Automatic unsubscribe is wrong

Last week sometime I read about FeedDemon’s new automatic unsubscribe feature and it bothered me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

kellan’s just written an article on it called Automatic Unsubscribe Considered Harmful, and he makes some good points and it led me to what my problem with this feature is:

From Nick’s description, the aggregator will silently unsubscribe you from a feed.

Now, you could say that that’s fair enough. After all, you did ask it to unsubscribe you after a certain time period. But what if you’ve forgetten that you set it to unsubscribe? Given the number of feeds that most people I know subscribe to, it doesn’t seem too unlikely.

It’s not as if the feed is returning a 410 – Gone, where the aggregator would be right to stop polling the feed, it’s just an arbitrary cut-off point.

I like the idea of the feature, I just think it should ask you first.

(Incidentally, mentioning no longer polling a feed – is that what Nick means when he says ‘unsubscribe’? Or does he actually mean delete that feed and its history from the FeedDemon database?)

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9 thoughts on “Automatic unsubscribe is wrong”

  1. I’ve added a feature request to provide a warning when an automatic unsubscription is going to occur. (40761)

    It’s worth noting a few things about this feature:

    1 – The intention behind the feature is for comments feeds or other short-term subscriptions.

    2 – It’s off by default. The only way this can be turned on is by the end user.

    3 – The unsubscription is based on X days of inactivity where X is determined by the user (60 days by default). If you apply this option to a regularly updated feed, you’ll basically never auto unsubscribe.

  2. Just noticed the question about whether it stops updating or deletes. It’s the latter.

    An unsubscribe event removes the feed content from FeedDemon. If you want to keep a feed’s content, but don’t want it to update any longer, you can disable updating in the feed properties.

  3. Thanks for your comments Jack. I was certainly aware of the points from your first comment and I fully understand what the intention is, and it’s a lauable one.

    I think that no notification is possibly acceptable if the feed just stopped updating, but if it, and the contents of items already retrieved are deleted then the user must be notified.

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