Bloglines: Patching Holes While the Water Rises


I really enjoy all the interesting reading and conversation in the blogosphere. And I enjoy experimenting with new technology. That’s why I write about it so much here.

But sometimes, just like in the real world, I don’t want anything new or challenging. I just want stuff to work the way it’s supposed to.

Let’s talk about Bloglines for a minute. When I first tried it, it must have been having some technical difficulties, because almost none of my feeds were pulling any content. I became frustrated and went back to an offline reader. Then, because I really want my read and unread items to be the same whether I’m at home or at the office, I tried some other online readers. Then I went back to Bloglines and things seemed much better.

Until now. Now I have two problems. One that is a nuisance and one that is driving me absolutely freaking nuts.

The nuisance is that for some unknown reason Bloglines is showing my main page as an .html file when people read my feeds in Bloglines, even though my feed contains an .shtml file reference. This means that if someone clicks on my site to actually go to my site, they get an error. I wrote Bloglines customer support on 2/2/06. I got a response on 2/4/06 saying they are looking into it. Nothing since. Maybe they are looking into it, but I don’t get the same feeling I get when Dave Sifry responds to my Technorati problems (we’re still working on the new link deletes the oldest link problem, but we’ll get there). I know that Technorati will make things right, so the little problems here and there are much less annoying. I wish I had the same warm fuzzy about Bloglines.

The bigger problem is that, for some insanely frustrating reason, a bunch of my posts show up for a second time as partial feeds every few days. I have all of my settings configured to full feeds, yet this keeps happening. Like many people, I am a big believer in full feeds, and every time this happens I get a few reader emails telling me they are going to unsubscribe from my feeds because the sender thinks I am syndicating partial feeds. So for no good reason, my reader base that I am working like a dog to build shrinks a little and I have to start over. This is extremely frustrating.

I realize that this could be a Feedburner problem, but I talked to the co-founder of Feedburner about the .shtml problem and we concluded that problem was not on Feedburner’s end. Again, I just want this stuff to work for me, not against me.

As an aside, I am not the only person whose feed is nutty in Bloglines. Thomas Hawk‘s feed in Bloglines is totally random and has been for a while. That Microsoft dinner story showed up as the top new post about 25 times along with a random assortment of other old posts. I saw that Allchin cat’s picture so much I started thinking I was related to him.

If my feed and Thomas’ feed are goofed up, it’s likely that others are goofed up too.

I don’t want Bloglines to change my life. And generally I still think it’s the best online reader. I just want it to work and not to create new problems I don’t have the time to engineer around.

Sometimes I just want things to work like they are supposed to.

Update: Eric Scalf tells me in a comment to another post about this same problem that this may be a Google issue (Blogger doesn’t host my blog (it’s hosted on my server) but I do use it to publish my blog pages). If this is the case then the first person who can recreate my template and move my blog to some other platform for anything close to a reasonable price has a job waiting- and I mean it.