About a month ago, I logged in to Google Reader to see a shocking thing - all my subscriptions were gone and I was subscribed to some feeds that I've never heard of.

All my feed subscriptions gone from Google Reader

I would say I'm a pretty heavy Google Reader user, checking my several hundred subscriptions several times a day, so it was pretty distressing. I posted a thread at the Google Reader Google Group (the link doesn't work now because they've moved the Google Group somewhere else for some reason) and several other people responded that they were seeing the same weirdness.

I had the same problem, and here's the really weird part: I got YOUR feeds! If you look at the top of the page you can see the account you're supposedly logged in with. Well, I saw your account there. And this was before I read this message. I also saw some other names every so often. Right now it says email censored.

Maybe it's some weird mix up with the ISP. Do you use SingNet?

Some time later I started seeing other people's accounts:

Seeing other people’s accounts in Google Reader

The problem affected only Singnet (a major local ISP) users in Singapore (about 7 other users in Singapore using Singnet responded with the same problems). No one really knew what the problem was and neither the Google Reader team nor Singnet (someone sent them an email) responded.

My guess was Singnet started caching Google Reader at a proxy and somehow managed to bypass all the credentials that was needed to modify any feed subscriptions. Sounds like a pretty nasty security bug to me.

The aftermath:

  • Google Reader no longer has my feed subscriptions (I didn't manage to recover them so it's still in the sad state of having only 1 feed subscription to some UK property shite).
  • I've manually rebuilt my OPML file (containing my feed subscriptions).
  • I'm now using NewsFire. It's not decentralized so I can't sync it between machines, which really sucks since I have 2 primary machines, but I'm wary of using online feed readers right now.
  • I regularly export my OPML file and check it into Subversion.
  • I'm looking for a reliable decentralized feed reader once again (having used Bloglines and of course, Google Reader prior to the catastrophe).