How RSS and Atom feeds help beat censorship
Published:By: Kevin from CyberHavenProgramming.com
What is an RSS and Atom feed?
In plain English: RSS and Atom feeds enable people to be their own source of news, essentially. People can subscribe to your feed, and get notifications every time you publish an article, a blog, or whatever you wanted the feed to notify people of. Subscriptions aren't done by providing an email or something similar, rather, they're done with a feed reader. Things like the Firefox web browser and Thunderbird email client, are both able to subscribe to both of these feed types. There are many other feeds readers too. I have an example of how to subscribe to a feed with Firefox if you click the button up top.
You could make an RSS feed for updates on a specific forum, a blog, or anything you wanted really. RSS and Atom are also basically the same thing. They're both written in a language called XML, meaning Extensible Markup Language. But they both have the same end result of showing updates. The reason to have both is because some feed readers only accept one or the other. Therefore, providing options for both is the best way to give the broadest ability for people to subscribe to your feed. Since I'm a programmer with Django, making feeds with it is easy, and automatic. There's no need to type tons of raw XML.
Why RSS and Atom feeds are extremely useful:
They make it harder to censor you.
They do so because they let people subscribe to your feed, directly from your server. And when your subscribers choose to get updates on their feed reader, they will see your new content directly from your site, without having it filtered and censored by places like Youtube, Facebook, or Twitter, which have heavily censored people they disagree with.
Consider Aaron Schwartz, the kid who helped create RSS, and committed suicide because he was critical of Obama's kill list for drone strikes. Obama didn't like that, so he sent his legal thief goon squad after him to threaten him with 50+ years in jail, and $1 million in fines. Just like the many other whistleblower journalist's he jailed and threatened for speaking inconvenient truths. And since most people don't know how to defend themselves in court, isn't it obvious how the government is used to scare people to shut up and do as they're told by their masters??
With actions like that: Do you not see that there will be a very dark future to the internet, and whole world, if people don't create their own platforms to voice their opinions?
Have you forgotton what the bill of rights says?
One of the most important rights listed on there is the freedom of speech and press. Without it, you would see more and more terrible things happening, like the ones I'm about to show.
Before I begin, I have some disagreements with parts of the Constitution, and the framers. They were hypocrites in some ways. Some of them were slave owners fighting for their right to be free. But I'd be willing to bet that at least some of them paid their workers fairly, and only acted as slave owners due to cultural pressures... Besides that, I see the logic and reasoning for certain things they did. So I have common ground. A good example is by reading the entire Declaration of Independence, which explains all the evils that the King of England did to the people back then, and comparing it to today.
And no, the Revolutonary War wasn't started over a 2% tax on tea. It was more for reasons like the King kidnapping people, and forcing them into the slavery of killing their friends, taxing the hell out of them, and being like a Roman tyrant (read about Caligula). Those events bring a much stronger case for laying the groundwork for massive rebellion. Not fractions of pennies. And when you look at where we are today, I'm sad how people are so ignorant of the facts below, and let the government stomp all over their rights all day, every day. And I quote from it:
- "He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance...." Consider the laws today. You pretty much can't fart without needing permission. I once got a ticket for having a tiny patch of grass underneath my parked car, on my own property. Not hanging on the side of the road, but completely on my property. And no, that's not a joke. The asshole then came back the next day with another one. I learned to fight tickets, and won. But that's not the point, because most people don't know their rights, and it is confusing if you don't have a structured course to teach you properly. I've also seen city government's try to essentially steal people's property through their own ignorance. They got the people, on the property they think they owned, to pay for the city's new plans for pipes to be laid. The "owners" of the property had to pay around $2,500+ for the labor, the pipes, the fire hydrants, with no compensation for their own property, nor the damage done to it, and were also tasked with keeping the area clear and shoveled during winter. If the people had forced the city's hand and required them to use eminent domain, at the very least, the city would have had to pay for the service, AND for a fair value of the property they took up. But nope. Ignorance and lack of knowledge destroys the masses as usual. You might think a fire hydrant is for a good cause. It is. But the issue is they tricked the people, practically stole land, which caused the people to waive their rights, and spend their own money when they didn't have to. Here's a perfect example eminent domain happening in Texas, but the guy won! Good job on him!
- "For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:..." How would you like it if people murdered the ones you love, and your rulers denied you some reparations?? I don't hate cops for being a cop as a job, and I see the logic in a deterrent, but when people like the cop who murdered Kelly Thomas get off criminal charges they are clearly guilty of, that pisses me off. Here's the full video of it happening. Sure, the city paid some reparations. And the price they paid screams they know the guy was guilty, but the guy still deserves to go to jail. If you or me did something like that, we'd be in jail. There would be no "Pay us X millions of dollars and you can get away with any crime!". You'd be in jail for any number of years to life. Read subsections (a) and (b) for proof, and after watching the video, you'd see the cop was guilty of at least 2nd degree murder. Do you not see the double standard, and how these same things have happened long ago???
