Ghost unread items

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  • Problem
  • Updated 7 years ago
(Firefox 9.0.1 on MacOSX 10.6.8)

This happens to me on multiple feeds. I will read all the items in the feed, but NewsBlur tells me I still have an unread item. I click on the folder, and get nothing. I click on the feed, and all the items have been read. If I click on the "Next Unread" button, sometimes the list starts scrolling as if it's looking for the unread story, and then it gives up and never finds it. Reloading the NewsBlur page does not work -- I have go to the folder and manually Mark all as Read.
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Erin Flachsbart

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Posted 8 years ago

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Sternenstaub

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Same problem (FF 9.0.1/Windows 7).
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tedder42

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Me too. (tm) I've always just lived with it.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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There are possibilities I'm happy to explore, but know that this doesn't happen to me at all. What I'm more concerned with is that after you refresh the page, the unread count stays wrong! That should definitely not be happening. Can I just confirm that this is the case, or once you force a count, it is correct?
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tedder42

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Reloading doesn't seem to do anything. Eventually it corrects itself, I think.

How do you force a count?
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Two ways: wait 60 seconds and counts will be automatically updated (notice that yellow flash?) or reload the page and it will immediately update (same yellow flash).

I have a beta branch that makes those counts update in real-time. In fact, it's working great for me, but there are some kinks that I'm ironing out before I deploy to everybody.
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Benjamin Pollack

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I've seen this on the official iPhone app, too, and the ghost unread count matches what's in the UI. If you contact me privately, I can point out a feed stuck in this state right now.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Sure, send me your username and which feed it is: samuel@ofbrooklyn.com
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Erin Flachsbart

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Oh yeah, I can reload the entire page in the browser many times and it still thinks I have 1 unread story in that Tribune feed. The only way for me to fix it is to force Mark as Read.
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Erin Flachsbart

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FWIW I just opened NewsBlur in Chrome 16.0.912.75 and Safari Version 5.1.2 (6534.52.7) and I have the same behavior.
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Erin Flachsbart

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Also, amusingly enough, I now have 2 ghost items in that feed.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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What's your username?
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Erin Flachsbart

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wardepartment
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Sternenstaub

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No yellow flash to be seen, reloading's not working.
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EKM

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I have seen this issue too but the phantom number usually clears out after the 60 second refresh. Firefox 9.0.1/Ubuntu
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Hanoran

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I see this every now and then too, but it clears itself up pretty quickly.
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Paul

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I saw this a lot with folders that had YouTube feeds in them. Refreshing didn't help and as noted above, only marking the folder as read made it go away. I don't think I've seen it in a while, though.
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Paul

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I've currently got some ghost items in my feed (account Laptop765) The "YouTube" folder shows 1 unread but clicking on it shows no entries. The "Gaming" folder shows 5 unread but clicking on it only shows two. I'll leave the folders alone until you say otherwise so you can take a look at them.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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The question is always -- do the counts correct themselves if you refresh the page? If so, then it's something I'm going to be fixing at some point soon. In fact, I have an experimental branch that gives real-time counts, but it's a bit unstable and doesn't work perfectly yet. If the counts stay the same, let me know. And if you *really* want the counts to be correct, just insta-fetch the stories and the counts should be updated.
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Jon

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I have the lingering unread counts as well, but it will auto-correct in a short while.

The delay of not updating right away causes me to click on the link a few more times to get that last article or two that I missed, to find out I didn't miss it.
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Paul

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They do not correct after refreshing (I tried a Ctrl+F5 refresh and also logged into an Incognito window to eliminate caching as a factor.) I also insta-fetched one of the broken feeds and it still shows five unread even though clicking on the folder only shows two unread feeds. Insta-fetching one of the others did result in the unread feed entry turning up in the folder.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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The real reason this isn't getting fixed is because I can't reproduce it. Unread counts are nearly always correct for me. I'm not sure why they update incorrectly, and I've tried to place a bunch of checks to make sure it is correct. It'd be nice if after you exit the feed, the unread count is updated, or even periodically updated to match what the server has. But it should always be correct.

Anybody know of a clear way to reproduce this? Does this happen constantly or just annoyingly often enough?
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peter.kouzmine

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I'm not sure if this helps, but I only encounter this issue on one feed: Al-Jazeera English. I've never had this problem with any other feed. Could it be related to how certain sites write their feeds?
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tedder42

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it happens constantly on my feed, reloading or waiting doesn't fix it. I don't know how to reproduce it. Perhaps steal all of the entries from a couple of my folders? My "photog" folder has claimed one entry all day, "tv" currently claims one that isn't there.
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Erin Flachsbart

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I've been keeping an eye on my feeds to see if there's any truth to the YouTube hypothesis. I would say it happens to me about twice a week. I have one now :)
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ambrosis

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I have this issue on at least one folder once a day, no youtube feeds though.



