How do I mark as unread?

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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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:…).

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

Along with supporting a “mark as unread” feature, I too wish that marking old posts as read automatically was only an option.

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.

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?

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?

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.

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

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 :wink:

I couldn’t agree more!

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 :wink:

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.

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?

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.)

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.

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.


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.


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.

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.

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.