'm seeing unread items in NewsBlur change to read after 14 days of sitting in a feed, much as Google Reader would mark them read after 30. Is there a way to turn this behaviour off? I want persistent counts. NewsBlur already has a manual tool to unclutter feeds.
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Elfpill

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Posted 4 years ago

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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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2 weeks is the limit. If you haven't heard a story two weeks after it's published, then you should either save it or send it to instapaper. Otherwise, those unread counts would start to become meaningless. If you want to read the back catalog of a site (anything more than 2 weeks old), you still can, you just lose the unread flag.

It's 2 weeks because 4 weeks is too long to be meaningful. I don't think you can mentally keep track of more than 2 weeks worth of unread stories. Otherwise, just save the story, or read the feed, going through the read stories.
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John Bitme

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So newsblur is not suitable for anyone who doesn't follow the hivemind's usage patterns. Got it, looking for an alternative that actually does what it says on the tin.
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Elfpill

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Thanks for letting me know.

Here's my perspective (salt to taste):

Whether it's possible to "mentally keep track of more than 2 weeks worth of unread stories" depends entirely on the pace of the feed. Think of a photostream that updates 50-100 times a day. That would have a meaningless unread count no matter how often you flushed it. With slower feeds, I use my feed reader as an inbox. I mean to act on everything posted since I subscribed, even if that only means j'ing past it, and 'unread' is a flag telling me what I haven't seen yet. As with email, I'd like the flag to persist forever, even if there are diminishing returns on older flags.
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rdominick

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I also think that this is something we users should be able to determine -- how far back we want the unread stories to persist in our feeds. There are some feeds where pruning after two weeks is fine by me, and some I want to be able to read back through no matter how long I let it sit. Ideally, we'd have a global and per-feed setting.

The thing here is just the same as when feeds were switching to other feeds from the same site without warning: it's disconcerting when things change behind the scenes without warning.
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rdominick

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I need to add: I'm also somewhat upset that when I went back through the feed affected here using "mark as unread" on articles I wanted to read later, those unread marks were thrown out.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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I'm happy with 2 weeks being the length of time for unread stories. However, being able to mark stories older than 2 weeks as unread is something I'd love to do. It ain't easy, and it's a struggle to make these things happen.
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rdominick

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Well, I am glad *you* are happy with it. I guess that's all that matters.
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rdominick

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I am sorry. I posted in the heat of the moment, which I should have learned years ago never turns out well. I did not mean to be so harsh.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Hah, it's ok. I realize many folks have an emotional attachment to software that they use often. I'd love to implement everything, but as this is still a part-time project that I only get to dedicate about 2 hours a day (the length of my train commute), I have to be merciless in cutting features so I can actually ship new features and still be active on support requests. If you're persistent and have a good argument, I can be (and have been) persuaded.
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Jon

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Is there a way this can be extended for paid users?

Last year I went on a 2 week European vacation where it would have sucked to come back and find articles missing.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Google Reader has it set to 4 weeks. Is that preferred by everybody? It's more processing work, but not significantly more. I vastly prefer 2 weeks, and that's why it's set to 14 days. If it hasn't been read in 14 days, it probably isn't getting read. That may change between feeds, but that would complicate the Feed Settings dialog. This is something I'm willing to come back to, but I think it would have to be set per-feed.
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Jon

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I suspect many of us posting in this thread would claim to be "hardcore RSS" readers... I actually do go back and see the majority of the posts.

I was without internet most of last week, and didn't start checking my reader till last night; and I'm going to have to go through now and make sure I catch the important feeds first before they sunset.

