Differences in RSS feedreader update times?
May 17, 2013 1:31 PM   Subscribe

Why are there such differences in the updates times or frequencies of various RSS clients? Looking for an alternative to the Google, I'm trying out various readers, specifically InoReader and The Old Reader. If I "mark all as read" in both readers at the same time, two hours later The Old Reader will show (actual example) 67 new items, while InoReader shows 44. This is after refreshing both in my browser.

I'm not actually concerned with speed or timeliness really, but just -- will I ever eventually get all the news with InoReader (which otherwise I prefer). Or will some feeds never show up? If I wait a week will they be equal or will InoReader ever catch up?
I wouldn't mind a few technical details in an answer -- like what's going on behind the scenes, and why are they different.
Also, is there any RSS client out there that is generally acknowledged to update quickly or frequently? (I tried Feedly a month ago and found it relatively slow.)
Bonus points: What's in the name "InoReader"?

posted by feelinggood to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My understanding is that feed aggregators work by periodically accessing the RSS feed, seeing what's new, and then turning around and pushing it to your list. My guess is that InoReader has a longer interval between access, and that you'd get everything else in there if you waited long enough. Google Reader was really good at this because Google's whole business was built on rapidly crawling the entire internet, and they had a massive amount of infrastructure, knowledge, and computing power to throw at it. I don't know if anyone is going to be able to do it quite as well.
posted by kagredon at 1:43 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm currently transitioning from Google reader to The Old Reader and I too noticed this difference in update rate (The Old Reader is significantly slower). I've been cross checking and as far as I've been able to tell everything shows up eventually.

The Old Reader apparently updates twice as often as the average interval between posts in a given feed. Source. It also mentions that if/when they have excess server capacity they will look at increasing the update rate.

Ino - internet slag for I know?
posted by Medw at 1:54 PM on May 17, 2013

I've noticed this issue as well with FeedBin; I think it only checks lower-priority RSS feeds every hour or so.
posted by pipian at 2:01 PM on May 17, 2013

NewsBlur tells you what its update freqency is, and yes, it's based on how often the site updates. For example, from looking at my subscriptions, a blog that hasn't updated in years is checked every 72 to 90 hours, a blog that updates once or twice a month is checked every 52 to 65 minutes, and one that updates every couple days is checked every 26 to 32.5 minutes.
posted by zsazsa at 2:11 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

A discrepancy in number of items can also be due to elimination of redundancy. I've noticed sometimes readers will pop the same post multiple times if the author updates to correct a typo and others won't.
posted by juv3nal at 4:56 PM on May 17, 2013

RSS readers have to contact the associated sites to check for updates. The more often they contact the more resources they use, both on their end and on the site's end (the latter is usually negligible, but sometimes not.) So sites do their best to minimize the communication. Google has deep pockets and smart people coming up with nifty algorithms all the time, so they can ping quite often and not worry about how many resources they're using. (Though I guess they did because they're closing it down.) Other sites have more constrained resources so they don't check as often, or as smartly.

If you want an RSS reader that updates in real time (or close to) you don't want a web service, you want a stand-alone desktop reader that pulls the RSS feeds its self. Then you'll control when the RSS feeds get refreshed instead of waiting on the 3rd party service to queue up it's next contact. I can't recommend any because I don't know but maybe other MeFites can.
posted by Ookseer at 7:58 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Inoreader has made some tweaks that seem to have significantly decreased lag time from a feed updating until it shows up.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:56 PM on June 19, 2013

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