Comment inflation in Google Reader November 4, 2012 11:42 PM   Subscribe

I subscribe to AskMe via Google Reader, and the bottom of each post provides a link to the post. The link reads "X comments on this item," where X is always 1 more than the actual number of comments. Not a huge deal, but something I wonder about ever so often. Bug? Ghosts of comments past?

I just added the blue to my feeds as a test, and it looks like the extra phantom comments occur there, too.
posted by illenion to Bugs at 11:42 PM (6 comments total)

If it's always exactly one, then I'd guess that they are counting the post itself as "comment #1" ... but I'm confused anyway, because unless the thread has been inactive since the time that google reader scraped it, the comment total would always be different, wouldn't it? But I rarely use Google Reader, and I'm probably misunderstanding the situation.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:50 PM on November 4, 2012

I noticed this too. It's one if the post has no comments yet. You only see zero if it's a deleted post.

I also think that it's somehow counting the post itself, probably because of the username and timestamp below the post text.
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:59 PM on November 4, 2012

I use an RSS reader (liferea for linux) which uses some magic to show the comments thread below blog posts. (This doesn't come as part of the RSS feed -- it is dynamically fetched whenever you open an article.) For MeFi, it shows two copies of the post -- one as the RSS content, one as the first comment. It doesn't do this for other blogs.

I guess that there is some kind of standard-ish way of scraping blog comments, and Metafilter manages to fool both Google Reader and liferea.
posted by dendrochronologizer at 2:03 AM on November 5, 2012

I use a client that syncs with Google Reader. I only see those images on MetaFilter feeds and always thought they were served by MetaFilter.
posted by scottreynen at 5:43 AM on November 5, 2012

MetaFilter chooses to include those images (they're not added by a feed reader), but they're generated by FeedBurner's "Feed Flare" service, not on the MetaFilter server(s). It's not always wrong (when I came into this thread, the tag said there were 4 comments, which was correct) but on Ask it does seem to almost always be ahead by 1.
posted by bcwinters at 6:09 AM on November 5, 2012

Yes, I've noticed the RSS feed for all the sites always counts the post as a comment.
posted by bluefly at 6:54 AM on November 5, 2012

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