But yeah, I do go back and read them... RSS isn't "recent news" for me, it's "my archive of interesting stuff".
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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So would a setting on a per-feed basis be ok? It would never mark a feed's stories as read, period. It would be possible, although I believe it would be the same amount of work to just make it an arbitrary number (4 weeks), but on a per-feed basis.
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rdominick

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A per-feed setting would work well for me... leave it for high-volume feeds where I'm not so married to reading every article, but unset it for some slower feeds where I'm basically saving for a binge on a particular topic. (Kinda like how I listen to the "This American Life" podcast.)
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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OK, sold. Now, how to find some time to build it. It'll be a bit of time before I get this in, but I like where it ended up.
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Lisa Jordan

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If reader auto-sunsets after 4 weeks, that's a new thing; over the last 4 years I've used it to keep unread items for months at a time, without ever having them automatically mark as read. I'm glad I was linked to this thread - I really though Blur was just buggy as shit and eating my unready items unintentionally. Now I know ;P

It would be amazing if this could be a setting - if you do make it per-feed, having a global "turn this on for all feeds" switch would be super helpful.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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A lot has changed in the past 6 months. Using redis as a story unread store, I might have an easier time with this. Unfortunately, allowing unreads to persist for longer than 2 weeks is no longer near the top of my priority list, as NewsBlur is beginning to shift focus to shared stories.

This is a nice-to-have, but it'll be a while before I can get around to implementing infinite unreads.
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romkyns

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While I can see why you are interested in the "shared stories" direction, but I thought I should mention that at least for me, the feature is irrelevant and is not going to be used. I would, however, gladly subscribe to have unread stories limited not by time, but by number, as a premium feature.

Surely the cost imposed on your servers is proportional to the number of stories rather than how far back it goes?...
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lilacwood

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Alright. Seconding Lisa, just to say. Not being around as much lately I feel pressured by the two weeks thing.
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Terje Erwing Bjelkholm

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I am sorry to hear that this has been put on the back burner. I was hoping that NewsBlur could be my new online feed aggregator but unfortunately this is going to be a deal breaker for me.
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ojiikun

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Chiming in, since this got bumped back down to nice-to-have.

While I understand the difficulties associated with eternal and/or very long term (like, 90 days+) storage, the current limit of 14 days is just way too tight a restriction. All of the following can easily last almost 14 days but rarely last more than 30: vacations, illnesses, work crunches, liaisons, main PC failures, rural internet outages, martian attacks, &c.

Thus, an enthusiastic vote for some sort of increase to the time limit.
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rdominick

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As much as I love the oldest-first -- and believe me, I love it -- this makes this issue even more frustrating for low-volume blogs that you only want to read once in a while. For me, the best example would be ZeFrank's blog, updated twice a week, but that's also common for many webcomic/podcast/web series feeds. There's no good option for reading this feed except to read the stories as they come.

Since at most four stories fit Newsblur's 14-day window at any given time, you can't use oldest-first, since show-all with oldest-first doesn't actually show-all, it just shows (from what I'm seeing) read stories from the last week or so (?) with no way to load more. With newest-first you're stuck loading the feed, marking a story unread, and then scrolling to wherever you think you need to start reading from. I may as well be trying to find the last article I read on the actual site.

So what ends up happening is that the 14-day limit actually removes almost all of the benefits of using an RSS reader for certain feeds.
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rdominick

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My only thought was a per-site setting with a cap on how many unread stories you could have if you're using the option. Like, "Mark stories read after [90] days (maximum 300 unread stories)." That's kind of opaque, though.

Really I'm posting because I wanted to say this: there's a reason I just haven't gone off and found another way to read my feeds. Newsblur works wonderfully for me in 95% of cases, and your attention to and enthusiasm for it means that even where it clunks, it's worth waiting around to see things happen.
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toupeira

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Samuel, what's your current opinion on this issue? To avoid load issues you could restrict it to Premium users and add a maximum time and/or maximum number of items per feed.
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Hikari

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The problem is that it's an architectural restriction. There's only 1 variable that sets this time application-wise. ATM it can't be set by user, to premium accounts, by folder, by feed, etc.

I suppose there's a central module that handles feed update for all feeds, and this module reads this variable. To change it, this module would need to retrieve more data for each feed, like its own config, its related account's config, etc.

