Please Don't Be Rude, coComment. I Loved You. [en]

[fr] J'étais une inconditionnelle de la première heure de coComment. Je les ai même eus comme clients. Aujourd'hui j'ai le coeur lourd, car après le désastre de la version 2.0 "beta", le redesign du site qui le laisse plus confus qu'avant, les fils RSS qui timent out, le blog sans âme et les pubs qui clignotent, je me retrouve avec de grosses bannières autopromotionnelles dans mon tumblelog, dans lequel j'ai intégré le flux RSS de mes commentaires.

Just a little earlier this evening, my heart sank. It sank because of this:

Steph's Tumblr - rude cocomment

That is a screenshot of [my Tumblr]( And what [coComment]( is doing here — basically, inserting a huge self-promotional banner in their RSS feed — is really rude.

I’m really sad, because I used to love coComment. I was involved (not much, but still) [early on]( and was a first-hour fan. They [were even my client for over six months](, during which I acted as a community manager, gave feedback on features to the team, and [wrote a whole bunch of blog posts]( This ended, sadly, [when coComment finally incorporated](, because we couldn’t reach an agreement as to the terms of my engagement.

Inserting content in the RSS feeds is only the latest in a series of disappointments I’ve had with the service. I used to have a sidebar widget to show the last comments I’d made all over the place on my blog, but I removed it at some point — I can’t remember when — because it had stopped working. I tried adding it again, but for some reason WordPress can’t find the feed. It seemed very slow when I tried to access it directly, so maybe it’s timing out — and I think I recall that is what made me remove it in the first place.

I’m sad also to see blinking ads on the coComment site, confusing navigation, pages with [click here]( links, and [a blog which has no soul](, filled with post after post of press-release-like “we won this contest”, “we’re sponsoring this event”, “version xyz released”, “we were here too” — all too often on behalf of a mostly faceless “coComment Team”. CoComment used to have something going, but to me it now seems like an exciting promise that lost its way somewhere along the line.

[Last August](, the [version]( [2.0]( [beta]( [disaster]( made me cringe with embarrassment for my former love (who on earth takes all their users [back to beta]( when 1.0 was stable?) and left many blogs paralyzed, including my own. I started writing a blog post, at the time, which I never published, as other things got in the way. Here’s what I’d written:

> I reinstalled the extension yesterday (I’d removed it a few months ago because I suspected it might be involved in a lot of browser hang-ups) but had to uninstall it a couple of hours later:

> – too many non-comment textareas get the coco-bar
– blacklisting seems broken
– pop-up requesting info confirmation for website blocking form submission of non-comment forms, even though coco-bar was removed AND extension was deactivated for the page.

> It would be nice to be able to read some clear and detailed information about these issues and their resolution on the blog, so that I know when it’s worth trying the extension again.

> Also, a **major** issue is that when the coComment server isn’t responding, people cannot leave comments on integrated/enhanced blogs (like this one, or my personal blog). I had to remove coComment integration from my blog so that coComment downtime doesn’t prevent my readers from leaving comments.

***Update:** in case this wasn’t clear first time around, these problems have since then been solved and [coComment apologized for the mess]( It doesn’t erase the pain, though.*

So, coComment — and Matt — are you listening?

You’re in the process of alienating somebody who was one of your most passionate users — if you haven’t lost me already. I cared. I forgave. I waited. I hoped. But right now, I don’t have the impression you care much about me. I’ve seen excuses, I’ve even seen justifications, and now I see large ugly banners in my Tumblr. What happened to you?

*You’ll have understood, I hope, that this is not just about me. This is about the people who use your service. The service you provide is for us, right?*

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Netvibes Widget of my Shared Items [en]

If you read this blog “on the blog”, and look at my very cluttered sidebar, you probably noticed there is a feed of my [“shared items”]( from Google Reader hidden in there ([grab the feed!]( “Sharing” is [the reason I switched to Google Reader]( over a year ago.

I’m sitting in a workshop about [UWA widgets]( at [Paris Web](, which had me looking at [netvibes]( again. Even though it never clicked for me, I know lots of you use it (I check my stats, yes I do).

So, here we go. One thing leading to another, I created a widget with my shared items in it. It’s more for fun than because it’s really useful, as you netvibes users can create it really easily — but hey, here it is:

Add to Netvibes

**Update:** how disappointing! I thought it was going to look like this in the blog post:

My Shared Items Netvibes Widget

Not there yet, it seems.

