I subscribe to this blog in Google Reader just to make sure that everything gets out-putted correctly and recently I've been noticing an odd bug.
For some reason posts from a week ago randomly reappear as new even at times when I haven't posted to the blog. These changes aren't coming from the feed itself in that Google Reader marks the time posted as today while the feed clearly shows the correct times on the posts themselves.
This parallels a problem I read about on Scoble's blog yesterday (though to a much lesser extent) in which his feed was showing up incorrectly in Bloglines. In response to Scoble's complaint Paul Querna replied that the reason was as follows...
At the bottom of every post on a wordpress.com blog, is a tracker image used for statistics. It includes a rand parameter, which changes every time the feed is fetched over HTTP. The image URL is something like this:
Because this rand value changes every time we read the feed, we considered the Item ‘Updated‘.
to which Scoble replied...
Here’s Bloglines reply about the issue with my feed and turns out the problem was actually a bug in Wordpress.com, which Matt Mullenweg admitted to and is taking care of. Nice to see this taken care of, thanks. I mean that sincerely. Sorry I had to make a stink, but I was getting tons of complaints and needed to force the issue cause no one was taking care of this bug.
I have to disagree here. Bloglines is choosing to use a non-standard way to judge which entries are updated even when a standard way exists (the last updated timestamp) and in doing so they are causing a problem for their users. That IS Bloglines' fault. The fact that Matt Mullenweg was nice enough to work around their feed reader's bad behavior does not change that fact.
Back to my problem I really don't know what the issue is with Google Reader but I'm almost sure it stems from the same type of issues as above which is to say a feed reader that is choosing to implement its own standards rather than follow the ones that already exist. I would hope that anyone who makes a feed reader would consider stopping this type of behavior in that it makes troubleshooting impossible for individual feed publishers (because you can't know the unofficial standards they are using) while simultaneously annoying their users (with multiple posts).