Do unread items sunset after 14 days?

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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 7 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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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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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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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 :)
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mynameisdolce

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While I understand how Samuel really has much much bigger worries atm (for all the right reasons), I'd like to come back yet again and say: if and when things start settling down, and if and when you start considering what the new premium plans area going to look like, take this issue into consideration. Even a limited way to specify some feeds to stay unread past the two weeks for a premium tier price would be great. I keep getting into alternative reader discussions and I keep hearing about time limits - could be that being biased I just listen harder when this specific subject comes up, but still.

As far as I'm concerned, it will be a huge service upgrade when nb finally delivers this, so I'm again going to reserve the right to keep nagging about it every time the subject pops back up. It's not going to change my mind about helping provide your dog with cookies, but I'll definitely consider better cookies.
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Jeff Tyrrill

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Just want to add another vote for indefinite unread tracking. The lack of this was the reason I switched away from Google Reader (long ago) to Thunderbird.

I just signed up for a NewsBlur paid account today after hearing about it amongst all the RSS discussion. Unread tracking > 14 days, if added, will be the difference between me considering this an amazing, fantastic reader, and merely an acceptable one, with me still looking for alternatives.

In Thunderbird, I browse back more than 14 days *all the time*. As others have said, I subscribe to a lot of feeds that post just occasionally, and I really do go back after a couple of months and read several stories. I also liberally pick and choose which stories to read, and come back later to read the "gaps".

Don't think about feeds with 50 posts/day when deciding whether a 14 day limit makes sense. Of course it doesn't in that case. Think about having 20 feeds that update once a week or less. This limit really changes the way I would use the reader. Send to Instapaper on older stuff isn't really the same (though I use that too).
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tash.hepting

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Really, really want a way to expand this to 30 days at a minimum. This is going to kill a big chunk of usefullness for me.

Not everything followed on RSS is news, BTW. Timeliness and social news shouldn't be a requirement, otherwise I'd just be using Twitter.
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Hampus

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Just gonna bump this by saying do it!

I've got several feeds that are for youtube channels/playlists or videos elsewhere, I usually just let these kind of pile up for a while and then go through them every once in a while. Having the read/unread status reset after 14 days obviously limits this.

Also have to comment on this said by Samuel:
"I don't think you can mentally keep track of more than 2 weeks worth of unread stories."

You're absolutely right, I'd have a hard time to keep of track what I've read or not for just a couple of sites that post somewhat regularly... 100% correct... That's why I use feed readers to keep track of it for me :)
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ardent

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Yeah, that is some "640k is enough for anyone" shit from Samuel right there ;)
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Livven

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Exactly. There's already a mark all as read button, if I don't use it it probably has a reason.
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aleksee

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I've just come from vacation and I lost a lot of unread items :( Sad...
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Hampus

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Another excellent point. Obviously you want your news reader to keep track of things while your away so you can catch up when back!
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happy.cerberus

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Oh crap. I just switched to Newsblur. Two weeks is impossibly short. I'm tracking sites that update like once a month or two and I track a lot of them. There is no way I will be processing them each week.
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Jon L.

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Would really like this to be addressed too. Hoping that with the architecture scaling, this can be at least configurable--90 days would be amazing. 60 days great. 30 days, adequate.
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SkywardShadow

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If I had known about this limitation, I wouldn't have switched to NewsBlur.
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Dan Perron

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If I had known about this, I probably wouldn't have just subscribed to premium.
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kiddailey

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Well, this is a deal-breaker for me. Looking for a Google Reader replacement and Newsblur won't be it. Glad I saw this before I paid for premium.

Like others, I use unread markers to keep track of where I left off and need it to be unlimited. I would gladly pay for that functionality. My Google Reader never marked older messages as read (just logged in to verify -- don't know why everyone else is saying it does) and I rely on it heavily since my reading of the feeds I follow is sometimes sporadic.

"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."


So what happens if I am unable to read my feeds for two weeks and then want to spend a weekend going through the items I missed?

And I disagree on unread counts becoming meaningless. If I have a feed with 500 items and 200 of them I've "read," (and not necessarily consecutively) you're effectively saying that I now will have to hunt through all 500 to find the 300 I haven't read.
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Benjamin Mako Hill

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After more than a year of wondering what was happening with my feeds, I've figured out that this feature was silently marking itemsin my feeds as read after two weeks. I'm pretty upset about it.

One of the things I use Newsblur for is subscribing to academic journals. Journals don't update often so I tend to batch them up to go through once every month or so. This features has meant that I've missed most of the updates over the last year because they've been silently marked as read before I got them.

At the very least, please let us set our expiration time to something other than 14 days globally. And at the very very very least, please document this somewhere! I looked in the FAQ 3-4 times over the last year. It was only when I went to file a support request that I happened to see this description.

If you are using Newsblur to keep track of what you have and have and have not read, this is just a killer. Just killer.

I love Newsblur and have supported it for quite some time now. I have recommended it to probably 20 other people who have subscribed. But this is a showstopper. I will have to leave (at least for the part of my usage that is keeping up with j ournals) if this is not addressed.
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Diogo Nunes

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I couldn't agree more with your comment. The fact that this "limitation" isn't documented anywhere is what saddens me the most, make me feel like I was deceived.

