How do I mark as unread?

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If I click something, it marks it as read, even if I don't have time to actually read it. How do I mark it as unread?
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Endolith

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Posted 8 years ago

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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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I've actually built this feature early on, but it presents logistical issues that are not particularly easy to overcome. The issue is how I track was is unread and what is read. If the story falls within the 2 week zone of unready (notice that no story is unread after being 2 weeks old), then I could insert the read/unread flags and move the last_unread_date down to match. Not ideal, but possible.

If the story is more than 2 weeks old, I'll have to store a separate pointer that needs to be read from both the River of News and the individual feed itself. Much more tricky.

It's a priority and I even find myself wanting it occasionally, so it'll get built soon enough. And I think the vast majority of the time, it's a story you just read that you want unread, not some far off story that you want to mark as unread. I can handle that case far better, so it might be weird that you can only mark as unread a story that is less than 2 weeks old, but it's a stopgap that might hit 99% of cases. I might go ahead and implement that. (And if you look at the code, you'll notice it's all hooked up, including the icon in the story context menu. See here for more code: https://github.com/samuelclay/NewsBlu....
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Endolith

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Wait. All posts older than 2 weeks are marked Read? Can I turn that off?
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Cait

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Along with supporting a "mark as unread" feature, I too wish that marking old posts as read automatically was only an option.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Google Reader marks all posts older than 1 month as read. I'm going to move to that model within a few weeks, as long as my db upgrades happen successfully (they will). But the issue remains that marking stories older than that cutoff as unread is an unsolved issue for now. I'm going to work on it sooner rather than later.
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mgunes

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This is my #1 problem with NewsBlur as well. It's especially disorienting in the "Original" view: stories are marked read as soon as I hover over them, and I end up trying to dodge the mouse pointer so as not to hit stories while scrolling. Isn't the real solution to this problem implementing a time delay or conditional mechanism that only marks the story as read after it remains selected / hovered over for a certain period, and/or on some other heuristics?
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Interesting. I really like that idea. Set a timeout before marking as read. If X seconds have passed and it is still the current story, mark it as read. Would that be a good customization? Would you like to be able to define X in your Preferences?
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mgunes

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If the definition of "the current story" includes stories that are hovered over in the "Original" view, as well as those that are clicked in the lower pane, yes; any reasonable default timeout value would be a huge improvement over the current immediate mark-as-read behavior. I'd like there to be a good default value that most people won't feel a need to customize, at least immediately, but customizing it in Preferences would be useful. I'd set it at 10 to 15 seconds myself, since that's about the time I'll take to decide whether or not to read most stories at a given time, but the defaults I've come across in similar software have been much shorter, at 3 or 5 seconds.
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Endolith

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Just whip up some eye tracking software for our webcams to see whether we've read things or not :)
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am

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Yes, please: add something in order to mark a story as unread, please, please, please.

NewsBlur is amazing, and I really believe you are some kind of a genius. The user experience with NewsBlur is unbelievable: it's absolutely one of the best webapp ever. The lack of this little, silly feature is the only very annoying part of newsblur.

If I could choose, I would also like to *disable* the auto-mark-as-read feature. I use newsblur to read long articles, and very often I just read the first few lines and decide to read it immediately or later, hence I would like to manually mark read/unread status. A lot of time, especially reading long posts, I don't have the time to read all the article and I procrastinate. Again, an article should be marked read when the user reads the last line, right? Let her manually mark the status, or at least, let her choose ;)
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shaila.meeker

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I couldn't agree more!
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am

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Unfortunately, in the world of aggregators this seems to be the standard: items are marked read as soon as they are selected. See Shrook, for example. Or Google Reader (which is even worst: you cannot mark back a post as unread).

For a lot of aggregators, "selected" means "read", which is balooney to me. Completely useless and very very annoying.

I quit Google Reader for these reasons.
But newsblur is too much amazing to be abandoned. I think I'm loving it. This silly lack-of-feature must be fixed ;)
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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I think the user-editable delay on marking as read is going to be coming within the next couple weeks. That seems like the easiest solution that gets us most of the way there.

