November 13, 2014 at 8:06 AM by Dr. Drang
This post is a just an experiment I’m running to see how certain RSS services respond to updates. I’ll be making changes to it and checking how quickly the services switch to the newer versions. Those who use PubSubHubbub ought to respond very quickly, but we’ll see. If I learn something interesting, I’ll write a post about it.
If you’re seeing this in your RSS reader, I apologize for the lack of content. I needed a real, public blog post on which to run the experiment, and I wanted complete control over both the post and its feed. Putting something here seemed like the best way to achieve those goals.
Consider it akin to a sponsored post—possibly interesting to readers but mostly in service to the writer.
Update 11/13/14 8:29 AM
It took Feedbin over 20 minutes just to show the original version, which seems weird. Anyway, let’s see how this first updated is handled.
Update 11/13/14 10:11 AM
Well, it didn’t happen right away, but Feedly, NewsBlur, and BazQux are now all showing the previous update. Feedbin and FeedWrangler are not. We’ll see how things progress as the day wears on.
Update 11/13/14 2:44 PM
As best I can tell, NewsBlur hasn’t picked up the second update. Feedly and BazQux have, but they sure take their own sweet time about it.
I got a tweet from Feedbin telling me that it uses the nonstandard1
<updated> tag to determine whether it should update a post. Since I’m in control of my feed, it’s not a big deal for me to add that tag. I’ll add it “by hand” now to see if and when Feedbin changes what it serves for this post.
Update 11/13/14 2:55 PM
Whoa! Feedly and BazQux updated in just a few minutes. Feedbin still hasn’t, but that might be because I added the
<updated> tag with a date formatted the way I thought RSS feeds were supposed to be formatted
Thu, 13 Nov 2014 20:44:00 +0000
instead of the way it’s shown in the Gist Feedbin linked to
No wonder Brent Simmons got out of this business.
Update 11/13/14 3:45 PM
<updated> is an Atom element, so I’ve changed how it appears in my (RSS) feed from
<updated>Thu, 13 Nov 2014 21:45:00 +0000</updated>
So far, this has had no effect on Feedbin. It’s still showing the original post without any of the updates.
Update 11/14/14 8:51 AM
I’ve given up on Feedbin; whatever legerdemain is necessary to get it to update is beyond me.
I didn’t expect Feed Wrangler to update, and it hasn’t.
NewBlur did update at some point since yesterday afternoon, but I don’t know when because I wasn’t monitoring it last night. This tweet says it updates its cache by checking the current content, but I have no idea how often that happens.
Both Feedly and BazQux use PubSubHubbub and they updated throughout the day, although the time it took to update varied from almost immediately to half an hour or so. I’m not sure if they check the
<atom:updated> element, so with this update I’m going to include that tag in the feed but will not ping the PubSubHubbub servers.
Update 11/14/14 11:42 AM
Well, well, well. Some interesting things are afoot.
NewsBlur updated its version of the post almost immediately after this morning’s change. Is it now looking for the
<atom:updated> element, or did my update just happen to coincide with its scheduled content check?
I also noticed that Feedbin has started subscribing to my Superfeedr hub, something it wasn’t doing yesterday. That didn’t do it any good with the last update, because I deliberately didn’t ping the hub, and its version of the post hasn’t changed. I will be pinging after this update, though, so we’ll see if it finally starts showing something other than the original version of the post.
Feedly and BazQux updated themselves sometime in the last three hours, but I’m not sure when. Definitely not as fast as NewsBlur did, but I can’t say more than that. I suppose if I really want to know how fast these updates are coming, I should set up some sort of automated tool to monitor the various feed-handling sites. Maybe with Fake.
Update 11/15/14 9:56 AM
This will be the last of the updates. It’s been a frustrating exercise in that I’ve gathered some facts, but I don’t think I’ve gained any knowledge. I don’t have a framework of understanding that allows me to predict behavior or make confident choices about RSS as either a reader or a publisher. Quite a bit different than it was in the Google Reader days.
At some point in the next day or two I’ll try to gather my thoughts and put together a coherent post on the topic.
There’s little that’s truly standard in RSS—it looks like HTML back in the “best viewed in Netscape Navigator” days. ↩︎