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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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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fvillemin

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This topic is really interesting because it seems to be the only part of newsblur people are complaining about .. and the only part of newsblur the developer doesn't want to change .. :)

When i was asked to choose between paying $1 per month or $2 per month for the same Premium access, i did not hesitate and paid $2 because i had found newsblur as the best google reader replacement and wanted to give money for such a nice tool. And i like it more than Google Reader except for this 2 week limit...

I would love to have 4 weeks, i would love to have a per-feed feature to avoid charging the servers, i would love to see Samuel taking into account the fact that the load on the servers would be probably paid by the new Premium accounts or the happy Premium users that would pay next year and would not go to another service. And if i had to pay more to have more archives, i would do it.

Of course we could all get the sources and try to install our own NewsBlur but i think only 1% of the users would be able to do that and that would be a silly move not to share the news feeds.

I'm sad and i hope it could change .. maybe try one day to see the results on the servers ? keep a number of posts instead of a date for small feeds ? there must be a solution to please everyone..
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ardent

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It's not the only thing that people are complaining about; try commenting on a shared article that was shared without an initial comment :)
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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I wrote this above as a reply, but it bears repeating:

Remember, NewsBlur keeps stories both read and unread. We're talking about unread status only, not stories themselves. You can still read the stories, you just don't have an unread indication. And if you're out of town, then you already know the feeds you want to read and can just continue scrolling down until you hit the stories you saw before you left.

If you have to read every story, then you are already reading them faster than every 2 weeks. And if you're not, then you are well outside the bounds of what I can reasonably accommodate. You are a power user, and as a power user I gave you a great way out: install your own hosted version of NewsBlur.
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Rob

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That does seem like an excellent compromise. I have some low-frequency updating feeds that require dedicated time set aside to read. Under the current approach I lose these stories.

Alternatively, as suggested above, if disabling intelligence training was an option to maintain an extended unread count I'd be all over it.
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Juan Pablo Ortiz

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It doesn't matters that is only the read count, the whole point is that this behavior is not expected and at least it should be configurable.

Read count tracking is one of the main features for a RSS client. If I can't trust it wether I read something or not it loses a lot of its value.
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André Bubel

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Is there a technical reason for it?

I'd host my own version, but as far as I know there is no option in the android app to use another api url
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yardena

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"And if you're out of town, then you already know the feeds you want to read" <-- I am really puzzled by this logic.

"If you have to read every story, then you are already reading them faster than every 2 weeks." <-- I find this logic puzzling as well.
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toupeira

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> Remember, NewsBlur keeps stories both read and unread

Unfortunately this isn't true either, some of my feeds don't even go back 24 hours...

They're all private feeds with myself as the only subscriber, and at most around a 100 stories per day.
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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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Hikari

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Another point. I used to have a feed with 50-100 posts every day. It's be 1000 unread articles if I just layed it there. I wasn't able to follow, so I just deleted it. This kind of feed is already torturing your servers even with 2 weeks deadline. That's 1 situation.

Another situation is websites like mine, that stay months with no post. I have a few feeds in this situation, that rarely have something new. But when it does, I wanna read it. This kind of feed could freely had its articles unread for months and would barely touch any resource.

Based on those situations, my suggestion is that you'd put 2 deadlines: time and amount. Let's say free accounts will be allowed to keep articles for 1 month and 200 articles. If any of those deadlines are reached you just totally delete oldest ones.

For premium accounts you increase it for 6 months and 1000 articles. If somebody wanna have more freedom, just pay for the resources. Then you can create segment subscriptions, if somebody needs even more time and amount they pay more for it.
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Jon L.

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Here's a solution (albeit a weird one)--just have all your analytics run on only two weeks of posts. So if it is unread, but it's outside the window, then it won't slow down the UI. And, if keeping the read / unread state for all those posts is too much (I would have a hard time believing that, but it could be...), then just keep a per feed "most recently read post"--so I could always jump to the most recent post that was read (note, not the oldest unread post--so if you skip around, you lose all the posts before the most recently read post, but if you read in order it works).

Seems to settle the server and UI load and gets everyone the abilities they look for in a reader.
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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?
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Karl Katzke

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"Sold" more than one year ago -- I think this needs to keep getting bumped, please.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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As I've mentioned, I've since had to change the plan due to a massive increase in traffic. I simply can't handle the increased load and have also been convinced that I set it at the right amount. You are free to run your own setup using the free code I provide. And please keep in mind that this only affects unread status, as you can still read older stories in the feed for those times when you travel. If that doesn't work for you, then know that I'm happy to offer refunds.

We're beating a dead horse here and I've made it clear that this won't be changing anytime soon.
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toupeira

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From your other comments I actually got the impression that you're willing to change this, and just haven't found the time yet because of the architectural problems.

You're also beating a dead horse by constantly bringing up the load issue, and ignoring the proposed alternative solutions. It seems there are a few developers willing to tackle this if you would give us some guidance.
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romkyns

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Alright, at least we have a clear answer now. Thanks for that.

