February 08, 2008

Warning: Google Reader Congestion of Up to Five Hours

Recently, Google's gained a lot of good feeling in the blogosphere for how rapidly they are indexing blog posts as part of their universal search. But while their search side is getting quicker and quicker, it can sometimes be several hours before some posts make their way from being published to hitting Google Reader, with no apparent cause.

It's enough to make me think we need heavy traffic advisories, or warnings that show when a specific hub is congested, the way we now can with airports or freeways.

Not too long ago, Google Reader added a seemingly-small feature that showed when an item was published, and also when it hit Google Reader. Maybe they thought they were showing off how quickly they were indexed. But without a doubt, it'll likely only serve to highlight the times when they aren't getting there fast at all.

Wow - That Timestamp Gave You Away, Google

Today, my post on AssetBar coming to Twitter's aid took more than five and a half hours to reach Google Reader. In the meantime, I saw the post indexed by FriendFeed and AssetBar, added to Spokeo, and listed under my blog on Technorati. In parallel, a response post at The Last Podcast hit Google Reader several hours earlier, but my original post was nowhere to be found.

Finally, despite being posted at 11:21 a.m., Google Reader didn't post the piece until 4:53 p.m., a virtual eternity in the rapid fire blog world. In those five-plus hours, 37 different posts were added to TechMeme's river. In those five hours, I received 149 tweets on Twitter. In those five hours, my story went from what could consider to be "breaking" to "tired".

At times, it's been obvious to me that while Google Reader leads in offering a simplified user interface and ease of use, it lags other services badly in how quickly they fetch items. I often see stories hit the feed, and click through only to find out they already have dozens of comments - making me late to the conversation. Today, that gap was huge. Google didn't just show up late, they showed up last.