And as I've mentioned before, marking a story as unread from the past 2 weeks isn't terribly difficult. Any further back is much harder. We'll see what I can come up with.
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mgunes

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Samuel, I'm delighted to hear that you'll be implementing the delayed auto-mark-as-read feature I suggested; indeed, it's going to take us 90% of the way to reasonable usability regarding marking stories as read with little effort. Just to make sure I understand it correctly: is it going to apply to hovering over stories in the Original and Story views, as well as selecting them in the list? As in: the story only gets marked as read upon n seconds of hovering over the story area (no clicks in the list), instead of immediately?
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Let's spec this out: when you hover over a story, a silent timer begins. If at the end of this timer you are still hovering over the story, it is marked as read. Clicking on a story immediately marks it as read.

Considering the possibility of returning to the story, it resets the counter. The counter, by default, is set to 0 just as it works now. You wouldn't want more than 5 seconds, would you? How would you mark it as read if you want to spend less than 5 seconds on it? A keyboard shortcut? One that would mark it read, unlike the (n) next unread, (j/k) next/previous story, which would continue to leave the story unread under 5 seconds? It's getting complicated, so is there an easy way to mark stories as read in other programs that you use? (I believe Outlook had something like this.)
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Carina C. Zona

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In my desktop reader, an item is marked as read only when I deliberately select it, either by clicking on it directly or by using the "next unread article" command. There's also a manual toggle.

IMO, Google Reader et al are presuming knowledge that doesn't really exist. As it any time-based solution. Sometimes I'm skimming, or I get interrupted; only the reader knows whether s/he considers any given article "read" yet or not.

So my preference would be for only deliberate selections (e.g. clicks) to be treated as read. If the consensus is around a timer, though, how about making that user-configurable? My personal threshold would be at least 60 seconds. Whereas for someone accustomed to Google Reader, even 3-5 seconds might feel weirdly excessive.
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am

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I totally agree.
No timer could ever guess when I'll have read the last word. A setting in preferences could be useful for someone, I'm sure: anyway, how could I answer the question "How many seconds do you need to read a generic article?". Come on, I don't know! Joel Spolsky writes tons of words. xfck requires just a breeze.

Imagine a machine able to automatically turn a book or magazine page for you, when you have completely read it. Would you project it time-based?

What's wrong with the solution "only the reader knows when she's done with an article, so let her communicate it"?

Probably, a lot of people will be happy with the select-and-mark-read approach; some other with a user-definable timer. I'm in the group of user who would appreciate s simple toggle button (or shortcut): mark read/unread.

Cheers!
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am

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Another approach: an article could be marked read not when "selected", that is "entered", but on "exit".
When the user select the next article, ok, this is the right moment to decide if the previous article should be marked read. The reader could use two different shortcuts: the simplest one (for example, cursor down) has the default behaviour (for example: mark read); anyway, the user could hit a different shortcut to exit the article leaving it unread.

Hey, wanna know a feature that no aggregator has and would made newsblur really unique? Let it remember the exact position the user was reading an article. That is: let the user (or the system, automatically) bookmark what she was reading. Most PDF reader has this feature, and if you are used to read pdf books you surely found it useful. This feature would open a new approach: mark the article read if the user reached the last line.
I think this would be very hard to implement. My 2 cents, just in order to complete the picture.

Bye!

PS. And yes, I'm still in love with newsblur. I started studying it's code (unfortunately. I'm a py newbie). I'm going to be a paid user very soon.
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alisonjhess

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Just want to add my two cents. Recently converted user, premium account. I looked around and I really support this interface. Please PLEASE implement a mark-as-unread option. I think it's sometimes unavoidable that you come across a story that you want to go back to (because now isn't the time you can/want to read it). I have no problem with articles being marked as "read" when I open them initially, but I want the ability to back out of that characterization without having to mix it in with "starred" articles, which I reserve for more impactful articles that I want easier access to.

