Atom, Google Reader and Duplicates on Planets

For a while I've wondered why posts syndicated across multiple planets don't get picked up by Google Reader as duplicates (and automatically marked read when I've read it the first time around).

I wasn't sure whether the problem was:

so I decided to investigate further with my own feed as the source and the three planets my site is syndicated to (that I know of).

Let's take my post Cleese and Disk Images.

My feed gives both an id and a link for both the feed itself and each individual entry. That makes it possible, at least, for planets and readers to do the Right Thing. So I don't think the problem is my feed.

On the Official Planet Python:

On both the Unofficial Planet Python and on Sam Ruby's Planet Intertwingly:

Note that the handling of the author by the latter two feeds is correct per the Atom RFC, although I have noticed that Safari's feed reader gets this wrong and, despite the author in the source element, uses the inherited author from the planet feed itself.

But, in short, the Atom-feed-based Planets do the Right Thing, although IMHO the RSS-1.0-based Official Planet Python does not. That may not be the Planet's fault. The RSS 1.0 Spec (or any RSS for that matter) may not make the distinction between id and link.

So given that my feed and two of the planet feeds do the right thing, I guess that places the blame with Google Reader.

Why does Google Reader not honour the entry id and automatically mark duplicates as already read when you've read it the first time. That's my pony request for Google Reader.

And by the way, the same thing applies to feeds themselves, not just entries. Feedburner, for example, does the right thing and passes through the id of a source Atom feed into its own Atom feed version. However, if you subscribe to both the source and Feedburner version of of a feed, Google Reader doesn't not identify them as the same feed. Of course, if either are RSS, I'd assume all bets are off.

So, in summary, Atom supports doing the Right Thing. The Atom-based Planets do the Right Thing. Google Reader doesn't take advantage of this.

The original post was in the categories: google atom_format blogging but I'm still in the process of migrating categories over.

The original post had 9 comments I'm in the process of migrating over.