He also wanna make configuration more flexible. But all this would make that module more complex and less scalable.
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toupeira

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Well obviously there are architectural problems, otherwise this issue would have been quickly resolved a long time ago. I just wish the developer(s) would focus on basics like this instead of fancy intelligence trainers and social features that a lot of people simply don't care about at all.
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qrt

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So how about setting this one variable that defines the life time of the unread items to 4 or better 6 weeks, and everybody is happy? It does not really require more storage space, does it? If you increase the time, I promise to become a premium member.
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mynameisdolce

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One more vote for this, one more time. It's exactly like rdominick describes it with the webcomic example for some of my sites. I'm not gonna list all the details, but let me just say that though I have tried to find an alternative way of working that includes sending to Pocket (extra cc'ed emails in my inbox, yay) and saving/bookmarking (random list of cluttered random things, double yay), I still get annoyed. Mainly because all this feels (from my end) as if it's unnecessarily complicating what wouldn't have to be an issue without the short time limit.

2 weeks is punishingly short imho. I really dislike feeds changing to "read" without me noticing and though I'm online many hours a day, some still do. Call me a control freak but that really peeves me.

That said, I love Newsblur. I loved it as soon as I got used to it and choosing it amongst the competition was a no brainer. The launch was seamless and even though I couldn't care less about the social aspects, I do like the blurblog, it's turning into a fun personal collection of things that made me smile this week. Always nice to smile. Encountered some bugs there (pages that wouldn't get posted), but I'm waiting them out. Many feeds that didn't work before now do (though some of aljazeera's feeds have started misbehaving since the launch - but I'm waiting those out too). I see Newsblur as being still a work in progress, but I like where you're taking it, which is why I paid my tiny bit for it. Which is also why I'm gonna keep insisting every time this issue comes up: It's your project but not everyone uses it the way you do. I'm not obsessed with what's new. News of 4 weeks ago are not old news. I'd love it if you found a way to cater to us lot. I'm not going anywhere either way, but I reserve my right to complain now and again. ;)
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Senile Felines

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I just went premium after about 10 minutes using the site, for a number of reasons.

The two main reasons were:

1) Your interface is sexy and usable as hell

2) Anticipation of this feature. Google Reader's 30 day limit was killing me as is. I have 160 sites, with probably 500-700 new articles a day... and I read every single one, eventually, unless my reader spikes them for me, which makes it impossible to tell where I am.

I would also use, as an alternative, a "river of news" view that shows all articles instead of just unread ones. Then I could go to a specific date and pick up from where I left off, regardless of read status. (If such a thing exists already, please let me know.. still getting used to NewsBlur!)
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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I would love to support the inclusion of read stories in the River of News. It's not even too difficult to do, but the question is should it show you read stories from all feeds in the folder or only feeds that are currently shown as a result of the All/unread/focus control?

Say you have a folder with 20 feeds, 10 of them have unreads, and 3 of them have green unreads (which will show on focus mode). If you are in the Unread mode, should opening that folder show read stories from those 10 feeds with unreads (and are thus currently the only feeds showing), or should it also pull read stories from the entire set of 20 feeds. Tricky question, but I'm leaning towards ignoring the mode you're in and just fetching read stories from all feeds, regardless of whether or not the mode you are in shows the site.

Also, this will take a bit of time to do, so it's on the queue, but won't be worked on immediately. I plan to make it happen though. If too long goes by and you still want this, chime in and I'll see if I can get it done then.
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Hikari

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I agree that if we leave too many articles accumlate we won't be able to read them all. But it's better to let us control the software and give us a 'mark all as read' button, then keep marking and not letting us unmark.

The issue of automatically marking as read is that we can't easily differ from effectively read articles and old ones.

I use read flag to mark articles that I don't wanna read AND articles that I've read and wanna trash. Then I set to show only unread ones to find new ones and to-read ones.

Well NVM, full control on read/unread flags is a major requirement for me. I'll look for a RSS Reader that provides this feature.
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fvillemin

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About my own usage of Google Reader and maybe now NewsBlur : i have many feeds (300) with many of them being funny stuff and not hot news. I don't have time to read them every day, even every week .. but when i find 2 hours to read them, i'm really unhappy to see that the reader has removed 30+ days posts.

I would love to have the ability to choose the time i want to keep my feeds unread. For some feeds i want to miss nothing, even if i have not read for 200 days. For other i could say that after 10 days i don't care anymore.

That seems to be the only missing feature to be the best RSS reader
Please hear your 'future' mega premium customers :)