Currently, the lack of this option is a hurdle to the natural way that I utilize my feeds. From the looks of this community, I'm not the only one.
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Yeah, I've been noticing it too. I have so many high priorities right now, but this is way up there. I'm going to do something about it soon enough. I really hope this month lends itself to getting this feature done.
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admin

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Another vote for mark as unread. I'm doing this awkward favorite-then-read motion right now and it's awkward.
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Kazriko Redclaw

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I've gotten around this by just tagging them all as favorite and getting to them later. I decided that I wouldn't use favorite for anything else other than save-for-later-reading.
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After months of work, tuning, and fixing up, this has finally launched. It works for any story that is from the past 2 weeks. Unfortunately, it's waaaay more work to make Mark as Unread work beyond 2 weeks, but I think this addresses 99% of cases. If it's beyond 2 weeks, it wouldn't be unread anyway, and you can star/save it at that point.

Hope you enjoy. Thanks to all of you for the encouragement and insistence that this gets done. Keep it up and let me know your ideas about other features.
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Jeffrey Yasskin

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I can't find the button for this. I'd expected it to be in Android's "..." menu, but all I see there is Share, View original, Send to, Adjust text size, and Save.
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ojiikun

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We just added Save about a week ago. Mark-Unread is on the short list for coming weeks. I was hoping save would tide folks over in the mean time!
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poprace

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I have been doing the same as Kazriko Redclaw. It is OK as a stop-gap solution, but it's not ideal.

Along these same lines I was wondering if we could simply have two ways to mark stories (either two different coloured stars, or perhaps different symbols).

In this way, one could use still mark certain items as a favourite, for future reference, and use the other symbol to mark items to read later.

I think it would be a very helpful improvement until such time as true read later functionality could be developed.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Going to assume that we were writing our comments at the same time. :-)
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poprace

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Haha, yes! My suggestion was instantly outdated.

Actually, it is still not a bad idea to be able to mark stories to either save or read later, rather than sending them to an external service. However, with the addition of 'mark as unread' it's not really important. Thanks for adding this feature! :)
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phairupegiont

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Hi, I don't know if my question should go into a different thread.

Today I added a new feed (a webcomic), and I'm planning to read it all from the beginning.
So, I want to mark everything as unread, and then proceed to read them at my own pace.

It does not seem to be possible, because I didn't see any "mark all as unread" button?
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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I suppose this wouldn't be extremely difficult to implement, but nothing like it exists right now. Is this something that happens often?
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Kazriko

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The problem with doing this is that most RSS feeds only give you the last 10 or so items, so unless Newsblur had been keeping all of those records going back to when the comic began, you won't be able to read the entire thing through RSS.
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phairupegiont

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Well basically it happens everytime I add a new feed :)
But Kazriko is right, if there is no way to navigate all the items of a feed other than the latest, then marking all as read is useless.
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phairupegiont

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Oh wait, there is a "Reading from old to new" thread... Maybe it is possible after all.
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xav

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I can't find this "Reading from old to new" thread, was it removed?

I'm also very, very interested in having all lines marked as unread when importing a new feed.

This could also be done by doing a "bulk" mark as unread => possibility to select multiples stories and an action on them would be really handy in some cases.
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mgunes

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Samuel, thanks for your work on this. Are you still considering implementing the "delayed mark as read" feature we discussed previously? Is there something blocking it?
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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Of course I am. Tons of other stuff to do, and little time to do it in. If only this was a full-time job, we'd be all set.

The trick is figuring out how this works. Does clicking a story title mark as read instantly? (Maybe.) Does hovering your mouse over a story mark as read with a delay? (Yes.) Scrolling? Using arrow keys? All of them?

I'm thinking of just not allowing any instant reading and you have to read a story for a minimum for X seconds (set by the user, but between .5-5 seconds). But I still want to indicate the story you're on, so that's gotta get built.

