Wednesday December 13, 2006

Tweaking the Feed

A few months ago I switched this blog's RSS feed to FeedBurner, and at the same time, I made a small tweak to the feed, one which I've been wondering if those of you using feed readers find handy or annoying.  At the bottom of every post in the feed, there's a line that says "Comments(n)", where n is the number of comments that have been left on the post.  The effect is that when comments are left on a post, the text of the post changes, causing it to show up again as unread in some feed readers (notably Bloglines).  I thought this might be convenient for people who want to follow comment threads, but it's possible I've out-clevered myself.

What do you think?  Helpful or horrible?

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
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I subscribe to over 100 blogs. Fortunately only a few of them show updates for every comment, so when I see one of these, I can recognize and remember if it's a post I've already read or a new post. I'd rather see only new post notifications; if they all showed updates for every comment, it would get out of hand. If I'm really interested in following comments on a particular post, I'll bookmark it in some other way, but for occasional visits, not to check it every time there's a new comment. Thanks for soliciting reader opinion!

Posted by: Margaret at Dec 13, 2006 9:30:13 AM

If anyone finds it too annoying, they can always change their subscription (at least in Bloglines) so newly-updated already-seen posts don't show as new. (Click "edit subscription" on the feed, choose "Ignore" from the "Updated Items" drop-down.) I think it's fine the way you have it, because I do like to follow comment threads.

Posted by: Erin at Dec 13, 2006 10:29:12 AM

I found it annoying, then I switched from Bloglines to Google Reader.

Posted by: Steve at Dec 13, 2006 11:10:38 AM

On google reader it only shows the number of comments as of the time google checked the feed, so a lot of the posts (most) show up with zero comments.

Posted by: tehgeekmeister at Dec 13, 2006 11:35:32 AM

I get the RSS feed through Apple's Safari web browser. I have no problems, and I appreciate the comments link through the RSS feed

Posted by: Eric Anondson at Dec 13, 2006 1:18:11 PM

tehgeekmeister, in my experience Google Reader updates older posts in a feed if they've changed, without marking them new again - so whenever it sees that the number of comments on a TstT post has changed, it updates the post accordingly. At the moment, for instance, I see Google Reader showing 2 comments on the "WikiName?" post and 6 comments on this one, where it showed 0 comments on "WikiName?" when the post first appeared on my feed.

Does it not display that way for you? Maybe there's a setting we have set different ways...

Posted by: Chris Anthony at Dec 13, 2006 1:36:01 PM

Keep the comments count, please. I like being able to follow comments threads this way in Bloglines. And since it distinguish betweenes "new" and "updated", you can easily keep from seeing the posts again if you prefer.

Posted by: Mark Reed at Dec 13, 2006 2:25:26 PM

Hm. The construct "distinguish betweenes" is certainly a novel way of forming the 3p sg of "to distinguish between"; sadly, it was caused by a cursor teleport during editing, rather than a linguistic slip. In a vocal utterance it would have been interesting indeed...

Posted by: Mark Reed at Dec 13, 2006 2:27:25 PM

it's fine to me, but it wouldn't even be an issue if typepad caught up with other blogging solutions and offered comment feeds.

Posted by: EFL Geek at Dec 13, 2006 2:58:12 PM

Other blogging solutions like what? Do blog hosting sites like LiveJournal and Blogger and BlogSpot offer comment feeds?

Posted by: Marcos at Dec 13, 2006 6:08:19 PM


wordpress has comment feeds so does any other CMS that allows you to make your feeds in the templates such as expression engine or even MT.

Posted by: EFL Geek at Dec 14, 2006 4:44:20 AM

By "comment feed", do you mean:

  1. A feed containing every comment made to any post on the blog? or
  2. A separate feed for each post containing just the comments for that post?

The first is easy-ish, the second is...well, I'd have to think about it, but it sounds doable.

Posted by: The Tensor at Dec 14, 2006 5:07:03 AM

I prefer option 1, but option 2 is okay though I rarely subscribe to those kind of feeds. Anyhow it's your blog, I was more whining about typepad blogs in general not having comment feeds.

Posted by: EFL Geek at Dec 14, 2006 5:30:19 AM

The comments feed seemed like a good win-win solution, so I implemented it. The main feed for the site is still here, but it no longer includes the incrementing comment counts—once you've read a post, it'll stay read. If you also want to subscribe to a feed containing all comments made on any post, that's here.

Let me know if you have any trouble. Otherwise, enjoy!

Posted by: The Tensor at Dec 14, 2006 6:43:05 AM

subscribed - if it is that easy, I don't know why more typepad people are not setting up comment feeds...

Posted by: EFL Geek at Dec 14, 2006 12:58:26 PM