Missing Podcast Durations!

It ain’t easy building a personal podcast app. My struggle this week is durations. I noticed recent episodes of Late Night Linux were missing them. Same too for the Lex Fridman Podcast and Shop Talk.

At first I thought something was wrong with my code. After a bit of debugging I discovered that the RSS feeds are simply missing the itunes:duration tag. Shop Talk does have the tag for episode 618 but it’s zero:

<itunes:duration>0:00</itunes:duration>

What on earth is going on here!

Are we not doing durations any more? Did I miss the memo?

There must be something in common with these podcasts. Their website and feeds are all using WordPress and various podcast plugins. Is that responsible? I can see Lex Fridman uses Blubrry, Late Night Linux uses Libsyn, and Shop Talk uses Simplecast. What role do those services play? Is Apple’s iTunes API involved? I have no idea.

Where and when are durations even calculated? I realise I know absolutely nothing about podcasts! Do they all use a library like FFMPEG that is bugged? Or my own crude script — good lord, I hope not!

I think the Shop Talk issue may be unrelated because the tag does at least exist. Is it just coincidence the other two are missing it? Will I ask more questions without answers? I’m stumped for now. I’ve reached out on Mastodon to see if the authors know.

I have a feeling the durations will suddenly reappear and I’ll never know why!

Someone tell me I’m not going crazy!

I’ll update here if the mystery is ever solved.

Update for 12th June 2024

Chris Enns, editor of ShopTalk Show, replied on Mastodon. Their podcast plugin requires manual duration entry if it’s not calculated automatically and it was missed for that episode. That’s part of the mystery solved! I haven’t heard back from the others. I’m still curious if there is any correlation. 🤔

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