Not overly complicated, but it'll take a day or two to get right, and I only have so much time. If you write this up as a single get satisfaction idea and folks vote on it, it'll help get this done sooner.
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mgunes

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Good to know, and thanks for your reply. Sure, I'll try to formalize what I'm thinking of with a rough spec sometime next week, and we can further discuss and refine it there.
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mgunes

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Sorry to have slacked off on this, but I'm really satisfied with your current implementation; especially the fact that it works as expected with the original view. There does seem to be one minor bug: I've set the timeout to five seconds, but the first story on every feed (regardless of which view I use) gets marked as read in two to three seconds of hovering on instead of five.
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Jeena Jena

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Good for you. I quit using newsblur for this lacking feature
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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mgunes - I'm not able to repro that at all. Im using 5s and it always takes 5s. Do you have something like "Auto-select first unread story" turned on?
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mgunes

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Yes; in the preferences, "When opening a site" is set to "Open the newest unread story". I'll experiment with different timings and get back to you.
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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To give some more closure to this thread, mark as unread has now been added to the iOS app as well.
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Amy Gibbons

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Just moved to newsblur from Google Reader and am loving it! Thanks for all your work on this. (And by the way it was the picture of the cute beagle dog that made my husband and I join with a paid subscription. As beagle owners we understand how much they enjoy eating...)

Any word on when the Android app will receive mark as unread functionality?
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Samuel Clay, Official Rep

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I'm hoping Android gets mark as unread later this month.
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Arlo Rose

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I hope you add the ability to mark items older than two weeks old as unread. One of my most used features of Reader is knowing I can ignore a feed for a month or two, or keep some meaningful items unread indefinitely.
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ardent

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ETA on mark-unread in the Android client?
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Nigel Linnett

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Another vote here for adding the mark unread functionality to android. Really missing that and the "save for later" from the Web
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Cedric Meury

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I'd also like to have a "mark as unread" feature in the Android app. The functionality is crucial to my work-flow and right now I can barely use the app and mostly revert to the web application.
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ojiikun

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While mark-unread is still a week or two out, if you update to the latest version, you should be able to save stories. Hope it can serve as a decent workaround for a bit!
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Aaron Chan

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Another vote for mark as unread on android.
It would be nice to do it on the article list view. Possibly a swipe to the right to toggle read/unread.
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olivier.leclant

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Hello, people of this thread! Tonight I have decided to take some time to write about how badly I want unread-forever items. I will tell my story here and try to sum up everything, maybe it will be too long so I apologize in advance. Please tell me if my understanding is incorrect.

I've been a Newsblur user for maybe 2 years now, since I switched from Reader when they deleted sharing to promote G+. Google Reader was nearly perfect for me, but Newsblur was better on some points.

First, the intelligence trainer: it looks like something I could use, even if I haven't bothered to try it yet.
Second, I like the fact that Newsblur is open source and not owned by a big company (who can take stupid commercial decisions like killing an excellent product). I am happy to pay to encourage such a model, and to reward Samuel who has done an amazing job creating this.

Newsblur also has some drawbacks compared to Reader. When I started using Newsblur, it didn't have sharing at all, but now it does, and it is good, in some ways even better than Reader. I don't find it perfect yet. With Reader I could also 'create a note' and share some custom text, and I can't find this in Newsblur. But it is only a minor drawback.

By far the most important problem I have now is the unread-forever thing. As others already explained better than me in this thread, there are two main ways to use a RSS reader. The First Way is to not read everything and just find interesting reads in the 'latest' things. A two-week unread limit and intelligence trainer work well for this kind of 'news' feed. The Second Way is for feeds that one wants to read exhaustively (aka 'the most interesting things of the internet have not necessarily happened less than two weeks ago').

When one wants to read everything from a source, there has to be a persistent way to store if an item was read or not. With Reader I could use the 'unread' state for this. With Newsblur that is not possible because of the two weeks limit, which (if my understanding is correct) stems from technical issues. And for the use I have in mind, pushing the limit to one month would be totally useless.
So I thought, maybe there can be an other way, maybe I can use 'Save this story' as to store my unread state. Unfortunately there are two problems to this. First I don't have a button for 'mark all items from this feed as saved' (specifying a time range would be even better). Second, I can't easily navigate to any part of the feed, only the latest items. The lazy loading makes it long and unconvenient to find something or to reach the first item chronologically, it's twitter-style O(n) unsearchability.

I haven't looked at the source code, so I don't know how those two points (keeping unread state and navigating old items) could be addressed. However, it is my dearest wish that one day I could read my feeds using the 'Second Way'.
Dear Samuel, please find a way to make this happen. In case I didn't mention it, I am ready to pay more specifically for this.