On Circumventing Censorship


The internet has a huge problem with censorship, and its foil, fake news.

 Here are a number of solutions to censorship and fake news. 

A list of recommended news sites.  I am increasingly seeing very simple lists of recommended news sites.  It is technically very easy to implement, but it takes years for an expert in the field to find them all and review them.  The user can explore to their hearts desire. 

A Taxonomy of recommended news sites.  Fortunately the lists of recommended news sites exist, they are mostly licensed under creative commons.  Many bloggers have a focus.  So it is  quit trivial to sort the blogs by category into a taxonomy.  The user can just visit the news sites of interest to them. 

RSS Reader.  Lists and taxonomies are great, but it is quite painful to visit a number of different news sites every day.  I am guilty of this.  I just spend lots of time on reddit,  which then enables reddit to censor what I see.  I have some idiea of what is being censored, but it is very hard to see what is not there. 

The better solution is to use a personal RSS reader.  RSS is an ancient technology.  It goes out to your chosen news sources, grabs the newest articles, and shows you the most recent.  

RSS Aggregator.  An RSS Aggregator selects news sites and aggregates them for you.  No work, just show up and do your reading . 

Voted RSS Aggregator,  The RSS Aggregator still has the problem that you see all the most recent articles, even if they are not very good.  Much better to build a voted RSS aggregator.  Like reddit, everyone can upvote and down vote articles.  One can even use the public domain reddit algorithms for which news to show.  

Voted RSS Taxonomy Aggregator. The voted RSS aggregator is good, but what if I am not interested in news about animal rights.  I am only concerned about  climate change?  Well remember that earlier we mentioned a news site taxonomy.  With that it is quite easy to do an RSS aggregator for any branch of the taxonomy.  I can choose to read only the climate change branch of the taxonomy.  Or I could choose two different branches. 

Voted and Categorized RSS Taxonomy.  The above approaches work well when a news site is focussed on a particular topic.  But many news sites cover many topics.  And that blows up the voted RSS taxonomy aggregator.  The solution to this is to allow users to vote on the postings.  Not just upvote or downvote, but also vote on the category.  Of course a taxonomy can be very deep.  And most users will not be willing to sort an item into a particular deep category.  But they would all be willing to hit a miscategorized button.  And many would we willing to use a drop down, to select the next category down for the article. 

The awesome lists on github are an example of a static Voted and Categorized Taxonomy.  Someone submits an edit to the html page, users vote on it, and it gets accepted or rejected.   They ignore the age of a posting.   It is not that hard to implement the software to also take into account age  The hard part is predicting users behavior, and making an interface which users would actually use. 

 I hope that this overview of  ways to bypass censorship is helpful to you in your quest to get good information, and help others get good information. 







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