NB appears to substitute other feeds when the one it is tracking stops working

  • 3
  • Problem
  • Updated 8 years ago
I was following my reddit.com saved links, which worked fine until their blackout. Now their saved rss just returns a basically empty RSS document.

But NB, being the (ahem) helpful soul that it is, decides to show ... some other reddit.com feed to keep me entertained until the feed I subscribed to returns. It appears to be their front page feed, but who knows.

I do not believe in software performing this kind of helpful magic. Please ask NB to stop guessing what I would like to read.
Photo of Matthew Daniel

Matthew Daniel

  • 16 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes

Posted 8 years ago

  • 3
Photo of Jon

Jon

  • 70 Posts
  • 24 Reply Likes
Ah! So that's what happened to my MakeUseOf feed! :<

http://feeds.feedburner.com/Makeuseof

somehow ended up being: OMG! Ubuntu http://feeds.feedburner.com/d0od
Photo of Matt

Matt

  • 22 Posts
  • 4 Reply Likes
Oh good, I had no idea why I had *two* subscriptions to OMG! Ubuntu. That clears it up. :)
Photo of Matthew Daniel

Matthew Daniel

  • 16 Posts
  • 0 Reply Likes
Yes, I've had this problem for quite a while, but the reddit circumstances was the first time I could prove something fishy was going on.

Also, and maybe this needs to be a separate bug, but if you ever have 2 feeds that use the same GUID for an entry (I know, never supposed to happen, right?) then NB will only show one of them. It is unclear what the criteria is for who "wins", but if I were guessing I'd guess the one with the earliest timestamp from NB's PoV.

That's been happening since day one, but it is a ton of work for me to prove it.
Photo of Samuel Clay

Samuel Clay, Official Rep

  • 6514 Posts
  • 1474 Reply Likes
I realize that sometimes the feed fetcher will be proactive in trying to figure out the correct feed. I actually solved this with the new Site Settings dialog. It locks the feed address in place.

I came up with an idea last week that forces all feeds to lock address once they fetch correctly just once. I think it'll work, but I need to build it in. Maybe tonight?

Also, if you change the feed address in Site Settings (right-click on the feed), it will lock the address in place and prevent this from happening again. However, if the feed returns an error again, it'll be out of commission until you fix it. What I also need to do is then re-enable broken feeds after a day or so. So what I need to add is a once_successful flag and use that to both lock the feed address and then force a re-check on broken feeds that were once successful.
Photo of Jon

Jon

  • 70 Posts
  • 24 Reply Likes
I almost think that it *shouldn't* proactively try to guess the feed.

Why would anyone be trying to add an RSS feed that's not valid? If it's not valid/working, say so and ask the user if the alternative found is what the user was looking for. Auto-adding a different feed is bad because the user doesn't know at all it happened until they recognize the bad feed.

Also, if importing feeds from a file that are invalid (like a Google Reader export in my case), the UI should have some sort of "warning sign" that alerts the user and then have nothing show from the feed so the user can adjust the feed on their own.

Like Matthew mentioned, "I do not believe in software performing this kind of helpful magic." Software should try to be helpful *only* when the user asks for it, not turned on by default, especially when it's making active, working feeds into some other feed that we didn't want.
Photo of Samuel Clay

Samuel Clay, Official Rep

  • 6514 Posts
  • 1474 Reply Likes
Great discussion here. Just deployed a fix with a commit message: "No longer being aggressive about finding a feed's correct address if it returns a 400 or 500 error code, unless it is still the first run or an exception refresh."

See the raw changes here: https://github.com/samuelclay/NewsBlu...