I'm going to try setting up my own instance on my server, and if I find enough time to make it work (there are a *lot* of dependencies) I'll post here and let you guys know.
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happy.cerberus

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As someone who deleted his premium account for this reason, I have just one thing to say. DOCUMENT THIS IN THE PREMIUM ACCOUNT DESCRIPTION!
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Karl Katzke

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I think training is less of an issue than the unread count. The training is fine and I haven't noticed it. Unread counts... are a bigger deal for people with large feed lists like myself.
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Hikari

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Regarding setting up our own server, as I could see Samuel provided a quick tutorial only for Mac, that few ppl have and is never used as server. Very strange.

It's kinda hard to setup because, as I understood, it uses 2 DBs, 1 of them is NoSQL. happy.cerberus also said it has a lot of dependencies to handle. So it's very hard to have the whole system running and kept stable.

It's OpenSource, so if somebody is able to make it work on Windows, it would be great to post a tutorial somewhere. I own a lot of domains and already have Apache HTTP Server and Tomcat, it would be easy to point a domain to home and have a WebServer serving me NewsBlur wherever I am, but I'm not skilled enough to setup this other DB and work on Phyton/Ruby (I forgot the language :p ).
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Diogro Melo

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I see the point of the intelligence trainer, but unread count is a much much more important feature. The fact that google reader had 4 weeks and nobody seamed to care, while here everybody seems to care is a VERY clear sign that you misjudged this one. Keep training on 2 weeks if 4 is too much strain on the servers, but keep unread counts for longer.
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Hikari

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Inteligence is important to ppl with a lot of articles to follow, because it lets us set categories we're not interested and those articles won't even be shown.

Ok, Samuel explained to us what resource exactally is heavily loaded by the amount of articles flagged unread.

Now what I still don't understand, is why he'd rather refund premium subscriptions instead of charging them the required money to make finantially viable the increase of unread articles.

Maybe create another subscription type, only for more unread articles.

It seems to be a very wanted feature, there must be a way of profiting from it. GReader had 4 weeks, idk how feedly and other readers handle it. I'd rather see NewsBlur being top in this than having ppl complaining about it and its owner talking about refunds.
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flawius

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I registered few days ago and I really like NewsBlur :) The only problem is this 2 week limit. What Samuel is saying doesn't convince me. Everyone has slightly different reading habits and I feel we shouldn't be forced to change them. Of course, none of us wants to create too much pressure on the servers, none of us wants slow UI. That's why people came up with few possible solutions. I think there may also be other nice solutions that no one has thought of yet. It would be great if Samuel took part in this brainstorming effort :) Fast UI makes me happy :) But loosing my articles makes me sad and fast UI doesn't make up for it :( Let's work this out together :)

Also, I think NewsBlur should clearly state that such limit exists. This is a must if NewsBlur wants to build trust relationship with it's customers and prevent paying customers from feeling deceived. It's the only fair thing to do. NewsBlur blog does a great job in building trust relationship - it shows how much Samuel is dedicated to improving NewsBlur. But this thread, well.. I was a little surprised to hear that we're beating a dead horse here and that we can take our money and go away... :(

ps. I don't have a premium account yet. I wanted to go premium but now I'm wondering..

cheers :)
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Dean

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Why not just store the id/key to the users most recent item read per-feed? This means you could in some way indicate where the user has read up to and would be trivial to store in the database.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Tell you what, wait until the performance hits average response time of 100ms (0.10 seconds) or less for the whole day. That's where NewsBlur is supposed to be and I'm embarassed that it's landing at 190ms these days. Upping the unread range to 30 days is just going to hamper that performance.

I think I'm willing to move the range up as soon as I can handle it. Unfortunately it's not something I can easily enable per-account, per-feed, or anything like that. That would require dangerous code paths that would be highly susceptible to breakage — just think of all the wonky unread counts.

You picked a bad time to re-energize this thread, as I just had a launch. But in a week or two, after I get some more infrastructure scaling in (somehow), I'll see about setting it for everybody at 30 days.
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flawius

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Great to hear that :) For me it doesn't really matter if we're going to get there in 2 weeks or 6 months as long as I know we're going there :)

It would also be great if stories that are going to disappear shortly were marked appropriately so we could focus our reading efforts on those :)
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chet farmer

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So 18 days ago, you said "in a week or two...I'll see about setting it for everybody at 30 days". Did this happen yet?
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Check the stats, I'm nowhere near that performance yet. I'm happy to offer refunds for anybody who can't work with the 2 week unread limit.
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chet farmer

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I don't need a refund, since I'm still in the tire-kicking phase of my reader shopping process -- I really wish the Reeder guy would be more visible on support and progress! -- but I _DO_ think you should make it more clear that this is going to happen.