I doubt that this "feature" (that's what Newsblur calls it) will be fixed anytime soon, as the main developer (Samuel) is busy reinventing the wheel, that is blogs.

If you find an alternative (hopefully with the training feature) let us know. There are a lot of alternatives without that feature.
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Francis Rose

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Wow, just paid for a year and learned this right afterward. Never would have paid had I known. Dealbreaker for me too.
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Henry

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I'm in the same boat. I read RSS feeds for work -- keeping track of what's new and what isn't is crucial.
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Jason Airlie

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This is like an email client silently marking old emails as read. That could be a nifty feature for some, but for many it is almost a betrayal.

It undermines trust for those who like me did not know about it and adds a time pressure that shouldn't be there.

For me an rss reader is like a DVR for the web. Keeping web posts until whenever I get around to reading them is the whole point. With Newsblur deleting after 2 weeks, I can't go on vacation for a week without having to scramble when I get back to catch up.

If space is an issue, give users a quota and a meter to show how much space we have free.
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Hikari

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[quote]you'll have to support the additional infrastructure to support it. The impact on my servers will be huge and that's why it can't go up. [/quote]

What exactally is that impact? Is it bandwidth, storage, CPU time? This may be obvious for you, but I have never run NewsBlur on my own hardware and I have no clue.

As I can understand, in the past you made the architectural choice of using a centralized global constant to set the deadline we'd have to delight the unread flag feature, and now it's too hard to change.

It seems you alone work on NewsBlur development. That's why in another post I talked about lack of a development community.
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Hikari

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I totally understand you not wanting to spend resources on free accounts.

But I can't understand why you go to the point of offering refund to unsatisfied customers. Is this unread issue so expensive that you'd rather lose income than spend some more money in resoures? Is the resources consumed so expensive that subscription wouldn't pay it and you'd stay in loss?

Of course none of us want you to bankrupt and shut down your servers. We don't want NewsBlur to follow FeedDemon's path. We want you to profit from it, so that it can be your main income and you dedicate all your work time and your talent on it.

Try to understand me. 1 year ago you was thinking about a lifetime subscription business model. We explained how that was a terrible idea and you dropped it. Couldn't it be the same situation here?
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Jason Airlie

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I missed earlier where Samuel said "The extra work has to do with the intelligence training and the fact that I would have to fetch twice as many stories from the database, do twice as much counting, and it would end up doubling the amount of work I have to do in feed processing, effectively slowing down the entire UI for everybody, not just you."

That explains why unread articles create such a surprising load on the server. Would it be possible to make the training just look at the last 2 weeks? Training for many is a secondary feature to keeping unread counts, even though it is one of the distinguishing features for Newsblur.
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Hikari

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ahhh now I got it! The problem is the amount of processing needed to handle Intelligence!

Well, then the issue is directly related to amount of articles. The query will limit it by a LIMIT N or a WHERE post_date > now + 14 days. Now I understand why the centralized global constant, any query can simply take it and print in the SQL, instead of having to handle it in a per account, folder, feed, etc basis.

Kinda troubling. But I still think that premium accounts should have some love here. If you're making the query, WHERE statement already have info about the feed/folder and the account, so it's not that expensive to also have a field for days related to it. It could just be account-wide.

Maybe, instead of having a value for each account, have a bool flag for it being premium or free, and 2 global constants, and a simple if will solve it. I suppose you can give premium accounts at least 60 days. And think about it, lots of ppl want the resource, so it would give NewsBlur an advantage over other web-based RSS Readers.

The 2 things I'm waiting to get my premium account is the solution for this issue and upping saved stories.
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ianjo

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Or just make Inteligence optional. I rarely use it, as it's too limited for feeds that do a poor joob of categorizing (don't supply tags and all posted with same author). I'd rather have tracking working, than the Inteligence feature.
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jenbooks

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"The unread indication is the whole reason I'm using a feed reader, otherwise I could just as well keep a folder of bookmarks. "

This is exactly correct.
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Hikari

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Indeed. Asking us to keep a note about the last article we read is... sad. Worse, we'd have to do it for each feed...

What's exactally the resource consumption difference of we showing all unread article to read them and we having them unread? As I can see, first option is worse, because we'd have to manipulate all unread articles, while in second option each article flagged as read will never be seen again. You could even totally delete them 1 day after flagged as read!

Sorry, I don't mind to offend you, but I feel that what you don't want is abandoned accounts from ppl that don't come to NewsBlur for more than a week. You're using this auto-unread as a way to force us to keep coming back.
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Juan Pablo Ortiz

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Samuel, can you give us some general directions of this feature on the repo? (relevant files, classes). Maybe we can propose a solution (actual pull request) that satisfies both parties without taxing the servers.
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Elfpill

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Another thing to look into is how Newsblur currently stores user-specific bits of metadata for posts much older than two weeks, and syncs those bits across contexts, evidently without stress to the servers. I have in mind saved/unsaved and shared/unshared.
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toupeira

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The storage is not the problem, it's that the setting for the number of days to keep is also used in various other places, such as the intelligence trainer.
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Juan Pablo Ortiz

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So, any comments Samuel?