One of the topics I return to again and again here is Google Reader. I was never tempted by Google Reader’s first incarnation, but since their overhaul nearly a year ago, I have used it nearly every day, for the most part very happily. It was cleaner and faster than Bloglines (and yes, I know they have a new beta out), it tied into Gmail very nicely, and it let me manage my feeds more easily than Bloglines.
My few regular readers know that not everything about Google Reader is wine and roses. Some time back, I had a drastic run in with “Mark All As Read,” which lacks an undo. Ouch. Still, I realize that was user error, even if I think they should offer a way to recover from said user error.
The bug is that Google Reader, at some arbitrary interval, decides with no warning and no recourse to heave some portion of your unread feeds over the side. For the reason that it’s unannounced and next to impossible to reconstruct, I consider it data loss, and I think that is a cardinal sin for any computer system. I had approximately 1,000 unread feeds at the start of the weekend, and the yesterday that dropped to a little more than 600. Given my style of reading my feeds, that’s not just 400 feeds gone, it’s 400 feeds that represented the best 60 or so feeds per day over a 7-day period (approximately August 20 through August 26. I was looking forward to reading those things.
I do no know what triggers this habit. I first thought it was too many unread items, but when I return from a week away, Google Reader seems unconcerned by my queue of 3,300 unread items. Then I thought it was the age of the unread item. In May, the cutoff was between 3-4 weeks, and then in July I was caught at about two weeks. Yesterday was also about two weeks, so I guess that could be a pattern.
Anyway, here’s the thing, some time Googling around suggests to me this is not a widespread issue, so I wonder… is this something I am doing wrong? Does no one else read their feeds like I do? I don’t know. I wish there was a better way to contact the Google Reader team – I’d like to think they could help me avoid this easily, but maybe this is the bug it seems to be, and in that case I’d like to help them track it down.
P.S. Frustrated by this issue, I delved deep into my feeds to grab the unread items from the “All Items” display. I had to wade back nearly 6,000 posts to grab everything I could, and I was amazed how Firefox bogged down when asked to chew through that much dreck. One should not have to muck about like that to read one’s feeds.