I often click on a post's feed, so as to go to the post's site, just to make sure I'm not reading outdated information. Does Google Reader update the post's contents, so I don't have to keep doing this?

3 Answers 3


Simple answer is no.

More complex answer is...

As far as I know, Google Reader is only a RSS reader. A good one, but only a reader. If you don't know the RSS format (or Atom, for that purpose, there is no difference), just follow me a little.

A RSS file contains a list of dated events. Basically, in a feed, there are some infos for each event:

  • event date
  • event name
  • event source URL
  • event text

What Google Reader displays is the event text. And absolutely no source site text content. However, there are some cases where the source site can send new events when the content is modified. In such cases, Google Reader will display both events, with different text.


According to Tshepang

I just tested now. Can you add to your answer that if one updates a post, and then refreshes Reader (by clicking on the Refresh button), the Reader contents are indeed refreshed. Note that sometimes this is instant, and sometimes takes minutes

  • When the site does send this new event thing, Reader will notice and update what it displays, or will it make a duplicate?
    – tshepang
    Jan 13, 2011 at 10:19
  • Well, I guess it will make a duplicate, unless event id is the same, in which case event is "simply" changed.
    – Riduidel
    Jan 13, 2011 at 10:25
  • Curious, why did you remind me about acceptance? Is it because I took long?
    – tshepang
    Jan 18, 2011 at 8:52
  • @Tshepang No, it's because on StackOverflow, i've notice that people commenting an anwser often forget to accept any answer. As it is a recurring pattern, I now have the tendancy to remind askers about the importance of accepting answsers.
    – Riduidel
    Jan 18, 2011 at 9:44

Not unless the URL back to the source has changed since Google Reader took its copy of the feed item.

When the RSS reader grabs a feed, it will be a copy of it as it was at that time. The only reason why a reader would download a new version of the post is if it detects a new feed item with a <link> value that it doesn't already have.

But, it will only download a new copy and won't update an existing feed item.

This is why if your favourite blog moves domains you'll see a repeat of old posts turning up as "new" in your feedbox. That's because according to the URL of the posts and items, they are new. Even if it's the same body content.


Yes, Google Reader updates a post's content if it is modified though not immediately.

I have subscribed to my own blog's feed (hosted on Blogger) & whenever I update an older post with new info, the modified content appears in an hour or so.

  • That's interesting. I should actually (duh!) give it a try and see.
    – tshepang
    Jan 15, 2011 at 20:22
  • How long did you have to wait for the update? Who hosts your blog?
    – tshepang
    Jan 17, 2011 at 17:22
  • Blogger/Blogspot hosts my blog. I've noticed that the time it takes for the feed of a new or updated post to appear in Google Reader varies from 2 minutes to several hours.
    – mvark
    Jan 18, 2011 at 5:04
  • So you have no need to click the Refresh button to have fresher content?
    – tshepang
    Jan 18, 2011 at 8:46
  • 1
    @tshepang I didn't specifically test by clicking Refresh. I looked for my updated post at intervals while reading other feeds and I guess that's equivalent to clicking the Refresh button in Reader.
    – mvark
    Jan 18, 2011 at 9:20

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