It's a big change from the way Google Reader refugees will expect their reading experience to work. That kind of surprise is never good.
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romkyns

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> Tell you what, wait until the performance hits average response time of 100ms (0.10 seconds) or less for the whole day.

I think we've had at least a couple of days exceeding this target now - congrats about that by the way! Time for a trial of a slightly longer period to see how it will impact the response time? :)
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Elfpill

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This is the most protracted back-and-forth I've seen on the support forums, and looking over the thread, I'm happy with how both sides handled it. Nobody is going to get exactly what they want here, but it gives me a lot of confidence in Samuel that he can weather months of criticism over a single detail of something he's worked so hard on and still come back to the negotiating table to try to strike the right balance for users.

Next premium round I'm paying the max, even if the unread limit doesn't increase.
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jesse

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Oof. This one's a showstopper for me. I 100% respect that this isn't a priority for you, but had I known that unread items autoexpire, I would not have signed up for Premium.
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Majed Alsadhan

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Unfortunately I signed up for premium without knowing that.
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Alan D

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I think anything less than 1 month unread tracking is completely ridiculous. And, I just subscribed a couple days ago (paid), but had I known this, I do not think I would have. I will stick it out and be patient for my year, but if this situation is not improved by renewal, it is nearly certain I will NOT re-up, despite how much I already love the service in most every other way.

The whole point of a feed reader is that it is supposed to relieve you of the burden of worrying about it. I guess nobody can ever take a true 2 week vacation? WTH? Crap happens in life, it should not be some arbitrary low limit chosen for us. 1 month minimum and this should be a priority. I like most others care not at all for the sharing features other than emailing. If it costs more to provide a reasonable service, then charge more, don't do this. It is crazy. Disappointed in your priorities.
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laurie leonard

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I'm choosing my alternative to Google Reader, and saving the stories less than 30 days is a deal breaker for me.
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webreaper

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Same here - this is a massive problem. The whole point of Reader is so that I can catch up on feeds when I have the time. For example, I'll read some stuff on a daily basis, and when my top feeds start to run dry I'll then dip into other feeds. If half the content has been wiped (particularly on feeds which only post 1-2 articles a month) then it's an utter, total fail.

I may have missed a point earlier in the thread though - are you saying that the articles will remain there, but will just be marked unread?
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Alan D

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Actually, webreaper, Samuel replied to my complaint about this issue within an hour (10 days ago) and I was blown over by how responsive, personal, and thoughtful he was and how much he reassured me that this issue was a priority and unread tracking would be extended to a month within a few months, as soon as the Google Reader transition rush settles down and he can get the server response times down. I actually wrote a nice post saying this and more to my original, but then something happened and I lost all the work when I tried to submit it, so at that point just said screw it and moved on. But Samuel does deserve credit for listening to his customers and caring, and being responsive as he can.

I have confidence Samuel will correct this and after his response, I hope you give him a chance. I am a new paid customer, and I will be the first to leave myself if this is not corrected within 3-4 months, no later than 6. I have grown to love Samuel's service, and would hate to leave for an otherwise inferior overall experience, but this one feature is indeed a show stopper mid-long term. But Samuel seems to realize and appreciate that now, so again, consider being patient and giving him a chance.
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Hikari

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Alan, I'll have to disagree. In a thread here he answered to a complain asking me to move to other RSS Reader. And he did that after promoting an early praise I made!

It is sad that most popular complains take more than 2 years to be handled, and that reported bugs are answered in a "I won't fix it, please move away because you're not welcome here" fashion.

It is a shame that the service owner says he's happy to refund (and kick out) any paid customer.
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Karl Katzke

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Hikari, I completely disagree with you. I think it shows a high level of maturity to say "I'd like to implement this feature, but I can't until I have performance to an acceptable level and have other bugs fixed, and I don't know when that will be." Offering to refund an unhappy customer in that situation is also a mature and realistic reaction. He's not kicking out anyone, he's being polite, he's simply saying that it's unlikely to happen soon.
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alxndr

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What about disabling the intelligence feature altogether?
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nkmcalli

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+1. I only care about exactly 2 features: store my list of sites, let me keep track of my read status. Nothing else matters. Nothing.
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Craig

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Only 14 days when people pay for a service???? That's horrifying. Even 30 days is horrible when people are paying for the service.

I was thinking of jumping here from Google Reader and paying for service, but if you start mismarking my articles before I catch up with them I'll need something else.

My issue is that there are sometimes a few hundred medical research articles that I don't catch up on reading for months. I can't afford to lose track of which I've read and which I haven't. When you make look read when they haven't been that could mean I don't get to read something that could saved a life, literally.

Could a compromise be to move to 30 days and also add a 2nd attribute flag "read this later"? (The "save this story" tag doesn't satisfy that role because that's more for indicating something has been examined and found important enough to save and maybe read again.) I could then look at priority folders and mark everything there "read this later" and clear them individually when the articles have been read.

Or do you know a better solution for that need? E.g., a competitor, or maybe go back a PC client-based app?