Feeds Disappearing Again

Ars Technica at least has disappeared from my feeds again. I’m not entirely sure when it disappeared, but it’s not the first time (for me its actually the third or fourth), but here’s the most recent where I commented.


Coincidentally, on that previous thread, Samuel, you’ve got Ars as https://www.newsblur.com/site/6223925/ars-technica which is showing “OH NO! THERE WAS AN ERROR!”

I know the Ars feed is clearly problematic, but a feed simply disappearing with no user interaction or notification at all still seems bad. Can I reiterate my previous request that the cleanup scripts simply move the feeds to potentially be merged into a holding area and require user interaction, or to automatically shoot out an OPML email backup like you do when we do a mass change of feeds?

Edit: Since I got a backup OPML file automatically June 24th, I just checked. The Ars feed I was using was http://feeds.arstechnica.com/arstechnica/index/ which appears to be their primary feed.

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So I want to make clear that there is no mass change of feeds. What’s happening here is that Ars Technica has some technical issue where they forward the URL to a new feed. NewsBlur obliges and changes the URL. But if that URL already exists, then NewsBlur resubscribes everybody to the new URL. For some reason that’s not working correctly for a handful of the same feeds. 

I checked the verbose logs but they only extend back to August 5th, and the less verbose logs show that this site last had new stories back on July 26th. So I can’t find out what happens to the feed, unfortunately. I would have *loved* to see what parameters caused it to merge itself with the broken feed.

For the time being, it looks like this is the Ars Technica that took over: http://www.newsblur.com/site/6211465/ars-technica.

A bit less than a year ago I added an extra layer of protection so that this would not happen. It did stop almost all merges, but the ones that happen now must happen or the feed will no longer fetch. I would just keep the feed around, but it’s an exception feed. I think what might be happening is that their server goes down for an extended period of time and is causing NewsBlur to allow the feed to be switched out from underneath.

The idea is that broken feeds can be fixed by any single user and fixes for everybody. But to get into that state, a feed needs to be broken for 20 consecutive fetches. For popular feeds, 20 consecutive fetches can happen quite quickly. I added a lock so that users couldn’t switch out feeds when this happens, but I’m going to go back in and reevaluate how that lock is working.


While in that feed I also cleaned up the image thumbnail preview so you wouldn’t see the “Digg this” image preview on every tenth story (those without other larger images).

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That makes perfect sense, clearly Ars is popular (near time) and that’s well past that threshold. And forgive me for wording it as a merge, I get what it’s doing, and it’s something that is clearly essential when you have to fetch these things so frequently.

Thanks again!