**Update 2:** something I’ve been wanting to do with netvibes (not sure how feasible it is, actually): create a tab with “my stuff” in it. See, I’m [scattered online]( “De-scattering with Jaiku, thanks.”). And the stuff I “share” is also scattered. If I found it through my feed reader, it’ll appear as [a whole post in my shared items]( If I was randomly browsing around, it’ll be in [my links]( If it was a video I watched on YouTube, it’ll end up in [my VLog]( If I wanted to share a quote, it’ll be [in my Tumblr]( Creating something to collect all these “things of others that I consider worth passing on” would be really nice. I wonder if a netvibes tab would be a solution — and if people would use it at all.

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Giving FeedBurner a Spin [en]

[fr] FeedBurner produit un fil RSS à partir de votre blog. Quel intérêt si notre outil de blog préféré le fait déjà? FeedBurner fournit des statistiques de consultation et tout un tas d'autres services sympas.

Heard about [FeedBurner]( so much I thought I’d give it a try. [Feed stats]( sound like a nice thing to have. So, here’s the new address: []( Consider changing your subscription if it’s not too much of a hassle to you. You’ll get my links in there two in daily bundles if you do. 😉

**Update:** now using the [feedburner plugin]( Let me know if any breakage reaches you.

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MagpieRSS Caching Problem [en]

I have a caching problem using the PHP MagpieRSS library to parse feeds. Any help welcome.

[fr] J'ai un problème de cache utilisant la librarie PHP MagpieRSS. Toute aide bienvenue!

I’ve been stuck on a problem with MagpieRSS for weeks. This is a desperate call for help.

At the top of my sidebar, I have two lists of links which are generated by parsing RSS feeds: Delicious Linkball and Recently Playing. They don’t update.

If I delete the cache files, the script creates them all right. If I keep an eye on the cache files, I see their timestamp is updated every hour, but not the contents. I’ve uploaded the PHP code which parses the feeds.

Any suggestions welcome. I’m not far from giving up and setting cron jobs to regularly delete the cache files. Thanks in advance.

Update 13:00: The Recently Playing list updates once an hour (when the cache is “force-refreshed”), it seems — but not the Delicious Links one.

14:00: Some progress: doesn’t seem to update unless I clear the cache on my machine. (Huh?), on the other hand, is — but why does the cache update only once an hour, and not each time the feed is modified?

15:00: crschmidt just pointed out that the last-modified date on my RSS feed was horribly wrong. Might be something that was done at the time when my caching problems were causing me to nastily abuse the poor server. I’ve sent a mail to Joshua to see if indeed this could be the problem.

15:50: Still thanks to the excellent crschmidt, I’ve finally understood how this caching is supposed to work. (Yes, I know, we’re starting to have lots of edits on this post.) There is a setting which determines how old the cache must be to become “stale”. As long as the cache is not stale, any requests made will use the cache directly, without pulling the feed in question. If the cache is stale, a request is sent to the server hosting the feed to check if it has changed since it was last accessed. If it has changed (i.e., if Last-Modified is more recent than the cache), it gets a fresh version of the feed. Otherwise, nothing happens (the cache age is just “reset”).

Now, for a LinkLog service like, setting the cache age to a couple of hours is more than enough as far as I’m concerned. However, for a list of recently played songs, every few minutes should be better. MagpieRSS seems to allow this to be set on a per-call basis by defining MAGPIE_CACHE_AGE, but it doesn’t seem to be working for me. Another variable is set on a per-installation basis: var $MAX_AGE = 1800; — but changing that won’t really help, as I want different values for Recently Playing and Delicious Links. Suggestions on this secondary problem welcome too!

16:40: After exchanging a few e-mails with Joshua, it seems that there was indeed a problem with the Last-Modified date on my feed. Not quite sure how it came about (somebody requesting the feed when I hadn’t posted in some time?), but it should be fixed now. I’ve cleared my cache files to see if my 30-minute “stale time” is working or not.

17:30: (See how I’m updating every 50 minutes? Freaky.) So, the not-so-nice things about PHP constants is that they are constant and (?) local to the function in which they are defined. (Not sure I go that bit right, but.) Important thing here is to note that MAGPIE_CACHE_AGE can’t be used to set different “stale cache” ages for different feeds. The stale cache age needs to be set at the bottom of (the only place I hadn’t touched) — so my cache is now refreshing every half-hour. (Which is a bit too often for, and not often enough for Audioscrobblers.) oqp says he can write a wrapper to get around this limitation — I’m waiting impatiently for him to do it!

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