Never bothered me enough to mention it until I saw someone already had!
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Woah, hold up. Are these numbers *only* on the folders themselves? If so, I know exactly what is causing it and can fix it in a little bit.
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tedder42

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I only look at the folders, not the feeds, but I just verified a couple of things. Two folders show there are unread entries. When I expand them, they say a specific feed has the unread entry/entries. When I click on that feed there are zero unread entries in it. Counter still doesn't reset.
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Jon

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It happens sometimes on feeds, sometimes on folders.
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Jon

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From what I can tell, it's also showing up ghosted in the API, as BLUR for Android shows the ghost counts too.
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Erin Flachsbart

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I get them on both feeds and folders.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Just deployed a fix for the ghosting of counts on folders. Still haven't figured out how to reliably reproduce ghosting on feeds.
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Paul

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I've got some in my Gaming folder (account: Laptop765) if you're able to look at it.
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Erin Flachsbart

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Possible correlation! I always have the intelligence trainer turned all the way off to red. I misclicked on the trainer slider and moved it to the green setting, and my ghost items mysteriously vanished! I have reproduced this both on the desktop and in the iPhone app.
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Matt

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Just weighing in here as well, I've got a ghost on a feed right now - Sh*t My Pets Ruined. I also had the same issue with a youtube feed (which I've since unsubscribed from)
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rchlnnmllr

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I've got five ghosts on three different feeds right now. Apartment Therapy has one, CNN and Atlantic Wire have two each.

Refreshing does not correct the count, nor does insta-fetch. I can mark all as read, but within a day or two, the ghosts are back.

I use NewsBlur on Chrome on my windows machine at work and my mac at home. Switching between the two does not affect the count.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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What's your username? I'll take a look in a bit.
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rchlnnmllr

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rachelannemiller

Thanks!
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rchlnnmllr

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Hmmm. Since you took a look at my feeds, my CNN feed is marking everything as read before I even see it.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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There was an odd story in the CNN feed from the year 4700. Not sure how that got there, but I removed the story. The feed should now update correctly. Let me know if it does.
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rchlnnmllr

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Looks good. Thanks!
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Eureka! Haven't solved it yet, but I figured out that the problem is related to how read story dates are recorded.

If you read a story, it's story_date gets saved, but then if the story date changes (which happens often enough), and the dates are on the wrong side of the mark_feed_read date, then the story will be marked as unread, but it will be shown as read.

Two possible solutions:

1) Easy: don't let stories change their date. I'm learning towards this. That means all ghosting will quickly dissolve over the next 2 weeks (probably sooner). And if you hit mark as read, it'll be fixed immediately.
2) Hard: figure out a way to allow stories to change their published date. This will require me to not only grab all read stories beyond a certain date, but also include any that match a guid. This means feed unread count refreshes will take longer.

I'm going to mull it over today, but I am leaning towards the easier solution, if only because it's a better solution overall as well. But consider this nearly fixed.
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tedder42

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I'm happy you figured out how it happens.
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romkyns

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Hi Samuel, I’ve just had this happen to one of my feeds - though it sounds like you already know what’s up. In any case, if you want to take a look, the feed is "Raymond Chen: The Old New Thing". It’s showing one unread story exactly as described in the original report.

Regarding solutions - perhaps you could identify a story by a hash of the whole thing, so if the date changes NewsBlur will just see it as a new story appearing. Apologies if this isn’t applicable; I don’t know the details of how NewsBlur keeps track of stories...
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Of course, it's a bit more complicated than that. But I'm prototyping a new way to keep track of unread stories. The great thing is that it will make river of news (folder view) much, much faster, as well as making the average load time for feed loads go from ~100-150ms to 50-100ms. I'll be developing it after I launch social, which is now in private beta.
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kyle.niemeyer

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I'm still getting this occasionally; it's happened with John Scalzi's "Whatever" feed a couple times now.

After reading today's article (and marking it as read), it will indicate a new unread article and start scrolling down my list of (read) articles, without ever actually getting to an unread article—and maxing out my CPU and generally stalling Safari in the process.
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Erin Flachsbart

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Yup, I also got several ghost items yesterday. My CPU choked and I had to restart Firefox.
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ojiikun

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I get this, too, pretty frequently (several times a day).

Fun meta-bug: if you read newest-at-the-top and start-with-oldest-unread, the river of news starts infinitely loading downwards, looking for the ghost unread item! Fortunately, hitting ctrl-A stops things, but it is always a touch alarming when it happens.
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kyle.niemeyer

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Yeah, the infinite downward search is fun... especially as it stalls Safari (in my case).