- "For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:..." If you can't get food and supplies to live, how long would you live for?? Apply this same principle to the arbiters of all the information you read. Again, another reason to have an RSS and Atom feed.
- "For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:..."
- "For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:..." Having the powers of Judge, Jury, and Executioner all vested in on person, is not safe, and it would never be fair. That's partly why the Constitution was made to separate powers, so the people would be safer and have a better chance at survival when tyrants started making moves against them. It's like putting a stick in the spokes of their wheel, which gives you a fighting chance.
- "He has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People...."
- "He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands..." In other words: Kill your friends, kill yourself, or the King will kill you.
- And the list goes on, and on, and on...
Since big tech giants censor you by running the info you give them through functions which have blacklisted values, why would you trust them? Again, see the link above for proof. If you want an example of how this is possible: I have a wordcount app on my PORTFOLIO page which demonstrates this principle with commas, periods, and other grammar tools. In my scenario I do it to prevent having 2 different values for the same word, in case you have a word that ends with a period, comma, etc, and the same word somewhere else that doesn't. I could filter words too if I wanted, but the point is they can do the same thing, and far worse.
And when anyone has the ability to be the sole arbiters of all information you come across, so they get to create a false narrative... The strengths of having your own RSS and Atom feed are obvious: You can reach people without being censored. So don't let things like Aaron Schwartz's death be in vain!
They also help you cut out the middle man of advertising.
To be fair, even with an RSS or Atom feed, you'll still need to have good SEO for organic search results to help people find out about you in the first place. And once people subscribe to your feed, groups with tons of influence can't prevent the distribution of your content. People will know of your updates as long as they set their feed readers to automatically check for new content. Which brings me to my next point...
What is a sitemap, and why you need one?
A sitemap makes it so your website is easier to index by search engines. That means that web crawlers from search engines like Bing, Google, DuckDuckGo, and so on (not all search engines censor you), all scour the internet to see what's on a web site. For each page they go to, they like seeing links and other semantically structured content. Then they go to those links, and doing this process over and over helps them determine what your website is about. This process let's other people use search terms, and the search engine gives them the most relevant terms from the most relevant site.
Having a sitemap makes this process far easier, faster, efficient.
Which is why I have one at the bottom of every page. Having a robots.txt file helps for that as well, but doing both is the best. Here's an example of the robots.txt file from yahoo. Many websites have one for this same purpose.
How Django and Python automate the creation and update of your feeds and sitemap.
This is easier to see an example of than to explain it. Subscribe to my RSS or Atom feed by going to the button up top, and choose which verison you want to subscribe to. Follow the directions on that page if you're using a browser like Firefox. That process is similar for most browsers that have feeds enabled. Whichever you choose, the content should be the same. And in my case, I made it so Django gives the latest 5, with the newest one up top (at least that's how Firefox renders it). I could change this to give them all, or any number I wanted, but I limited it because I figure most people wouldn't want to see 50 blogs at a time.
And to check for new blogs from the Firefox browser, all you do is look into the bookmark you have the feed in. No need to load any pages, just open the folder by hovering your mouse on it. Feed readers often have an option to autmatically check all feeds you subscribed to everytime you open it, but you'll have to do an internet search for how to do it with your feed reader.
Call to action:
Without your own ability to communicate news and other important information to your peers, big companies and government are going to continue making you live in a bubble world, and deny you the knowledge that there are more options than the ones they conveniently put in front of you to choose from. What options are those?
Do you want to get kicked in the balls, or punched in the stomach?
For context, see my comments in the first list point when speaking about the Declaration of independence.
And why not dodge when you have the option? Because surely, you do. In far more ways than you realize. You have the power for a brighter future, most just don't know it yet.
The power to censor the masses has to be taken from the rulers who desire it, but it can only happen with your actions. Start voting with those.
So the next time you see someone with an RSS or Atom feed that speaks truth to the world: ^_^ SUBSCRIBE TO IT! ^_^. It's there to help you!
And know that the problems we see in the world today, are surprisingly actually NOT the cause of politicians, governments, police, laws, and so on. It's the people. The ones who vote vote for them, put up with getting their rights stomped on, consider it a worthless thing when they do, and push those idiots to the positions of power they get. They have normalized it for far longer than I've been alive.
If you ever want to see the world beter off than current one we know:
Look in the mirror. Be critical of yourself. Fix yourself first, then consider fixing the world, in whatever small baby steps that you can. And remember, that if something is wrong for me and you to do, it's also wrong for someone with an impressive title of "authority" to do. The "King" of England had "authority" to do what he did back then, but that didn't make him right... And just because certain habits have been done for a long time, doesn't make them right either.
I hope you make the right choice!